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Can You Survive A Nuclear Blast In A Fridge? DEBUNKED

Can You Survive A Nuclear Blast In A Fridge? DEBUNKED

It’s a lovely, red-hot summer day. Not a cloud
in the sky… Except one and it looks like a mushroom. It’s a nuke and it’s going off, big time.
The fireball and your life flash before your eyes. In that split second you remember the
disappointment of Indiana Jones and the The Kingdom of the Crystal
Skull. Nuking the fridge. Hell, it worked for Indy, so it might work
for you. Right? There’s no time to think about it. You dive
into your temporary home and wait it out, with only a mouldy piece of cheese to keep
you company. What are your chances of survival? Pretty
low if you eat that cheese. As for the nuclear blast, I’ll let Indy’s creator, So does his argument hold any weight? Is surviving
a nuclear blast in a fridge less science fact and just more of Lucas’ trademark science
fiction? I’m Stu, this is Debunked and we’re here
to sort the truth from the myths, and the facts from the misconceptions. This video is made possible with the support
of The Great Courses Plus, an on-demand learning resource with courses lead by the world’s
greatest professors. Okay, since Indiana has provided us with a
nice example, we’ll use his scenario to base our argument around. First things first. How powerful is the bomb
we’re talking about here? Well, the film is set in 1957 and depicts an American nuclear
test. This would coincide with the real-life Operation Plumbbob,which saw the US drop 29
bombs in the Nevada desert in order to study their effects. One bomb in particular, codenamed Smoky, seems
a good candidate as it was mounted on a tower, like the bomb in the movie. Smoky wasn’t
exactly a small nuke either. It had a yield of 44 kilotons. For reference, that’s about 3 times as powerful
as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and twice that which landed on Nagasaki in World War
Two. In our hypothetical scenario anything within
360 meters of ground zero is getting incinerated by a huge fireball. I’m not sure there’s a fridge on Earth
that can keep its contents ice cool in the face of temperatures reaching millions of
degrees celsius. Imagine climbing into a fridge and then hurling
it directly into the Sun, it’s not likely to go well. But maybe a refrigerator could prove handy
when dealing with the other pesky elements of a nuclear blast. Namely, the shockwave
and the radiation. Now, there is evidence to suggest that such
an appliance could survive in such trying conditions. Back in 1955, another American
test called Operation Cue saw the US government build an entire model village, similar to
the one in Indy 4, optimistically named Survival Town. Interestingly for us, one concrete house,
located 1.4km away from the centre of the blast, had a big chest freezer in it, which was packed with food rather than archaeologists.
It’s a bit more spacious than Indy’s fridge and would have been a lot cooler but, as a
real-life point of reference, it’s not a million miles away. After the test was complete and a fair chunk
of Survival Town was blown to kingdom come, remarkably the freezer was still there in
the house. According to the official report: Essentially it was fine. However, before you go jumping into fridges
or freezers when the apocalypse arrives, we need to take a closer look at what happened
down in old Survival Town. For a start, the bomb dropped that day was
noticeably less powerful than the one we proposed in our scenario. The Operation Cue nuke was
29 kilotons, which would have produced a fireball reaching
300 meters from the centre. The most intense part of the shockwave from
such a detonation would have only stretched as far as 0.67km. Within this zone, the additional
pressure, otherwise known as overpressure, from the blast would be enough to destroy
most buildings and there’d be hurricane force winds. We’re talking around 500 miles
per hour (800 KPH) and fatalities would approach 100%. Collapsing roofs and flying debris — do
have a tendency to cause casualties. Even heavily built concrete buildings would likely
be demolished or severely damaged. So why did the freezer survive on this occasion? There are two key factors here . The overpressure
caused by the shockwave, which is measured in Pounds Per Square Inch and is anything
above normal atmospheric pressure, would have likely dissipated at 1.4km, going from 20
psi to around 5 psi or lower at this point. Even with such a substantial drop, wind speeds
would have been 260kph and damage would be significant with most residential buildings
tumbling down,. However, there is a chance that solid concrete buildings would survive
in this area of the shockwave. And this is exactly what happened to our freezer
in Survival Town. There were 5 different types of houses and the freezer was placed in “SOUNDBITE”
It was one of only two buildings that weren’t demolished at the 1.4km range. This was one
lucky freezer. It’s also worth bearing in mind that from
3psi of overpressure and below, wind speeds would peak at 160kph and, while serious injuries
might be common, the risk of dying is reduced. Diving into the freezer at Survival Town probably
wouldn’t have made much difference to your chances of survival because it was already
a reasonable distance from the blast and snugly inside a concrete house. Going back to our original scenario, a 44
kiloton nuke would produce a 20psi shockwave up to 0.77 km away from ground zero, with
the smaller but still deadly 5psi shockwave stretching up to 1.62 km from the centre of
the blast. Jumping in a fridge here really won’t help
you, unless you want to be buried in a refrigerator. You’d be battered to death inside as it
was carried along by the shockwave. But let’s be positive. Let’s say you jump
in a fridge, the building you’re in gets obliterated but the fridge doesn’t fall over trapping
you inside. Even then, you’d be stuck in the middle of a nuclear blast area with radioactive
fallout reigning down courtesy of a mushroom cloud. How long are you going to have to stay inside?
Let me put it this way, within an hour, the radioactive fallout will have decayed by 50%
and within 24 hours you’re looking at 80%. Hell, after a fortnight 99% of that annoying
radioactivity will be gone. Aside from the fact that there probably wouldn’t
be enough food and water inside your fridge to last two weeks, there’s also the troublesome
supply of air to worry about. Assuming you have an airtight seal, you’d only have a few
hours of oxygen before you suffocated to death. The smaller you are or the bigger the fridge
you’re in, the more time you’d have, but either way, eventually, you’d have to step out into
nuclear fallout that was still dangerous. That puts you at risk of acute radiation sickness
and potential death. For those of you wondering what would happen
to Indy? Well, his airborne escapes inside the fridge wouldn’t have taken place according
to Molecular Biologist Dr. David Shechner. Estimating that Indy was 0.6km away from the
blast, Shechner claims the force required to lift the fridge and accelerate it to the
speeds shown in the movie wouldn’t have lifted it at all. Instead it would have crushed
it, and then some. The pressure would have been “47 TIMES GREATER
fridge had no chance. Right, so getting into a fridge has just killed
Indy and hasn’t really helped you deal with the massive shockwave either. But what about
offering some protection from radiation? Well, our freezer in Survival Town certainly
did the trick. The report noted and went on to conclude that: The freezer would definitely have been inside
the radiation radius of the bomb, which would have reached 1.5km from the detonation point.
For our larger bomb, Smoky, that radius would have been 1.6km, so from this point on we’ll
treat them both the same to keep things simple. Anyone caught inside this zone would be in
serious trouble. We’re talking death rates of 50% at best, 90% at worst. If you were
lucky you might die in a few hours, others could linger on for weeks. But if the freezer kept the food safe, then
maybe you think the lead-lined fridge would have done the same for Indiana Jones? Think
again. A 2016 entry in the Journal of Physics Special
Topics, titled ‘Indiana Jones and the Fridge to Freedom’ calculated that the lead-lining
would have been too thin to protect him. To make matters worse for Indy, a nuclear
bomb the size of Smoky would actually require 5.74cm of lead to provide a safe level of
shielding. These days lead-lined fridges are generally used to store radiopharmaceuticals,
and other radioactive material, but even they only tend to have a lead lining around 0.3
cm thick. So nope, jumping in the fridge wouldn’t have saved his cells from an unhealthy dose
of radiation. Now I know what you’re all thinking? How
come the food in the freezer was okay then? Well, I don’t know whether it was lead-lined
or not, but working on the assumption that it wasn’t, it all comes back down to the
house it was in. Yep, concrete is a pretty decent thing to have between yourself and
an oncoming nuclear blast. Approximately 60cm of concrete will reduce
gamma radiation by a factor of a thousand and just 6cm of concrete will halve it. If
you want to be really safe 2 meters of concrete will reduce it by a factor of a billion. Either
way, without knowing exactly how thick the walls were in Survival Town’s concrete house,
it seems like that might explain why the food stayed safe. Unless you have a fridge with an extremely
generous lead lining, it’s probably not going to make much difference to your odds
of surviving Judgment Day. So what should you do in the event of a nuclear
attack? Handily we’ve already put together a few tips that might just save your life
should the worst happen. But before you start learning about that,
our sponsors have an entire course available that can further your understanding of the
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5 thoughts on “Can You Survive A Nuclear Blast In A Fridge? DEBUNKED”

  1. The food didn't have radiation because radiation after it is absorbed by molecules and does its job breaking bonds doesn't exist any more. Irradiation of food with gamma rays has been used as a food preservation technique for decades and no radiation remains in the food-it just absorbs the energy which among other things wreaks havoc on the protein bonds of germs. Many medical tools such as syringes are also sterilized using gamma radiation since it is so good at piercing everything. To give a simpler example, you don't get skin cancer by eating sundried tomatoes

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