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Unimaginable pressure and wind

August 1, 2014

Wind from nuclear testMany of us have experienced strong winds. On the coast of Norway we often have storms and also hurricanes now and then. They can be scary and it seems incredible when roofs are blown off houses and big fishing boats are washed ashore. Along with the blast, the heat, the electromagnetic pulse, and the ionizing radiation, the detonation of a nuclear weapon creates unimaginably strong and destructive winds.

An explosion is a super-fast combustion that creates heat and pressure. Explosions can be chemical, electrical, mechanical, and nuclear. The last is by far the most devastating. In an explosion, the material that encapsulates the explosive is disrupted and torn apart. The pressure wave spreads in every direction as a strong wind. The relatively small atomic bombs that were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki instantly created winds from these pressure waves that exceeded the strongest hurricanes. The winds created by today’s nuclear weapons, which are about a hundred times more destructive than the bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would be even stronger—perhaps 300 meters per second (almost 10 times the speed of a normal hurricane).

What happens in a nuclear explosion is that everything within a radius of several kilometers that is struck by such a shock-wave is destroyed. Buildings collapse, glass is crushed and everything that is loose—including people, animals, cars, furniture, and construction materials—is taken by the wind and crushed against hard objects. Along with the heat, the fires and the firestorms created by a nuclear explosion, these unimaginable winds are a horrifying reality that can be launched upon us all at any time.

In Hiroshima, about one third of all fatalities came in the matter of seconds as a result of the wind itself or from flying debris, particularly splinters of glass. And the wind comes from both directions. Since the enormous heat from the nuclear fireball rises quickly into the sky, a vacuum is created at the center of the explosion. The wind, therefore, turns after some few seconds and comes back toward its origin with the same devastating force. In addition, the vacuum created by the rising air sucks oxygen out of bomb shelters and suffocates those who believed they were safe there.

Moreover, apart from the noise from the blast that can lead to both acute and long lasting effects, the increased air pressure is, in itself, also harmful to the human body. In Nagasaki, the measured overpressure from the blast was between 59 and 70 kilopascal (kPa). Humans can survive an overpressure of about 200 kPa, but even an overpressure of 22 kPa is enough to rupture eardrums, and an overpressure of 70 kPa creates a great risk of serious damage to the lungs and abdominal organs. The overpressure created by an explosion of today’s nuclear weapons can reach 345 kPa.

Nuclear weapons are made solely to destroy cities and to exterminate humans. Nuclear weapons are only evil and are feared and reviled for good reason.

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