Because nuclear bombs offer one of the ways in which humanity could end up with itself, the gigantic destruction it causes is worth thinking about. Let’s imagine what would happen if someone detonated a modern nuclear bomb in a city, for example, reveals a nightmare beyond imagination. Now, let’s take a look at what would happen if humanity threw the moon.
The Kurzgesagt YouTube channel – which literally translates to “short” in German – created the video above. The channel has previously created countless explainers that educate people on complex topics, from “star engines” to genetic engineering. So are other scary nuclear bomb scenarios.
Kurzgesagt notes that the impetus for the video was a study commissioned by the US Air Force during the Cold War. During this period, from the late 1940s to the early 1990s, the Moon was a consideration for military bases. As part of exploring what the Moon could offer a nation with a nuclear weapon, the study modeled what would happen if we destroyed it.
Using a 100 Megaton thermonuclear warhead as a reference – which is twice as powerful as the strongest detonated ever – Kurzgesagt shows how the nuking of the Moon would create a massive explosion on its surface; one unimpeded by an atmosphere, allowing it to expand much further than it would be here on Earth.
Armor Research Foundation
The lack of atmosphere would also mean that anyone watching the nuclear bomb would die. Kurzgesagt observes that the Earth’s atmosphere is the one that stops the radiation caused by nuclear bomb explosions. But on the moon, it would radiate freely and even kill people in orbital ships.
However, the theater would be fast and, in a cosmological sense, the explosion would not be so remarkable. The study found that the Moon’s orbit would be unchanged (Kurzgesagt says a nuclear weapon would move the Moon as much as someone blowing air would move a truck) and would simply remain with another crater on its surface.
However, for humanity, the bomb blast would be quite terrible. Pieces of the Moon would rain on Earth and wipe out satellites and spacecraft in orbit. There would also be radioactive debris on the Moon’s surface. But while it is terrible, this is nothing compared to what would happen if we detonated a nuclear weapon on Earth.