A question.

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AuthorTopic: A question.
Guardian
Member # 5360
Profile #0
A recent argument revolved around the question as to whether a single nuclear bomb could kill off the entirety of the human population, including the effects of radiation. Several questions were raised by this: What is the most destructive nuclear bomb currently constructed? How fast does radiation spread? How far will the light, sound, and shockwave spread, and how dissipated will they be?

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Posts: 1636 | Registered: Wednesday, January 5 2005 08:00
Agent
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Profile #1
I don't know how big the biggest nuclear bomb is, but I do know that two nukes were dropped on Japan in WWII. So I'm guessing one or two nukes would not destroy the planet, not by a long shot. But a [i]nuclear war[i] would significantly impact the world. A nuclear war would almost definitely have to be between two superpowers; otherwise, conventional weapons would be used. If two superpowers nuke each other, the economic and political instability would probably cause the world to erupt into anarchy. Whether the world would become uninhabitable is a question I cannot answer.

I've always wondered what would happen if a nuclear bomb was detonated at the bottom of an ocean. Would a volcano form there? Would the explosive force of the bomb cause tidal waves all over the world? Somehow, I don't think it will. After all, countries test nuclear weapons out on the ocean sometimes. But maybe I'm missing something?

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Posts: 1115 | Registered: Sunday, May 15 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
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What you're missing is that nuclear bombs come in different sizes.

I rather think that no bomb has been built yet that could destroy humanity in one go, and not sure if we can build one.

This point becomes moot though, because plenty of small ones will do the job just fine.

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Electric Sheep One
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Actually I've never been persuaded that available nuclear arsenals could destroy civilization. There are a lot of big bombs, but it's a big planet.

But why is it a big deal whether nuclear war would really extinugish the human race? Obviously there's enough nuclear firepower stocked up to kill an awful lot of people. Isn't that bad enough?

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
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Profile #4
In terms of physical damage, the largest current bomb would destroy a major city. Radiation would spread by the wind to cover a large area as a secondary effect. The shockwave depending upon detonation height would destroy some buildings. You could achieve the same effect with enough conventional bombs.

Jericho had more the disruption of infrastructure and government leadership from 23 simultaneous atomic blasts. The country survived, but was disorganized until leadership and supply chains were rebuilt.

Nuclear winter refers to the debris cloud by multiple detonations covering the atmosphere much like a large volcanic eruption (Krakatoa) or the First Gulf War oil fires. This would produce climatic changes depending upon the location and amount.

Now using a bomb to trigger an earthquke by exploding it along a fault line would produce wide spread devastation, but even that is unlikely.

[ Friday, April 25, 2008 13:36: Message edited by: Randomizer ]
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by Randomizer:

Now using a bomb to trigger an earthquke by exploding it along a fault line would produce wide spread devastation, but even that is unlikely.
Earthquakes involve the release of truly enormous amounts of energy, more than even a nuclear bomb produces. I doubt you could cause any major tectonic changes by nuking the continental plates.

The current consensus also seems to be that a severe nuclear winter isn't a likely outcome of nuclear war. Nuking every city with a population of over 100,000 or so could end civilisation as we know it, but I doubt a nuclear war could send humanity extinct on its own.

[ Friday, April 25, 2008 13:46: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Agent
Member # 4574
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The biggest nuclear bomb, to the best of my knowledge, was the tsar bomba. Its explosive yield was fifty megatons, although the Soviets could have gone up to one hundred megatons. They didn't however, feel that that much radiation was worth the sabre-rattling it would give them.

Anyways, it was tested. Humanity was destroyed. All that's left if a bunch of zombies spending their lives on computer terminals, deep indoors away from the radioactive surface.

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Shock Trooper
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I this link will enlighen you greatly. We cant afford to have a mine shaft gap.

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Posts: 228 | Registered: Monday, October 21 2002 07:00
Guardian
Member # 5360
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But the question is, could we build a bomb large enough to wipe out humanity in a single go? Including radiation, light, sound, and shockwave.

[ Friday, April 25, 2008 17:50: Message edited by: Faint Piping of Two Demoniac Flutes ]

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Posts: 1636 | Registered: Wednesday, January 5 2005 08:00
Canned
Member # 7704
Profile #9
A bomb must have a target.
Places like the Australian deserts, Russia's taiga, islands, way up north, way down south and deep space wouldn't be targeted .
The people there would survive the horrible holocaust would have their lives complicated by the nuclear waste in the atmosphere and in the ocean.
Our descendants wouldn't live they would survive.
As many biologists looked in the fossil record the only way to be certain to leave a species no chance what so ever is that the plants at the bottom of the food chain get replaced by an other type of plant.
As we are not witnessing any brutal changes in the food chain, mankind, even crippled by atomic war, would have great chances of survival.
It would be difficult to wipe out humanity with one or many bombs.

[ Friday, April 25, 2008 21:59: Message edited by: upon mars ]

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Posts: 312 | Registered: Sunday, November 26 2006 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
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No, I don't believe we could construct a single bomb that would kill everyone. That would be scaling up H-bomb technology by a factor of, oh, at least a million, probably a lot more, and technologies like that do not scale well. To rub out everyone you would need to make a bomb that actually did significant damage to the planet itself, and as Thuryl said, we are not in that league.

Humans are just not capable of global-scale effects over time periods less than centuries. We are simply not (yet?) that powerful. The scaremongers for a succession of causes have suppressed people's sense of scale. No doubt their intentions in doing so were noble, but it was dumb and dangerous, because it amounts to crying wolf.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #11
quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

Earthquakes involve the release of truly enormous amounts of energy, more than even a nuclear bomb produces. I doubt you could cause any major tectonic changes by nuking the continental plates.
But some tectonic plates are already under tension along the fault lines. Perhaps a bomb might shake something loose just enough to trigger an earthquake that might have happened anyway in the next few millennia?

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Warrior
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With current technology we might be able to take out the human species with a sufficiently sized asteroid, but that's beside the point.

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Posts: 74 | Registered: Friday, March 17 2006 08:00
Councilor
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Would it count if we attached a nuclear bomb to the asteroid? :P

Dikiyoba.

[ Saturday, April 26, 2008 06:01: Message edited by: Dikiyoba ]

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Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
Profile Homepage #14
quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:

Would it count if we attached a nuclear bomb to the asteroid? :P

Dikiyoba.

ASTEROIDS with frigging NUKES attached to their HEADS!

:P

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Did-chat thentagoespyet jumund fori is jus, hat onlime gly nertan ne gethen Firyoubbit 'obio.'
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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Shaper
Member # 32
Profile #15
I imagine if you wanted to do the most damage it would be by detonating a large quantity of them within the oceans. It wouldn't directly impact humans; however, I imagine the irradiated rain would be unpleasant...

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Posts: 2462 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Councilor
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Profile Homepage #16
quote:
Originally written by Arancaytar:

quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:

Would it count if we attached a nuclear bomb to the asteroid? :P

Dikiyoba.

ASTEROIDS with frigging NUKES attached to their HEADS!

:P

Dikiyoba shall inform the Really Quite Evil Coalition of Sharks and Velociraptors to add it to their arsenal at once!

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Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Shaper
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How do we know you aren't already a raptor? You seem to know the name they operate under...

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Posts: 2864 | Registered: Monday, September 8 2003 07:00
Councilor
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Dikiyoba assures you that raptors and dikiyoras are very different. The fact that they are both similarily-sized evil reptiles is mere coincidence.

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Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Law Bringer
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RAPTORS on ASTEROIDS with frigging NUKES attached to their HEADS!

—Alorael, who sees would like to see a movie based on this. Randall Munroe could direct.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Lifecrafter
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I personally wonder, sticking nukes to asteroids, what would happen to said nukes when they reach the Earth's gravitational field. Usually this does some damage to stellar objects once they enter the atmosphere, correct?

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Posts: 743 | Registered: Friday, September 29 2006 07:00
Shaper
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Profile Homepage #21
I don't think it matters. Once the RAPTORS land, we're done for.

This may be the only way to survive, though it says nothing of asteroids.

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Posts: 2864 | Registered: Monday, September 8 2003 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #22
One can't really 'reach' anything's gravitational field. Gravitational fields just gradually get weaker with distance; there is no sharp boundary.

There isn't really a perfectly sharp boundary for the Earth's atmosphere, either, but it does fade out much more quickly than the Earth's gravity, so one can speak of 'entering' the Earth's atmosphere. And then it's just a matter of friction, from falling very fast through increasingly thick air. Spacecraft and meteors get windburn.

It would be a problem for nukes, not to mention raptors. But nukes can be heat-shielded well enough to survive entering the atmosphere from space. That's what ICBMs do, after all. They leave the atmosphere and re-enter it.

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Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
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So, are you saying that raptors can't be heat-shielded, or that no one has tried?

This could be a bizness opportunaty for someone.

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Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Shaper
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Profile Homepage #24
quote:
Originally written by Jumpin Salmon:

So, are you saying that raptors can't be heat-shielded, or that no one has tried?

This could be a bizness opportunaty for someone.

You'd lose too many men trying to get to the raptor hive, never mind telling them your plans. And, for all we know, they might already be heat-shielded - everybody who was sent to find out was devoured before they could return.

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