In this video of a nuclear bomb detonation/mushroom cloud, a few peculiarities arise and I simply had a couple questions pertaining to observations in the animation:

  1. Following the detonation, the surroundings become quite dark momentarily. Is this simply an artifact due to saturation or is there substantial blocking of light for a fraction of a second only?

  2. On the left side (but not the right), a distinct set of ripples are temporarily observed. Are these shock waves or water boiling out of the air? Is there a particular reason for the asymmetry?

  • $\begingroup$ Also watch carefully and note that the "mushroom stem" was missing at first. Then it launched upwards, rising fast to stab the center of the rising vortex-ring. $\endgroup$
    – wbeaty
    May 8, 2018 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/16974/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    May 8, 2018 at 7:15

2 Answers 2


The "ripples" come from the shock wave moving through smoke columns created by smoke rockets launched just before detonation. The columns were created so we could "see" the shock wave.

For more details and some excellent pictures, see, "Smoke Trails and Nuclear Tests," by Carey Sublette:


Without more details, it's hard to know if the asymmetry is real, caused by the placement of the rockets, or only apparent, caused by camera angle, sunlight, etc.


the darkening of the sky was due to the exposure being adjusted on the camera to accomodate the fireball luminosity at its peak.


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