Bombs were used in China as early as in 1221 by Jin dynasty. Then they made their journey through the 13th century, where bombs were made of iron cast shell packed with explosive gunpowder. It was famously known as the “thunder-crash bomb”. The Mongols used this during their invasion of Japan. But, it was not until the World War’s when we saw a worldwide effect of deadly bombs and explosives. Not to mention nuclear ones. If you see other way, these bombs are a valuable part of the human history. So today, how about some some really explosive facts of bombs.
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Courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory
The first atomic bomb was tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1945. The resulted blast was so bright and intense that even a blind woman named Georgia Green allegedly asked her brother what the bright flash was. They were nearly 50 miles away.
More than 50 million bombs, projectiles, detonators and cartridges from the aftermath of the World War II are rusting away on the floor of the North and Baltic Seas. Authorities are opting not to remove the munitions as they are unable to find a way to dispose them.
Bomb disposal experts don’t usually get killed or injured by shrapnel as the blast suits are nearly impenetrable. It is the shock-wave that is dangerous.
Barotrauma is a blast induced injury to body tissues caused by a difference in pressure when the shock-wave of a bomb causes pressure changes that lead to internal organs exploding.
Scientists with art historians have developed a reliable way of identifying forged works of art. The method can distinguish art created before 1945 from art produced after 1945 by measuring levels of the isotopes in art pieces i.e caesium–137 and strontium–90. These isotopes do not occur naturally, but were released into the environment by nuclear blasts.
In 1769, the city of Brescia, (now in Italy) was hit by a lightning strike. Unfortunately, the strike hit a large gunpowder store which resulted into a huge explosion killing nearly 3,000 people.
During the 70’s, engineers considered using nuclear explosions to help with construction projects.
In 1958, when engineers were doing construction near the Royal Air Force command center, they had to move a replica of the biggest bomb used in WWII. Later they realized it wasn’t a replica.
An atomic bomb cameraman ripped his safety goggles a split second before the bomb exploded. He immediately covered his eyes with his hand and saw his hand’s bones through his closed eyelids just like in an X-ray.
The United States and Russia account for 93% of the world’s nuclear weapons. Though, their nuclear arsenal has shrunk by over two thirds since 1980s. In general, nine countries in the world possess a total of 15,375 nuclear weapons.
On 18 April 1947 British military attempted to destroy the entire North Sea island of Heligoland in what became known as the “British Bang”. Over 4,000 tons of surplus ammunition were placed surrounding the island and set off. The island survived, although the extensive fortifications were destroyed. The blast is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under largest single explosive detonation.
In the last 60 years, there have been over 2,000 nuclear test explosions. Among them, there is one mysterious incident known as Vela Incident or South Atlantic Flash. It was an unidentified “double flash” of light detected by an American Vela satellite (IONDS) on 22 September 1979, near the Prince Edward Islands of Antarctica, which many believe was of nuclear origin. There are many widespread theories to justify the incident, one of them suggest that it was of nuclear origin and resulted from joint South African-Israeli nuclear test.
The US and Russia have a combined total of 2581 nuclear warheads on high alert. The total explosive power of these weapons is about 1185 Mt (1.185 billion tons of TNT equivalent explosive power). This means they are capable of launching in less than 30 minutes (the approximate flight time of a missile between the US and Russia).
On January 24, 1961, a U.S bomber crashed over North Carolina, carrying two nuclear bombs. The first of the two nukes deployed its parachute, but didn’t trigger the detonation. The second one, however, failed to deploy its parachute and slammed into the ground and dug deep into the Earth. Fortunately, it didn’t explode either.
The most powerful nuclear bomb ever detonated was the Tsar Bomba or Soviet RDS-220 hydrogen bomb. It was tested by the Soviet Union and had a yield of 50 megatons. That is 1,570 times the combined energy of both nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The US Air Force once speculated into developing a “gay bomb” that involved discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces to make them attracted to each other.
Photo credit: arstechnica
The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit US stealth bomber is capable of carrying 16 nukes (B83) at a time. Each one of those bombs is 75 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima.
On September 16, 1920, a bomb detonated in a horse wagon in New York city’s Wall Street. It was the deadliest catastrophe in New York City until the 9/11.
In Bristol, United Kingdom, a bomb squad once exploded a box that was reported to be suspicious. It was later revealed that the box contained instructional handouts on what to do in case you come across a suspicious luggage or baggage.
Lazy dog is small, unguided, and nonexplosive projectiles that were largely used during the Korean and Vietnam War. Though, they are nonexplosive, they generate enormous kinetic energy during the fall and can penetrate any material upon hitting the ground.
According to a report and some estimates, it would take Vietnam another 300 years to clear its territory of bombs and mines. That would cost them nearly $10 billion. Under another report by Vietnam government in collaboration US Vietnam Veterans Foundation discovered that over 10,000 have died and another 12,000 have been injured in Vietnam in recent years in the post-war years.
In 1916, during the Battle of the Somme (France) in World War I, a sixty thousand pound charge of explosives was detonated. The explosion was so loud that it was heard all the way in London.
Bat bomb canister later used to hold the hibernating bats
During World War II, the US developed something called bat bombs. The bomb consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with over a thousand compartments, each containing a hibernating Mexican Free-tailed Bat with a small timed incendiary bomb attached. These bombs would open above cities and release bats that held even smaller time bombs. Those small time bombs were actually incendiary, which means they were meant to start fires.
The original $6,000 budget for the Manhattan Project finally ballooned to a total cost of $2 billion. At first, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for nuclear research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the government took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.
Fat Man was the code name for the atomic bomb detonated over the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It was code named Fat man due to a distinct naming system created by Robert Serber, a former student of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
10% of the US electricity is made from dismantled atomic bombs. The interesting fact is that most of them are Russians.