Tactical nuclear artillery being fired (@0:50): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46GBjlUOROY&feature=relat...
Anyway, the damage you're seeing isn't actually typical for a nuclear blast. It's an effect called the precursor wind, and is in fact one of the distinctive things tested by shot Grable.
A precursor is a very strong dynamic wind caused by the
shell’s oblique angle of approach, and its high
horizontal speed. The nuclear explosion essentially
inherits the shell’s forward momentum, which sweeps
across the landscape causing extensive drag damage in
addition to the typical destruction. For instance, a jeep
which had been left virtually untouched by the much more
powerful Encore device was completely torn apart by the
artillery blast, and thrown a distance of about 500 feet.
Your comment about the paint instantly turning to ash and blowing away made me think of the book. At a certain distance from the bomb, the wave isn't strong enough to instantly kill you, but much like paint on a car, you're skin will instantly blister from the heat, and then be blown off by the shock wave.
Horrifying stuff, but a really, really interesting read.
Then the fireball, being very hot and much less dense than the air around it, rises. Air is sucked towards ground zero, producing the backwash, and the characteristic mushroom cloud of any very large explosion.
I'm pretty sure these were used in bunkers (at least in the UK) as well as satellites.
A comprehensive explanation can be found here.
Is there really no doubt? I didn't see any more details in the article pertaining to the deaths, but for the sake of not implying that correlation == causation, I would point out that most cancer patients were never involved in nuclear testing (and, conversely, the cameraman who said the above also shows contradictory results).
Are cancer incidence rates higher among those around nuclear explosions? Yes. http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/health-effects/rad-ex...
Is there a plausible mechanism by which radiation exposure leads to cancer? yes. http://hss.energy.gov/healthsafety/ohre/roadmap/achre/intro_...
These two facts greatly increase the probability of linkage.
Not that I'm trying to controvert your point. This is just an allusion to an enterprising journalist's research.
Sometimes I think correlation not only doesn't equal causation, but counters causation, like a son doing well not because of his overbearing mother, but in spite of it. (She would claim the credit anyhow.) - I've read about vaccines causing diseases they are proclaimed to guard against - "weaponized vaccines."
The case for the major vaccines is open and shut. In the past fifteen years the roster has been populated with some stuff that's less clear, but targetting diseases that are much less dangerous. If you are going to make arguments against vaccines like measles, polio, diphtheria, tetanus you _really_ must do more homework. These are very serious diseases and we really don't want casual free-riders avoiding vaccination.
I don't think vaccine usage is an open and shut case at all and there are many sub-issues and I'm not getting into a micro-discussion now on this thread.
Correlation doesn't imply causation, but causation DOES lead to correlation obviously.... and the reason those vaccines are done, idealistically, is because they've been proven to work.
Epidemics of non-vaccinated people wiped out entire cultures....
The only reason we don't hand out smallpox vaccines is because it's considered by health authorities around the world to be eradicated..... the last known naturally-occurring case was in 1978. At that point, vaccination is more dangerous that not vaccinating - but if smallpox were to arise again, you want to vaccinate as many people as possible to protect everyone.
Those ages seem to me like pretty good, even mostly quite long lifespans for someone who was already an adult in 1950s.
So were millions of other people, none of whom were subjected to that level of ionizing radiation. It's relatively easy to control for factors like that.
Well, there's actually some pretty good proof here that the explosion was closer than that: I count the time between light and sound to be slightly less than 13 seconds (and voices sound right so I'm assuming the recording is accurate in that respect). That would mean the explosion is about 14 000 feet away from the camera.
Edit: Also, I watched the relevant portion of the video a couple more times, it seems like there's a possibility the audio is edited. The video cuts back and forth so it's clearly not a continuous shot, we're just trusting that they kept the timing the same and the audio the same, which seems like a bit much to hope for.
distance = 1,116.44 feet/second * 12 seconds = 13,397.28 feet
I was thinking it was the significant digits after the decimal. It's always been my weakness calculation-wise.
How about 14E3 feet? :P
No: Ground bursts cause way more fallout. Air pretty much can not become radioactive no matter how powerful the bomb. But soil can, so it becomes radioactive, then is scattered by the wind.
The fallout from the bomb itself is different and is the same for both - but it's a smaller component, since there isn't that much of it.
The shock wave is probably also less damaging because it comes from straight above so it won't pick up objects and throw them at you.
I remember seeing some statistics when I lived in St. George 15 years ago (like high school dropouts) from 18 years after the tests. There was a huge increase in dropouts (and other negative indicators) as the downwinder babies reached adulthood.
It's abundantly clear that the people near the Nevada Test Site suffered hugely from cancer because of these aboveground tests. This national shame is documented in disturbing detail in the book. (It has 11 reviews on Amazon, all 5-star reviews.)
Some shots were particularly dirty, with unexpectedly much fallout. They couldn't/didn't predict this in advance, it was just bad luck if you happened to be nearby when one of these dirty tests went off.
In my country, the children close to the oil refinery have the same behaviour, from heavy metal poisoning.
As someone who has only cursory knowledge of atomic explosions and radiation damage, I was always under the impression that standing under an explosion such as this would almost guarantee a death during or shortly after.
I suppose it's a lot like HIV. Unprotected sex with an HIV positive person doesn't * guarantee* disease contraction, which is the impression I was always get. Not worth the risk, by any means, but still different than I had always been taught.
"The United States conducted around 1,054 nuclear tests (by official count) between 1945 and 1992.... The Soviet Union conducted 715 nuclear tests (by official count) between 1949 and 1990... France conducted 210 nuclear tests between February 13, 1960 and January 27, 1996..."
Fallout isn't as dangerous as it is commonly portrayed, the bomb's effects are often overstated on every dimension, etc.
But of course, who really wants to go out of their way to correct the record? A number of people reading this will find a strong emotional inclination to leap to the conclusion that this post is pro-nuclear-war advocacy or something. But the truth is that while nukes can't destroy the world or destroy the entire ecosystem (even "nuclear winter" is highly questionable, especially in light of subsequent experiences with high-atmosphere particles, such as in the Kuwait oil fires), they still can kill millions directly and effectively destroy civilization as we know it by wiping out potentially every major city in the world (and get a good bit of damage on the medium-sized ones, too), killing billions more. Perhaps it isn't so bad that the dangers are played up a bit. The real dangers they pose are much harder to understand than the Hollywood B-grade movie version in popular culture, but still quite bad.
If you understate some risks and overstate others, then you misallocate resources -- and if those resources are substantial enough to make a difference, this means that people get hurt and die because you were wrong about the severity and probability of risks. This is something where you can and should try to be right.
Yes, no-new-nukes would be a major step forward. Unfortunately it seems that the Cold War is still on, with the USA building missile defense systems in the eastern Europe and the Russia responding with more missiles near its western borders.
Needless to say, wartime use of nuclear weapons would not be underground.
It is instructive that the US, UK and USSR were able to agree, at the height of the Cold War (this was less than a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis), to ban atmospheric tests.
This is sort of what I'm getting at when I said people will have a hard time reading my post as being something other than pro-nuclear advocacy. justinatjustat is also providing a vivid demonstration. People simply can not help but collapse "It's not as dangerous as you think" to a claim that "It's not dangerous", no matter how obviously illogical that is once plainly stated. Even here on HN, talking about it rationally is a challenge. There's something deep, deep inside of us that is just utterly freaked out by radiation. I wonder if it's part of our disgust instinct (which is, evolutionarily, a relatively recent development and nearly isolated to humans, almost nothing else on Earth can be "disgusted" as we can).
My points are simply that: you cannot derive a conclusion about the danger of fallout from the large number of nuclear tests that have occured, since the majority of those tests were underground and many of those that weren't were of relatively modest yield; and that the real danger of fallout was significant enough to bring arch foes to the negotiating table during the height of the Cold War. I'm sure their respective nuclear scientists were well aware of the real dangers.
A nuclear bomb like this is deterministic. Based on the distance, altitude, size (power), and type (fission, fusion, specifics of the design - especially the tamper) of the bomb you can calculate exactly what and how dangerous the effects will be.
The military was trying to show that they are able to make these calculations correctly, and that used appropriately, this type of bomb an be used without undesired damage.
It didn't work for them though, because people have an irrational fear of anything nuclear and are not interesting in hearing about any calculations.
It's one of those paradoxes similar to how people are completely unable to correctly calculate how risky an action will be. For example people are scared of flying but not crossing the street (a common event comes to be seen as less risky) or driving a car (if you are in control it seems less risky).
> It's amazing how these men have went on to live such long lives.
No, actually it was completely expected. If you can manage to internalize this, and actually believe inside your head that these men were quite safe then you will have gone a long way toward conquering an irrational fear.
PS. You may be thinking of Cancer when comparing to HIV which is indeed a random thing.
A lot of this stuff made its way into building codes, after some nuclear tests to figure out what worked.
and then perhaps you wish you had not shelved your "irrational" fear.
"Shot Harry was detonated on a 300-foot tower. The 32-kiloton explosion heaved a vast amount of earth into the air, much of it vaporized, most of it as a fine powder, all of it radioactive..."
My point is simply that it's hard to stay safe when within a couple miles of an energy release of that size, no matter what your model tells you. Downvote if you like; this seems pretty non-controversial.
It's both wonderful and creepy. They've restored some beautiful old mechanical computers which are works of art in my eyes, but they also point out that the missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads, "but they neither confirm nor deny" whether the missiles at this facility ever had them installed. They _do_ however point out that not only were the missiles capable of taking down incoming aircraft heading towards San Francisco, but they were also pre-targetted at Sacramento… "Just in case" (I'm sure the guys who run the tours are pretty good at setting just the right tone with their stories, but they certainly left me with some interesting impressions).
I _highly_ recommend the tour of SF88 to anybody who's got an afternoon spare in San Francisco.
I'm at bit of a loss. Just in case what? Sacramento declares secession? Berkeley radicals march on the capitol? Taken over by Russians? Austrians?
Like I said, there's some distinctly creepy bits about that whole thing.
The military did it as a publicity stunt to assuage public fears of nuclear-tipped air-to-air missiles by showing that even if they were used in a dogfight directly over a city, they wouldn't pose any risk to those on the ground. The volunteers were even supposed to not wear a helmet or hat to show that it was fine for normal people. If I recall correctly from having seen this discussed previously, they measured radiation doses received, and found that the highest doses (but still not at dangerous levels) were received by the pilots involved in the test, not the ground volunteers.
This was from the relatively short-lived era when several militaries were hoping to make a distinction between "strategic" nuclear weapons, the kind that blow up cities and would only be used in doomsday scenarios, and "tactical" nuclear weapons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_nuclear_weapon), small-yield varieties that would just be like very big regular weapons and could conceivably be used in a non-apocalyptic war. Due to a mixture of public opposition and fears of international chain reactions that might result from "going nuclear", though, that initiative failed, which is why you saw a transition back into really-gigantic conventional weapons in the 1990s, e.g. the MOAB (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GBU-43/B_Massive_Ordnance_Air_B...).
At least that's what the movies tell me...
ICs are a lot more sensitive to EMP than vacuum-tube devices.
The amount of EMP experienced is a function both of the size of the size of the nuke, and of the receiving antenna. One reason the Starfish and Hardtack bursts affected street lighting systems is that these were attached directly to the electrical grid: power lines == large antennas.
Blast yields were also in the megaton range, 1000x greater than the one here.
Then think about our crazy high cancer rates.
So, what's your point exactly ?
Phrased like that it sounds a shame, but I have no idea if this is true or not. My understanding of C14 dating is that it relys on the half-life of C14 being predictable. But my understanding of radioactive decay is that it is not perfectly deterministic. This suggests to me that you might need a bit of time for the radioactive decay to trend to its expected average rate.
So [all of history: rising C14 level] ... [-nuclear tests-] = now double of all of history rate to that date.
I found it interesting and the discussion was even better, I've regularly had a low-grade curiosity about nuclear testing, the effects on people, etc, and a lot of that was brought up (with references true HN style) in the comments. So it is exactly hacker news.
Much like in real life as a programmer - it's not always editors, programming languages etc, sometimes it's just fun. Not too long ago, the whole dev team ended up roped into a heavy discussion one afternoon, we were debating and calculating the observed effects of some hypothetical phenomenon, full whiteboard and math style. The boss comes in and tells us problems with our math and helps us whip up a quick simulation to figure it out. (this is at a university, the bosses are pretty smart cookies, professors and the like) After a couple hours for us (an hour for him), he says, "ok, I guess I should probably suggest you get back to work, but this was fun!". Amusingly 2 of the devs got modules back on schedule the next day, apparently we all just needed some hard but fun and unrelated problem. HN can have that too :)