Listen To What An Atom Bomb Really Sounds Like

    July 13, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

I’m pretty sure that we’ve all seen an atom bomb explosion by now. The mushroom cloud is engrained into the general consciousness as something that is to be feared. I’m sure we all know what an atom bomb sounds like as well, but it turns out that we don’t know anything.

Thanks to some fantastic archived footage of a public atom bomb test, we can now see what an atom bomb explosion is really like. It turns out that footage involving atom bomb blasts have been doctored to include the sound of the explosion at the moment the bomb goes off. Unless you’re right on top of the bomb when it goes off, that’s not gonna happen.

It all comes down to the speed of light versus the speed of sound. We see the light from the explosion immediately because light travels faster than anything else on Earth. The video is taken 11km away from the explosion so it takes the sound about half a minute to reach the ears of those watching the explosion.

One other interesting thing that pop culture has convinced us is that atom bombs continue to create noise and smolder as the mushroom cloud rises. As the video clearly shows, there’s an initial bang, a rush of air and then total silence as the mushroom cloud slowly rises. It’s far more chilling than anything I’ve ever seen.

Despite how you feel about the use of atomic weapons, this is super impressive science at work. Science isn’t always safe, but it commands respect nonetheless.

[h/t: CNET]

  • Caleb

    Chilling video, gives you more respect and fear of nuclear weapons, but the explosion itself is always beautiful in a way. I woulden’t wanna drop one on a society or be anywhere close to one though 😛 just saying. Thanks for the video Zach.

  • john

    Skip the first two minutes.

  • Mike

    Hmmm… I would think a post concerning the sound of an explosion would at the very least have some audio.

    • Abel

      You will see the explosion before you hear it. Light travels faster than sound and they are really far away from the explosion. I’m sure I do not have to point out how foolish you must feel.

  • chrism101

    Wow, the initial flash was very long and what is the low frequency heard then, very ominous……

  • Daniel Gehrke

    This quality hampers the movie until the bomb actually goes off. For those interested in just the noise of the explosion go to about 2:55

  • http://fb ayullyblackins

    i luv dis..

  • Gopal

    nuclear test always harmful for any nation.You will see the explosion before you hear it.
    HSC RESULT 2012

    • Arean

      Hmm….our result published.thank you for a result link.

  • http://www.allbanglanewspaper.com/ Harry

    I would think a post concerning the sound of an explosion would at the very least have some audio & video.

    hsc result 2012

  • Judith Benn

    My husband, turning 84 today, July 17, 2012, served with the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the Paific in 1948 during his military service. All personnel from the atoll where the bombs were detonated were transported 30 miles away on a navy ship to protect them from the hazards of the explosion and fallout. Precautions were strictly enforced as to what the men could do while observing the explosion — clothing, protective eyeware, etc. He says they felt the shock waves long before they heard the actual explosions which were very loud. I dont think this video captures the intensity of the noise but perhaps that is just not possible in this report. the speed of light vs sound as explained above. The clouds are totally unforgettable for him to this day.

  • RAvenskeep

    Class, let’s define the term “megaton”. It means one million TONS of TNT. The nuclear (or nukuler if you are George Bush) device being set of is approximately 20 megatons of explosive power. In my limited years of nuclear power plant experience, (25 years) I am just real glad to never having heard even a kiloton (that’s only a thousand TONS of TNT) explosion. Of course, to have heard it would mean standing near Ground Zero, which means I most likely would not be here to write this comment today.
    Nuclear bombs (not atom bombs – we used those little toys up over Japan in 1945) are noisy. Very very noisy. You can not create that much heat, expand and contract the air that severely and NOT GET NOISE. Look at thunder — and its caused by one bolt of electricity heating the air and then when it contracts back to its usual volume, you get the boom. If you have ever been near a lightning bolt and heard the raw strength of thunder, then consider that sound multiplied about 10000000000 times!
    Oh, and its much safer to be 100 meters from a lightning bolt that a 20 megaton nuclear device being detonated.