In “is this a positive sign?” news, a 10-year-old nuclear blast simulator has been crashing on a regular basis in recent days. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which holds both Chernobyl and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, is most likely to blame for the spike in traffic. Nukemap, built-in 2012 by Alex Wellerstein, a professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology and a historian of science and nuclear weapons, allows you to see the radius of a range of nuclear weapon assaults put over a city or location of your choice.
The map allows you to choose from a variety of nuclear weapon yields, ranging from the 20-kiloton Fat Man bomb launched over Nagasaki in 1945 to the 100-kiloton “Tsa Bomba,” the Soviet Union’s heaviest bomb. It also displays the heavy blast radius, the radiation radius, and the radiation radius where the radiation will be “likely lethal in roughly 1 month” and “15 percent of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.”
Breaking down the damage even further, it also indicates the region where serious burns are likely to occur if you happen to be in it. Wellerstein explains how this zone works “Third-degree burns affect all layers of the skin and are generally painless since the pain nerves are destroyed. They can result in serious scarring or disability, as well as the need for amputation.” Wellerstein originally drew the maps to aid his understanding of weaponry.
He told The Atlantic weekly Galaxy Brain, “I knew that it’s tough to visualize the scale of nuclear bombs.” “I have a hard time dealing with numbers and seeing them, as well as converting these equations into code that allows me to visualize these weapons for my profession.” After being featured by various tabloid publications in the United Kingdom, the map went viral. It has now gone viral again, this time in response to fears over a possible escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. People have been flooding the map in recent days, leading its author to create a duplicate site so that people may continue to use it.
Wellerstein disclosed a few unique ways that people have been utilizing the maps in his interview with the Atlantic. “The first is cathartic nuking, or nuking another person. Americans, for example, are furious with Russia, so they’re seeing what happens when you do it to someone you don’t like. The second method is experienced nuking, which is when you nuke yourself to observe what happens if it occurs to you “he stated. Americans, it appears, fall towards the latter kind. “The majority of the time, Americans bomb themselves. They prefer a hands-on approach to nuking “‘I informed the outlet,’ he said.” I won’t go so far as to say it’s egotistical, but our primary mode of Nukemap use is to watch what happens to us.”