A great many of us have heard of the phenomenon of nuclear flash blindness and/or retinal burn. This is the process where the sheer magnitude of light
across the spectrum which comes from the first seconds of a nuclear blast overwhelms the optic nerve and retina. This sometimes causes physical
retinal burns. Protected vision results in minimal effects, but unprotected can be unpleasant.
In fact, I recall being taught in school during the 80's and having the same reinforced by media, that looking toward a nuclear detonation would cause
permenant and total blindness at the worst cases to severe impairment in the best. A number of movies have depicted this very same thing, including a
couple movies which greatly impacted a generation.
The Day After
By Dawn's Early Light
Now, how surprised would you be to learn that these lessons were false for projecting the impact of a detonation viewed through unprotected eyes? I'm
guessing many simply take it on faith that it's like looking into the sun through binoculars. A certain
trip to learning how to move through
the world without eye sight. That would be wrong, as I discovered by some research.
It turns out, this isn't something we need guess about. Like so much else, our Government helpfully and knowingly exposed people to just that
experience to 'see what would happen'. They learned, too. Now let me share with everyone here just what those lessons were.
I'll take the summary here to give a picture of the lesson garnered from multiple tests.
3.5 SUMMARY OF NUCLEAR BURST EFFECTS ON HUMAN EYES
- Unprotected, dark-adapted:
The only data available on flashblindness effects on the dark-adapted unprotected human eye are from Operation TUNIBLER-SNAPPER. Those results
indicate that viewing from 16 km the fireballs of 30-kt or 18.5-kt low-air bursts for an interval between 46 and 52 sec until blink will require
considerable recovery periods and is likely to produce a minimal retinal burn.
- Unprotected, day-adapted:
Results at several tests indicate that light adapted subjects oriented away from line-of-sight of the bursts experienced no visual impairment. Those
subjects in aircraft who viewed a 14-kt low-air burst from a distance of about 14.5 km experienced temporarily impaired vision with recovery in 2 min.
Other recovery times have been noted as within 5 min.
Those excerpts can be found on pages 26-27 on actual numbering. The report itself was generated in April, 1971 by the Defense Atomic Support
For those with math far higher than mine, the pages following the range quoted above go into the equations and math which make sense of the results
observed in actual witnesses of live nuclear detonations. Simulations were also used to extrapolate data and determine safe min. distances for a range
of sizes up to 1,000 Kiloton airburst weapons. Again, the science and math is about 10 years into engineering beyond where I ever plan to go. That's
why I selected the paragraphs I did.
Pages preceding the quoted ones go into the lay details of the shot series that the witnesses were in and live testing of unprotected eyes was
terminated following the physical injury of two people. One of which, the report is thought to describe (It's presumption and noted as such), while
the other is never detailed for what happened. This is an unclassified report and was from the time of it's release. Hence, the spotty information on
the two individuals who did sustain physical damage.
In the current world climate, much is being made of the scariest scenarios a talking head or fear dealing reporter can conjure up. Even more is being
left to the imagination and imagination is never a good thing on topics like this. The human mind tends to fill in bad details by instinct and
survival. It's just how we're wired to think and keep ourselves breathing in the face of threats which aren't entirely understood or explained.
I hope presenting this report may take a little of the stigma out of at least one area of anxiety, should the worst come to pass by either deliberate
action OR complete accident someday by a nuclear warhead being detonated near where anyone here may live. God forbid, we all hope it doesn't ....but
this one area can be understood, anyway.
edit on 3-4-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)