-1
$\begingroup$

What would the effects of detonating every single nuclear bomb currently in existence at once in the center of the earth? Would the earth simply explode into bits? Would the heat have some sort of effect on the surface?

$\endgroup$

closed as off-topic by Spencer, daniel.neumann, Fred, arkaia, gerrit Jul 12 '18 at 7:29

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about earth science, within the scope defined in the help center." – Spencer, daniel.neumann, Fred, arkaia, gerrit
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ the only thing happening is we have solved the problem of getting rid of all the nukes. $\endgroup$ – trond hansen Jul 4 '18 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ This is relevant :) qntm.org/destroy Quote from the intro "Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison. This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore." $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon Jul 5 '18 at 12:38
  • $\begingroup$ From the same source, "There is evidence that in the past, asteroids have hit the Earth with the explosive yield of five billion Hiroshima bombs - and such evidence is difficult to find." $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon Jul 5 '18 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ I guess if we're biting on the question, a fair following subquestion (given the eventless results to the main question): would it have any significant impact on core composition/magnetic field/etc? $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Jul 5 '18 at 13:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This isn't actually about earth science. It's a much better fit for Worldbuilding SE, e.g. this question. $\endgroup$ – Spencer Jul 5 '18 at 18:10
8
$\begingroup$

I'll ignore the complete impossibility of getting the world's nuclear arsenal to the center of the Earth and the impossibility of exploding them all at once. The total number of nuclear weapons, including those held in reserve and those scheduled for dismantling, is about 15000, with an average explosive power of less than half a megaton of TNT. This is equivalent to about 7×1018 joules of energy.

That's about how much energy humanity consumes every five days. Compared to other destructive events, it's about 1/5000th of the energy released by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, about 1/70000th of the energy released by the Chicxulub impactor, and about 1/30000000000000th of the energy needed to make the Earth explode into bits (the Earth's gravitational binding energy).

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But what would happen? ;p $\endgroup$ – Communisty Jul 4 '18 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Communisty not much. The extreme heat would melt the bombs, uranium and plutonium would probably dissolve into the iron-nickel core and diffuse away rapidly, leaving no chance for a critical mass ever happening. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Jul 4 '18 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Gimelist, but the question already assumes detonation i.e. the bombs would explode. $\endgroup$ – Communisty Jul 4 '18 at 10:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Communisty: Nothing notable would happen. You'd probably detect vibrations with a good seismograph, but that's it. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 5 '18 at 5:46
3
$\begingroup$

To add to David Hammen's answer. Earth is big. I hate to use the words "really really big" cause there are things much bigger, like the sun, but Earth is quite large.

Imagine what would happen if all the Nukes went off 3000 miles from you. You're in LA, the bombs are all set off in NY. The curvature of the Earth would prevent you from seeing much, except just barely maybe the very top spread of the mushroom cloud and some reflection of the glow and redness in the sky and you might experience a gust of wind from the blast and a short while later, some radioactive fallout and you'd begin to have a bad time within a day or a few days, but the blast probably wouldn't kill you (I'm speculating a bit, but 3000 miles is outside the immediate blast radius.

The Tsar bomb, the biggest nuke ever set off, had a blast radius of 22 miles (35 km) and it leveled a village 34 miles (55 km) away. With the inverse square rule, 100 tsar bombs might have a blast radius 10 times that, or 220 miles and would still knock down buildings further than that. But once you get a couple thousand miles away, even if every nuke in the world is set off, you'd survive the blast, though you'd might feel the pressure wave (wind) generated by it.

Now imagine instead of air separating you and all those Nukes, there's 3,000 miles of rock and metal. You'd barely notice it. Odds are, you wouldn't notice it at all. There's simply not enough heat, and not enough explosive expansion to affect the Earth's core. There would be a pressure wave for sure, but by the time it reached the surface, my guess is you wouldn't even feel it.

There's two kinds of pressure waves that are generated by Earthquakes. S waves and P waves. If you set off nukes inside the Earth's core the pressure waves would primarily be P waves, that would spread out evenly towards the surface.

Using David Hammen's 7 x 1018 joules of energy and Earth's surface area of 5.1 x 1014 square meters. That's about 1400 joules per square meter, which sounds like a lot, but considering that it would be spread out as it travels through the Earth, and compared to local Earthquake energy, that probably wouldn't be much more than a very weak somewhere in the 1-2 on the Richter scale (very bad guess which I'll try to improve on), but based on how much energy a large earthquake has, and if the energy is divided 50% into P wave and 50% into S wave (another bad estimate), 1400 joules per square meter, after having traveled through 3,000 miles of earth would have to be very low on the Richter scale. I'm pretty confident that no person would feel it, but as noted by Jamesqf, it might be detected by sensitive equipment.

The added heat to the core would be even more negligible and I imagine that would have no measurable effect at all.

If someone wants to improve on this answer from a P-wave and earthquake energy perspective, I can delete mine. The bottom line is nothing of consequence would happen.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.