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What would be the devastation of the most powerful nuclear bomb dropped on New York City, within 2 miles, within 6 miles, within 10 miles, within 30 miles?
Answer 1:

I can't answer all of that, but the Soviet "Tsar" bomb had a fireball (a sphere of plasma created by the gamma rays coming out of the bomb) about five miles in diameter, so your distance two miles from the center of the blast would be ionized into a plasma like the matter that makes up the sun.

This fireball would have roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun when the bomb detonated. The sun takes up a half a degree of angle in the sky, so using the arcsine of that I get that you would have had to be about 570 miles away for this ball of plasma to have the same width in the sky (and thus the amount of heat that it's radiating) as the sun. Given this brightness, I would expect that anything within your 30-mile radius would be incinerated by the heat of the explosion. Indeed, all of the buildings of a Soviet test site 34 miles from the blast were destroyed, although I don't know if this was due to the heat or the shockwave. In fact, a nuke that size dropped on New York would probably cause noticeable damage as far away as Boston or Philadelphia.


Answer 2:

Unfortunately, there have been examples of nuclear bomb explosions in the past. For example, the United States bombed Hiroshima, Japan in 1945 during World War II. This bomb was released by a B-52 plane and killed at least 129,000 people for the initial bombing and later by radiation poisoning and cancer. The destruction (including loss of lives, injuries, and damage to buildings) of a nuclear bomb depends on the size or power of the bomb and whether it is released from the air or on the surface. I found this online application where you can select a location and size of nuclear weapon to see how much destruction would occur. The link is: nuclear secrecy

I can't speak to the accuracy of the application, but it will allow you to test destruction resulting from a range of explosion scenarios.



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