Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Peaceful Uses for Nuclear Explosions

The examples below are all from serious to semiserious sources - that is, sources where at least some thought was put into them beyond "what would make a cool picture".

Emphasized items were applications that were actually done at least once.   For the record, many of the weirder ones in here don't seem to have been taken very seriously even by their originators, and were more napkin exercises than serious proposals - I'm thinking particularly of #30, #33, and #39.

I am confident this list is not complete, and I will update it if I discover any new ones.   If you know of any I'm missing, please let me know in the comments.

Update 7/1/13: Added #42: Asteroid Deflection.

Update 8/10/13: Added #43: Signal Flare.
  1. Creating harbors
  2. Creating mountain passes
  3. Excavating canals
  4. Excavating reservoirs
  5. Creating dams
  6. Removing navigation hazards in waterways
  7. Excavation of a mountainside for "recreational purposes"
  8. Removing dangerously unstable rock formations after landslides
  9. Excavating a fixed-dish radio telescope
  10. Freeing oil from oil shale or oil sand
  11. Breaking up rock to stimulate natural gas and oil production
  12. Breaking up rock for mining or producing construction aggregate
  13. Breaking up rock to extract copper or other minerals through in situ leaching
  14. Breaking up rock to alter hydrological cycles
  15. Developing geothermal energy sources
  16. Preventing coal gas explosions
  17. Creating useful radioisotopes
  18. Generating electricity
  19. Generating heat and pressure for chemical reactions, such as gassifying coal
  20. Excavating underground storage tanks for gas or fuel oil
  21. Disposing of sewage or industrial or nuclear waste
  22. Generating ground shock for seismic sounding
  23. Generating neutrons for physics experiments, e.g. creating new elements through neutron capture
  24. Tracking the movement of large air masses through radioactive tracers
  25. Experiments in high-pressure, high-temperature physics and chemistry
  26. Determining density of the interplanetary medium through X-ray fluorescence
  27. Determining structure of the moon through blast throw-off and X-ray fluorescence
  28. Providing temporary communications relays by creating an artificial zone of high-density ions in the upper atmosphere
  29. Extracting water from lunar regolith
  30. Weather modification
  31. Modifying the terrain to reduce the effects of pollution
  32. Spacecraft propulsion
  33. Aircraft propulsion
  34. Breaking up ice in ice-locked harbors and channels
  35. Melting glaciers
  36. Desalination
  37. Extinguishing gas and oil well fires and closing uncontrolled oil leaks
  38. Destroying chemical weapons stockpiles
  39. Relieving stress on fault lines to prevent earthquakes
  40. RADAR imaging of other planets' surfaces
  41. Manufacturing diamonds
  42. Asteroid deflection
  43. Detonating at high altitude as a signal flare


  1. Awesome. Thanks for posting this.

  2. If I may inquire, how would # 31 - "Modifying the terrain to reduce the effects of pollution" - work?

    1. It's been a while since I read the document that was from, so I may not be recalling correctly, but I believe the idea was to blast holes in mountains and other terrain that is blocking pollution from dispersing away from highly populated urban areas.

    2. Greg R. gregoryrush@yahoo.comFebruary 20, 2017 at 6:09 AM

      Mark, I have the same belief, also had a document once that showed the very same information. Have you been able to find this document? I remember a mention of either the San Gabriel or San Bernardino mountains to the north of Los Angeles in CA. Still wanting to prove that such a mention even existed...

    3. I believe I still have a copy of that document somewhere in my archives, but it's buried pretty deep, and my recollection is that it was only an off-hand mention, not a detailed analysis.