The iconic mushroom cloud image of the bombing of Hiroshima is probably what most people think of as the largest explosion ever. It’s actually not.

 

As horrific as the event was, the bombing of Hiroshima only ranks number eight in the ten largest explosions of all time, as compiled by Top Lists and described in the video below.

The largest manmade explosion was actually caused by the Tsar Bomba, tested by Russia in 1961. The Soviet RDS-220 hydrogen bomb was the most powerful nuclear weapon ever created. It was tested as an experimental verification of calculation principles and multi-stage thermonuclear weapon designs and it remains the most powerful human-made explosive ever detonated.

But it ranks only number six on the top ten list.

Mother Nature gets the award for the top five.

 

Top of the list of the 10 largest explosions of all time is what scientists call the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction which wiped out three-quarters of the plant and animal species on the planet. Scientists theorize a massive asteroid, possibly six miles across, slammed into the Earth in the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting explosion blocked out the sun, killing plants and ultimately the animal life that depended on them. All the dinosaurs died (except for birds). Millions of microscopic organisms were killed off. Invertebrates vanished from land and sea. In North America, close to the site of the impact, more than half of all plant species were wiped out. It took it took another 4 million years before biodiversity returned.

You think we’ve got a lot to worry about right now, between surviving a pandemic, keeping a paycheck, uncertainty over whether schools will open this fall — not to mention, the prospect of Joe Biden as leader of the free world?

So, what are the odds of Earth getting hit by another massive asteroid?

Thankfully, it’s pretty small.

 

The truly dangerous objects, large enough to cause regional or global catastrophe when they hit, may appear in our orbit only once every few hundred thousand years. As a result, the chance that we’ll get hit in any given year is roughly 1 in 300,000.

So how does that stack up to other bad things that can happen to you?

For comparison, a 2017 report from the National Safety Council calculated the odds of a person dying in a motor vehicle crash is 1 in 114, and dying from a lightning strike at 1 in 161,856.

 

Now to bring this a little closer to home, a risk study by Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, clinical assistant professor of primary care and population health at Stanford, and Dr. Jeffrey Klauser, adjunct professor of epidemiology at UCLA, looked at publicly available COVID case incidence data for the week ending May 30 in the 100 largest U.S. counties as states began to reopen.

Granted, we’re a month down the road from then, but the study found a 50-to-64-year-old person who has a single random contact has, on average, a 1 in 852,000 chance of being hospitalized or a 1 in 19.1 million chance of dying from COVID based on rates as of the last week of May.

 

Interesting. Now THAT might be a bombshell too.

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