Everybody Calm Down: Bomb Edition

There's kind of an underlying theme to my last post about hours spent playing video games, which is that people tend to overreact and blow things out of proportion too easily. Personally, I think a lot of this has to do with the media (in terms of video games, negative reporting on "video game addiction" and "violent video games" causes people to have these warped senses of them). It's not just reporting though - movies, books, and even games show things in a consistently over-exaggerated manner, which influences how we see the real world.

That is, of course, unless we calm down, and think for a moment. This advice can apply to a TON of things. I've already addressed time spent on gaming, which was inspired by a real-life interaction I had. Today, I'm going to look back to the summer, and talk about explosives.

Last summer, while I was living in Westwood, there was a standoff/bomb threat down at the Federal Building (located on the corner of Veteran and Wilshire). I was living north along Veteran, approximately 1 mile away.

One of my roommates actually worked AT the Federal Building, which made the situation a bit scarier, though also provided us with a bit more information "from the inside". The building itself was evacuated (as best they could), as was a nearby apartment complex. What I remember most about this situation, however, was how much people in our apartment complex (and others nearby) were freaking out. And while a bomb threat right down the street is scary in theory, most people were seriously concerned about our personal safety. I remember telling them at the time that we were safe, but they were freaking about what would happen to us if the bomb detonated.

Despite what you may see in movies and games and TV shows, bombs (especially those made by crazies from Westchester, and transported in a small car) DON'T have nearly the blast radius you might think. Do you know what kind/strength of bomb it would require to cause massive structural damage within a 1 mile radius?

Well, it'd need to be equivalent in strength to the Little Boy - aka, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

(NOTE: Being a powerful nuclear warhead, the Little Boy did cause significant damage beyond that 1 mile structural damage radius, in the form of fire and radiation. But for more conventional explosives, the damage comes from the blast itself, any shrapnel released, and the subsequent shockwave if the bomb is big enough.)

I can guarantee that the dude at the Federal Building did NOT have a nuclear weapon in the trunk of his car. IF he had a bomb, it would likely be some crudely made explosive with a pretty small blast radius - hence the evacuation of only one apartment complex (right across the street).

Of course, this would still be highly dangerous to people in the area (especially if it was also blowing up cars), but there was no way it was going to reach us almost a mile away. The worst we would've suffered would be some ear ringing.

Conclusion? The world is not what you see in the movies. Calm down, and think rationally about situations - you'll save yourself a TON of unnecessary worry.


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