Furthermore, how much damage does a nuclear cause? Simulation of a Nuclear Weapon Explosion When exploded at the optimal height, a 10-megaton weapon, which is 1,000 times more powerful than a 10-kiloton weapon, can extend the distance tenfold, reaching 17.7 km (11 mi) for serious damage and 24 km (15 mi) for moderate damage to a frame home. A 1-megaton weapon would be enough to destroy a city center, while a 0.1-megaton weapon would be sufficient to blow out a major oil reservoir.
The explosive force of a nuclear explosion is the result of the combustion of atomic nuclei, so it is a form of nuclear fire. The amount of energy released by this process is huge: the total energy content of all the nuclear weapons in existence today is about 5 million billion joules, or 5 terawatts (10 million megatons). This is more than the estimated combined power output of the world's electrical generators for an entire year! Even if only a small fraction of this energy was channeled into blowing apart matter at the speed of light, the results would be devastating.
Nuclear explosions are also very dangerous because they emit many kinds of radiation that can kill humans instantly or over time. These include alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons, and gamma rays. The amount of radiation exposed to people near the scene of the explosion varies depending on the type of weapon used but is always extremely high.
As a result, a 1 kiloton nuclear weapon generates the same amount of energy in an explosion as 1 kiloton (1,000 tons) of TNT. A one-megaton weapon would have the energy equivalent to one million tons of TNT. One megaton corresponds to 4.18 x 1015 joules. The largest nuclear weapon ever tested was the Soviet Union's Tsar Bomba, which was estimated to be 12.5 megatons.
Nuclear weapons are powerful enough to destroy entire cities. The atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was estimated to have been between 14 and 20 kilotons while the Soviet Union's bomb used at Chernobyl was about 50 kilotons. Even though these are small compared to some modern conventional bombs, which can reach up to 10 megatons, it is still enough to destroy a city. Nuclear explosions also emit large amounts of radiation that can cause death from cancer over a long period of time if not treated properly after the blast.
In addition to destroying buildings and killing humans directly through the fallout or explosion, nuclear weapons also destroy the vegetation around them, which could leave food sources for humans or livestock depleted for many years. This could have serious economic consequences for countries with dependent economies.
There are also proposals to use nuclear weapons as a form of climate change mitigation by releasing radioactive gases into the atmosphere with the hope that it will reduce temperatures either directly by causing lightening or indirectly by increasing solar output.
The strength of such weapons is often measured in kilotons (kT) or megatons (MT), which are 1000 tons or 1,000,000 tons of TNT equivalent, respectively. Nuclear bombs range in magnitude from a few kilotons of TNT equivalent power to maybe more than 100 megatons. The larger devices are thus about 10,000 times as powerful as the smaller ones.
Nuclear weapons differ from conventional explosives like TNT in two important ways: first, they contain atomic nuclei rather than molecules; second, they produce results when their components come into contact with one another at high speeds (such as during detonation). Because atoms are the smallest possible unit of matter, only atoms can be divided down to nothingness; no smaller particles can be created except for those that are already present in lower concentrations. Thus, nuclear explosions cannot be reduced any further to nothing, and the only way to increase their destructive force is to add more atoms together.
The strength of a nuclear explosion depends on how much mass is involved and how close it comes to the center of the Earth. If it were merely a question of weight, then airplanes would be able to destroy themselves if they carried enough fuel to make a difference in global temperature. The real strength of an explosion is found in its effect on something solid.
Surprise! A bomb's destructive power is roughly limited to 100 megatons. It accelerates the atmosphere above it to escape velocity at that energy level. Increasing the yield simply increases the velocity of the blown-off air. At least, that's what St. Edward Teller stated. He claimed that there was no evidence of any limit beyond 100 MT, but his theories on supercolliders were not well received at the time.
Theoretically, a bomb with a yield of 1000 MT could destroy all life on Earth many times over. However, the global economic cost of such a war would be astronomical and nothing close to enough resources would be available to fight such a war for very long.
In practice, most nuclear weapons are less than 100 MT because they would need to be small or deliver a large number of low-yield warheads to be effective against larger targets (such as cities). Even so, even a few hundred kilotons of explosive power is enough to devastate most cities in the world. Nuclear weapons can have yields ranging from a few tens of kilotons to more than 10 million kilotons.
It should be noted that nuclear explosions are not actually bombs, they are nuclear reactions. A nuclear reaction is an interaction between particles called neutrons and atoms of other elements, with the release of energy.