1. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Would my characters feel anything from this explosion?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JadeX, Mar 12, 2016.

    I'm considering writing a sequel to my short story, 30 Seconds To Midnight, in which an average teenager is at school when a full-scale nuclear war breaks out.

    The story is set in Woodland, California, approximately 15 miles west of Sacramento. My POV character, and those with him, are in an underground fallout shelter in the basement of a former school.

    At some point while they are in the fallout shelter, nearby Sacramento is hit by an 800-kiloton warhead. I used NUKEMAP (a very accurate and reliable nuclear blast simulator) to illustrate the effects of the blast, which you can see in this screenshot:
    [​IMG]

    The blue X marks the approximate location of my characters.

    As you can see, they are about 12 miles from the actual destruction (marked by the inner grey circle, 5 psi).

    Being that they are underground, they obviously will not see anything from where they are. But would they hear anything, or perhaps might the room shake, or anything that would tip them off that something has happened? Or would they be oblivious of Sacramento's destruction until they hear about it on the radio?

    (Here's a link to these settings, in case you want to check it out yourself)
     
  2. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    Whelp, I did a lil google...or yahoo-ing, in my case...

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2174289/Ever-heard-sound-nuclear-bomb-going-Historian-unveils-surviving-audio-recordings-blast-1950s-Nevada-tests.html

    It's rough, and takes a bit to get going, but ....there it is. Goes off at about 2:21. Caption says it's from 11 miles away. The bombs they can do today are reportedly, well, they make the 1945 stuff seem like a half-functioning mistake. Depending on the size of the one you have, maybe they would feel it. If it was one like this one, if civilians are being allowed to watch it from 11 odd miles away, I'd say they may not feel it if they were underground and 12 miles off. The flash from the bomb in this video is pretty significant, and the sound doesn't reach the mikes until several seconds later.

    So there's my stab in the dark. Dang good resource you found there btw....
     
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  3. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    It would help if the article said specifically what test this was. However, they did give enough information to go on - the years (1953) and location (Yucca/Nevada) to conclude that this was from Operation Upshot-Knothole, which consisted of 11 tests of varying yields. Going through the list of tests included in that operation, I found that the particular test in this video is of Upshot-Knothole "Annie". Fortunately, the Wiki article contained a link to a YouTube video of the Annie test - which, sure enough, is the exact same video in the article you linked!

    The Annie test was 16 kilotons, roughly the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima - in other words, incredibly tiny by nuclear standards. The observers were 11 miles away from the blast, and I assume that must mean the epicenter of the blast.

    While I said my characters are roughly 12 miles from the edge of the destruction, they are more like 18 miles from the blast itself - a negligible difference, really.

    So if the observers of Annie were 11 miles away and heard a 16-kiloton blast clear as day (albeit delayed ~30secs), then I must assume that an 800-kiloton blast (in other words, 80% of a megaton) 18 miles away would very definitely be heard by my characters.

    The delay between sight and sound would be irrelevant if they are underground, of course - but point is, they would definitely hear it.

    So, thanks, this answered my question!

    Thanks! I've been using it for a while, it's great. The creator did extensive research and development and put a whole bunch of details into it. It uses census data to calculate the average amount of people in any given area, and uses that to project estimates of fatalities and casualties, and compiles that with extensive data collected from real-life tests to calculate the effects from different altitudes, etc. It's insanely complicated, I don't know how most of it works, but this guy sure put a hell of a lot of work into making it the absolute best nuclear simulator out there. He also has a new version out, NukeMap 3D, which uses Google Earth to render a 3D model of the mushroom cloud with accurately calculated heights and widths... it's just plain amazing. For anyone writing anything to do with nuclear weapons, NUKEMAP is an absolute must-have.
     
  4. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    /jaw hits floor

    holy crap. Um. Well. Yes. Yes indeedy. I believe.... I believe it is entirely possible they would perhaps hear something. um...yes... bleeve so...

    I have now noted the presence of the number 800 in your original message....
     
  5. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    They would hear the ground rumble, dust might be dislodged from the ceiling and the whole underground shelter would shake. If you have a form of lighting under there, it would flicker and possibly go off if the power supply was fragile enough.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    @Sileas, that's one creepy video. The count down is reminiscent of the famous daisy campaign ad from the 60s.

     
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  7. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    Good Lord, that's nightmare-inducing, Ginger.

    I think I'll go read something nice and peaceful to relax after that. Like Stephen King.
     
  8. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Haha, yeah! A 4-mile destruction radius quite impressive!

    That's what I was hoping, heh.

    I love that video. The way she skips five and then counts six twice, then gets stuck on nine - they went out of the way to make her as innocent and empathetic as possible - and then they, essentially, kill her.

    Lol @ that countdown tho... that's one way to teach her the numbers! xD
     
  9. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    When I was in Iraq, they detonated some bombs across the base about 2 miles away from my bunker. The largest was 1-2 thousand pounds. The shockwave moved my dresser about 4 inches across the room and shook everything else pretty badly.

    I would imagine a 800 kiloton nuke 12 miles away would shake the hell out of them.
     
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  10. uncephalized
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    uncephalized Active Member

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    Let's see. The power of a bomb blast attenuates by the inverse square of the distance, so for the smaller blast at closer range the perceived force would be proportional to ( 1.5 kt ) / ( 2 mi )^2 ; the nuke would be ( 800 kt ) / ( 12 mi )^2. Divide the second number by the first and you get a perceived shock about 14 times stronger from the nuke at that distance. So yes, 'shake the hell out of them' sounds about right. :D
     
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  11. Michaelhall2007
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    Michaelhall2007 Member

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    Your ears would probably pop too because the air would be sucked towards the epicentre.
    Your bowls would also exacuate.
    Nothing to do actual after effects of the bomb, I just know I'd $h!£ myself
     
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  12. Witchymama
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    Witchymama Active Member

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    :rofl::superlaugh:
    Yes.
     

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