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June 17, 2012

What Was the Total Yield of All Known Nuclear Tests? (in the atmosphere)




A guest article by Joseph Friedlander for Brian Wang’s Next Big Future
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Apparently around 629 megatons. 452 megatons Soviet, 140 USA 7 megatons UK 10 megatons France and 20 megatons China. Plus under a megaton for India, Pakistan and North Korea and everyone else.

At least 483 atmospheric tests. 212 of them US, with a yield of 140 megatons --179 Soviet.atmospheric tests with a yield of 452 megatons.

 In 1962, the peak year for the atmospheric testing, the Soviets lit off 201 megatons versus 24 megatons atmospheric for the USA—36 percent of all atmospheric testing--.  In the air. That we breathe. Or that your parents or grandparents breathed if you weren’t born yet.  You still have isotopes in your bones from this (An easy way to test claims of time travel—someone with no fallout traces in his bone marrow –absolutely clean-- could be from the past or future but very hard to have clean bone marrow in the present.)

Conservatively half the yield of 629 megatons was fission so we ALREADY live in a world where say 314 megatons of fission has been released into the atmosphere—the equivalent of 14976 Nagasaki sized (21 kiloton) bombs. Most people don’t know a lot of history, that in effect the testing was the equivalent of a small nuclear war in the atmosphere. As of 1989 (the data in this article dates from 1990, from this issue of the BAS—there had been  1820 plus nuclear detonations. Now there have been over 2000. (around 2394, see below)

Because only a small amount of the plutonium pit in a primary fissions before it is blown apart, over 5 tons of plutonium has been scattered to the winds, along with 20 million curies of Strontium-90 (the bone seeker) as well as 26 million curies of Cesium-137.--see
Red Atom: Russia's Nuclear Power Program From Stalin To Today
 By Paul R. Josephson  below

The Nuclear Notebook project of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists produces valuable reference numbers http://bos.sagepub.com/cgi/collection/nuclearnotebook

According to Nuclear Pursuits 2012 PDF here http://bos.sagepub.com/content/68/1/94.full.pdf+html
127510 nuclear warheads were ever built by the 5 major powers
(some materials were reused from warhead to warhead in the USA at least)
since there were over 2390 known nuclear detonations (nuclear tests sometimes had multiple detonations)

so 127510 / 2394 means that 1.87% of all warheads ever built were detonated. I don’t believe this statistic has ever been written up anywhere, an Next Big Future original.

This is more detonations than a full scale Orion flight just to lend perspective, and of far higher yield on average. So we paid the price in fallout and instead of a solar system wide empire, we just got strutting politicians and only by a miracle avoided a nuclear war.

The Wang Bullet posts on Next Big Future explore offer a hypothetical means of using a single detonation rather than 2000, and that entirely contained—to shoot equivalent loads into space.





 
Reference material

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Apr 1990
56 pages
Vol. 46,
No. 3
ISSN 0096-3402

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - Apr 1990 - Google Books Result
books.google.com/books?id=6AsAAAAAMBAJ...
Vol. 46, No. 3 - 56 pages - Magazine

Red Atom: Russia's Nuclear Power Program From Stalin To Today
 By Paul R. Josephson
University of Pittsburgh Press, Jun 10, 2005 - 352 pages



In the 1950s, Soviet nuclear scientists and leaders imagined a stunning future when giant reactors would generate energy quickly and cheaply, nuclear engines would power cars, ships, and airplanes, and peaceful nuclear explosions would transform the landscape. Driven by the energy of the atom, the dream of communism would become a powerful reality. Thirty years later, that dream died in Chernobyl. What went wrong? Based on exhaustive archival research and interviews, Red Atom takes a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the Soviet Union's peaceful use of nuclear power. It explores both the projects and the technocratic and political elite who were dedicated to increasing state power through technology. And it describes the political, economic, and environmental fallout of Chernobyl.





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