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Off the top of your head what is the most interesting fact you know?

Answer by Rohit Shinde:

#1. The Tsar Bomba is the most powerful nuclear bomb exploded till date. It had a yield of 50 Megatons.


To imagine 50 Megatons, here is an image. Note Hiroshima is on the extreme left. And it needs to be magnified!



Here are some interesting facts about that bomb:
  1. It was officially intended to have a yield of 100 Megatons. But it was toned down to 50 Megatons to allow the pilot of the bomber plane (which was going to drop the bomb) to get away.
    The plane only had 188 seconds to escape. 188 seconds between release and detonation.
    If the yield of the bomb had been 100 Megatons, then regardless of the speed of the plane, it would have been impossible to get out of the shockwave and the plane would have disintegrated.

  2. The yield of the bomb (50 MT) was 3300 times more powerful than Hiroshima and 1400 times as powerful as Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

  3. To allow the pilot time to get away, the bomb was deployed with parachutes. This would slow down the descent of the bomb, while allowing the plane to get as far away as possible.

  4. The plane was 30 Kilometres away when the bomb exploded. The explosion was so much that the plane went into 1 Km freefall before recovering.

  5. During the Cold War arms race, America had been building more precise systems that could hit the target more accurately. The Russians followed another approach: Build it so big that the aim doesn’t matter.

  6. The effects of the bomb were spectacular!
    The bomb ‘s explosion was so bright that it could b reportedly be seen from 1000 km away and that too on a cloudy day.
    The mushroom cloud which resulted had a height of almost 93 km and a peak radius of 53 km.
    Some buildings in Norway (which was close to the test site) were also affected.

    Here is a map of London showing which areas would be affected if the Tsar Bomba had been exploded there.


    The key is as follows, from inside to outside.

    Fireball radius: 3.03 km / 1.88 mi
    Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to lived effects depends on height of detonation.

    Radiation radius: 7.49 km / 4.65 mi
    500  rem radiation dose; between 50% and 90% mortality from acute effects  alone; dying takes between several hours and several weeks.

    Air blast radius: 12.51 km / 7.77 mi
    20 psi overpressure; heavily built concrete buildings are severely damaged or demolished; fatalities approach 100%.

    Air blast radius: 33.01 km / 20.51 mi
    4.6 psi overpressure; most buildings collapse; injuries universal, fatalities widespread.

    Thermal radiation radius: 77.06 km / 47.88 mi
    Third-degree burns to all exposed skin; starts fires in flammable materials, contributes to firestorm if large enough.

  7. In clear air, the Tsar Bomba would be able to inflict third-degree burns on someone standing 100 km away.
Check this site out for more details on the Tsar Bomba: The Soviet Weapons Program





#2. The USA dropped a nuclear bomb on itself


For decades, Americans pissed their pants over the possibility that  they or their livelihoods would go out in a flash. One American family  really got a taste of what that would be like. March 11, 1958 was a  normal day at the Gregg residence. Bill Gregg was in his tool shed. His  wife was out on the front porch sewing. His daughters were in a play  house their Dad had constructed with his bare hands. His son was in the  tool shed with his father, learning how to be a goddamned red-blooded  American man. Somewhere in the distance an eagle shrieked as it rode an  American buffalo to an apple-pie-eating contest at a baseball field.

All this quintessential American scene needs is a flag-waving child and a massive nuclear weapon.

Unbeknownst to the Greggs, seven miles above them a B-47E bomber was  transporting an atomic bomb from Savannah, Georgia, to England, and  things were not going according to plan. A warning message informed the  pilot that the pin that secured the nuclear bomb in place hadn’t been  set properly, and bombardier Bruce Kulka was sent to check it out. The  bomb bay didn’t leave much room for anything other than the bomb, so  Kulka had to stick his arm down into the bay and literally grope around  like a blind man, searching for the unset pin. Upon feeling what he  thought was the pin, and was actually the emergency release lever, the  bomb dropped to the belly of the plane onto the bomb bay doors, with  Kulka riding it like Slim Pickens waving a cowboy hat and hiyaing (ask  your parents). Thinking fast, Kulka grabbed onto something inside the  plane just as the bomb bay doors gave way, saving his life, and ensuring  that the only nuclear bomb ever dropped on America didn’t kill anyone.

Though it certainly made an impression.
Fortunately, nuclear weapons don’t detonate on impact, so the State  of South Carolina wasn’t wiped off the map. Also fortunate for the  Greggs, the radioactive materials were not inside the bomb at the time  of the drop. Still, the detonation managed to wreck their house and  their car and injure the entire family of five. Somewhere between six and 14 chickens were killed, which isn’t bad for a weapon that technically wasn’t loaded.
The Greggs received the incredible compensation of $44,000 and were  forced to sue the U.S. government for increased damages, eventually  cranking their reward all the way up to $54,000 minus lawyer’s fees.  Today the site is still marked by a crater 20 feet deep and 75 feet wide.





#3. Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov-The man who probably saved the world


You probably know that during the Cuban Missile Crisis,  the U.S. and USSR came closer to nuclear war than ever before. But you  probably don’t know that if it weren’t for one man, we would all be  wandering around a charred, radioactive wasteland today. And that guy  wasn’t JFK.

It’s 1962, communist Cuba had gone nuclear, John F. Kennedy had the  entire island under quarantine and Nikita Khrushchev was not intimidated by  the young president.

In the center of this hot-zone was the nuclear-armed Soviet Foxtrot  class submarine B-59, which on October 27, 1962 decided whether you  personally would be alive right now. While surrounded by a group of 11  U.S. destroyers and the aircraft carrier USS Randolph, the submarine was eventually subjected to a barrage of depth charges.

Taking this as the opening shots of WWIII (which they kind of were),  Captain Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky ordered the B-59’s  nuclear-tipped missile be launched in retaliation to the U.S. surface  ships. Had this been the case, it is likely that the U.S., USSR, Cuba  and most of Europe would have had a full shooting-war on their hands, cowboy hats and all.

That is, if not for a guy named Vasili Arkhipov.

According to Director of the National Security Archive Thomas Blanton  and former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a guy called Vasili  Arkhipov “saved the world”.  The thing is, to launch a nuke, the top three Soviets on the B-59  needed a unanimous vote. Captain Savitsky and Political Officer Ivan  Semonovich Maslennikov were all for it, but Arkhipov, a mere  second-in-command, was not all that wild about wiping out human  civilization.
The three got into an argument, and Arkhipov eventually persuaded the  political officer that nuking the U.S. Navy was a bad idea, and that  they should resurface instead (even if it meant, you know, death).  Captain Savitsky was not happy with this, but since he did not have the  votes to go nuclear, the submarine surfaced, and the crisis was averted.



I’ll keep updating this answer as soon as I can remember more interesting facts.
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