Stuff My Sisters Will Like

To Jenny, Katie and Laura, From Their Brother, Victor

Nuking North Carolina September 24, 2013

Filed under: History,Neat,Sci-fi,Science,Stuff — Fr. Victor Feltes @ 8:00 am

On January 23, 1961, three days after President Kennedy’s inauguration, a U.S. B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air and its two 4-megaton nuclear bombs fell to the earth near Faro, North Carolina. Inside one of these bombs, “of the four safety mechanisms … designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only [a] final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity.”
What would have been the consequences of an accidental nuclear blast in North Carolina 260 times more powerful than that which devastated Hiroshima? A NUKEMAP simulation estimates a death toll of 2,840 from the explosion itself; however, the blast’s after-effects would have killed many more. The weather that day had a 9 mph wind which would have carried fallout northeast and brought lethal doses of radiation to thousands. This blast would have surely become one of the most deadly disasters in American history.
Just 59 years before, 125 miles away at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the Wright brothers had achieved the first powered flight. It is stunning that technological power has advanced so greatly in so little time, and it is a wonder and a blessing that we have not yet annihilated ourselves with it.


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