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What color clothing is safest during a nuclear explosion?

  1. Nov 8, 2014 #1

    dav2008

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    All else being equal, which color clothing would be best if you are exposed to a nuclear explosion (far enough away where you're not instantly killed, but still subjected to significant radiant energy)? Black or white?

    It seems like black clothing would get hotter and could thus burn you by contact, but would it also absorb more radiant energy (e.g. high energy photons) and thus protect your skin better?

    (I wasn't sure which forum this would belong in so feel free to move to the appropriate one)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2014 #2

    DaveC426913

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    My wife's suggestion: 'anything that hides the brown stains.'
     
  4. Nov 8, 2014 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Setting aside the whole 'what do you wear to a nuclear explosion?' amusement, the generally best clothing to resist EMR is white.

    Well, barring silver foil, of course. But next to silver, white is the most reflective.
     
  5. Nov 8, 2014 #4

    mfb

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    High-energetic photons won't care about the color of your clothes. Color is a reaction to visible light. All other things being equal, reflecting more of this light is certainly useful -> white.
     
  6. Nov 13, 2014 #5

    etudiant

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    I remember reading that some Hiroshima victims had the pattern of their clothes burned into their skin.
    So an all white sheet is probably the best thing to wear, plus it simplifies the funeral arrangements.
    Do note that the thermal pulse from a thermonuclear device is enormously greater and lasts much longer, so the color of the garments is probably immaterial. Witnesses to the Pacific test series reported sea birds bursting into flames in mid air, some miles from the explosion.
     
  7. Nov 20, 2014 #6
    Any clothing that can protect you from intensive thermal radiation/shock will help. Color of the suit isn't critical. Here is a typical suit for electricians:
    http://www.electricityforum.com/arc-flash/images/arc-flash-clothing.jpg [Broken]

    Unfortunatelly, such clothing won't be enough to shield you from powerful ionizing radiation (gamma rays, protons, neutrons etc.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  8. Nov 20, 2014 #7

    mfb

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    There are clothes with lead to shield x-rays. They don't absorb all gamma rays, but they would still give protection. Especially with multiple layers, they'll also provide some protection against the shock.
     
  9. Nov 20, 2014 #8
    bright orange or yellow - you'll die for sure anyway, but you body will be easier to spot and be burnt as rottening radiactive waste. otherwise, you can also put on something very flammable, so, you'll go though all of it faster and reduce decontaminators' work.
     
  10. Nov 20, 2014 #9

    nsaspook

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    The color won't matter much but a nice thick wool coat with full biker leathers would be my fashion choice.
     
  11. Nov 20, 2014 #10

    boneh3ad

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    Lead is gray, so I'd say the best color to wear is gray.
     
  12. Nov 20, 2014 #11

    Bandersnatch

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    And let's not forget to duck and cover!
     
  13. Nov 20, 2014 #12

    berkeman

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    Electricians?? o_O
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  14. Nov 20, 2014 #13
    Special kinds of electricians:), working in vicinity of medium voltage live circuits where arc flash hazard is deadly in radius like 10 feet
     
  15. Nov 20, 2014 #14

    DaveC426913

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    All very interesting answers, but...

    I'd reiterate the user's specification that "...all other things being equal..."

    i.e. he knows that there are lots of variants on protecting onesself. Those variants aside, he's interested specifically in colour.




    Though frankly I still can't imagine why.

    It's like saying:

    'All other things being equal, which is the most aerodynamic position to hold your hand in, if you stick it out the window of an airliner doing 500mph at 40,000 feet?'

    'All other things being equal, what is the best scent to be wearing to discourage the rabid grizzly that is currently savaging your head?'

    'All other things being equal, which species of whelk stands a better chance in a supernova?'
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
  16. Nov 20, 2014 #15

    nsaspook

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    The house in the middle:


    A clean white house is the key.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
  17. Nov 22, 2014 #16
    I think a neon color would be best. Not because it will reflect more light, but because there is so much energy in a nuclear explosion from EMR that the color of your shirt probably won't matter much. However, if your shirt is a neon color, you'll stand out from the dust and rubble and it will be easier for a rescue crew to find you. Unless you're very close to ground zero (in which case your shirt will evaporate along with the rest of you), it's going to be collapsing buildings and falling debris that threaten you much more than radiation or heat, so prompt medical attention is going to be important.
     
  18. Nov 22, 2014 #17

    DaveC426913

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    In that vase, the best thing to wear would be a helium balloon on a 20 foot string.
     
  19. Nov 23, 2014 #18
    Your question, and the responses you received, such as this:
    ... is what has me joining this forum. Congratulations. I *thought* for a moment you'd not received an actual answer, but I think mfb captures it:
    If you wore black, you're right, it would absorb the light, but then your t-shirt would probably burst into flames or at least give you a nice contact hig... er, contact burns. But, mfb also hits the nail on the head that visible and IR light are small components of the energy release of a thermonuclear event, which releases far more in gamma radiation, plus those pesky extremely energised alpha and beta particles all of which will not give a tutti-fruiti dang what colour t-shirt you're wearing. Hello, thyroid cancer!
    Is it wrong that this make me gaffaw out loud?
    Fascinating answers everyone.
     
  20. Dec 1, 2014 #19
    @nsaspook
    LMAO I forgot those old civil defense Vids were so funny.

    watch both houses! the roofs are partially blown off but only one burns...... never mind you've received a most likely fatal amount of radiation poisoning but your house did not burn down....


    wounder if the guy's seen checking the aftermath without protective suites had Geiger counters supplied to them before they went in?
     
  21. Dec 2, 2014 #20

    Dale

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    Or "All other things being equal, what brand of bottled water is safest to drown in?"
     
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