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Name: Tamara
Status: student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 4/21/2003


Question:
Regarding nuclear explosions in space (as seen in the movies): several of the ones that I have seen, carry the same pattern, once detonated. upon immediate detonation, there appear to translucent 'bowls', each facing opposite each other, with the bottom of these 'bowls' touching. I realize that Hollywood has their own interpretation of explosions in a vacuum,but there seem to be a quite a few people in the special effects department who agree that this is how a nuclear explosion would appear in space. I also realize that each explosion differs according to amount of mass, and the properties involved, but does there exist a uniform energy pattern, (other than straight out) that can be predicted, or are there too many variables?


Replies:
Tamara,

My comments here are for the most part, speculation. There is little scientific basis for my opinion on this question.

I have seen the nuclear explosions in movies that you are referring to. There are quite a few movies with nearly identical blast pattern (two parabolic shaped bowls that are back to back, with what appears to be a flate plane of light between the two bowls.) I can only think of one at the moment. Armageddon.

I could be wrong about this, but here goes. I am no nuclear physicist nor have I been in the ISS (International Space Station) if and when a nuclear blast went off in space. However, it is my belief that this 'parabolic bowl' pattern was conceived in the imaginative minds of movie producers AND THAT IS ALL. This pattern to my knowledge has no real basis in reality. Some might argue that it could possibly be the shape of U(235) or whatever they use for the fissionable material. Or maybe its the shape of the overall bomb. Well, I doubt it. But, if we gave them the 'parabolic bowl' idea then I would ask, "Why does it appear that prior to the big and final explosion, in Armageddon, that "energy or light" appears to be moving inward TOWARDS the center of the explosion, fractions of a second AFTER Harry presses the button??" I think it is only for Hollywood effect.

My 2 cents worth says that any sort of detonation like that (nuclear, conventional, an M-80 firecracker, whatever) would be for the most part spherical.

Darin Wagner



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