If an atom bomb makes a huge blast, do we have insane amounts of energy in our bodies that are just not accessible?


Do all atoms have these massive amounts of potential energy or are there specific atoms used in these bombs?

In: Chemistry

Short answer, yes.

Good ol’ Einstein, remember?

E=mc^2 is, among other things, a measure of how much energy is contained in a given mass of matter.

Edit: that said, atomic weapons do ise special materials – relatively unstable isotopes of uranium (old school) or plutonium. Not unstable in the sense of nitroglycerin, but unstable in that they can relatively easily be used to start and/or fuel a nuclear reaction.

Even so, the energy exchange is no where near 100% efficient – there is a LOT more energy potential in those atoms than is released in a nuclear explosion.

Nuclear energy is effectively released as atoms ‘seek out’ a neutral state; the element iron. Lighter elements can be fused to achieve iron, heavier elements can be split to move towards it.

Fusing all of the elements within a human into iron would indeed create a huge blast, but there is no real way to do such a thing.

That said, it is very difficult to fuse or split most atoms, and so nuclear bombs must use specific ones. U-235, for example, but not even other uranium.

Different elements will split or fuse if you add different amounts of energy.
An “atom bomb” splits uranium apart. (putting a bunch of uranium close together causes it to bump into each other and split, releasing energy, which hits other atoms and releases even more energy.
Each atom in the universe can be split or fused which would release a large amount of energy. Unfortunately, the energy required to be put in usually exceeds the energy which would be given off for most elements. (trying to split an oxygen atom takes more energy than it releases) Hydrogen can be fused (a hydrogen bomb) but the energy required to make it happen is very high, in fact, to do it generally requires a fission bomb to detonate next to a container of hydrogen to get the hydrogen to fuse. (very oversimplified explanation)

Well yes. Sort of. It’s all relative.

If your body reacted with a cluster of antimatter roughly the same mass as your body, the resulting explosion would probably be bigger than any nuclear weapon we’ve ever seen.

But, to do that, you would need to find a lot of antimatter. Good luck with that. Antimatter practically doesn’t exist at all, because the instant it comes into existence it tends to be annihilated by naturally reacting with matter.

But speaking purely in terms of how nuclear weapons work… not any way that we could conceive. Nuclear weapons work by either splitting very heavy atoms like uranium or by fusing extremely light ones like hydrogen. Our bodies have a lot of elements that are neither heavy nor light enough to do either of those things with.

Yes. Mass and energy are equivalent, and everyone knows Einsten’s famous equation E=mc^2 (the full euqation is actuall E^2 = m^2c^4 + p^2c^2) which tells us how to convert one into the other. if you take a 70kg human and convert all of that mass into energy with perfect efficiency, you’d get 6.29×10^18 joules. This is roughly the equivalent of 1500 megatons of TNT. That’s 30 times as much energy as the largest nuclear weapon ever tested and roughly 75,000 times as much energy as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now in reality, you could never do that with perfect efficiency. Furthermore, that atoms that make up our bodies are far too light to split apart and too heavy to fuse together (except for in the cores of the largest stars) so there’s no actual way to obtain any energy from them using nuclear reactions.