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“Fallout”: A physicist explains the science behind the series' post-apocalyptic world |  Sciences

“Fallout”: A physicist explains the science behind the series' post-apocalyptic world | Sciences

in He fallsWhich was shown last Wednesday (10) on Prime Video, and the world ends on October 23, 2077 after a series of nuclear explosions. Inspired by the video game of the same name, which in Portuguese can mean both “consequence” and “radiation”, the series shows a post-apocalyptic United States, where many monstrous mutants exist, where humans are affected by radiation called ghouls, and others. Those who fight to survive.

He falls It is a typical science fiction story from the atomic age and is inspired by old future versions of it. But there is more science to this story than previously imagined, according to Pran Nath, a professor of physics at Northeastern University in the US.

At the beginning of the series, several atomic bombs hit Los Angeles. Although it is a fictionalized version of the city, the nuclear explosions themselves are quite realistic. “When a nuclear explosion, due to a chain reaction, occurs in a short period of time, a lot of energy and radiation is emitted,” Nath explained. In the current situation. “First, there is a big flash, which is the nuclear reaction that produces gamma rays. If you were exposed to that, people in Hiroshima, for example, practically vaporized.”

According to the physicist, depending on the distance between the person and the explosion, even those who were partially protected would feel their bodies heat up to 50 degrees Celsius, causing serious burns. For example, the burned skin of ghouls is not entirely new to science.

Then the shock wave and heat resulting from the explosion occur. Shock wave in the first scene He falls It spreads quickly after the explosion, however, and Nath states that, off-screen, this will likely happen faster and in a much less cinematic way – it will travel at the speed of sound, at over 1,200 kilometers per hour.

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Moreover, the shock wave exerts a lot of pressure. “So strong that it can cause concrete buildings to collapse,” explains Nath. Then a “fireball” will burn all the buildings in the explosion area with intense heat.

“The blast zone is where the shock waves and fireball are most intense. In Hiroshima, it was between 1.6 and 3.2 kilometers away. Basically, everything in that blast zone was destroyed.”

The third stage of a nuclear explosion consists of radiation, which lasts longer and has greater effects than the explosion and shock wave. The explosion creates a mushroom cloud that can reach up to 16 kilometers into the atmosphere. With the wind, this cloud spreads radiation to other areas outside the explosion area.

“In a nuclear explosion, up to 100 different radioactive elements are produced,” Nath points out. “These elements have durations ranging from a few seconds to millions of years. They generate pollution and damage the body and wounds over a long period of time, potentially causing cancer and leukemia.”

The production brings in ghouls, humans mutated by the radiation of atomic bombs – Image: Disclosure

Shelters and mutations

Safe havens, also called vaults, are important parts of the world He falls. These are underground shelters the size of small cities, where the luckiest people were able to go when the world ended. The vaults are more advanced than real-world shelters, however, for Nath, this type of protection would be essential for escaping the type of radiation released by nuclear weapons, especially gamma rays that can penetrate many kilometers of concrete.

“If you stay away and stay indoors, behind concrete, you will be able to avoid the initial impact of the nuclear explosion and the shock and heat waves that come afterward, thus increasing survivability.”

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Radioactive mutations may seem like a science fiction concoction, but there is a real basis for it. “There are several types of deformities that occur [com a radiação]. It can also be hereditary. Radiation can create mutations, similar to spontaneous mutations, in animals and humans. “In Chernobyl, for example, they discover mutated animals.”

Despite being set in a dark fantasy reality, He falls It's a reminder of how destructive these forces are in the real world: it is estimated that 146,000 people in Hiroshima and another 80,000 in Nagasaki were killed by the effects of bombs sent by the United States. The physicist highlights that today's nuclear weapons are more powerful and little is known about the impact they could have.