They say that the safest place to be when a bomb explodes is right on top of it, is that true?
No. If a bomb explodes, the safest place to be is as far away from it as possible.
Paul Walorski, B.A., Part-time Physics/Astronomy Instructor
Richard, from my time in the Air Force I can safely tell you that the safest place to be when a bomb goes off, is probably in the next state, if not the next country.
However, if you have no choice, the safest place to be during an explosion depends very much on the type of explosion. It's important to know what an explosion is. So called "high" explosives are chemicals that when triggered by some kind of energetic event (pressure, heat, etc) suddenly release much more energy in the form of heat, light, and sudden expansion in volume. That expansion in volume causes the shock wave and the noise. Some explosions are designed to radiate outwards on one plane. Some are designed to go only along a certain line. Some are built to explode in a spherical pattern. In any event the "safest" place to be would be where the force of the explosion is not going to be directed.
So - would you really be "safe" to be above an explosion? That depends on a lot, but mostly it depends on your distance away, and the design of the explosive inside.
Frank DiBonaventuro, B.S., Physics, The Citadel, Air Force officer
'The strength and weakness of physicists is that we believe in what we can measure. And if we can't measure it, then we say it probably doesn't exist. And that closes us off to an enormous amount of phenomena that we may not be able to measure because they only happened once. For example, the Big Bang. ... That's one reason why they scoffed at higher dimensions for so many years. Now we realize that there's no alternative... '