Saturday, November 01, 2014

mushroom cloud convection gif

Science in GIFs: Mushroom Cloud

And here’s why an atom bomb explosion forms a mushroom cloud:

You don’t need an atom bomb to make a mushroom cloud, just convection. Mushroom clouds typically occur when an explosion produces a massive fireball. Since the fireball is very hot and thus less dense than the surrounding air, it rises rapidly, forming the cap of the mushroom cloud. In its wake the fireball leaves a column of heated air. This acts as a chimney, drawing in smoke and hot gases from ground fires. These form the stalk of the mushroom. Since the center is the hottest part of the mushroom cloud, it rises faster than the outer edges, giving the impression that the cap is curling down around the stalk. Thus the familiar fungal form.

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