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  • Many of our viewers have asked us a very serious question:

  • Many of our viewers have asked us a very serious question:

  • What if we made a big pile of bombs

  • What if we made a big pile of bombs

  • and exploded every nuclear weapon in the world all at once?

  • and exploded every nuclear weapon in the world all at once?

  • Strangely enough, we couldn't find a good source

  • Strangely enough, we couldn't find a good source

  • to answer this question to our satisfaction.

  • to answer this question to our satisfaction.

  • So, we gathered together a few scientists to calculate what would happen.

  • So, we gathered together a few scientists to calculate what would happen.

  • And find an answer to this extremely important scientific problem,

  • And find an answer to this extremely important scientific problem,

  • once and for all.

  • once and for all.

  • Currently, there are 15,000 nuclear weapons on Earth.

  • Currently, there are 15,000 nuclear weapons on Earth.

  • The US and Russia both have around 7,000,

  • The US and Russia both have around 7,000,

  • while France, China, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea

  • while France, China, the UK, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea

  • own around 1,000 between them.

  • own around 1,000 between them.

  • But, how much destructive power is this really?

  • But, how much destructive power is this really?

  • Let's try to put these numbers into perspective.

  • Let's try to put these numbers into perspective.

  • On Earth, there are about 4,500 cities or urban areas

  • On Earth, there are about 4,500 cities or urban areas

  • with at least 100,000 inhabitants.

  • with at least 100,000 inhabitants.

  • Some are bigger than others, so we'll assume that on average,

  • Some are bigger than others, so we'll assume that on average,

  • we need three nuclear bombs to completely wipe out one city.

  • we need three nuclear bombs to completely wipe out one city.

  • This means we could destroy every single city on planet Earth,

  • This means we could destroy every single city on planet Earth,

  • with our nuclear arsenal,

  • with our nuclear arsenal,

  • killing more than three billion people -- roughly half of humanity

  • killing more than three billion people -- roughly half of humanity

  • in an instant.

  • in an instant.

  • And, we'd still have 1,500 nuclear weapons left.

  • And, we'd still have 1,500 nuclear weapons left.

  • Now that's what an expert would call, "overkill."

  • Now that's what an expert would call, "overkill."

  • So, we can say with confidence, that we have a lot of nuclear weapons

  • So, we can say with confidence, that we have a lot of nuclear weapons

  • and they can do a lot of damage.

  • and they can do a lot of damage.

  • But, what if we make a huge pile of all 15,000 bombs and pull the trigger?

  • But, what if we make a huge pile of all 15,000 bombs and pull the trigger?

  • Let's drop our nuclear pile in the middle of the Amazon rainforest;

  • Let's drop our nuclear pile in the middle of the Amazon rainforest;

  • just a show nature who's boss.

  • just a show nature who's boss.

  • Our warheads, piled haphazardly, fit into a small warehouse.

  • Our warheads, piled haphazardly, fit into a small warehouse.

  • A typical US warhead has the power of two hundred thousand tons of TNT.

  • A typical US warhead has the power of two hundred thousand tons of TNT.

  • So, fifteen thousand warheads would be the equivalent of three billion tons of TNT.

  • So, fifteen thousand warheads would be the equivalent of three billion tons of TNT.

  • For scale, this is enough to rebuild the whole island of Manhattan

  • For scale, this is enough to rebuild the whole island of Manhattan

  • with every building and skyscraper using stacks of TNT.

  • with every building and skyscraper using stacks of TNT.

  • The closest thing we can compare to the energy gathered here, is a volcano.

  • The closest thing we can compare to the energy gathered here, is a volcano.

  • One of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in recorded history took place in 1883,

  • One of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in recorded history took place in 1883,

  • on the island of Krakatoa.

  • on the island of Krakatoa.

  • The eruption was so powerful, that 70% of the island,

  • The eruption was so powerful, that 70% of the island,

  • and the surrounding archipelago, was destroyed

  • and the surrounding archipelago, was destroyed

  • killing tens of thousands of people.

  • killing tens of thousands of people.

  • Its effects were felt around the world for days after the event.

  • Its effects were felt around the world for days after the event.

  • Our nuclear pile contains 15 times the energy of the Krakatoa volcanic eruption.

  • Our nuclear pile contains 15 times the energy of the Krakatoa volcanic eruption.

  • So, let's finally push the button.

  • So, let's finally push the button.

  • Three,

  • Three,

  • two,

  • two,

  • one.

  • one.

  • In a second,

  • In a second,

  • a fireball 50 kilometers across vaporizes everything in its way,

  • a fireball 50 kilometers across vaporizes everything in its way,

  • and creates a blast wave that flattens 3,000 square kilometers of forest.

  • and creates a blast wave that flattens 3,000 square kilometers of forest.

  • Every living thing within 250 kilometers will start to burn.

  • Every living thing within 250 kilometers will start to burn.

  • The explosion will be heard literally around the world,

  • The explosion will be heard literally around the world,

  • as the pressure wave circles the Earth tens of times over the next few weeks.

  • as the pressure wave circles the Earth tens of times over the next few weeks.

  • Millions of tons of incinerated material are catapulted into the atmosphere.

  • Millions of tons of incinerated material are catapulted into the atmosphere.

  • The mushroom cloud reaches the outer reaches of the stratosphere,

  • The mushroom cloud reaches the outer reaches of the stratosphere,

  • pushing up against space itself.

  • pushing up against space itself.

  • After things have calmed down,

  • After things have calmed down,

  • a small crater -- about ten kilometers across

  • a small crater -- about ten kilometers across

  • is left in the center of the worst world fires the planet has seen in millennia,

  • is left in the center of the worst world fires the planet has seen in millennia,

  • spreading throughout South America, burning down forests and cities alike.

  • spreading throughout South America, burning down forests and cities alike.

  • And, now, the unpleasant part begins.

  • And, now, the unpleasant part begins.

  • Extremely radioactive material will kill living things very quickly,

  • Extremely radioactive material will kill living things very quickly,

  • and a large area several kilometers around the crater is now uninhabitable,

  • and a large area several kilometers around the crater is now uninhabitable,

  • as is everywhere for hundreds of kilometers downwind.

  • as is everywhere for hundreds of kilometers downwind.

  • Much of the fallout is carried high into the atmosphere by the mushroom cloud

  • Much of the fallout is carried high into the atmosphere by the mushroom cloud

  • and carried around the planet.

  • and carried around the planet.

  • The amount of radioactive material in the environment doubles worldwide,

  • The amount of radioactive material in the environment doubles worldwide,

  • which still isn't civilization-ending, but we may see more cancer for a while.

  • which still isn't civilization-ending, but we may see more cancer for a while.

  • A portion of the particles will flow to the edge of space for years

  • A portion of the particles will flow to the edge of space for years

  • and cause a nuclear winter

  • and cause a nuclear winter

  • that could lower global temperatures by a few degrees for a few years.

  • that could lower global temperatures by a few degrees for a few years.

  • This explosion was pretty bad if you're in South America, and especially Brazil.

  • This explosion was pretty bad if you're in South America, and especially Brazil.

  • The Amazon rainforest is pretty much history, which is not great.

  • The Amazon rainforest is pretty much history, which is not great.

  • But, human life will go on.

  • But, human life will go on.

  • OK, but what if we explode more nuclear weapons?

  • OK, but what if we explode more nuclear weapons?

  • Let's suppose humanity decided to mine every bit of uranium on Earth

  • Let's suppose humanity decided to mine every bit of uranium on Earth

  • and build as many nuclear bombs as possible.

  • and build as many nuclear bombs as possible.

  • At current usage,

  • At current usage,

  • it's estimated that there are around 35 million tons of uranium in Earth's crust;

  • it's estimated that there are around 35 million tons of uranium in Earth's crust;

  • enough to power human civilization for over 2,000 years,

  • enough to power human civilization for over 2,000 years,

  • or to build millions of nuclear warheads.

  • or to build millions of nuclear warheads.

  • For the sake of argument,

  • For the sake of argument,

  • let's say we create a pile with the yield of 10 billion Hiroshima bombs,

  • let's say we create a pile with the yield of 10 billion Hiroshima bombs,

  • which makes up a cube three kilometers high that contains roughly the energy

  • which makes up a cube three kilometers high that contains roughly the energy

  • of the asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

  • of the asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

  • Except, it's also nuclear.

  • Except, it's also nuclear.