What Would Happen If Every Single Nuke In The World Went Off At The Same Time?

The mushroom cloud of one of the French military's nuclear weapon tests above the atoll of Mururoa in 1971. Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Robin Andrews 20 Jan 2017, 20:55

Have any of you seen the movie Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb)? It’s a classic film, one that satirizes the nuclear arms race in the Cold War. Spoiler alert: A chain of unfortunate events ends up causing every single nuclear weapon around the world to detonate, leaving humanity pretty screwed.

With Trump’s recent and terrifying comments about boosting the US nuclear arsenal and not ruling out using any of these weapons in the Middle East or Europe, we felt it best to work out – for your horror – what would happen in the event of a nuclear apocalypse. What would happen if every nuclear weapon in the world today was fired and detonated?

In short, nothing good. Here’s the rather grim mathematics and science behind the end of the world.

From Russia With Love

No fighting in the war room. liberalartist6 via YouTube

First, let’s have a look at what various countries have in their nuclear arsenal.

As per the Federation of American Scientists’ 2017 data, there are 14,900 nuclear warheads in the world. The US has 6,800 and Russia 7,000, making up the vast majority of the world’s city killers. The UK has 215, France 300, China 260, India 120, Pakistan 130, Israel about 80, and North Korea roughly 10.

The yields of each of these vary considerably. The US and Russia, for example, have hyper-powerful thermonuclear weapons, whereas North Korea can barely get past an old-school plutonium fission-style device.

One of the most powerful weapons in the US arsenal is the B83, which has an explosive yield equivalent to 1.2 megatons of TNT. This equates to about 5 quadrillion joules of energy, or 5 Petajoules – or 79 Hiroshima “Little Boy” atomic bombs’ worth of energy.

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