Q: How many
nuclear bombs would it take to blow up the us - kenneth (age 11)
are two obstacles to answering that question. First, I'm not sure
exactly what you mean by "blow up the us". Second, there
have, fortunately, been no direct observations of the use of many
nuclear bombs in a short time on cities, so there's some uncertainty
about the net effect.
Still, I can give some
rough estimates. A typical modern H-bomb has explosive power of
300,000 kilotons, about 20 times as much as the bombs used on
Japan. Much larger bombs exist, but these are the main ones in
the U.S. and Russian arsenals. Dropped over a city, a bomb like
that can easily kill 500,000 people rapidly. 200 such bombs dropped
over a range of cities would kill something like 100,000,000 people
(out of about 300,000,000) and destroy almost all our infrastructure
for energy (oil refineries, power grids,...) communications, transportation,
manufacturing,... The resulting soot would probably cause cool
dark weather, disrupting even what farming could be carried out
without fuel, fertilizers, etc. Radiation sickness would be widespread.
Probably most of the people not killed in the initial strike would
soon die. My personal guess is that bands of hunter-gatherers
and small-scale cultivators would somehow survive.
Just for calibration,
the U.S. and Russia have between them some 18,000 nuclear warheads.
Minor nuclear powers (U.K, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel)
typically have 100-300 warheads. Back in the heyday of the Cold
War, the purpose of the extra bombs was often described as "bouncing
the rubble". At major defense contractors, one would hear
assessments of the effectiveness of their products in "megafu's"-
millions of family units to be killed.