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    Thursday, April 28, 2005

    Mushroom Flambé

    Stardate 3857.8

    All this yatter about small nations building bombs.... These are some pretty pictures. Now picture your town or city at the bottom of any one of these...

    Actually you would most likely be very fortunate to be at the bottom of one of these instead of say 5 or 10 or 20 kilometers away, where the radiation will destroy all of the crops, and your skin will slowly peel off from radiation sickness...

    I was browsing around and found a fantastic site on Nuclear Weapons. They use an example of a bomb being dropped in a City called Chennai in India... One "lakh" is 100,000 people.

    Most nuclear bombs are strategic bombs. They are meant to be used against civilian populations. What might happen if a small nuclear bomb fell on Chennai? Imagine that it has a yield of only 16 kilotons of TNT-- this is what destroyed the city of Hiroshima.

    So imagine that early one morning, at 8 AM, a 16 kiloton nuclear bomb is dropped on Pondy Bazar in T.Nagar. This is one of the main shopping areas in the city bustling with shoppers most of the time. This is ground zero. Within 3 microseconds a chain reaction starts inside the Plutonium bomb. In another microsecond the bomb is vaporised and its energy is released to devastate our city.

    Four microseconds after the bomb is dropped, a hot blast of light vaporises everything within a short radius around ground zero. The shoppers in the Market Complex, the thousands coming into the crowded shopping area, are the luckiest-- a few thousand people are gone even before they can see the blast. The metal of buses, overhead electrical lines and in stocks in many shops melts away in this heat but has no time to form puddles.

    Behind this flash comes a blast-- a huge thunderclap of sound so intense that it travels many times faster than any sound we can hear. This is called the blast wave, and does most of the damage. It disperses the molten metal and travels on, battering everything in its path. There is a zone in which the sound is intense enough to tear apart a human body-- this is called the killing over-pressure zone. Up to about 300 meters from ground zero, people may see a flash of light and the beginning of the mushroom cloud, but are dead before they can hear the blast. Nearly five thousand people live and work in the killing over-pressure zone around Pondy Bazar. For all of these people death is certain-- there is no time to run, no place to hide.

    Less than a second after the bomb was dropped, nearly ten thousand people are dead and a radioactive mushroom cloud is rising above the Bazar. The electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) formed in the first few milliseconds of the expansion of the fireball has already fried electronics over a large area. Singara Chennai has begun to die.

    The blast rages on for one and a half kilometres, destroying brick buildings, hurling people and things into the air, killing by slamming buses, buildings and bodies into people. The blast travels faster than sound, and no person can run that fast. Nearly a lakh people in this zone are affected. Maybe a tenth of them die immediately, maybe more; but the survivors are badly injured. Less than 5 seconds have passed-- twenty thousand dead and nearly a lakh more are injured.

    Beyond this the blast declines to mere cyclone speeds, destroying brick houses and objects of equal weight, up to a distance of 3 kilometres from Pondy Bazar which includes all of Mambalam, Vani Mahal to the west and almost touching Adyar in the east. Another three lakhs of people are affected. Perhaps one percent die. Nine seconds after the blast there are nearly twenty three thousand dead and nearly three lakhs of people need help.

    The survivors would be found outside this area, where the shock wave reduces to a hurricane, a gale and eventually just a nuclear breeze. Around ground zero is an expanse of rubble at the heart of one of the bustling shopping areas in the city. The area as far as Adyar, Besant Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur on the one side, and Ashok Nagar, KK Nagar, Anna Nagar on the other, and a similar distance in all directions has become a killing field. Vital links between various parts of the city are cut, communications equipment slagged by the Electro Magnetic Pulse. Over the days the nuclear poison sowed by the mushroom cloud would be blown inland-- radioactive dust settling over most of Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts and as far south as Mamallapuram.

    But before that, within a minute, the world would realize that communications from Chennai have ceased. The country must start up a massive machinery to aid the city. What is needed? Rapid and extensive engineering services to repair the major road and train links into the devastated area-- remember that several lakhs of wounded are trapped here and will die unless aid reaches them soon. Many families have been separated since the bread-earners travelled to work in different parts of the city, leaving their families. Communications must be restored, lists of the living and dead must be made and communicated to the remainder of the population, to prevent further panic and perhaps riots. Most of the city's population would be trapped in parts where food cannot be sent without repairing roads. We must think about these, and many more questions. We have grasped a deadly weapon-- we must look at the face of death and make our plans to last beyond it.

    The enemy's bomb may have killed several tens of thousands and injured several lakhs more. The wielders of our bombs will certainly avenge the death of Chennai, but it is the remainder of the 50 lakh residents of Chennai who will have to deal with the consequences-- slow death from radiation poisoning, starvation perhaps, higher incidence of cancers, the birth of deformed children, the poisoning of Chengalpattu, Gummidipoondi, Mamallapuram areas and the waters of the sea that wets the sands of southern shores.

    In the final analysis it is we who must make certain that such a massive disaster will not happen. The laws of physics do not care for humans, they are the laws of unthinking matter and energy. The time has come to go beyond euphoria at our demonstrated control of the laws of the universe, and to embark on the much harder struggle to create humane and just laws to bind the nations of the world.

    16 Kilotons is nothing. They mass produce those bombs like McDonald's French Fries nowadays.... Now we talk about MEGATONS...

    Small nations may never realise the horror these bombs pose, especially considering the so called "Civilised" Western World flaunts them as though they were sinew on the arms of power lifters... Why would North Korea or Iran listen to the likes of the US, Russia or China?

    These things scare me shitless. Why are so many politicians immune to this fear?

    All opinions shared on this site are strictly my own. Some people may disagree and that is fine, but rude comments or overzealous debate will be curtailed. I enjoy civil discourse, and encourage independent thought. I oppose George W. Bush and his Wars based on lies.

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