If We Could Convert Matter Perfectly to Energy, a Typical Adult Male Would Produce an Explosion 80 Times More Powerful Than the Largest Nuclear Bomb Ever Detonated

Physics Facts

Amazingly, if we were actually able to convert matter perfectly to energy with 1 kg of matter being completely annihilated, the energy produced from just that small amount of matter is about 42.95 mega tons of TNT.  So an adult male weighing in at around 200 pounds has somewhere in the vicinity of 4000 megatons of TNT potential in their matter if completely annihilated.

This is about 80 times more energy than was produced by the largest ever detonated nuclear bomb, the Tzar Bomba, which itself produced a blast about 1,400 times more powerful than the combined explosions of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

To further illustrate, 1 megaton of TNT, when converted to kilowatt hours, makes enough electricity to power an average American home for about 100,000 years.  It is also enough to power the entire United States for a little over 3 days.  So 1 kg of some matter being completely annihilated would be able to power the entire United States for about four months.  One average adult male then, when completely annihilated, would produce enough energy to power the U.S. for about 30 years.  Energy crisis solved. ;-)

On a completely baffling scale, a typical supernova explosion will give off about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 megatons of TNT. *cowers in the corner*


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  • I never knew that stars contained TNT in them! I thought they were too hot to synthesize TNT, but now that I know 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 megatons of TNT flies out of every supernova, we can just get a giant net and catch all the TNT that flies out! :P

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Mushyrulez: Haha, ya that last sentence is poorly worded. ;-) “the same energy as” should go in their somewhere or just drop the TNT and go with megaton, which of course implies TNT, in terms of the explosive power, but makes the sentence meaning more clear.

  • Pariah Dimasupil

    I have computed as well such conversion of matter to energy with no waste (like the annihilation of matter and anti-matter). I used an ideal 55kg person whose body is divided equally by matter and anti-matter (so to commence an annihilation). I preserve here the Law of Conservation. I converted the weight 55kg to mass in order to use Einstein’s E=mc^2 and I got m=5.612 kg. I arrived at E= 5.04×10^17 J. This energy would be equivalent to 2.4 Tsar Bombas where the energy of a Tsar Bomba is equal to 2.1×10^17.

    I also converted it to watt hours (1J=2.77778×10^-4) and I got 140 terawatt hours. As of 2008, the hourly global energy consumption is 15 Twh so I presume that this 55kg person can power the world for 9.33 hours.

  • Pariah Dimasupil

    You would need 938-940 persons of weight 55kg to be sacrificed in order to provide a year for the world’s energy consumption. And I also checked if your right with a 200 pound or 90.718474kg adult sufficiency in sustaining energy consumption for 30 years.

    m=9.256987551 or 9.26kg

    E=8.32×10^17 J

    As of 2009, US yearly electricity consumption is 1.4×10^19J so divide it by 8760 hours to get the hourly consumption of 1.6×10^15 J.

    (8.32×10^17 J)/(1h/1.6×10^15 J)

    Therefore, your estimate is almost correct. :)

    • You checked his math wrong and I quite honestly don’t know how you didn’t catch your mistake.

      You plugged in mass where weight or force goes, then proceeded to solve for mass. You began with the mass already so that was unnecessary.

      Then you finished off with 21.67 days and concluded that was the same as the author’s 30 years, unless that was supposed to be sarcasm.

      In any case you’re way off.

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