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December 18, 2012

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Wellerstein

Hi John — Wonderful write up. Just one pedantic point: the issue is not so much that 100% of the yields would be achievable, but that 100% of the yields would be fission. Most thermonuclear weapons are (by definition) not 100% fission in their yields. They can vary quite a bit, but the general rule of thumb is 50% fission, 50% fusion in modern fission-fusion-fission warheads. So the amount of fallout (which is primarily caused by fissioning, not fusion) would be somewhat reduced from what is shown here. Similarly the choice of ground bursts would also make more fallout than would occur if it were a (more probable) mixture of ground and air bursts. So this map is definitely a worst-case scenario, to the point of not reflecting the actual weapons in play at the time (or since).

None of which is to say that the results for the country or the planet would probably have been much less dire than you conclude, especially if you consider that this sort of damage would likely have had its counterpart over in Russia as well.

Glad to see someone else who has read and enjoyed Lindqvist's book! It is an unusual and surprisingly unheralded little manuscript, one of my favorites.

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