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The horrible effects of nuclear weapons.

For years I’ve been looking for a table that illustrates the horrid effects of nuclear weapons. Have not seen anything that matched what I had in mind.

My poking around for information on this current series of nukes has led me to many places on the good ol’ net. After looking at several articles, I thought to check on Wikipedia. Guess what? Found a reasonable approximation of what I have been wanting.

 

The lesson from this data for those on active duty is that nuclear safety is imperative.

The lesson for the rest of us is that we and our leaders must strive to make sure nuclear weapons are never used.

 

The Wikipedia article is Effects of nuclear explosions.

The following table is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The original author is not visible, so I cannot give further attribution.

In short version, that means I can use the information, modify it, adapt it, share it, or distribute it, even commercially if so desired.

The requirement of doing so is that anything created from this data must be shared with others under the same license.

So, the information in this blog post, but only this specific blog post, may be used by anyone under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

 

The frightening effects of nuclear weapons:

Effects Explosive yield / height of burst
1 kt / 200 m 20 kt / 540 m 1 Mt / 2.0 km 20 Mt / 5.4 km
Blast—effective ground range GR / km
Urban areas completely leveled (20 psi or 140 kPa) 0.2 0.6 2.4 6.4
Destruction of most civilian buildings (5 psi or 34 kPa) 0.6 1.7 6.2 17
Moderate damage to civilian buildings (1 psi or 6.9 kPa) 1.7 4.7 17 47
Railway cars thrown from tracks and crushed
(62 kPa; values for other than 20 kt are extrapolated using the cube-root scaling)
≈0.4 1.0 ≈4 ≈10
Thermal radiation—effective ground range GR / km
Fourth degree burns, Conflagration 0.5 2.0 10 30
Third degree burns 0.6 2.5 12 38
Second degree burns 0.8 3.2 15 44
First degree burns 1.1 4.2 19 53
Effects of instant nuclear radiation—effective slant range1 SR / km
Lethal2 total dose (neutrons and gamma rays) 0.8 1.4 2.3 4.7
Total dose for acute radiation syndrome2 1.2 1.8 2.9 5.4

Footnotes from the Wikipedia article:

  • 1 For the direct radiation effects the slant range instead of the ground range is shown here, because some effects are not given even at ground zero for some burst heights. If the effect occurs at ground zero the ground range can be derived from slant range and burst altitude (Pythagorean theorem).
  • 2 “Acute radiation syndrome” corresponds here to a total dose of one gray, “lethal” to ten grays. This is only a rough estimate since biological conditions are neglected here.

 

Yeah, if that table doesn’t frighten you, then you didn’t read it carefully enough.

I will condense that information and then convert to miles instead of kilometers.

First, the above data is condensed into a shorter format. Distances in kilometers.

distances in kilometers 1 kt 20 kt 1 mt 20 mt
Blast – kilometers
urban area destroyed – 20 psi      0.2       0.6       2.4       6.4
destroy most civilian buildings – 5 psi      0.6       1.7       6.2     17.0
moderate damage to buildings – 1 psi      1.7       4.7     17.0     47.0
Thermal radiation – heat – kilometers
3rd degree burns      0.6       2.5     12.0     38.0
2nd degree burns      0.8       3.2     15.0     44.0
1st degree burns      1.1       4.2     19.0     53.0
Instant nuclear radiation – kilometers
lethal dose      0.8       1.4       2.3       4.7
acute radiation syndrome      1.2       1.8       2.9       5.4

 

Next, the distances are converted from kilometers to miles at 0.621 miles to the kilometer.

distances in miles 1 kt 20 kt 1 mt 20 mt
Blast – miles distance
urban area destroyed – 20 psi       0.1       0.4       1.5       4.0
destroy most civilian buildings – 5 psi       0.4       1 .1       3.9     10.6
moderate damage to buildings – 1 psi       1.1       2.9     10.6     29.2
Thermal radiation – heat – miles distance
3rd degree burns       0.4      1.6       7.5     23.6
2nd degree burns       0.5       2.0       9.3     27.3
1st degree burns       0.7       2.6     11.8     32.9
Instant nuclear radiation – miles distance
lethal dose       0.5       0.9        1.4       2.9
acute radiation syndrome       0.7       1.1        1.8       3.4

 

Finally, the distances of devastation are converted to the number of square miles the damage would theoretically cover.

damage area in square miles 1 kt 20 kt 1 mt 20 mt
Blast – square miles
urban area destroyed – 20 psi       0.0       0.4       7.0        49.6
destroy most civilian buildings – 5 psi       0.4       3.5     46.6      350.1
moderate damage to buildings – 1 psi       3.5     26.8    350.1  2,676.2
Thermal radiation – heat – square miles
3rd degree burns       0.4       7.6   174.5  1,749.4
2nd degree burns       0.8     12.4   272.6  2,345.4
1st degree burns       1.5     21.4   437.3  3,403.1
Instant nuclear radiation – square miles
lethal dose       0.8       2.4       6.4     26.8
acute radiation syndrome       1.7       3.9     10.2     35.3

 

Equivalent megatons

A hundred kilton nuke is not ten times more powerful than ten kt.  The relationship is actually to the two-thirds power.  The way to compare weapons is ‘equivalent megatons’ which is calculated as:

MT^(2/3)

In other words, the weapon size expressed in megatons, raised to the power of 2/3.

yield 1 kt 20 kt 1 mt 20 mt
megaton      0.001      0.020      1.000    20.000
equivalent mt      0.010      0.074      1.000      7.368
ratio of next lower size          7.4        13.6          7.4

 

Again, the ugly message from the above information is nuclear weapons are horrible and should not be used.

As previously mentioned, the information in this blog post, but only this specific blog post, may be used by anyone under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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