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TSAR BOMBA – Most Horrific Man-made Explosion in History

Sakharov become an ardent supporter of the 1963 Partial Test Ban, and an outspoken critic of nuclear proliferation and, in the late 1960s, anti-missile defences that he feared would spur another nuclear arms race. He became increasingly ostracised by the state, a dissident against oppression who would in 1975 be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and referred to as “the conscience of mankind”, says von Hippel.

The monster atomic bomb that was too big to use
In 1961, the Soviet Union tested a nuclear bomb so powerful that it would have been too big to use in war. And it had far-reaching effects of a very different kind. By Stephen Dowling, BBC, 16 August 2017, On the morning of 30 October 1961, a Soviet Tu-95 bomber took off from Olenya airfield in the Kola Peninsula in the far north of Russia……

nothing the Soviet Union had tested would compare to this.

TSAR BOMBA – Most Horrific Man-made Explosion in History – USSR Hydrogen Bomb

The Tu-95 carried an enormous bomb underneath it, a device too large to fit inside the aircraft’s internal bomb-bay, where such munitions would usually be carried. The bomb was 8m long (26ft), had a diameter of nearly 2.6m (7ft) and weighed more than 27 tonnes. It was, physically, very similar in shape to the ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ bombs which had devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki a decade-and-a-half earlier. The bomb had become known by a myriad of neutral technical designations – Project 27000, Product Code 202, RDS-220, and Kuzinka Mat (Kuzka’s Mother). Now it is better known as Tsar Bomba – the ‘Tsar’s bomb’……

It was more than a metal monstrosity too big to fit inside even the largest aircraft – it was a city destroyer, a weapon of last resort…… In order to give the two planes a chance to survive – and this was calculated as no more than a 50% chance – Tsar Bomba was deployed by a giant parachute weighing nearly a tonne. The bomb would slowly drift down to a predetermined height – 13,000ft (3,940m) – and then detonate. By then, the two bombers would be nearly 50km (30 miles) away. It should be far enough away for them to survive.

Tsar Bomba detonated at 11:32, Moscow time. In a flash, the bomb created a fireball five miles wide. The fireball pulsed upwards from the force of its own shockwave. The flash could be seen from 1,000km (630 miles) away.

The bomb’s mushroom cloud soared to 64km (40 miles) high, with its cap spreading outwards until it stretched nearly 100km (63 miles) from end to end. It must have been, from a very far distance perhaps, an awe-inspiring sight.

On Novaya Zemlya, the effects were catastrophic. In the village of Severny, some 55km (34 miles) from Ground Zero, all houses were completely destroyed (this is the equivalent to Gatwick airport being destroyed by a bomb that had fallen on Central London). In Soviet districts hundreds of miles from the blast zone, damage of all kinds – houses collapsing, roofs falling in, damage to doors, windows shattering – were reported. Radio communications were disrupted for more than an hour.……

Tsar Bomba unleashed almost unbelievable energy – now widely agreed to be in the order of 57 megatons, or 57 million tons of TNT. That is more than 1,500 times that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined, and 10 times more powerful than all the munitions expended during World War Two. Sensors registered the bomb’s blast wave orbiting the Earth not once, not twice, but three times……

One of the architects of this formidable device was a Soviet physicist called Andrei Sakharov – a man who would later become world famous for his attempts to rid the world of the very weapons he had helped create. He was a veteran of the Soviet atomic bomb programme from the very beginning, and had been part of the team that had built some of the USSR’s earliest atom bombs…….

With such immense power, there would be no guarantee that the giant bomb wouldn’t swamp the north of the USSR with a vast cloud of radioactive fallout.

That was of particular concern to Sakharov, says Frank von Hippel, a physicist and head of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

“He was really apprehensive about the amount of radioactivity it would create,” he says, “and the genetic effects that could have on future generations

“It was the beginning of his journey from being a bomb designer to becoming a dissident.”…….

The Soviets had built a weapon so powerful that they were unwilling to even test it at its full capacity. And that was only one of the problems with this devastating device.

The Tu-95 bombers built to carry the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons were designed to carry much lighter weapons. The Tsar Bomba was so big that it couldn’t be placed on a missile, and so heavy that the planes designed to carry it wouldn’t have been able to take them all the way to their targets with enough fuel. And, if the bomb was as powerful as intended, the aircraft would have been on a one-way mission anyway…..

Tsar Bomba had other effects. Such was the concern over the test – which was 20% of the size of every atmospheric test combined before it, von Hippel says – that it hastened the end of atmospheric testing in 1963. Von Hippel says that Sakharov was particularly worried by the amount of radioactive carbon 14 that was being emitted into the atmosphere – an isotope with a particularly long half-life. “This has been partly mitigated by all the fossil fuel carbon in the atmosphere which has diluted it,” he says.

Sakharov worried that a bomb bigger than the one tested would not be repelled by its own blastwave – like Tsar Bomba had been – and would cause global fallout, spreading toxic dirt across the planet.

Sakharov become an ardent supporter of the 1963 Partial Test Ban, and an outspoken critic of nuclear proliferation and, in the late 1960s, anti-missile defences that he feared would spur another nuclear arms race. He became increasingly ostracised by the state, a dissident against oppression who would in 1975 be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and referred to as “the conscience of mankind”, says von Hippel.

Tsar Bomba, it seems, may have had fallout of a very different kind.  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170816-the-monster-atomic-bomb-that-was-too-big-to-use

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August 18, 2017 - Posted by | history, Russia, weapons and war

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