Russia Hit by 400 Kiloton Blast

A meteor hit Russia with a 300 to 500 kiloton blast yesterday morning, injuring at least 950 people. Since the blast was comparable to that of a strategic nuclear warhead, how much risk there is of a similar event being mistaken for a nuclear attack and igniting an accidental, but horrific war. 

I suspect that a careful analysis will show that risk to be relatively small compared to other nuclear risks, but the uncertainty highlights the need for an in-depth study of all nuclear risks. My paper in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists makes the case for Congress to authorize such a study, and for us then to take steps to reduce those risks that are found to be unacceptable. With roughly 20,000 nuclear weapons under the control of fallible human beings, such a study seems long overdue.

Martin Hellman

The first minute of a YouTube video conveys the shock and awe felt by those in the region.

The initial estimate that the blast was equivalent to 300 to 500 kilotons of TNT has since been refined to 440 kilotons.

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To learn more about the level of nuclear risk, visit my related web site.

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, since 1982, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book, co-written with my wife Dorothie, with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." It's on Amazon and a free PDF can be downloaded from its website:
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1 Response to Russia Hit by 400 Kiloton Blast

  1. Steve Wallach says:

    Excellent commentary. This was a stunning event and I hope people will take this event to heart.

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