This a follow up to prior article about re-inventing civil defense using simple and affordable defenses for residential buildings, such as better nails (hurriquake nails which you can buy from amazon.com.)
This is not a plan to make buildings nuclear blast proof, but a lot more blast resistant. A direct hit would be too tough to build against and the result would be command bunker like. A direct hit has the fireball to deal with and a lot more localized destructive force. However, farther away there are destructive forces which can be relatively easy to resist with improved construction.
The 5 PSI level is just better nails. The building looks the same in every other way. Existing steel reinforced buildings can resist up to 10PSI already.
The good thing about building walls staying up is that no natural gas lines are cut so that there are a lot fewer fires.
First survive the blast and other immediate effects, so that you are in best shape possible afterwards. It is a lot tougher to survive if you have to dig out from a collapsed building or have been injured. If the walls stay up then those walls also help protect against the heat and the radiation. It is better to have the walls take some of the hit instead of your clothes and skin. If you have survived the initial explosion then you are alive to get away from the fallout (move perpendicular from the direction of the wind if the wind is blowing towards you from the blast).
The blast, thermal and radiation can all have lethality reduced with better walls. Radiation lethality can be further reduced with better anti-radiation drugs [James Tour, Rice University is testing drugs 5000 times better).
There is analysis of the deaths from the different causes at different distances. (heat, ionizing radiation, fallout and blast, secondary effects like fires). Blast overpressure goes out the farthest for smaller bombs and thermal for larger bombs.
Note: 500 kilotons is the maximum for nuclear fission bombs. Megaton bombs are nuclear fusion bombs that are triggered by nuclear fission explosions. Getting up to the more powerful bombs involves more research and testing of designs. Countries or groups that are testing bomb designs make that effort totally obvious on seismometers. (There would then be no sneak attack scenario, because it would be known that another group has advanced bombs.)
Many hospitals need to be rebuilt more bunker like in terms of being strong monolithic domes. There is some price to pay in terms of aesthetics for disaster preparation.
Doors and Windows
Even if doors and windows are weaker than the walls and the door and windows get blown in, that is still better than having both the walls and the doors and windows fail. However, doors and windows can be made more blast resistant.
50 PSI door is here. It is a steel door which has concrete poured into it. A somewhat cheaper version of the 50PSI door could be built with layers of cellulostic nanopaper (wood handled in the processing so that fibers are not damaged) that is almost as strong as steel and filled with iCrete (the 14000PSI concrete used in New York now.)
There are 20PSI resistant doors and windows that do not look oppressive and 10 PSI can be transparent.
Currently high rise buildings can resist 10-15PSI. So better steel and concrete which is being used would already help. iCrete is not the strongest concrete. Adding quartz and steel aggregate can increase the strength by 3 times.
Thin films of polycarbonate laminated on glass, for example, will keep the shattered glass in one cohesive (though shattered) piece. An alternative is thermally tempered glass (TTG), which can protect against pressures up to about 40 psi. TTG, also used in automobile windows, fractures into rock-salt size pieces which are not as dangerous to building occupants.
An elastomeric polymer has been tested on an eight foot by eight foot concrete wall, which was sprayed inside and out with the polymer and then subjected to 80+ psi blast pressures. The wall experienced severe fracturing but remained in place with no fragmentation. A follow-on activity identified additional polymers (e.g. polyurea) that may have better qualities to decrease wall deflections. The testing continued to show promising results with stand-off distances reduced over
non-sprayed lightweight structures by as much as 50%. Furthermore, polymer foams can be inserted inside walls to act as an energy absorber, thus reducing the severity of a blast inside a structure.
40-80 PSI resistant retrofits of existing buildings and structures and new construction is possible with a little research and development. The R&D would not be so much to make it possible, since the basic principles exist already as mentioned above. The R&D would be to make it cheaper to do it on a large scale and to perform the computer simulations to ensure that the modifications will have the desired results. 40-80PSI resistance makes the destructive blast radius over ten times less than 5 PSI construction.
I am talking about saving the lives and resisting the damage in the outer areas of blasts and working inwards as more effort is made. The technology is here to make all buildings (homes and office buildings) a lot more blast resistant while not greatly altering appearance and aesthetics and being affordable. People can choose not to do it, just like some people choose not to fasten seatbelts in a car or choose to drive older cars without airbags. Cars were made more accident survivable. Making events that were not survivable, more survivable is a good thing.
The Opposite of Preparation and the Mindshift in thinking on Nuclear Bombs
Many people have two reactions to the idea of surviving a nuclear bomb or nuclear war.
1. Some would prefer to not survive the initial blast
2. Some consider it an affront to consider making nuclear war survivable and that the only acceptable strategy is to avoid all nuclear war and to allow the devastation to be maximized.
It is an option to make a house more survivable. If someone does not want to survive a nuclear blast then that is an easy task. Get outside at the first indication that a nuclear blast is happening.
If you do not want to survive: do not use seatbelts in your car or have airbags so that you can have less chance of surviving your car accidents. You house should be a lean-to shelter, so that suports are easily knocked out.
Earthquake preparedness, recommends having some stockpiles of bottled water and canned food. If you do not want to survive: you’ll want to make sure that you do not have any of that around.
The only way some would want to survive is if the government sent someone to rescue them and then if they did not then they could happily complain that it was like Katrina. You would not want to make anything easier for potential rescuers. You want to blame them for not helping unprepared people, who wanted to die in the initial blast but unfortunately survived.
Buildings have not yet been made to the standard that is suggested. If they were then nails are just the first step. Further reinforcement is possible and the better anti-radiation drugs that are being tested now should be developed and distributed. 40-80 PSI resistant commercial and office buildings would mean one tenth the radius of major damage. A circle with one tenth the radius is one hundred times smaller. So if the plan was followed if in ten years buildings were reinforced to that standard then the hospitals would be standing and the deaths inside buildings would be in the hundreds instead of tens of thousands. For those that do not want to survive: they will be happy to know that there still be more deaths from those outside during the blast.
For those who feel that the nuclear war should not be survivable as part of a strategy to maximize nuclear war prevention, then we should set up a system of universally electronically activated kill switches. This can help maximize the casualties in the event of any violence or conflict. So that there will be the gamble of everyone surviving without war or everyone dieing. Make war unsurvivable, if that is the better strategy.
Electro magnetic pulse
The electromagnetic pulse has different ranges based on the size of the bomb and on the elevation. A 20 megaton bomb blown at a high altitude could effect the entire United States
– Harden your equipment (another way of saying, protect it from EMP). Some considerations include the use of tree formation circuits (not standard loop formations), induction shielding around components, self-contained battery packs, loop antennas, and Zener diodes. In addition, grounding wires for each separate instrument into a system could help as well.
– A new device called the Ovonic Threshold Device (Energy Conversion Devices of Troy, MI) is a solid state switch that opens a path to ground when a massive surge of EMP is encountered by a circuit. This would help in a big way.
– Use a Faraday Box to store equipment in. Makeshift Faraday boxes can be made from metal filing cabinets, ammunition containers, and cake boxes. That said, the device you are protecting must not touch the metal container (use insulation: paper, cardboard, whatever). Further, there can be no holes. Last, if the box seems less than adequate, you may wrap it in aluminum foil for more protection.
– Wrap your rooms in aluminum foil. Well, it’s certainly extreme, but thought it worth mentioning. After you do so, cover it with some type of fake wood, etc.
– Cars are already a metal box. Thus, most of them would survive. That said, gas would be a problem. So have a lot of that and food on hand (remember that refrigerators and water sanitizing devices would go out).
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.