Video Of 1950s Nuke Exploding Over Five Officers

In the late 1950s, Americans were starting to fear nuclear war. Of course, outside of the blast radius of a nuclear detonation, things are nowhere near as terrible as movies and popular opinion will have you believe. So in 1957, an Air Force Colonel got five other officers to agree to stand directly below a low-yield nuclear detonation, to prove that nukes weren’t as terrible as we are led to believe. Two fighters then flew over them and fired a nuclear missile which then detonated 18,500 feet above (not 10,000 as the video says), while one of the officers narrated the whole thing.

Two things that stand out are the amount of time it takes for the “ground wave” to hit them after the flash of the detonation (same effect as thunder arriving after lightning), and the point right after that, in which the sky turns black. The missile’s yield was a mere 2 kilotons — the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 16 and 21kt, respectively, and the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, the Tsar Bomba, yielded 50,000 kt. By comparison, the most powerful conventional (i.e., non-nuclear) weapon’s blast yield is only 0.044kt.

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From YouTube, via NPR

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