Top 10 Nuclear Explosions Caught On Tape


Although the threat of nuclear war looms in the backs of our minds, seldom do we stumble upon the chance to view a collection of motion picture images depicting these apocalyptic beauties in their purest form—detonation.

Here is a collection of the best film footage of nuclear explosions, thanks to the thoughtful government employees around the world:

10. Underground

They buried a nuke, put a camera in a tower 1,500 feet tall, and let the good times roll. What ensued was an astonishing display of power. The desert literally ripples up like water, and the explosion tears through the ground with a fury similar to a… well… similar to a nuclear bomb going off underground. It was so cool that afterwards everyone wanted to fire the guy who named the operation. “Project Sedan” sounds like something Toyota should initiate to help with their latest recall, not an underground nuclear bomb test. Come on, US Military, let’s get serious out there (“Project Sedan” – Nevada, 1962).

9. Slow Motion

Let’s take a drive to a little nowhere-town in New Mexico. Here we’ll set up some lawn chairs, don our Oakleys, crack a few Cokes, and watch the end of humanity in slow motion to an epic soundtrack. Bingo, bango, bongo.

8. Multiple Explosions

This is a particularly cool video, although the explosion (or multiple explosions) is not mentioned expressly by name. A better, more prolonged glimpse of the terrain during the explosion is allowed, which is often omitted in many other videos.

7. Nuclear Space Test

Ever wondered what would happen if a nuke went off over the ocean or was accidentally detonated in the upper atmosphere by a Patriot missile? This will give you a brief overview of that process. Although the video doesn’t go into detail, rest assured that radioactive debris floating around the upper atmosphere won’t be good for anybody.

6. Birds Eye View

Just one in a series of tests, this blast is viewed from the air. The explosion disrupts the atmosphere in an almost peaceful way, by spinning off large rings of clouds and condensation. The resulting fireball forms a palm tree shape, making it an almost tropical experience for the aviators (and us). (Ivy King, US Military, 1952.)

5. Inside the Explosion

The footage itself is interesting from the perspective that the blast differs greatly from many similar bombs. The wave of condensation—the white shell that gives the explosion that “hard-boiled egg” look—dissipates unexpectedly, leaving a naked view of the inner workings of the explosion. At first it’s hard to tell if they’ve used some sort of trick photography, but then one realizes what is happening (Ivy Mike, US Military, 1952).

4. The Big One

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any bigger: this is the largest in-atmosphere dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb ever detonated by the USA. The bomb was 3 times more powerful than our scientists had imagined, and natives and military personnel were dusted by the ashes, resulting in horrific disfigurement and even death. Very few people smiled and shook hands over this one (Castle Bravo, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, 1954).

3. Under Water

“Let’s take a big ole’ nuke, put it underwater, go up in an airplane, and videotape what happens when it goes off.” Someone in the United States military in the 70s must have said this, because that’s what they did. The slow motion footage of this blast is very worthwhile. Thanks, Uncle Sam, you’ve really brightened our day!

2. The King of Bombs

Aptly named “The King of Bombs,” this behemoth blew apart the Russian landscape like nothing before or since. Similarly, the footage, albeit brief, will blow your mind. The sheer magnitude and continuance of the blast rings is enough to make you shiver. Were you to be in the vicinity, third degree burns would occur up to and including 62 miles from the blast’s epicenter. This means that the Tsar Bomb has a kill-or-severely-wound diameter of roughly 124 miles from ground zero. Go ahead TNT… eat your heart out (Tsar Bomb 1961, Russia).

1. And the Award Goes To…

The best balance of appropriate music, tasteful film editing, and crisp images of nuclear explosions I could find. Breathtaking. Epic. Beautiful. Deadly. Enjoy!

by Jesse Stretch
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  1. George Johnson on

    Incredible raw beauty, too bad it was used for the purpose of destruction and not construction. When used properly, it can be a powerful tool, but it’s got such a bad reputation, we can’t even use it for anything peaceful except medicine. Just try to build a nuke reactor in the US. Hell, just try to even get rid of the waste!

    The air/space blasts are truly remarkable. In one of them, they even caused electrical problems (like black out), something like 650 miles away. On some of the (not here), you notice what looks like lightning strikes around the blast. I believe those are caused the EMP near the ground, the bomb basically shorted out. But in space…. those “lightning strikes” are free to travel quite a ways because of the earths magnetic field.

    If anybody wanted to wipe us out, they won’t drop the bomb, they’ll do it in space and create a HUGE EMP. That will send us back to the stone age in milliseconds. From there, we’ll starve and just die out from lack of food, electricity etc…. lack of education of how to survive.

  2. @dan, theme from The Good, The Bad and Thee Ugly if I'm not mistaken.

    @oakXXIII, no. the core is much more than just one atom.

    • The music is from the movie, The Good, The Bad & Ugly.

      The songs name is: Ennio Morricone – L'Estasi Dell'oro (The Ecstasy of Gold)

  3. am i correct in thinking that these explosions are the result of the nucleus of ONE atom?

    i was raised at the tail end of the cold war (spy's like us anyone?) and i was forever changed by the fear mongering that was prevalent at that time (threads anyone?) and i believe we should use this technology for space travel not destruction. Gasoline in the hands of one will get you to work, in the hands of another it will burn your work down.


    • George Johnson on

      Incorrect. It’s a chain reaction of many atoms. Once started, one atom sends off several protons I think it is, that strikes more atoms, which sends out more protons, which strike even more atoms and so on and so on….. It’s a process like 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc…. And it happens in less time than it takes you to blink your eye.

      And it wasn’t fear mongering. It was real fear. We came so close to thermonuclear war with Russia over Cuba, most people don’t even know just how close we were. Had another president been in office, he may very well have pushed the button. Had another primere been in charge in Russia, he may not have blinked and HE may have pushed the button.

      Yeah, we were SO close….. Yet it was all played down like “nothing to see here, go about your business….” That was not fear mongering.

      As said elsewhere here, Iran may very well push their buttons. If it comes to thermonuclear war, they will be the ones to start it. And why not?? They already think they’re going to initiate the second coming. The key word there is “Initiate”, that means START, with their help.

      Not to mention that little gargoyle in North Korea. They might be the ones also. Give us more stuff, or we’ll launch a rocket at South Korea!! BOOM!!! And it’s all over. We protect the south, China and Russia protect the North, we retaliate against them, they retaliate against us, Israel comes to our aid, and so on and so on…. until there’s nothing left but ashes, bacteria and cockroaches.

      Then, in a couple million years, a humanoid may walk the earth again….

      That’s not fear mongering. What North Korea does is fear mongering. What Iran does, what Iraq did, was fear mongering.

      • In resposne to what George Johnson said, “Itâ??s a chain reaction of many atoms.” Then you say it’s actually protons hitting other atoms. Then technically wouldn’t it be protons into atoms chain reaction? Next you say, “one atom sends off several protons I think it is, that strikes more atoms, which sends out more protons, which strike even more atoms and so on and so onâ?¦.. Itâ??s a process like 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etcâ?¦.” Now, I’m no scientist but don’t they use uranium 238 because of the vast number of free electrons? I don’t think it would be protons at all, because of the fast neutrons and 6 valence electrons, which if I remember are the farthest out from the nucleus and thus are the free electrons. So, in theory if the splitting is actually the nucleus, it seems to me it would be the neutrons set free to slam into other atoms of uranium 238. Now, I wonder what happens to the protons and electrons now without the neutrons to balance everything out. Seems to me it should collapse on itself and create one of those mini black holes.
        Now with 92 protons and 92 electrons and between 141 and 146 neutrons, I believe the numbers would be much higher than 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc. In addition, I believe the multiplication would be closer to being squared rather than merely doubled, hence 238, 56644, 3208542736, 10294746488738362696, etc. Now that sounds like a nuclear explosion to me.
        All of that measured in nana-seconds.
        If all the nuclear warheads in the whole world were to be launched all at once or even enough of them to set off the rest, who is to say if that enough to split the earth just like a big atom. Why stop there, the earth splitting causing a chain reaction splitting either our sun or a neighbor’s and on and on untill the whole universe explodes then collapses on itself and then you have it. The end of the universe. Hopefully the collapse will become so dense it explodes into a brand new big bang. Wait roughly 6.5 billion years and do it again.
        Either that or go ahead and believe the USA landed right there at the 4 river beds that met at the garden of eden and believe that we just skip the Ape step. But we actually found bones. Then again there is that bible 12 drunken men wrote.
        I have one question. If aliens helped build the giza pyramids, then why don’t they look better. Why wouldn’t the Egyptians be more interested in building a space ship like they were piloting.

        • Sounds like you have got it all figured out professor Mike. Why don’t they just put everything in your hands smart guy, sounds like you got inside knowledge on just about everything! Please! Gimme a break!

  4. I think these videos underscore the real danger the world was in during the cold war. Also it shows why nuclear proliferation is a very bad idea.

    • All the more reason not to let Iran not acquire a nuclear device. Their idea of a test will be to detonate it in Israel..

  5. brennemeister on

    Terrifyingly beautiful – I could comment, but it would pale to Oppenheimer's simple:

    "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

  6. Deadly, beautiful and mind-boggling.

    "And just at that instant there rose as if from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world, the light of many suns in one. It was a sunrise such as the world had never seen, a great green supersun climbing in a fraction of a second to a height of more than eight thousand feet, rising ever higher until it touched the clouds, lighting up earth and sky all around with dazzling luminosity. Up it went, a great wall of fire about a mile in diameter, changing colors as it kept shooting upward, from deep purple to orange, expanding, growing bigger, rising as it was expanding, an elemental force freed from its bonds after being chained for billions of years."

    William L. Laurence, New York Times, August 26, 1945, Account of the Trinity Test on 16 July 1945