Most powerful nuclear weapon and Mir Mine
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Most powerful nuclear weapon and Mir Mine

by Madis Vellamäe
(Tallinn, Estonia)

As we all know, Russia is the biggest country in the world and they try to be the first and the best in everything, also the biggest. But by population density they are 217th out of 242 countries, because the climate in the northern and eastern part of Russia is very harsh, so almost nobody lives in these areas.

Russia (actually the Soviet Union) holds the record for the most powerful nuclear weapon ever built and detonated, called the Tsar Bomba ("Emperor Bomb"). This was a hydrogen bomb. It was originally designed to have a yield of around 100 megatons of TNT, but because physicists were afraid that it would create a huge nuclear fallout or too powerful a shock wave, the yield was reduced to 50 megatons.

It was detonated on October 30, 1961, over the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Sea at a height of 4 kilometers over the surface. The fireball was about 8 kilometers in diameter and the subsequent mushroom cloud about 64 kilometers high. The shock wave created by the detonation was observed in the air 700 kilometers away and even some windows were broken in Norway and Finland. The seismic shock went three times around the earth and its magnitude was about 5 on the Richter scale. So you can only imagine what could have happened if this bomb had been detonated underground and with full power.

The second largest open pit mine, the Mir Mine, is located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia. It is a kimberlite diamond mine, 525 meters deep, and has a diameter of 1.2 kilometers. It was opened in 1957 and permanently closed in 2011. In the last years of mining, it took about two hours for the trucks to reach the surface from the bottom of the mine - the road is 8 kilometers long. The climate in the area is very harsh - the average temperature in January is below -30 degrees Celsius and in July about 16 degrees Celsius. The ground remains frozen for seven months during the year and there is snowfall in eight months out of the year.

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