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Nuclear Urbanism
December 27, 2008 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Ground Zero. This Google Maps mashup shows the thermal damage caused by various nuclear weapons or an asteroid on the city of your choice.
posted by homunculus (53 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Speaking of asteroids: Badass Asteroid Destroys Earth in High Definition
posted by homunculus at 9:08 PM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the asteroid impact does more damage than any of the nuclear weapons. We've got to get the Department of Defense to build one of those before our enemies do.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:11 PM on December 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


Oh, and the real reason it seems sad when a Badass Asteroid Destroys Earth is that it brings with it a Pink Floyd soundtrack. The same asteroid with a different soundtrack would be hilarious.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:22 PM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


The third link goes to a fascinating blog, homunculus, thanks.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:31 PM on December 27, 2008


The same asteroid with a different soundtrack would be hilarious.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with the Benny Hill theme song
posted by terranova at 9:45 PM on December 27, 2008




There is a payoff if an asteroid hits Melbourne, it takes out New Zealand too.
posted by mattoxic at 10:06 PM on December 27, 2008


Coolness. I did my Jr. High science fair project on this, computing the energy released by a nuclear detonation at various distances from ground zero. Except I did it on a Commodore PET & it didn't have the whole Google maps part, mainly because Google wouldn't be invented for about 25 years. I spent about half my time writing the routine that drew something resembling concentric circles in PETSCII graphics characters.
posted by scalefree at 10:22 PM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why was my first though upon seeing this "but will it blend?"
posted by Rinku at 10:39 PM on December 27, 2008


Yakkity Sax makes the end more fun.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:40 PM on December 27, 2008


Basically, if any of the bombs in the pull down menu are dropped on my city, I'm pretty much toast.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:47 PM on December 27, 2008


Mmmm. Toast.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:47 PM on December 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I really wished that it took into account the terrain and maybe hooked up with the weather channel or the USGS historic weather or something so it could map where in the neighbourhood was relatively more safe or which areas would be less prone to fallout.

As it is, it's just a dumb theoretical layer on google maps.

/waits for zombie apocalypse google.maps overlay, with linkups with PubMed, the CDC, and google.news/twitter/facebook/zombiefreedom/myspace/whatever for current updates
posted by porpoise at 11:08 PM on December 27, 2008


Yeah, the asteroid impact does more damage than any of the nuclear weapons. We've got to get the Department of Defense to build one of those before our enemies do.

And we have to prevent the terrorists from acquiring a suitcase asteroid. If they smuggled one into the country, it would be catastrophic.
posted by homunculus at 11:13 PM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really wished that it took into account the terrain and maybe hooked up with the weather channel

That would have a double advantage. If you knew a nuclear weapon was about to hit your town you would not only know which direction to run but also whether to wear long sleeves or short sleeves.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:15 PM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I really wished that it took into account the terrain and maybe hooked up with the weather channel or the USGS historic weather or something so it could map where in the neighbourhood was relatively more safe or which areas would be less prone to fallout.

It's not about fallout. Thermal damage is more related to line of sight, height of burst, atmospheric conditions, and distance from the detonation. Terrain wouldn't be of much concern. Indeed, these aren't terribly useful Google maps, but they're fun. If you want something more realistic, you need a slide rule computer. Scroll down for interaction.
posted by chakalakasp at 11:21 PM on December 27, 2008


Meh.
posted by longsleeves at 11:23 PM on December 27, 2008


The Tsar Bomba could take out the entire state of Rhode Island.

Awesome.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:24 PM on December 27, 2008


The nuclear simulator thing defaults to Hiroshima, and then that Discovery HD video of the asteroid impact (which is quite cool, by the way) has the asteroid hit off the coast of Japan too. Japan just can't catch a break in the cataclysm department, it seems.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:30 PM on December 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


The site ignores yields of what's in the arsenal of the former Soviet states, like the SS-18, SS-24, and Delta class missiles, all of which have an outside chance of landing in the U.S. What do we care about Tsar Bomba and Fat Man maps? I don't understand the point of this site.
posted by crapmatic at 11:35 PM on December 27, 2008


Yeah, the bomb choices were pretty... irrelevant. There's no chance that there will ever be a functional 50 MT weapon like the Tsar Bomba that can be used against a city, but there are plenty of 10 MT bombs and missiles aimed at all of us every waking minute of the day.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:49 PM on December 27, 2008


Pff. The lack of coverage for mass-drivers firing multi-ton payloads from lunar orbit renders this useless to me.
posted by Artw at 12:10 AM on December 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


twoleftfeet:
Your wish, my command.


will it ever get old? i think not.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:23 AM on December 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


When I was in middle school I read a book about a kid who becomes president (somehow). Towards the end of the book he fights a Missile Command-esque nuclear war game against the dictator of a fictional South American state. The dictator tries to lure the kid's missile shield away from the big cities by targeting small towns, including Sandusky, Bangor, Lubbock... and Bibb County, Alabama.

Shocked that the madman would chance strike so near to my home, I quickly consulted a MapQuest-based app similar to the one in the FPP that would chart the extent of nuclear destruction from any address.

The outer blast wave petered out less than a mile from my house.

And that's the story of how I narrowly survived a (doubly-fictional) nuclear attack, and all thanks to a simple web app.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:27 AM on December 28, 2008


BTW, just for fun, porpoise, here's an example for you in Vancouver, using the calculator I linked in my post above. Say you're at the University of British Columbia and a Russian nuclear weapon detonates over the port authority. (This is actually rather likely in a real war, though no doubt there would be more than one weapon used in an attempt to destroy the major shipping terminals.) Assume use of a ground burst, since a shipping terminal is somewhat resilient as a target and the goal of the strike is infrastructure and not collateral.

You are approximately five and a half miles away from the burst. The most likely weapon used would be a 750kt hydrogen bomb.

50% of thermal energy will be emitted in the first 2 seconds after burst, with the remainder emitted over the next 6 to 8 seconds. The fireball will be a bit larger than half a mile wide. Where you are, you will receive 20 cal/cm^2 of thermal radiation (heat), which is enough to ignite most things around you, such as your skin and the green grass beneath your feet.

The blast, a shockwave of 1.3psi overpressure with a wind of around 50mph, would arrive around 35 seconds after detonation and would last for around 40 seconds.

The fallout would be extreme for anyone downwind of the detonation.

Would you survive? If you were underground, probably; if you were outside, definitely not. Though there is a good chance you would die shortly thereafter as your building burned. If you got out of the building in time, you'd likely succumb to the incendiary firestorm a short time later. If you were in the fallout zone, you'd receive a fatal dose of radiation within five or ten minutes, as well.

Assuming the wind blows east, anyone within a couple hundred miles east of Vancouver would need to shelter underground with shielding protection for some time to survive the radiation. And given the likely strike against the USA in such an event and all the resulting fallout drifting up north, most Canadians would need to stay underground and shielded for at least a few weeks.

It seems amazing to me that leaders actually planned to use these weapons in the 60s, 70, and 80s as if there were such thing as a "winnable" nuclear war. The way we human beings rule each other is nothing short of a tragedy.
posted by chakalakasp at 12:28 AM on December 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Regardless of relevance, I shiver when I look at what a small yield bomb (even grossly simplified) could potentially do to my hometown.
posted by sundri at 12:31 AM on December 28, 2008


Needs settings for ground vs. airburst.
posted by Artw at 12:33 AM on December 28, 2008


I agree with the prior complaints, that the site neglects firestorm/shockwave/fallout effects and has an unrealistic selection of weapons. To that I add that the assumption of a single blast woefully oversimplifies any probable scenario, which is a good reason to take another look at this Peacekeeper MIRV test photo. Oh, and to listen to Tom Lehrer.
posted by 7segment at 1:08 AM on December 28, 2008


MIRV GRIFFIN!
posted by loquacious at 1:34 AM on December 28, 2008


Wow, if an asteroid hits London, someone in Khazakstan will get a light sunburn from the blast.

Everyone in between...
posted by Happy Dave at 2:35 AM on December 28, 2008


Reminds me of The Big Snit.
posted by bwg at 6:28 AM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]



The Tsar Bomba could take out the entire state of Rhode Island



but would it respect them in the morning ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:56 AM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tsar Bomba would be a great band name.
posted by bwg at 7:46 AM on December 28, 2008


This is a more polished presentation of the same idea - allowing you to enter specific longitudes/latitutdes and yields.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:36 AM on December 28, 2008


Handy impact effect calculator
posted by lukemeister at 8:40 AM on December 28, 2008


urbanism
One entry found.

Main Entry:
ur·ban·ism Listen to the pronunciation of urbanism
Pronunciation:
\ˈər-bə-ˌni-zəm\
Function:
noun
Date:
1889

1: the characteristic way of life of city dwellers 2 a: the study of the physical needs of urban societies b: city planning 3: urbanization


BLDGBLOG can be brilliant; but lazy, deliberately ambiguous phrasing such as "nuclear urbanism" makes it a hell of a pain to read. I'm more inclined to forgive it when the concepts communicated are part-formed, as is case with Jeff's more wonderful flights of theory, but here we're just talking about an app that superimposes blast radii onto maps. That's not a hard concept to communicate, but the title "nuclear urbanism" fails completely.

"The overwhelming obliterative power of nuclear weapons turns them into a kind of ubiquitous anti-landscape, something that no geography, built or natural, can successfully resist."

You mean a wasteland, right, Jeff? Stop trying to make *everything* high concept! I subscribed for years, but really can't take it any more.
posted by nthdegx at 9:52 AM on December 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


@nthdegx, sorry you don't like the title. I almost called it LOL BOMBA.

And, yes, nuclear bombs would turn their targets into wastelands; I guess I'd assumed that'd be pretty obvious to most people.
posted by BLDGBLOG at 10:46 AM on December 28, 2008


Tsar Bomba would be a great band name.

kirkaracha turned the name into a song....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 11:09 AM on December 28, 2008


I know what a nuke does to the town of Megaton. Annoying pricks!
posted by autodidact at 11:13 AM on December 28, 2008


No need to apologise. I'm just being a grump. I'd be interested to know if there was a thought process that went behind the title that I'm simply not getting, though.
posted by nthdegx at 1:58 PM on December 28, 2008


nthdegx, the title wasn't meant to mislead - it was really just a combo of urbanism, because of the post's specific look at these bombs' effects on cities, and nuclear war. Thus nuclear urbanism. With a willful misuse of the word "urbanism."

I don't know - I suppose I'd just say that I title things on BLDGBLOG less to explain the precise contents of each post than simply to get some quick headline-y phrase up there that sounds good. Sorry if that's disappointing!

I'd hate to hear what you think of this one, for instance...

Anyway, hopefully you'll like the site again someday. It's not perfect - but maybe one or two things up there might catch your eye again.
posted by BLDGBLOG at 2:13 PM on December 28, 2008


awesome, an asteroid could crash into london, england and canada would be untouched
posted by tehloki at 4:08 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate stuff like that. The town I live in has Archer Daniels Midland - "Supermarket To The World" - in it. As I have had it explained to me, that makes town a major target, since it would cause major disruption in food supplies. Gah.
posted by Samizdata at 4:56 PM on December 28, 2008


D'oh! No no. It is a brilliant, wonderful blog. It just melts my brain ;)
posted by nthdegx at 5:18 PM on December 28, 2008


@nthdegx, no worries! I appreciate the honesty, and I'll see what I can do. I know that BLDGBLOG can be annoying sometimes - and it isn't bad to be reminded of that.

Meanwhile, I've always thought that they should create a mapplet where you can fling, say, St. Petersburg at Miami - or Moscow at Mumbai. How to map the ensuing damage. Turning whole cities into weaponry. Mapping the wastelands their impacts produce.

You rise above the earth... and hurl Sydney down upon the unsuspected denizens of Chicago. True urban warfare. The opera house vs. the Sears Tower.

Perhaps the opening scene of Jackass 3.
posted by BLDGBLOG at 10:44 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Creepy.
posted by etherealclarity at 8:38 AM on December 29, 2008


It seems amazing to me that leaders actually planned to use these weapons in the 60s, 70, and 80s as if there were such thing as a "winnable" nuclear war.

Are you assuming they stopped planning to use nukes in the 90s? Rest assured, the plans remain, refreshed constantly as our perceived threats evolve. We just aren't currently standing toe-to-toe with a like-armed adversary, each daring the other to blink.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:25 AM on December 29, 2008


I feel the need to step in for a moment and insure clarity. No nuclear power has ever seriously targeted civilian population with strategic nuclear weapons. Nato SIOPs and Warsaw pacts counterpart would never have openly targeted civilians or exclusively civilian structures. They would target the Port of Vancouver, or the Railroad or highway junction of your city but they aren't targeting the people, just the buildings and infrastructure. The people are entirely collateral.
posted by Megafly at 11:25 AM on December 29, 2008




What is this a mashup of, exactly? Isn't a mashup taking two established things and, well, mashing them up into one? This just looks like something designed with the Google Maps API.
posted by Eideteker at 10:36 AM on December 30, 2008


In this case the two established things are Google Maps and the CRIPPLING FEAR OF NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST
posted by tehloki at 2:58 PM on December 31, 2008 [1 favorite]






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