Andrei Sakharov on Radioactive Fallout

Frank Davis

The designer of the 1961 50 megaton Tsar Bomba was Andrei Sakharov. Some years earlier, Sakharov had become concerned about the effects of radioactive fallout, and in 1958 he had published a paper in which he estimated the numbers of human casualties in subsequent generations. He believed that the Tsar Bomba, even though it was exploded over an uninhabited area, would end up killing 500,000  to 1,000,000 people.

In Chapter 14 Sakharov writes that after the success of his
1955 Soviet H-Bomb test, he “worried more and more about the
biological effects of nuclear tests… The long-term biological
consequences (particularly atmospheric testing, in which
radioactive fallout is dispersed throughout the hemisphere) can be
predicted and the total number of casualties calculated with some
accuracy.”

Considering only such fission products as radioactive carbon,
strontium and cesium, he calculated that genetic damage, plus the
immediate and delayed damage to immune systems would…

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