Weekend Science: Will Your Beer Survive A Nuclear Blast?
    By Hank Campbell | September 21st 2012 10:45 PM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    The Apocalypse is coming.  If it isn't an earthquake, Ragnarok, Doomsday, Nibiru, GMO corn, global warming or the Mayans, it could surely be that Iranians get tired of explaining why Israel doesn't appear on the maps of any Muslim countries and decide to make all of the maps of the world consistent.

    Nuclear armageddon, folks. 

    Since nuclear destruction was a given after 1945 - heck, that hysterical Doomsday clock has barely moved despite nuclear disarmament and the collapse of the Soviet Union (it quickly embraced global warming when nuclear war was passé) - researchers made sure to study the important stuff during the Cold War, like what would happen to fizzy drinks during fission-based detonation. 

    Robert Krulwich at NPR found this gem from Alex Wellerstein at Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog talking about Operation Teapot, 14 nuclear weapons tests starting in 1955 at the Nevada Test Site. One such test, Project 32.2a, involved nuking a mock town full of mannequins - but they made sure to include real-life objects like beer. 

    There was no numerical testing then, it was all make-and-break, real world stuff, so the bottles and cans got two bomb blasts - equivalent to 20 kilotons and 30 kilotons of TNT.

    Credit and link: Restricted Data

    Result: The cans did a little better but both survived pretty well, even about 1,000 feet from the blast. Radiation was minimal, "well within the permissible limits for emergency use", the report said.  But, really, what is more of an emergency than 'I just survived a nuclear blast'?

    Did anyone drink it?  Yep, this was the time before pesky human rights standards for scientists.

    Examination made immediately upon recovery showed no observable gross changes in the appearance of the beverages. Immediate taste tests indicated that the beverages, both beer and soft drinks, were still of commercial quality, although there was evidence of a slight flavor change in some of the products exposed at 1270 ft from GZ [Ground Zero]. Those farther away showed no change.
    Who do you think they got to do that?  Probably a post-doc.

    Researchers in Ireland have developed a way to make the shelf life of beer a little longer but, really, if it can survive a nuclear blast it's already pretty darn good.

    Check out Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog. Enjoy Slim Gaillard Quartette's Atomic Cocktail while you read and you will stay for the awesome content.  Mostly because we no longer live it.  Or at least we think we don't.


    The Mayan and the Hopi
    Foretold it would come the
    axis shift revealing
    The Second Sun
    It's time to face yourself
    And all that you've done
    And not done
    Nibiru's on it's way
    There's nowhere to run

    You came to Hank
    Guru of beer
    To debunk the nonsense
    And make it all clear

    The science is settled
    The data is here
    We'll all still be writing
    At this time next year
    Good comeback, Hank.

    As a lad during those times, I can remember a few details about the testing and the worries that the US public had. I don't remember anything about the beer tests though. Since I do remember some of the beer that was available at the time, I thought it was worth assessing which of the brands might have been involved in the tests.

    These brands were all available at the time: Coors, Pearl, Falstaff (largest in the US at the time), Jax, Pabst, Miller, Olympia, Hamm’s and Stag (a Griesedieck brand). It is reasonable to guess that the closest breweries would have their products involved in the test and that some of the breweries farther away would not be represented.

    The closest would include Coors, Pearl, and Jax. Falstaff would have likely been included as it was the sales leader during those times. Hamm's is also a likely paticipant because if it's aggressive advertising, Miller, and Olympia probably weren't involved due to the distance from the test site.

    Of those likely to have been included in the test, Coors was probably the easiest on the taste buds after being nuked. I say this because Pearl and Jax tasted pretty nasty even without the extra radiation.

    Interesting link.

    Nuclear Coors?!? "Smokey And The Bandit" would have been a much cooler movie in the 1950s.