One of the worst tragedies that could ever occur is a nuclear explosion. They leave behind nothing but death, destruction and misery. No one should ever have to go through such an inhumane ordeal.
But what exactly happens after that blinding light flashes in the air… after we see that mushroom-shaped cloud? What horrors do a nuclear explosion actually deliver?
One of the first things you should understand is that the effects of a nuclear explosion depend on the type of fuel being used, the geography of the area, the yield and design of the weapon used, and the weather of that area.
Thermal radiation’s effects range from burns to death, all depending on where you are standing during the time of the blast. The closer you are, the closer you are towards death.
If you stand at a distance of 5km from the point of blast, you are in danger of death or severe 3rd-degree burns. Even at a distance of 32km. your skin can still peel off.
Have you ever seen an object or something in the surrounding scenery that is terrible to look at, yet you keep staring at it?
A bright light and a fiery mushroom cloud will almost compel us to continue staring at it. Do me a favor. If such a tragedy ever occurs, don’t look at it! Even if you’re standing far away, avert your eyes and take shelter. It can cause your retina to scar, resulting in temporary or permanent blindness.
What else can thermal radiation do? Well, it will blast any combustible objects, to start with. Light-colored objects will reflect heat whereas dark-colored objects will be charred. Therefore, if a person is wearing dark clothes, the heat will be excruciating.
Radiation under cloudy air conditions is less intense than under a clear sky. You know how clouds absorb sunlight? Radiation can be absorbed in the same way, so there are less chances of living things or properties being scorched under some cloud cover.
What will happen to your home and office buildings after the blast?
Simply put, they will collapse and experience severe damage.
This is because of the shockwaves after the initial blast, which create a wall of pressure that expands from the explosion and is strong enough to knock down even well-reinforced structures.
What if the explosion is underground? We’d have an earthquake, in that case, but the damages would still be substantial.
A minute or so after the blast, nuclear radiation will creep up. Because this is a fission process, a significant amount of radioactive compounds will be released in the air, along with neutrons, alpha and beta particles, and gamma rays.
Alpha and beta particles are less dangerous; alpha particles will harm you if ingested and beta particles will cause minor buns.
Gamma rays, however, are the most dangerous, as they can penetrate through skin and do severe harm to internal organs.
What happens to our electronics during a nuclear explosion?
Gamma rays released from the explosion will be trapped in the Earth’s magnetic fields and interact with it to produce a electromagnetic pulse strong enough to generate high voltages and destroy any electronics within range.
Nuclear radiation also creates severe health problems. When subjected to it, it can cause various cancers and the death of bone marrow, as well as have an effect on our central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.
The longer a person is exposed to radiation, the more drastic its effects will be.
Did you know that cockroaches can survive a nuclear explosion? Lucky them….
Lots of radioactive debris and fission products will fall to the ground after the explosion. This is called radioactive fallout. This material settles in minutes or months, depending on how high they travel in the atmosphere. Some of it gets injected in the stratosphere, leading to global fallout. Even though particles from the fallout may decay rapidly, it’s still not wise to roam about in those areas due to the radioactive contamination of the soil and water.
Fallout mixed with rain is called ‘black rain’, because ash, dirt and debris also get mixed in. This does not only stain buildings, clothing, and skin, but it’s also dangerous when ingested through the consumption of contaminated water or breathing.
What Will Happen to Our Atmosphere?
Is your immediate thought the depletion of the ozone layer? You aren’t wrong.
Nuclear winters can also result; sunlight blocked my smoke from a nuclear explosion will stop plants from producing food and lower the Earth’s temperature by a few degrees – which is a huge deal on a global scale!
Reading about the after-effects of a nuclear blast is one thing, but experiencing it would be a completely different experience – and one that we hope to never have again as a species.
Even thinking about nuclear energy is daunting, so let’s keep the past where it belongs and do our best as a global people to prevent another nuclear explosion on our planet!