The atomic bomb ‘spike’ is inside all of us

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It’s in your teeth. Your eyes and your brain too. Scientists call it the “bomb spike” (or “bomb pulse”) – and for more than half a century its signature has been present inside the human body.

In the 1950s, there were so many nuclear bomb explosions above ground that it transformed the chemical make-up of the atmosphere – altering the carbon composition of life on Earth ever since, along with oceans, sediments, stalactites and more.

Unlike the direct radioactive fallout from the explosions, the bomb spike is not harmful. In fact, it’s proven surprisingly helpful for scientists in recent years. Some have even gone so far as to describe it as the “mushroom cloud’s silver lining”.

Why? Evidence of the pulse is so ubiquitous that it can, among many other insights, tell forensic scientists when a person was born (or died), provide discoveries about the age of neurons in our brains, reveal the origin of poached wildlife, determine red wine vintage and even unlock the true age of centuries-old sharks .

And now it may also help to define a new geological era. In July, a group of earth scientists recommended that its presence in a Canadian lake – along with other human-made markers from the mid-20th Century – should represent the official start of the Anthropocene.

So, what exactly is the bomb spike, and what can it reveal about us and the world?


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!