On August 6, 1945, during World War II, an American Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber named “Enola Gay” dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb codenamed “Little Boy” over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb exploded with 15 kilotons of TNT (63 TJ) of energy and caused horrendous destruction to the city.
Approximately 66,000 people were killed as a direct result of the blast, and 69,000 were injured to varying degrees. Within four months, the number of fatalities would reach 90,000-146,000 people due to the acute effects of the atomic bomb.
Just three days later, on August 9, the United States dropped another bomb codenamed “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. Fat Man was a plutonium implosion-type atomic bomb and it was a little stronger: 20 kilotons of TNT (84 TJ). It killed 39,000-80,000 people in Nagasaki within four months.
Little Boy was less powerful than the Fat Man, but the damage and the number of victims at Hiroshima were much higher, as Hiroshima was on flat terrain, while the hypocenter of Nagasaki lay in a small valley.
These two bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history.
Maybe a nuclear war is not a big threat as it was in the cold war years, but it is still possible. A crazy leader or two, a big economic crisis, petroleum wars, war over natural resources, terrorism… can trigger a big war (the third world war?) and in this case, nobody can guarantee that the nuclear weapons won’t be used any longer.
I hope it never occurs but have you ever wondered, what if a nuclear bomb hit your own city? I did many times. Nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein of Stevens Institute of Technology created a web-based simulator named “NukeMap” which allows you to visualize the destruction of an atomic bomb dropped in your city (or any city in the world).
To play with “NukeMap”, click on this link.
You can enter the bomb’s yield (in kilotons), or select different predefined atomic bombs; including the Little Boy, Fat Man, and the Tsar Bomba, a hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Its test on October 30, 1961, remains the most powerful human-made explosion in human history.
Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb had a yield of 50 megaton TNT (210 PJ). In theory, the bomb had a maximum yield of 100 megatons, but because only one bomb was built, this theory was never demonstrated. You can also use this 100 megatons theoretical version in the application.
You can also select the “airburst” or the “surface” detonations. Airburst causes more damage. Little Boy was an airburst 580 meters (1,900 ft) above the ground because calculations showed that for the largest destructive effect, the “Little Boy” should explode at that altitude.
I am also shocked that how strong the Tsar Bomba is. It is horrible, horrible! If it was dropped in a big city, nobody could survive. Not one! We must do anything to prevent a nuclear war in the future.
- Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Wikipedia
- Little Boy on Wikipedia
- Fat Man on Wikipedia
- Tsar Bomba on Wikipedia
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