Perhaps one of the least-understood things about nuclear weapons and nuclear devices in general is the variety of different effects they can and do produce. With recent hysteria about 'dirty bombs' and the like, and the concomitant misuses of the term nuclear weapon, I figured this was a perfect opportunity to wax pedantic yet again, and (meta)node some stuff I find fascinating. So with that in mind, here we go.

Nuclear Weapon
This term means almost as many things as there are idiotic Neocon commentators. However, for the purposes of this writeup, I'll stick to the following: A nuclear weapon is a device intended to produce a high-order nuclear detonation that has been designed so as to be deliverable against a target and detonated with minimal preparation. The effects desired may vary (EMP, blast, prompt radiation, etc.) but the method of producing them cannot; namely, the weapon must produce a high-order detonation as opposed to merely a large burst of radioactivity.

So. What, then, are the effects of such an event? They can be broken down into categories. Those can, in turn, be further differentiated. The following list is a simple breakdown of the various effects typically discussed by targeters and planners:

Note that this list isn't comprehensive. There are sub-classes of effects, as well as phenomena which may not be relevant (being of interest usually only to physicists) which aren't included. I've tried to stick to those effects which are relevant to anyone who might be near or be observing one of these events, or might have reason to study the results of one on the landscape.