September 25, 2021

GIL

Daily Global New Media

Why do nuclear bombs form mushroom clouds?

4 min read
Why do nuclear bombs form mushroom clouds?


The Baker Day explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, as recorded by an automatically operated camera on a nearby island. Notice the mushroom cloud forming immediately after the explosion.

The Baker Day explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, as recorded by an automatically operated camera on a nearby island. Notice the mushroom cloud forming immediately after the explosion. (Image credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

When a bomb goes off, energy is shot out indiscriminately in all directions. So, instead of an expanding ball of fire, why do nuclear explosions result in mushroom clouds?

Although the outburst of energy does initially form a sphere of hot air, that’s only the beginning of the story, according to Katie Lundquist, a researcher of computational engineering at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Because hot air rises, the larger bulk of the sphere in the middle column — where the core of an apple would be — experiences more buoyancy than the edges do.



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