Great disaster movies often plot a nuclear war scenario, but what if the horrors we witness on the film succumb to reality? Nuclear weapons, fallout, the cold war, radiation, and nuclear attacks will decrease the urban population and result in devastation. Let’s get aware of the most terrible inventions – the bombs.
Nowadays, in a contemporary world, in our so-called nuclear age, any criminal community, even the smallest terrorist organization, may prepare nuclear weapons and launch an attack. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But it’s true.
In this article, we will discuss many topics, starting from the Cold War, types of Nuclear Weapons, more precisely, nuclear bombs, and ending with the Nuclear Winter description.
The U.S. and Soviet Russia: Cold War in the Past
In the middle of the 20th century, the cold war started heating (nice pun, right?). That was the time of the late 40s when the USSR blasted the 1st atomic bomb. After some time, the USSR blasted the 1st bomb that was thermonuclear. So, as a result, Cold War started between the U.S. and the USSR and lasted for many years.
At some point in time, at the peak of the Cold War, both enemies had around 20 thousand nuclear weapons – thermonuclear bombs – directed at one another. Those enormously big amounts of warheads assured that no meaningful attack from either USSR or the U.S. would leave the other side unable to carry out tremendous damage on the other side. Arms control policy was in charge. Although things were getting rough, they were stable, as both nations mentioned that they acted solely in their own interests and that the World would be safe, and that no one wanted to have War.
Well, I’d say the United States could only hope that the USSR was accumulating nuclear weapons in their state interests. As mentioned by their authorities, targeting approximately 20 thousand warheads was not in their “best” interests. No, it was rather an arms race.
It was scary to live with such huge amounts of nuclear weapons directed at each other for such a large amount of time. Peace and stability had come when everyone understood one thing: the more nuclear weapons each side possesses, the less the Nuclear War chances.
As of now, in the contemporary world, we have a completely different system of strategic nuclear weapons. Since the USSR split and the various nuclear demilitarization treaties that followed after its split, the U.S. protection weapons forces nowadays are only a small portion of what they were in the 80s.
For laypeople and amateur liberal politicians who see the States as the biggest menace to the stability in the World, our decline of nuclear forces is acclaimed as a great accomplishment for the sake of durable peace. In fact, the fewer nuclear weapons there are all over the countries, the less the probability that they will be made use of for their direct purposes.
The logic behind this all is that if all of the current life on the planet will be destroyed by the nuclear war results, then the most rational countries (as I hope, no one) won’t be willing to organize such a nuclear attack.
Nonetheless, if this scenario and nuclear conflict will arise and all the resulting situation is seen as something manageable in terms of losses, then what tactic would be used? That’s a tough question.
Moreover, throughout the Cold War, the US’s main opponent was a radical communist, dictatorial, atheist society. In its turn, the USSR always favored the State and the government over its citizens, families, and God. Did you actually know that countries that were communist removed everything that mentioned God – people didn’t even have churches. It is vital for dictatorial authorities to reject God’s concept; this way, they would ban the worship of any God or Idol. People should only trust the State and communism and the head leader, and there was no deity that confused individual’s preferences and ideas.
The State should be in the first place, and as V.I. Lenin mentioned, if there is a State that is the leader – there can be zero freedom for people; when there is freedom for people, there will be no State.
And including the fact that the USSR disproved the Holy existence, the Soviet Union nuclear position did not rely upon religious views. Despite being a country with free religious rights, the US did not include God in its protective nuclear doctrine.
A Scenario of the New Nukes
As of today, radical Islam is our new and most dangerous enemy. But Islam is differentiating from the U.S. nation and USSR nation- it indeed has religious beliefs that affect its military strategies.
Nowadays, if such an extreme Islamic country, e.g., Iran, would be allowed to produce nuclear weapons, there would be severe consequences. They have already openly declared that they would use nuclear weapons toward their opponents, particularly Israel and the US.
Such countries that want to fight aren’t scared to have any kind of losses in the nuclear conflict. It is again all due to the religion: Islam people think and believe that each soul which succumbs protecting Allah will be rewarded after dying – in the afterlife; thus, such people are not afraid of nuclear weapons, nor death… for them, it is a way to reach for a greater existence.
This way, the nuclear war’s initial conception is bursting at the seams, as the nuclear attack back is not scary anymore. It might even be a desired torture to get to the afterlife. The restraint effects that worked perfectly with the USSR (and to a lesser degree with such a nation as China) are decreased to zero.
Still, some people think that nuclear weapons are too hard to be developed in a 3rd World country; I would say the following: nuclear weapons were created before the invention of cloured TVs, before the garage doorway opener, before the invention of the microwave, before microelectronic devices. Even before the radio… What is more, we are now discussing the technology of the late 40s: the nuclear weapons were created 10 years before we sent a satellite into space orbit.
Therefore, let’s take a look at the 3 general kinds of nuclear weapons that the world may see.
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1) The Dirty Bomb Blast
This bomb is not expensive and difficult to build. On the other hand, this one is the most reliable bomb that a terrorist can use. If you have access to the radioactive waste, then you can probably build it.
This device consists of a standard explosive bomb that is covered radioactive waste (in layers). And we are not discussing something like plutonium right now, more like the radioactive waste that arises from medical and manufacturing toxic streams. And those elements are radioactive and extremely hazardous weapons. They would make any person really weak and even can kill with prolonged exposure, as they lead to such diseases as cancer and leukemia, and all kinds of unpleasant diseases if exhibited to them.
The bomb explodes and basically blasts the contaminated waste into a ton of subtle pieces that are blown away by the wind. Those weapons could even cover an area the size of some city or a small block of cities. This area will be called hot. Sometimes it is called a polluted area. Basically, any person who crosses this area can have long-term negative health consequences. And due to such huge loss of good cells and big cell damage in general, the death will reach within hours or days as opposed to years if sick with cancer, so such weapons could kill.
In case the radioactive particles are very contaminated and are employed in the bomb-making process, then the consequences of the explosion would be severe. Let’s imagine those are radioactive fuel particles from manufacture or a scientific-research nuclear reactor. Then we will observe a critical and unstoppable radiation poisoning for everyone in the closest neighborhoods.
But there are some bright sides: the Dirty Bomb has a somewhat restricted range of the impact of the warheads. Well, as we discussed, it would pollute certain cities. After the cleaning process and decontamination of the area, the city blocks would become suitable for life in a concise timeframe.
Moreover, since it has a very localized impact, the most helpful thing to do if the Dirty Bomb explodes nearby your city is to hide, stay inside, stop traveling, and don’t go to the open space for a certain time. You may get down to your basement and turn on the radio or TV to find out what has happened and what exactly is the kind of disaster. I suggest you not try leaving your living place without any official information. Murphy’s Law says that you will leave your safe home and run right into the “Hot Zone,” attempting to save your life… So Stay Where You Are.
2) Atomic War Bomb
This bomb is also known as our friend the Atomic bomb – this is the bomb that was blasted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the latest years of World War II. Those types of weapons are not considered to be large-scale nuclear weapons. It is true that around 100.000 people succumbed to the atomic bomb in Japan, but compared to thermonuclear bomb effects – it’s just fireworks. It is important to mention that we are now operating with such numbers as 1000s of tons of TNT and millions of TNT tons.
The atomic bomb is named as such due to the process of nuclear splitting atoms. Nuclear fission happens when a huge amount of enriched and very hot isotopes, e.g., Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239, come to a, so to say, critical mass. At this very mass, the dangerous decay happening in the particles of the atomic material creates a chain reaction. This reaction works as per the following: radioactive atoms from the decay of 1 atom come through some other particles. They break them and release a flow of new bits that break. As a result, there are even more particles that are ready to do the same work.
So, that way, the chain reaction progresses, and the heat with the nuclear radioactivity comes in the form of beta, alpha, or gamma waves.
The question arises: how do we reach a critical mass of particles so that the bomb would explode?
The Hiroshima bomb named the “Little Boy” made use of 2 distinct U-235 pieces. One of them was acting as a bullet, and the other one was a target: this is the configuration of the Gun tube.
It works as per the following:
- The atomic charge explodes and makes the mass of the uranium bullet down the tube at a huge speed;
- Then it runs into the target particle with a giant amount of kinetic energy;
- They, basically, “melt” commonly due to the heat produced from the collision;
- In the end, this combined mass exceeds the critical mass, and a chain reaction begins.
On the other hand, we have a bomb from Nagasaki called “Fat Man,” and it has an implosion method of work. And it has such a mechanism:
- 2 round hemispheres of Plutonium-239 are circled by atomic ‘lenses’;
- At the inner part of the sphere, there is a tiny particle. Let’s call it the initiator. It consists of such elements as polonium and beryllium. The initiator itself serves as a catalyzer to start a reaction;
- The hemispheres also have a layer of Uranium-238 connecting the plutonium and the initiator. It works as a sort of radioactive nonconductor and neutron reflector;
- The Plutonian’s mass with the initiator inside is enough to create a critical mass, but not in a hollow spherical configuration, as the quantity of plutonium is meager, and the uranium protection blocks the neutrons;
- During the process of the explosion, the shaped charges shift the bursting power into the center of the hemispheres, squeezing and tightening it evenly from all of its sides to push the sphere into itself. It results in increased density, so the critical mass becomes sufficient, and a chain reaction begins.
A gun tube is a far more simple configuration, but the implosion method is much more effective. It simply generates more explosive power for the weapons.
In general, this design is likewise crucial for our next type of weapons.
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3) Thermonuclear Nuclear Bomb
This bomb is also called a Hydrogen bomb or fusion bomb. These weapons use the power produced by nuclear fusion. That kind of fusion happens when the particles of a substance fuse altogether to form more complex atoms, e.g., hydrogen, into helium. For the integration process, as researchers say, one will have to heat certain elements to a VERY-VERY high temperature to begin the synthesis reaction.
Once the fusion starts working, the amount of power produced is much more than the power required to originally heighten the initial temperature of the components of the bomb.
The base of a thermonuclear bomb is a tiny fission bomb since it is not easy to warm up such a substance to 10 million degrees.
The fissionable bomb explodes, releasing heat, radiation, and neutrons: they, in turn, bomb heavy isotopes of hydrogen: deuterium and tritium. A thermonuclear effect begins when there are the proper temperature and neutron flux. As a result, an enormous quantity of energy is produced.
Interestingly, both the fissionable bomb and the thermonuclear bomb are just heaters: they produce a huge amount of heat when they detonate. This is contrary to traditional explosive weapons, where the explosive power is a result of the creation and extension of high-pressure gas.
Nuclear weapons would not generate any significant amount of gas for such purposes; however, they would produce heat, light, and radiation. You will instantly get blind if you are going to look at the detonation process, as you are not able to blink fast enough to turn it off.
For instance, the heat is so strong and sudden that it increases the warmth of the air nearby the bomb from 70 to 10 thousands millions degrees Fahrenheit in milliseconds!
Any gas, in our case it is air, extends its volume and density due to very high temperatures. Then, being ionized, it turns into a charged plasma. This superheated gas quickly extends its volume out, producing a shock wave. Such a wave moves almost at the speed of sound – a shockwave several tens of thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. The dig craters and holes that you see as a result on the ground are this very shock wave and the heat and smoke that goes along with it.
Besides, when most of the energy of the shock wave is expired, a vacuum is developed in the center of the burst. Guess what? The air starts rushing from all directions at tremendous speed to fulfill this airless area. It collects debris and soil when moving towards the dead center of the explosion, and when the air is exactly in the center of that burst, the whole mass rises. And here it is – a mushroom cloud with tons of soot and smoke.
Here’s the fascinating thing: according to researchers, if the bomb would explode in space, there would be almost no shock wave or mushroom cloud.
Below you can find a video that presents the evolution of a Nuclear Bomb.
If you would like to obtain more knowledge on the topic of Nuclear Physics and Atomic Theory, take a look at this.
Side Effects Of Nuclear Bombs: Electromagnetic Pulse
Another surprising element of any kind of nuclear detonation (to be precise, fission or fusion) is the electromagnetic pulse, shortly (EMP). It is a pulse of electromagnetic power that is produced when the bomb detonates.
It surges outwards very-very fastly, in line-of-sight, so if it happens high in the atmosphere, it can cover a vast territory. This blast of electromagnetic energy will create a voltage in an electrical or electronic circuit that isn’t protected. The generator windings have a very similar voltage, but the ones we are discussing right now have a way higher magnitude and power. Those voltages and induced amperage will burn all electronic devices in the field of view that is not shielded by EMP protection.
A Plot Of a Nuclear Attack by a 3rd World Country
Well, I guess the scenario of a nuclear attack by such a country (e.g., India and Pakistan) would look much different from an attack that the USSR could have organized.
A USSR invasion would have been organized, applying submarine-launched ballistic missiles to immediately erase the U.S. weapon stockpilings, command and control types of equipment, IC ballistic missiles to get our localized defenses and military foundations. Then the USSR would bomb sorties to destroy the U.S. general forces and big cities. Roughly thousands of warheads would be dropped on the U.S. inside the timeframe of 30-40 minutes. The bombers would demolish their remnants the next day.
For sure, the U.S. military forces and NATO would have employed some similar strategy – that’s why such a situation never occurred.
Nowadays, a nuclear attack scenario is probably going to arise out of nowhere, just out of a sudden, without any notice. And most probably, the vehicle that would deliver the nuclear weapons would not be something like an airplane or a rocket.
If I was questioning how a terrorist nation would start a nuclear strike on the ground of the U.S., I am sure it would be either a Ford F-150 with a camper shell over the bed or a Chevrolet Silverado – for those Bowtie lovers) or a container cargo ship.
Let us start with the following: if the military targets are such major port cities as New York City, LA, San Diego, Houston, Seattle, Boston, or Miami, then transferring a nuclear weapon will be a simple task. Just put the nuclear weapon in the baggage of a huge ocean container ship and wait for it to arrive at the desired city.
The criminal terrorists can blast some warheads before the unloading of the watercraft and very long before the custom checks the numbers of boxes placed on the vessel.
The Great Lake port cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Buffalo would represent a similar thing…
If the aim is placed in the countryside, e.g., such cities as Memphis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas, Denver, and Sacramento, then the most probable strategy of the terrorists would be a pickup truck that drives in and parks right in the heart of the targeted cities and remotely blasts some warheads from a distance or by the timer.
As far as I am concerned, in case a nuclear attack scenario is ever attempted by any terrorist group, the 1st sign that something is wrong… is when the temperature around jumps to roughly 10 million F.
To learn how a nuclear attack would influence you (if the attack happens in your city), get acquainted with nuclear blast maps. Then, make sure to read the presented article to get to know how to remain alive after a nuclear strike.
Keep in mind: Plan, Modify and Succeed.
Would the world survive a nuclear war?
First of all, hundreds of millions of people would die instantly after the first bomb blasts. Million people will later get sick with such diseases as cancer, leukemia due to ultraviolet radiation if the global nuclear war happens.
But after all, people can survive after a nuclear war, although the weapons would demolish huge cities and would cause a lot of threats.
One of the possible threats is a nuclear winter, a concept made by Carl Sagan. The nuclear winter is going to be a possible result of artic-cold temperatures all over the world. The mechanism of a process that results in a nuclear winter is a burst of soot from the volcanoes but in much larger amounts. The holes in the upper atmosphere caused by nitrogen oxides’ blowout and high temperatures would destroy the ozone layer. The smoke and the soot would burst out into the stratosphere. The temperature would be reduced to the Arctic as a result of a significant increase in the reflection of sunlight from the upper layers of the atmosphere. The nuclear winter would cause mass starvation, as no sunlight means no crops growing, no farming, etc.
How to survive a nuclear bombing?
Well, if you managed to survive a bombing of several warheads, then there is the next step.
To survive AFTER the bombing, hide in the basement or the center of your room: the effects of radiation are even worse than the bombing itself, as they are long-lasting and would cause a huge amount of losses, as radiation is extremely toxic. So, prepare some food supply and drinking water in advance. When you are in the basement – don’t go outside. Turn on the TV or the radio and listen to the news to get further information.
Some countries have bomb shelters and subway tunnels for their citizens to hide in there, so check in advance if you would be able to use them in your country.
How would a nuclear war start?
There are several scenarios in which the nuclear war would start: mechanical accidents, human errors, and planned nuclear-armed war. In each scenario, many people would die, and each scenario could lead to a potential nuclear war.
To my mind, several countries would cause a Nuclear War in modern society:
- The most evident conflict that is currently in the world’s news is the terrible terrorist attack from Islamists. Actually, 200 million people are adherents of this religion. There are many Islamist countries in the World: India and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and allies. They are not afraid to start the Nuclear War due to their religious beliefs, and they are not scared to have any losses;
- There is another threat, North Korea, a country pretty much like the Soviet Union with the dictatorial system in politics. North Korea has a huge nuclear arsenal. Their cruise missiles could reach around 13 thousand kilometers, and the continental part of the U.S. and allies would be in big trouble. Not to mention, according to the latest data, in 2020, North Korea revealed its modern ballistic missile. And in case a conflict burst out, both North Korea and NATO would blast warheads at each other; however, in 2020, we saw Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shaking hands, so let’s hope everything is gonna be OK.
- Asian threat: India and China. Both India and China have a conflict with NATO. And both China and India have enough nuclear weapons to start a war with the U.S.;
- And then, of course, we have Russia. Russian Nuclear Weapons are known all over the world. And the political conflict between the U.S., NATO and Russia, and the allies are also known all over the world. Both of our nuclear arsenals are huge enough to have a decent counterattack/attack against one another.
In any case, each version could lead to severe dramatic consequences.
How would a small nuclear war transform the entire planet?
Apart from the direct destruction of cities by nuclear explosions, the potential consequences of a nuclear war may include:
- Firestorms and a lot of smoke and soot in the upper atmosphere;
- A nuclear winter as a result of soot, heat, and smoke would burst into the stratosphere and block the direct sun rays. Nuclear winter is also dangerous as it leads, as forecast by researchers, to mass famine;
- The temporary loss of many modern technologies due to EMPS.
How quickly can Iran make a nuclear bomb?
As of today, Iran has at least a thousand working centrifuges. It is estimated that the production of a single core would take only 3 months for them; henceforth, it is expected that such a country as Iran can create its small nuclear arsenal within 4 to 6 months after deciding to build a bomb.