Survivors of a nuclear war

Revelation is an atemporal subject. In the last decades, at least every few years, the end of the world is predicted: fire, ice, earthquakes, asteroids, alien invasions, zombies, robotic revolutions, sunbursts, absorption into a black hole, etc. But there is also a possible variant of the Apocalypse: the nuclear war. On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons. The results were devastating: hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded. There are currently around 17,000 declared nuclear warheads in the world, out of which about 4,000 assets. They are owned by the United States (7,700), Russia (8,500), Great Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Of course, due to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (treaty to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons) and the claim to be a civilized race of the 21st century, it is assumed that a nuclear war would not erupt too soon. It is worth mentioning that modern nuclear warheads are much more destructive than those used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So even if only a small part of today's nuclear weapons were to be used, people could be on the verge of extinction. Assuming absurdly that such a catastrophe would happen, what would be after? What would the earth look like after a nuclear winter?

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What would happen to people?

Many believe the only people who would survive a nuclear war would be the bugs and Chuck Norris. Well, let's stay with people for now. First, a single nuclear explosion could wipe out a medium-sized city map and kill hundreds of thousands of people. Secondly, nuclear explosions would destroy any infrastructure needed to recover after such a conflict: transport routes, hospitals, pharmacies, communications, etc. Everything would lie in an ocean of debris.

Even if there were survivors, it would not last without the ones listed above. Thirdly, nuclear explosions have long-term devastating consequences: radiation, land climate change (nuclear winter) and soil infertility. In this post-apocalyptic landscape of radiation, lack of infrastructure and extreme negative temperatures, man is unlikely to survive.

Beetle. The supreme survivor?

You probably heard the theory that the only bodies that would survive a nuclear war would be cockroaches. This theory has begun to be popular after the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when it was reported that the only remaining life forms between the two cities were the beetles who were passing through the ruins. They inhabit the earth for about 300 million years, that is, they were in full prosperity in the time of the dinosaurs. It is said that the beetles will have more time than the human species and will survive a nuclear war. Sounds plausible. The beetles can live without food for up to a month, they reproduce very quickly in large quantities and have an incredible radiation resistance to humans and to most animals. It has been suggested in the past that beetle can survive even in the zero zone of a nuclear explosion, but obviously it can not survive the explosion itself, due to colossal destructive power. Even so, bugs have a very high adaptability rate and can survive under conditions that most other animals would not tolerate. They also have the ability to develop high tolerance or even immune to toxins and poisons, which is why they are so hard to exterminate.

The beetle can resist ionizing radiation 10 times greater than a human being: a radiation of 1000 radii (rad - unit of radiation absorbed) would kill a man within 10 minutes of exposure. According to a Discovery Channel experiment, over half of the experimental cockroaches survived more than a month exposed to 1000 rays, which is impressive, considering that a beetle can live from 6 to 9 months. At 6400 rays, 90% of cockroach larvae would die, but at 10,000 rays, 10% of adult cockroaches would survive for more than a month. But exposed to 100,000 rays, he would die. So they are not the supreme survivors. In fact, according to the Scientific Committee on the Atomic Radiation Effects of the United Nations, there are many other insects that can survive higher radiation than beetle.

Who will inherit the Earth? ...

If the cockroaches are not the strongest, then who? Well, there is a species of insect, called generic fruit fly, that can withstand radiation up to 64,000 radius. Also, flutter beetle can survive up to 100,000 rays, and a Habrobracon-like parasitic wasp can withstand up to 180,000 rays, that is, 200 times more than a human!

... the toughest!

And yet, there is a group of bodies that eclipses everything else when it comes to resistance. These are extremist creatures (living in extreme conditions, believed to be the toughest organisms on earth) that can survive in boiled water, sulfuric acid, inside nuclear reactors and even in space! A good example of this is Deinococcus radiodurans, an extremophilic bacterium, considered one of the most resistant organisms known to man. It can survive dehydration, extreme cold, sulfuric acid, live in vacuum, and have discovered entire colonies living inside nuclear reactors. At present, this bacterium is, according to the record book, the most resistant bacteria in the world.

The supreme bacterium contraband is Tardigrad, popularly known as the Water Bear (because it resembles a bear), making up 85% of the water. This body has 1 millimeter, can live for about 10 years without water, can survive minimum temperatures of up to -273 degrees Celsius and maximums above 150 degrees, can live in space vacuum, facing atmospheric pressure and radiation thousands of times higher than a man can bear. Scientists have yet to figure out how this tiny body is likely to be so tough, and NASAs believe that Tardigrad could be the first organism of alien origin that can live in any environment. Tardigrad, (the name of "slow walk") is made up of four segments and has eight legs ending with guitars.

But how does this tiny creature manage to cope with such extreme conditions? Well, the bear is able to slow its metabolism to 0.01% of normal capacity, entering a death-like state. In order to reach this stage he retracts his legs inside the body and becomes a tiny ball covered with wax. Thus, it replaces the lost water with a special sugar, and under normal humidity conditions it returns to life in a matter of hours or even minutes. A good example is the revitalization of some water bears whose vital functions have been interrupted for 100 years!

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