Glenn Reynolds posted this as a recent article.
Now I don’t know if Glenn has been to Hiroshima or not, but if he has he might understand why some of the stuff recommended by those old civil defense people aren’t as crazy as they seem.
Now I posted about Hiroshima a while ago and one of the things I talked about briefly was Charles Pellegrino’s book.
Here’s a review of Charlie’s book in the New York Times.
Now Charlie is a bit of a character. I know him best for telling long interesting, stories, getting into fights over strange stuff with weirder people and being a polymath who will put various disciplines of science together. He’s also a fairly well known as a science fiction author as well as a science author. He’s written books on the Titanic, Herculaneum, the lunar module and other subjects. He also essentially invented the discipline of forensic archeology. The thing that really lights him up is booms, big ones.
He’s especially interested in the secondary and tertiary effects in large dynamic events. It turns out that large events don’t just blat everything in their path, that obstacles can divert the pressure waves and provide shelter for things behind for crucial seconds. Charlie calls this the shock cocoon effect.
What happens is that an obstruction in front of an air blast from an extreme event cause the air to go around it and when that happen the air, already very fast becomes supersonic, or tries to, creating a shockwave which force the blast force away from behind the obstruction and away, creating a small bubble of protection. The bubble doesn’t last very long, but in one of these events, it doesn’t have to.
Things in those bubbles survive even when everything around them is in total ruin. Which is how so many survived at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The small bit of cover from a wall or desk was enough to protect them even as people right next to them were being vaporized. Nothing is more strange than being inside and extreme even and surviving. May “duck and cover isn’t so crazy after all.