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Q & A: nuclear bomb effects

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Most recent answer: 02/02/2011
Q:
What would happen if Russia sent a nuclear bomb to the United States
- Kimberlee (age 14)
Thermopolis, Wy, united states
A:
I assume you mean a bomb set to explode, not one for a museum exhibition. Fortunately, that's a very unlikely event in today's political environment. Unfortunately, something like that involving other countries is not so unlikely, so it's worth describing the effects.

A typical modern strategic bomb, with explosive strength equal to about 300,000 tons of TNT, exploded in an air burst over a large city would kill something like 500,000 people or more. Many square miles of the city would be destroyed. A plume of highly radioactive fallout would spread whichever way the wind carried it. The precise results of course depend on which city, etc.

A few dozen bombs used in a war between two mid-sized nuclear powers could spread so much radioactive soot that hundreds of millions of people would die. In addition, it appears possible that the soot would block out so much sun that weather would be disrupted and crop yields ruined, resulting in further catastrophe.

Mike W.

(published on 02/02/2011)

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