The Russian government this week released previously classified footage of the largest nuclear weapons test in history: The 1961 testing of the Tsar Bomba.
The bomb, which was built at the height of the nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia, was over 3,300 times more powerful than the nuclear weapon that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.
The bomb was 26 feet long, had a diameter of 7 feet, and weighed nearly 60,000 pounds. The bomb was so powerful that scientists had to outfit it with a giant parachute in an attempt to give the Soviet Tu-95 bomber that dropped it enough time to escape the area without being blown out of the sky.
“In the village of Severny, some 55km (34 miles) from Ground Zero, all houses were completely destroyed. In Soviet districts hundreds of miles from the blast zone, damage of all kinds – houses collapsing, roofs falling in, damage to doors, windows shattering – were reported. Radio communications were disrupted for more than an hour,” the BBC reported. “The blast wave from Tsar Bomba caused the giant bomber to plummet more than 1,000m (3,300ft) before the pilot could regain control.”
The energy released from the detonation was “10 times more powerful than all the munitions expended during World War Two,” the BBC added. “Sensors registered the bomb’s blast wave orbiting the Earth not once, not twice, but three times.”
The blast from the bomb “created a mushroom cloud 42 miles high, about seven times the height of Mount Everest,” The Smithsonian Magazine reported. “The documentary claims that the flash could be seen about 620 miles away, about the distance between Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Illinois.”
The bomb was so powerful that the Soviets were unwilling to test the bomb as they originally designed it, which would have had a yield of 100 megatons. Instead, fearing that the bomb would be too powerful and could cause significant damage to their country, Soviet scientists reduced its yield to 57 megatons.
“Before it was ready to be tested, the uranium layers that would have helped the bomb achieve its enormous yield were replaced with layers of lead, which lessened the intensity of the nuclear reaction,” the BBC added.
“After the Tsar Bomba and other thermonuclear tests on Novaya Zemlya and by the United States in the Pacific, the two superpowers realized the craziness of conducting atmospheric tests with huge radioactive fallouts,” The Barents Observer, a Norwegian publication, reported. “In 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty banning tests in the atmosphere, outer space and underwater.”
The blast was so powerful that, even though it was detonated at 13,000 feet above the ground, it created a “seismic shock wave equivalent to an earthquake of over 5.0 on the Richter scale [which] was measured around the world.”
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.