Nuclear bombs are some of the most destructive weapons ever created. They have the power to cause immense destruction and devastation in a matter of seconds. The effects of a nuclear bomb depend on the size and type of bomb, as well as the distance from the detonation point. The volume of energy released by a nuclear bomb increases with the cube of the distance, while the area destroyed increases with the square of the distance.
For example, a 1 megaton bomb would destroy an area of 80 square miles, while 8 bombs with 125 kiloton performance each would destroy an area of 160 square miles. The heat generated by a nuclear bomb can cause minor first-degree burns up to 11 km (6.8 miles) away, and third-degree burns, which destroy and blister skin tissue, can affect anyone up to 8 km (5 miles) away. Third-degree burns that cover more than 24 percent of the body can be fatal if medical attention is not received immediately. In addition to the direct radiation and heat generated by a nuclear bomb, it can also cause a phenomenon known as 'nuclear winter'.
This is when soot is injected into the atmosphere during a nuclear war, resulting in a substantial reduction in global temperature. Using updated models of Cold War nuclear explosions, the Wellerstein simulator can roughly predict the number of casualties and injuries from a nuclear bomb in a given location. A limited form of nuclear warfare would be like conventional conflict on the battlefield, but using low-performance tactical nuclear weapons. The debate about the national and global effects of nuclear war continues, and it is unlikely that issues will be conclusively decided without the unfortunate experiment of real nuclear war.
But can we eliminate nuclear weapons? Should we? What risks could such removal entail? Those are the real issues in the ongoing debates on the future of nuclear weapons. For more information on the current state of nuclear weapons in the world, including the scale of bombs, you can visit the Nuclear Notebook in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.