Fungi-shaped clouds form when moist air is compressed in the explosion, causing the moisture inside to condense, nuclear weapons experts say.
When the giant explosion created a mushroom cloud above the city of Beirut on August 4, killing at least 135 people and injuring 5,000 people, some accounts rushed to conclude a medium atomic bomb exploded in the Lebanese capital, creating rumours that spread rapidly on social networks. But local officials have said the explosion was certainly not caused by a nuclear weapon.
Just before the Lebanese authorities announced the explosion was caused by large quantities of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) stored in a warehouse in the harbour, nuclear weapons experts quickly dismissed rumours that Beirut was under attack. nuclear bombs, based on photos and videos recorded by city residents. Everyone pointed the camera towards the port of Beirut at the time of the explosion due to the billowing smoke earlier. Some videos show scenes of small rays of light and the characteristic sound of fireworks. Shortly afterwards, a violent explosion with shockwaves and a mushroom cloud shook the area, destroying nearby buildings and shattering windows of further buildings.
In a post that attracted thousands of likes and shares on Twitter before being deleted, one account wrote: “Dear God. Lebanese media said it was a fireworks factory. No. It’s a cloud of images. mushroom. It was the atomic bomb explosion. “Vipin Narang, a specialist in nuclear proliferation and strategy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), immediately dismissed the rumour. “I work on nuclear weapons. This explosion is not”, Narang confirmed on Twitter on 4/8.
Martin Pfeiffer, a doctoral student at the University of New Mexico, who specializes in nuclear weapons research in human history, also dismissed rumours on social media. “Apparently the explosion was not caused by a nuclear weapon. There was an explosive or chemical trigger spark. Pfeiffer pointed out that the explosion lacked two signs of a nuclear weapon, which was a dazzling white flash. and the radiant heat pulse causes the skin to burn badly.
The explosion produced a powerful shock wave that shattered windows throughout Beirus city and the mushroom cloud spreads, often seen in historical nuclear explosions. But Pfeiffer emphasized that the cloud with shockwaves, often referred to by weapons researchers as the Wilson cloud, usually form when the humid air is compressed, causing the water vapour inside to condense. In other words, the mushroom cloud is not unique to the nuclear bomb explosion.
Narang shared on Twitter that it estimated the blast was equivalent to about 240 tons of TNT explosives, or 10 times the “mother of bombs” weapons that the US military-owned. Meanwhile, the Little Boy bomb that the US dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 was about 1,000 times more powerful.
To prove that the Beirut explosion was not caused by nuclear weapons, Pfeiffer posted a video of the nuclear weapon explosion “Davy Crockett” with the rocket, exploding with the power of 20 tons of TNT. Davy Crockett is only 1/10 of the Beirut explosion but still has a characteristic light. Authorities have not recorded any reports of radioactive dust following the Beirut explosion.