We’ve seen them in most movies, in simulations and sadly in real life. Still, there is something weirdly fascinating in seeing things blowing up so we present you a list with the largest, biggest, meanest explosions mankind has ever experienced.
Everybody knows that one way or another the Big Bang is the largest explosion ever, although it is not technically an explosion. An explosion is defined through the fact that matter moves through space from a high pressure point to a low pressure point. The Big Bang in exchange, involved space itself expanding rapidly, and not matter, and given the theory that the Universe is still expanding, one could argue that the Big Bang still takes place. The Big Bang theory does not actually explain how the Universe began or how matter and energy came to exist, but it only clears up how space rapidly expanded at about 5.4Ã—10-44 seconds after the universe began.
GRB 080916C was another gamma-ray burst, recorded on September 16th 2008 that occurred 12.2 billion light-years away and lasted for 23 minutes, which is a very long duration even for such a type of explosion, making it the largest true explosion ever. During those 23 minutes, the gamma-ray burst generated an amount of energy that was the equivalent of 2Ã—1038 tons of TNT, or a trillion Tsar Bombas exploding every second for 110 billion years or, about 7,000 times the amount of energy that the Sun is expected to generate in its lifetime.
SN2006gy is the largest known supernova, discovered on September 16th 2006. Supernovae occur when stars ran out of fuel, collapse and explode, extremely large supernovae or hypernovae being among the most violent events in the universe, also believed to be the source of gamma-rays bursts. SN2006gy occurred 230 million light-years away, when a star about 150 times the size of the Sun collapsed. The amount of energy generated by this hypernova is roughly estimated at 2.5Ã—1035 tons of TNT.
On March 19th, 2008, a gamma-ray burst called GRB 080319B occurred, being visible to the naked eye for about 30 seconds. The enormous explosion took place 7.5 billion light-years away, and was still visible, making it the biggest explosion ever directly witnessed by people. The equivalent of the explosion’s power is of 1A-1034 tons of TNT or about 10,000 times the sun’s weight in TNT detonated all at once.
The Cretaceous Tertiary event occurred about 56 million years ago, causing the extinction of many organisms, among which the dinosaurs, being the largest known earthbound explosion. The asteroid impact, as it is believed to be, created the Chicxulub Crater, located off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The estimated force of the explosion is believed to be the equivalent of 96 teratons of TNT, or 1.7 million Tsar Bombas, creating climate changes like in the case of Mt. Tambora but with far more drastic consequences.
The largest natural explosion to ever be recorded by humans took place on April 5th 1815, when Mt. Tambora erupted in Sambawa, Indonesia, creating an explosion that unleashed the force of 800 megatons of TNT, exceeding the Tsar Bomba by 14 times. This monstrous explosion halved Mt. Tambora, from an initial height of 4.3 km to a mere 2.85 km. Another consequence of this natural disaster was that the 43 km high ash column dispersed into the stratosphere and around the earth, blocking the sun and causing the year 1916 to be the second coldest in the history of mankind. 10,000 people died directly from the eruption, while other 70,000 from the resulting climate change, crop failures and subsequently famine.
Developed by the Soviet Union, the Tsar Bomba is believed to be the largest man-made explosion that was tested on October 30th, 1961. The hydrogen bomb was detonated in a remote location of the Novaya Zemlya island chain, north of the Russian mainland, but despite this, there was still great collateral damage, which even reached Norway and Finland. The mushroom cloud of the Tsar Bomba was 64 km high and had a shockwave that was still detectable on its third passage around the globe.
On June 30th, 1908, there was a large explosion in Russia, more exactly, above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River, the power of which was equivalent with 10-15 megatons of TNT or 1,000 times stronger than the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan. This is the largest impact in recorded history and many think that it wasn’t caused by a meteorite, but rather relate to various conspiracy theories. The scientific community believes that the meteorite exploded in mid-air as there was no crater created, the only proof of such a powerful explosion being an area of 2,150 square km with bent trees.
A test performed by the U.S. on June 27th 1985, the Minor Scale was the biggest man-made conventional explosion, comprised of almost 5,000 tons of ammonium nitrate fuel oil. The purpose of this explosion was to simulate the effects of a nuclear-like weapon on the military hardware.
FOAB or Father of All Bombs was the biggest explosion created by a Russian non-nuclear tactical weapon, detonated in mid-air. The explosion of FOAB was the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT and generated a shockwave that incinerated the target area below it. The Russian FOAB created in 2007 was in fact a response the U.S. MOAB (Mother of all bombs) developed in 2003.