Nuclear vs. Conventional Blasts

In general terms, a blast or explosion is a rapid release of a large amount of energy within a limited space.

There are five basic differences between nuclear and conventional blasts:

  • Nuclear explosions are caused by an unrestrained fission reaction whereas conventional explosions are caused by chemical reactions.
  • Nuclear explosions can be millions of times more powerful than the largest conventional explosions.
  • Nuclear explosions create much higher temperatures and much brighter light flashes than conventional explosions, to the extent that skin burns and fires can occur at considerable distances.
  • Nuclear explosions are accompanied by highly penetrating and harmful radiation.
  • Radioactive debris is spread by a nuclear blast, to the extent that lethal exposures can be received long after the explosion occurs.