What would happen if a nuclear bomb went off in your backyard?
April 7, 2018 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Interactive, horrifying graphic from Outrider about the effect of a nuclear strike in your location.
posted by MoonOrb (58 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
My plan for surviving nuclear war: don't.

I live within two miles of the Pentagon. Probably outside of the fireball but well within the shock wave.

No room for Mad Max fantasies around here.

I consider this a solid plan.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 2:53 PM on April 7, 2018 [36 favorites]


There is also a site called NukeMap that illustrates similar data. Both are sobering.
posted by dfm500 at 3:01 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yes that's a solid plan. I have always thought that I'd want to be right in the middle of it so as to just instantly vanish, as opposed to surviving and enduring horrific suffering afterwards. Why would you ever want to go through that.
posted by Jubey at 3:02 PM on April 7, 2018 [12 favorites]


Eh. That graphic wasn't particularly horrifying. I think NukeMap is even better / more horrifying, you can vary the yield, specify air or ground burst, and even include humanitarian impact. Maybe I'm jaded, I have had a copy of The Nuclear War Fun Book since 1982.

I'm in between Baltimore and DC, and like Mr. Jerkwater my plan is to die. Here's a FEMA study (large pdf) I read called "National Capital Region: Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism" that had me wanting to move back to central PA.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:04 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


The targeting on San Jose is a little weird. One would think they would aim for the center of the city, but it's way off in the south-east suburbs. Maybe the designer has a hate on for the KFC store on Monterey Road, or an ex that lives on Senter road?

Anyway, these interactive maps have been around for years- Nukemap seems to base its targets on city hall, and allows one to shift the location. Nuclear Darkness allows you to enter an address. And as Rob Rocket says, they are pretty clinical and abstract.
posted by happyroach at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


As long as my skeleton is hanging on to a chain link fence near a playground, I'll be happy
posted by aubilenon at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2018 [58 favorites]


you can vary the yield, specify air or ground burst
You can do that with this one too
posted by KateViolet at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I dislike these simulators because I feel they tend to normalize and downplay the actual effects of a nuclear blast, because a lot of people rightfully have a hard time grasping how a nuclear bomb works and how it isn't just an explosion with extra radiation.

It makes nuclear weapons appear to be more survivable.

And it's difficult to explain the effects of thermal radiation in particular.

It helps to remember or talk about that the "heat" ring on the blast map means that basically everything and anything within the line of sight of the blast is now instantly on fire or charred beyond recognition. That those millions of fires are going to turn into a horrible 4,000+ square kilometer firestorm the size of a major metropolitan city.

And that causalities will extend far beyond the thermal radiation zone over months and years and decades due to secondary radiation effects and fallout.

Now remember that the world has tens of thousands of these weapons. There wouldn't be just one. It would likely be hundreds or thousands used in any major exchange.

Take the simulation for the map for a single W-87 300 KT warhead (It's been upgrade closer to 500 kt, BTW) and sprinkle a dozen of them over the map.

Now sprinkle about a dozen of them over all the major city maps, all over the world.

For real Cold War retro accuracy, now upgrade most of the warheads to city-busting 0.5 to 1 megaton warheads. (See NukeMap linked above for these simulation options, including multiple strikes.)

This is fine.jpg
posted by loquacious at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2018 [31 favorites]


normalize and downplay the actual effects of a nuclear blast

yeah, i mean, dropping the pin in the middle of manhattan just now with one of the low-end devices honestly made me feel like 'well, it's not like we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but...'

and then i remember oh, right... fire, also the non-deadly-but-still-terrible fallout levels that the chart isn't showing...
posted by halation at 3:16 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Take a look at Peter Watkins film The War Game for a view of nuclear destruction. A fifty minute "documentary" about an air burst over a suburb of London. Made for the BBC who refused to show it for over twenty years. It won an academy award for best documentary in 1968. Horrifying.
posted by njohnson23 at 3:43 PM on April 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


NukeMap has a fallout option, which is...nice? I learned I'm in a pretty unpleasant radiation wind zone if someone ever decides to bomb San Francisco.

Really looking forward to tonight's nightmares. Really.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:44 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


If a nuclear bomb goes off in your backyard, you will definitely die unless you have a very large backyard.
posted by allegedly at 3:47 PM on April 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


For those living in or near target-rich US cities/regions such as DC, you can probably safely assume that an all-out nuclear war would result in multiple warheads each hitting individual targets in your neighbourhood, including ones that are ridiculously close together such as the Pentagon and the White House. As this ancient Canadian documentary from the late Cold War era shows, the same was/is true for Western targeting of Moscow: buildings separated by just a few hundred metres would be pelted by multiple warheads, including from different Western nuclear allies.
posted by senor biggles at 4:09 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I live out in the middle of nowhere, so...
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:23 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


NukeMap has a fallout option, which is...nice? I learned I'm in a pretty unpleasant radiation wind zone if someone ever decides to bomb San Francisco.

I remember when I was younger I saw the infamous cold war era fallout map of the US, showing all the major metropolitan and the comet/worm like fallout maps.

My memory is a little foggy, but I think I saw the printed, non-electronic version in a book somewhere first, or maybe they used it in WarGames or something. Later in the very early years of the internet, someone turned it into an animated 4-5 frame GIF.

One of the only parts on the map of the US not covered by fallout or direct strikes is the Olympic Peninsula. For a long time I always had this nagging thought or irrational fantasy to move there - here - but that wasn't the execution of a conscious plan or anything, I just kind of ended up out here.

A few years ago I reflected on that GIF and the retro-fantasy hindsight of having ended up here is totally ruined by the fact I'm basically surrounded by Navy bases, and Seattle is increasingly within range of North Korea's half-assed missiles, and I've seen more "boomer" nuclear subs and Nimitz class aircraft carriers off the coast then I'd really care to see, which is about zero.

I understand I view the world differently than a lot of people, but I don't understand how people can see a modern weapon of war and not see it as the obscenity, madness and natural wrongness that it is.

Thankfully for whatever reason I don't have nightmares about this or much of anything any more, not in a good long while, and I stopped obsessing and being upset/anxious about it, too.

This is counterintuitive to me, because I feel like I objectively care more about it now, I have more to lose and I'm more emotionally invested - and the stakes and odds are higher than ever. In particular the thought of seeing the beautiful Pacific Northwest burn in nuclear fire is so appalling to me I think I skip right past fear and anxiety and go straight to sorrow and anger.
posted by loquacious at 4:24 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


The one thing that taught me the most about the consequences of nuclear war for human suffering was reading John Hersey's Hiroshima. It was assigned to my English class in high school--I think for Grade 10--and I still think about it 30 years later. It is harrowing but a very important read. And yes, if (God forbid) there is a nuclear attack near me, I would just want to be killed instantly. That is definitely not something I'd want to survive.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:26 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


i wouldn't have to fold the laundry at least so things would be looking up
posted by poffin boffin at 4:45 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


Went to see a talk by Daniel Ellsberg a few months ago and his take is ultimately like 99.9% of the nuclear strike scenarios possible in the current global situation yield probable near global nuclear winter. Nukes are bigger than they used to be and once one is flying more will follow.

So, yknow, don't worry, no matter where you are on earth if someone explodes some nukes you and yours are quite likely to starve to death within a couple years. "Mutually assured destruction" is not hyperbole and the collateral damage is near total.

I've had great dreams since then yeah
posted by potrzebie at 4:55 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


99.9% of the nuclear strike scenarios possible in the current global situation yield probable near global nuclear winter. Nukes are bigger than they used to be and once one is flying more will follow.

Good news! That's probably not true of North Korea, whose small arsenal could only kill millions of people. What a relief.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:24 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Once again linking to the Mandatory The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged)
posted by lalochezia at 5:31 PM on April 7, 2018 [21 favorites]


Yeah that was his one exception. But he pointed out that the probability that NK detonates one and nobody else follows is so low as to be not worth considering given who's in the oval office right now and who he's getting advice from.
posted by potrzebie at 5:32 PM on April 7, 2018


Well, the good news is there really is no reason for anyone to unprovokedly nuke the united states, and the fact that conventional warfare is so much more profitable means it is unlikely that the US will nuke anywhere else.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:32 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


The nuclear war conversation always begins with Mars and ends with me in tears.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 5:50 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


They need to do one for 'dirty bomb in a shipping container' and 'emp device off the coast of nyc'.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2018


My dad said to me when I'd been married for about 8 years (long enough for him to have gotten tired of waiting politely for me to procreate already goddammit), "What about nuclear war? Doesn't that make you want to have a kid?" "NO!" I said, aghast.

He. did. not. compute. Made me realize that I had not really grasped, before that moment, how deep he was in "The family line MUST continue!" ideology.

Anyway, thanks for the map! (I thought I'd fuckin done with nuclear terror after the 1980s. Christ.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:11 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Eh, we should remanufacture all but maybe 100 of them at most so we can launch them into space and use them on an (OG) Orion spacecraft. It wouldn't take very many to send a spacecraft out to the sun's gravitational lensing focal smear within a decade or so and still have plenty of delta-V to stick it out there permanently with a shitload of xenon for some ion thrusters for maneuvering once it makes it there and plenty of mass to spare for whatever we decided to use to generate the necessary electricity that far out from the sun.

Hell, we could load up a few more bombs and use it to deploy other probes all throughout the solar system on the way.

Better than a nuke in my backyard or a nice nuclear winter, anyway.
posted by wierdo at 6:15 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


What I always find terrifying about this simulations is that the radius of total destruction is smaller than in my imagination. I remember growing up in the 1980s and having conversations about whether our little town would be destroyed if the Soviets dropped a bomb on the state capital, sixty miles away. (Answer from this site: we probably would have survived even the Tsar Bomba; I didn't understand much about geography until after the 1980s.) But when I look at radius of destruction for the W-87 --- the "heat" circle of everything instantly catching fire has a radius of about five miles --- I see something substantially smaller than my daily commute to work.

What terrifies me is that when the first of these weapons explodes over a modern major city, the survivors in the bedroom communities (especially the ones who don't see the confirmation bias in a statement like "we didn't have mandatory seatbelt laws growing up and we survived") are going to decide that the destructive power of nuclear weapons has been overstated. That won't end well for anyone.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:25 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


The one thing that taught me the most about the consequences of nuclear war for human suffering was reading John Hersey's Hiroshima.

Strong co-sign. I didn't know about Hersey's essay until recently - maybe it was thanks to MetaFilter? But I finally had time to read it (the whole thing takes about two hours, when it first came out, literally an entire issue of the New Yorker was devoted to it) a few weeks ago and it blew me away, and I know I will carry it with me for ages.

Re: other nuclear resources I've read recently and find very useful: Dan Zak's Almighty is an excellent book about Plowshares activists who broke into Oak Ridge, and Alex Wellerstein, the creator behind the above-mentioned NukeMap, has a great blog about nuclear history.
posted by mostly vowels at 6:48 PM on April 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


What terrifies me is that when the first of these weapons explodes over a modern major city, the survivors in the bedroom communities (especially the ones who don't see the confirmation bias in a statement like "we didn't have mandatory seatbelt laws growing up and we survived") are going to decide that the destructive power of nuclear weapons has been overstated. That won't end well for anyone.

Well, uh, good news, I guess- since missiles can get loaded with multiple warheads that disperse before impact, if Chicago goes, Schaumburg's going up, too.
posted by Jpfed at 7:05 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


And nobody even talks about the neutron bomb anymore...
posted by sammyo at 7:15 PM on April 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


I don't think anyone will be blase about the results when their town 20 miles away looks like a small earthquake hit, many of their friends are blind and they're losing their hair and puking up their guts from the fallout and initial gamma dose. Oh, and then somewhere between 10 and 25% of their family and community dies from said radiation poisoning, assuming good medical care is available within a few weeks, more if not. And that's before cancer becomes an issue.

You need not have your house flattened or burned to the ground nor be within the lethal dose radius to have a very unpleasant time, though if the weather happens to be very favorable or the device happens to be particularly small you might get lucky 20+ miles out.

Conversely, contrary to a worry voiced earlier in the thread, EMP isn't an issue with low altitude bursts, at least outside of the area where you'll be having a bad day regardless. That is only a problem if your terrorist group has a big ass sounding rocket since the lower air density and ionospheric interactions are what make high altitude bursts generate widespread damaging EMP.

Lastly, for a vaguely realistic in terms of effects, but still fictional look at what the aftermath of a large nuclear exchange (though it may downplay the nuclear winter effect based on more recent models informed by climate research in the intervening years), read the novel War Day. Despite some of the political consequences being obviously outdated, it remains a good read that communicates the immediate aftermath reasonably accurately. Unlike most novels in the genre, it neither exaggerates nor downplays the consequences. Sometimes it seems like everything is either Threads, implying that civilization will certainly end and we will all die or The Sum of All Fears where a nuke can go off and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, it's all good.
posted by wierdo at 7:18 PM on April 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


There are times I'm glad I can't see things. The reading is horrific enough.
posted by Alensin at 8:25 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


One of the most surreal moments in US television history comes at the 16:00 minute mark of this 1955 episode of "This is Your Life", when a Japanese pastor and survivor of Hiroshima, in the US to collect funds for plastic surgery for Hiroshima burn victims, was unexpectedly introduced to an Enola Gay crew member.
posted by senor biggles at 8:41 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, I just moved to D.C.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:11 PM on April 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Went to see a talk by Daniel Ellsberg a few months ago and his take is ultimately like 99.9% of the nuclear strike scenarios possible in the current global situation yield probable near global nuclear winter. Nukes are bigger than they used to be and once one is flying more will follow.

I read his book on nuclear war planning and it's kind of hard to believe we're not all dead. According to him there was no plan for a non-nuclear war with the USSR- and only one nuclear war plan, which necessitated nuking both the USSR and China, whether or not we were actually at war with the latter.

Oh, and the American version of the "dead hand" system was just to delegate authority to launch down to commanders in the field- that, in the event that they thought the war was on, and couldn't get in touch with their chain of command, to just launch. And the so-called "two man rule" was widely subverted at American airfields in the Pacific because their highest fear was not being able to launch promptly and getting wiped out first just because one guy happened to be in the toilet.

It's hard to believe civilization survived and only somewhat less surprising that it continues to.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:20 PM on April 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


One of the most surreal moments in US television history comes at the 16:00 minute mark of this 1955 episode of "This is Your Life", when a Japanese pastor and survivor of Hiroshima, in the US to collect funds for plastic surgery for Hiroshima burn victims, was unexpectedly introduced to an Enola Gay crew member.

If I was Kiyoshi Tanimoto I'd have already thrown a few punches and throttled the presenter at the four minute mark. This is so unbelievably tone deaf.

But it was all okay in the end because of God and America.
posted by popcassady at 4:13 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


My high school biology teacher had us read Alas, Babylon. It's a little different from some of the other options in that it focuses on a rural area in Florida, i.e., people who in the 1960s had some chance of surviving. They do survive, in a way, as subsistence farmers and hunter-gatherers. But they watch all the cities be obliterated and people they love die of diabetes, radiation, cholera, and just generally losing the will to live. Probably better to have been incinerated.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:22 AM on April 8, 2018


Every time I see one of these maps or interactive features, I use it to figure out where I'd want to go if I want to die immediately in the blast, because no way in hell do I want to live through a nuclear war.

What this particular feature tells me is that the place I need to be is actually very small and if I get it wrong I could be looking at a short and very painful death instead of an extremely quick one. So it's still frightening, just not for the reasons I think the creators intended.
posted by chrominance at 5:18 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


And nobody even talks about the neutron bomb anymore...

On a thing like this it would just look like a small (1-10kt) bomb with a higher death toll within about 1km of the blast point. The things are gross, but they were never intended to bomb cities; there's some sort of physics reason that intrinsically limits the range of the neutron pulse. The intent was you could chuck one at a Soviet tank column a few klicks away and (probably) not die (until you get cancer later).
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:10 AM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


Chrominance, my wife and I live four miles north of the US Capitol Building, and our plan for nuclear attack has always been to assume we don't even survive the initial blast. The worst case scenario for us is that there are too few bombs, too far away, and we then have a pretty horrible survival period afterward. A dirty bomb downtown would have a relatively contained radius, and the fallout most likely wouldn't blow towards our neighborhood. An attack by a well-established nuclear state would probably wipe out not just the District itself but a fair number of suburbs. The wild card is an attack by a state with only a few weapons of uncertain accuracy and relatively limited power. We're on the fringe of the fire zone if there's a single Korean weapon that accurately targets the federal core of DC, and if the aim is bad, who knows?

We have thought about this too much.
posted by fedward at 6:42 AM on April 8, 2018


hydropsyche, we read Alas Babylon in school as well. It was part of the "survival literature" unit (Call of the Wild, My Side of the Mountain, etc.) and presented as an example of American rah-rah can-do attitude, but I was just utterly horrified at the prospect of nuclear apocalypse.
posted by basalganglia at 8:41 AM on April 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


"The scientist Edward Teller, according to one account, kept a blackboard in his office at Los Alamos during World War II with a list of hypothetical nuclear weapons on it. The last item on his list was the largest one he could imagine. The method of “delivery” — weapon-designer jargon for how you get your bomb from here to there, the target — was listed as “Backyard.” As the scientist who related this anecdote explained, “since that particular design would probably kill everyone on Earth, there was no use carting it anywhere.”

I grew up being gripped by dread thanks to this, and I genuinely hoped my kids wouldn't have to.
posted by YoungStencil at 8:53 AM on April 8, 2018 [6 favorites]


Teller was a strangeloveian son of a bitch, no doubt
posted by thelonius at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2018


So, here's where I'm at.

If the nearest town to me gets nuked (and I have no idea why it would be for the ~5k deaths it would cause), it seems that my family would still be OK. (Probably not great long-term, but we're well outside the immediate danger zone.) Well and good, I guess.

But I see so many comments in this thread like:
  • My plan for surviving nuclear war: don't.
  • Why would you ever want to go through that.
  • our plan for nuclear attack has always been to assume we don't even survive the initial blast
Why is everyone so fatalistic?

Why do you all want the less-educated, less-cosmopolitan of us reshaping what society remains?

Is it not better to be a witness than a statistic?

The US has, so far, been the only country to use nuclear weapons. The survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have done a tremendous work to promote peace and understanding and forgiveness. Don't we, as Americans, owe it to the world to do the same? Especially when we bear some culpability? Especially when we've benefited from the horrors our ancestors have wrought?

Every American who wishes for a swift death in the case of a nuclear war dishonors the memory of those America has wronged, I think. We owe it to the dead to live, to apologize, to make amends, and strive to prevent further tragedies.

In so many arenas (nuclear weapons, global instability, climate change, mass extinctions, etc. etc. etc.) somebody has to try and clean up the mess our parents and grandparents left us, or else the vicious cycle is just going to continue. It would have been better if it was our parents, but failing that, better us than our children.

Anyway, that's what I spend my time thinking about these days. It's part of why I moved from the city to a rural area. It's part of why I'm learning to farm and handicraft and do without luxuries that I could otherwise afford. It's part of why I'm spending what time and money I have on repairing environmental damage and preventing future environmental damage. Be the change you want to see in the world.

(Sorry for ranting, but this sort of thinking really grinds my gears. I tend to think of Mefi as among the best of online discourse, and if even we aren't better than this, perhaps there's no hope, after all.)
posted by ragtag at 10:56 AM on April 8, 2018 [4 favorites]


Why do you all want the less-educated, less-cosmopolitan of us reshaping what society remains?

Is it not better to be a witness than a statistic?


Well, we'd prefer not to die at all, but in a nuclear attack on the nation's capital the options for us are instantaneous death, a slower, extremely painful death, or trying to stay alive without food, water, transportation, or communication, in order to do … I'm not sure what, exactly, but "die slowly" seems incredibly likely in that scenario. We don't own a car, and even if we did an evacuation from DC would not be orderly and I have to assume that that most public safety systems would be disabled so we wouldn't know which direction to go even if we could get out of town.

Also in current circumstances the less-educated, less-cosmopolitan people who elected Trump and the Congress that doesn't restrain him will have already pretty much reshaped what's left of society by getting the educated, cosmopolitan part blown up. So yes, dying quickly seems better than dying slowly in a nuclear holocaust we couldn't prevent because of Hillary's emails or whatever.
posted by fedward at 1:09 PM on April 8, 2018 [7 favorites]


The nuclear war conversation always begins with Mars 

Even in nuclear winter, Earth would be less uninhabitable than Mars. That is, pretty much everyone on Earth would die, but it would be easier to keep 1000 people alive on cursed Earth in a space capsule than to keep 1000 people alive on Mars in a space capsule.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:24 PM on April 8, 2018 [6 favorites]


Every American who wishes for a swift death in the case of a nuclear war dishonors the memory of those America has wronged, I think. We owe it to the dead to live, to apologize, to make amends, and strive to prevent further tragedies.

By far the most plausible nuclear war scenarios (and the ones, I think, posters here are contemplating) end with at best the end of current technological civilization (on the North American and European continents anyway). The worst case is everyone eventually starves to death in a nuclear winter. I'm not sure how surviving a few more decades on a devastated American continent is going to help anyone.

If people do survive, I expect they will end up living in small-scale communities spending too much time trying not to starve to spend time making amends. If civilization survives elsewhere, I'm sure they might be mildly appreciative of any such striving to prevent future nuclear annihilation events, but as they will be the ones holding the reins of global industrial power, I don't imagine American survivors will have much input. We'll be a bunch of irradiated refugees fleeing into South America, and I can't imagine we'll be very welcome.

Even in nuclear winter, Earth would be less uninhabitable than Mars. That is, pretty much everyone on Earth would die, but it would be easier to keep 1000 people alive on cursed Earth in a space capsule than to keep 1000 people alive on Mars in a space capsule.

Yeah, there's actual oxygen on Earth. Even if it's pretty radioactive it's easier to filter bad Earth air than breathe Martian carbon dioxide. And we've already built the mineshafts. And there's actual water just sitting around waiting to be filtered.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:33 PM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mapped out my escape routes back to Canada from Chicago assuming a direct strike on the Loop on November 10th,2016.
posted by srboisvert at 3:52 PM on April 8, 2018


Lastly, for a vaguely realistic in terms of effects, but still fictional look at what the aftermath of a large nuclear exchange (though it may downplay the nuclear winter effect based on more recent models informed by climate research in the intervening years), read the novel War Day.

This novel still haunts me. Especially the bit where the main characters interview the British relief doctor and he describes all the secondary effects that have impacted the population, even if they weren't in the areas that were directly hit. A triage system has been set up based on your "life-dose" of radiation and if your level is too high, you only have the option of palliative care and suicide pills.

If books/movies like Warday sound interesting to you, I recommend you check out the Super Critical Podcast which discusses media that describes the use of nuclear weapons and how accurate that media is. It's pretty enjoyable, in a weird way. Happily I live immediately outside DC, and according to a technical friend, I won't even be aware of the flash(es).
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:31 PM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


My first thought: why in hell would I want to know that? Then, after curiosity got the better of me: oh cool! I live and work outside the incineration zone. Then: oh bugger, I live and work outside the incineration zone. Then: wait, can I switch this to kilometres? Apparently not. Stupid miles. Then I switched the bomb to a North Korean one because in Australia, that's more likely right?

Is it not better to be a witness than a statistic?
Nope. Definitely in this case better to be a statistic. I have never understood the survival-at-any-cost-even-in-the-face-of-overwhelming-disaster mentality. At work we have several times (somehow) had the conversation about if we were all on a plane that crashed in the Andes, and I have always volunteered to get eaten first if I don't die in the plane crash.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:33 PM on April 8, 2018


Too bad that it just draws circles and doesn't account for geography. I live at the center of five mountain valleys so that would make some difference in the effects.
posted by ITravelMontana at 6:41 PM on April 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sadly, what little is actually known regarding blast shadows and reflections is not available in the open literature. In terms of damage modeling, we're working off simplified calculations made to fit and complete on 1960s computers in a reasonable time

I guarantee much supercomputer time has been spent trying to model such effects over the past 50 years.
posted by wierdo at 12:01 AM on April 9, 2018


I live in the middle of nowhere and, naturally, the 30k locales voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Should there be a nuclear attack on this country in the near future, Trump supports are relatively safe, in the short run, anyway. Forgive me if I take some pleasure in the thought of them suffering in the horrid afterworld they helped create.
posted by she's not there at 12:33 AM on April 9, 2018


If people do survive, I expect they will end up living in small-scale communities spending too much time trying not to starve to spend time making amends.

Which is my cue to mention another classic of post-nuclear-apocalypse literature, A Canticle of Liebowitz, which imagines that a global nuclear was doesn't end human life but does end human civilization above the village level, including technology and books. (The monks around whom the story revolves are dedicated to preserving what few scraps of written material are left, though they don't understand much of it.)

A big point of the book is that human nature doesn't change, civilization or no civilization.

Should there be a nuclear attack on this country in the near future, Trump supports are relatively safe, in the short run, anyway.

Until they learn the cost of living without the mutual benefits of the society they so fervently pretend doesn't exist. The gasoline supplies they take for granted -- and on which much of modern agriculture depends -- would disappear, as would pretty much all medicine. (Which is a big point of the film Threads, too.)
posted by Gelatin at 6:00 AM on April 9, 2018 [4 favorites]


You'd basically just hope and hope more that you're either near 1. a last drink, or 2. a last kiss because "Within tens of minutes, everything within approximately five to seven miles of Midtown Manhattan would be engulfed by a gigantic firestorm. The fire zone would cover a total area of 90 to 152 square miles." That quote from the people who would really know about this, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The article is "What would happen if an 800-kiloton nuclear warhead detonated above midtown Manhattan?"

Also, y'know, just for the fuck of it since every major power is pissing off every other major power and weapons that can be adapted to carry nuclear payloads are being moved around the world in shows of strength and we've got 60 years of harvests left globally, here are The effects of a single terrorist nuclear bomb.

If you're REALLY lucky, you'll have time for a drink AND a kiss!
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:06 PM on April 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Or, Zack_Replica - dancing with tears in my eyes?
posted by peagood at 9:06 AM on April 15, 2018


Why do you all want the less-educated, less-cosmopolitan of us reshaping what society remains?

Assuming survival at all, the next ten generations after a nuclear war will be less educated and less cosmopolitan. Or do you honestly think people are going to have time and resources to give children an education in a post-oil, post-electricity, post-industry world?

I am amazed at the notion that anyone after a nuclear war would have the knowledge, much less ability to do "reparations". Look at examples like the Bronze-Age Collapse; that sort of collapse of general civilization is what we'd be looking at.
posted by happyroach at 7:23 PM on April 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


On the subject of WMDs: Japan publishes list of members of Unit 731 imperial army branch

Unit 731 conducted experiments on humans in the course of testing and development of chemical and biological weapons at a site in Northern China for the Empire of Japan during its occupation and conquest of East Asia. According to that Guardian article the list, of thousands of people who worked for the organization, was given to a university professor who says he intends to publish it online.

Shirō Ishii, the Unit's commander, was granted immunity from war crimes prosecution and is believed to have subsequently assisted the U.S. military with its own chemical and biological weapons programs. The Wikipedia article on the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal says that some members of the Unit were convicted in the separate Khabarovsk War Crime Trials held by the Soviets but that
On 6 May 1947, Douglas MacArthur [=Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers] wrote to Washington that “additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii probably can be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as ‘War Crimes’ evidence.”
So I wonder if we're about to find out how many other Japanese WMD developers the U.S. Government eventually came to employ.
posted by XMLicious at 5:52 AM on April 17, 2018


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