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Originally posted by Togetic
I remember hearing someone talking on Coast to Coast a few months ago (maybe more) about a weapon that the Russians had tested whose purpose was to blow chunks of Earth's atmosphere off into space. This person, a male, claimed that the US was determined to attempt their own version of such a weapon, and that only on the intervention of this man (who threatened to expose the whole program publicly) did the US stop. Does anyone know about this weapon, and is there any evidence to substantiate his claims?
Originally posted by Hiphar
Coast to Coast is amusing, but I wouldn't take anything from that show to seriously. The ONLY way a large amount of our athmosphere could possibly be ejected into space is if the Earth were to be hit with a VERY large asteriod, but then we would have much bigger problems.
Originally posted by Wowser
In regard to your query regarding weapons that could possibly destroy the atmosphere, my astronomy professor recently mentioned something interesting regarding that very subject. He told the class that when the "Tsar Bomba" was detonated on October 30, 1961, it actually set the atmosphere ablaze. According to him, the oxygen within the atmosphere burned uncontrollably for three days straight, before inexplicably extinguishing.
I found no information to verify his claims, but he does have a doctorate in physics, and is from Eastern Europe somewhere. I took his story with a grain of salt, but I can see no reason why he would fabricate such a story to tell his class. Anyway, he carried on by saying that if the bomb had been any larger (it was planned to be 100 Mt, but was scaled down to 50 Mt to reduce fallout) the combustion of the atmosphere may not have ceased, and all oxygen in the atmosphere could have been burned away, which needless to say would not bode well for us.
So, according to my astronomy professor, a nuclear weapon of sufficient size would be able to effectively destroy the atmosphere and render Earth quite uninhabitable. Reassuring isn’t it.
Originally posted by mbkennel
I believe that the earliest and biggest fusion weapons were nearly capable of ejecting atmosphere out of gravitational binding to the Earth, and this was one fundamental limitation on their size and utility.
With a number of other reasons this led to the more useful strategic doctrines of larger numbers of smaller (though still titanic) nuclear weapons.