How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?

Dropping one nuclear bomb is terrible enough—cities leveled, populations vaporized. Horrible enough on its own—but what if you dropped 183.000? Goodbye, USA. So what about obliterating the moon? We've got it.

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These wonderfully graphic calculations are courtesy of graphic designer Maximilian Bode, who tallied how many warheads of varying sizes it'd take to annihilate everything from San Francisco to the landmass of Earth itself. Both are bad. One is a little worse.

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?
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What about the Little Boy, mankind's first WWII foray into scorching itself? Four to totally erase DC, and over 3.5 million to scrap the whole world.

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?

Little Boy's sequel upped the megatonnage a bit.

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?
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The Ivy King bomb tested by the US would be a slightly more efficient means of ushering in the apocalypse, with 55,000 and some change needed to level all of North America.

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?
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The B53 nuclear bomb, America's 600x version of Little Boy, is considerably more potent.

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?
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The Castle Bravo thermonuclear hydrogen bomb is no slouch—almost 9,000 would eradicate what little there is on the Moon.

Illustration for article titled How Many Nukes Would It Take to Blow Up the Entire Planet?
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And finally, the Tzar Bomba—the largest nuclear weapon humanity has ever concocted. A real doomsday device. "Only" 16,000 would toast the whole planet.

Of course, none of these figures take fallout and other atmospheric effects into account—just square mileage blown away. So it'd actually, technically, require fewer warheads to exterminate our species. But that's irrelevant, Maximilian points out: "There are an estimated total of 20,500 nuclear warheads in the world today. If the average power of these devices is 33,500 Kilotons, there are enough to destroy the total earth landmass." And why do we need so many of these things again?

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All graphics published with permission of Maximilian Bode—you can check out more of his exquisite work here and here.

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DISCUSSION

Whoaa there. The U.S. is down to under 2000 deployable thermonuclear warheads and Russia is fairly close to that number. All the other nuclear countries combined have less than 1000. And these are fairly small bombs...mostly in the 480 kt range.

There are a bunch of tactical nukes out there too, but most of those are really small weapons...like less than 100 kt. Most are much less than that.

There are no 33.5 MT weapons in the active U.S. arsenal right now, and I can't think of any in any countries arsenal.

Plus the current U.S. goal is to get to under 1000 with the eventual goal of getting to zero.

So, I think we can chill about nuclear armegeddon for a while. This graphic is about 20 years late.