What if We Nuke a City?
October 13, 2019 11:04 AM   Subscribe

 
I think this whole nostalgia thing is getting out of hand when suddenly I'm being confronted by modern videos whose equivalent in the past were giving me duck-and-cover nightmares.

I mean, it's timely given the state of the world, but man, this is straight out of the 70s as far as content goes.

Yay for the return of nuclear holocaust horror dreams? (Oh gods, I hope not.)
posted by hippybear at 11:29 AM on October 13, 2019 [13 favorites]


How about we don't?
posted by happyinmotion at 11:35 AM on October 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


The series looks excellent, really interesting and thank you for the link.

They end on good notes, positive actions you can take.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:38 AM on October 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Each time that YouTube link loads, ClamXAV complains it found and quarantined Win.Dowloader.DDECmdExec-6715271-0. Can't seem to find any definite information on it online, but figure those on Windows might want to know it may get served up.

I've never had it complain of a file served off a YT link before.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:40 AM on October 13, 2019


Heh, yeah, 70's and 80's kids not in the big cities... this is where you get gun-nuts and doomsday preppers. It's that ingrained knowledge that should the cold war break out into doomsday there will be no help from anywhere. Best to move to the city and hope you're right in the middle and get vaporized before you even know what's happening. If you're far enough away to make it past the first few days, you're SOL on any sort of help.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:43 AM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


According to a recent study, a war between India and Pakistan could cause worldwide nuclear winter. Reduced sunlight and rainfall (eg 50% less rain in the American praries for years), not to mention fallout over Chinese and Indian farmland, would cause worldwide crop failures and mass starvation. It's reasonable to estimate that well over a billion people would die, in addition to the 50-120 million people they calculate would be killed in Indian and Pakistani cities in the initial exchange.

It's not just Russia and the USA we need to worry about.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:57 AM on October 13, 2019 [13 favorites]


If I remember right, I think the other science films that kurzgesagt makes (which are excellent) are in partnership with Swiss science agencies.

Swiss law mandates construction of fallout shelters throughout the country. I was digging through some old related links on their preparations for war/power plant disasters and found one on NUKEMAP2, which lets you launch weapons of various yields at your city of choice, to model the effects.

It'll be the fallout that gets most of everyone left living, I imagine, even well away from an irradiated city. Not just polluted water you can't drink, but permanently salted earth that you can't grow food in or around, either. The epicenter of a city would be the best place to be in an attack; a quick, painless death.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:59 AM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Well, we could

But we also could not
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:13 PM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Anyone else's parents say: " you have nothing to worry about"

Well, fiddlesticks.
posted by clavdivs at 12:21 PM on October 13, 2019


that seems sub-optimal
posted by thelonius at 12:29 PM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yay for the return of nuclear holocaust horror dreams? (Oh gods, I hope not.)
posted by hippybear


For some of us they never went away.
posted by Splunge at 12:39 PM on October 13, 2019 [14 favorites]


that seems sub-optimal


posted by knoyers at 1:17 PM on October 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


> The epicenter of a city would be the best place to be in an attack; a quick, painless death.

"Oh, it's all right. I've planned ahead. We're just three miles from a primary target. A millisecond of brilliant light ... and we're vaporised." - Prof. Falken, WarGames
posted by WCityMike at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2019 [14 favorites]


a quick, painless death

In the event of nuclear war, please do not kill yourself or your family. I say this with serious intent because in the 2018 Hawaiian nuclear scare I recall hearing reports that some parents were preparing to kill their children.

A North Korean attack would not have global consequences significantly worse than Chernobyl. In the event of a war between regional nuclear powers, those of us in rich countries far from the conflict would likely survive the subsequent famines, and Earth's biosphere would return to what now passes for normal after a decade. Even in the event of a US-Russian war, why not wait and see how bad things get? Actual outcomes could conceivably be better than climate models predict in such an unprecedented situation.

I say this now because suicide hotlines are likely to be overwhelmed in the event. Please remember this. Live, in time thrive, and teach your children to do better.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:29 PM on October 13, 2019 [31 favorites]


I find it interesting to think of epicenter events not as deaths, but as merging directly with basic physics.
posted by hippybear at 1:30 PM on October 13, 2019 [7 favorites]




At some point someone is going to use the phrases "nuclear winter" and "global warming" closely enough together in Trump's earshot for him to start getting ideas
posted by thatwhichfalls at 1:45 PM on October 13, 2019 [8 favorites]


As the perceived risk of nuclear war goes up, the prices of houses/apartments in city centres may go up, as people subconsciously factor in the peace of mind of knowing that they will be vaporised instantaneously rather than burning alive or dying of radiation sickness like some rube.
posted by acb at 2:02 PM on October 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Previously in Swiss nuclear-war preparation policies.
posted by mwhybark at 2:26 PM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


As the perceived risk of nuclear war goes up, the prices of houses/apartments in city centres may go up, as people subconsciously factor in the peace of mind of knowing that they will be vaporised instantaneously rather than burning alive or dying of radiation sickness like some rube.

It's strange that it didn't happen that way the first go round. There were all sorts of evacuation plans, design schematics for mass urban underground shelters and the like. The whole Civil Defense thing. Maybe we know better now.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:56 PM on October 13, 2019


Maybe we're just telling the truth to ourselves now instead of fairy tales about coming out the victor in a global nuclear war.
posted by hippybear at 3:05 PM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nuclear weapons have become far more destructive than the early days of Civil Defense. There was some validity to planning how to survive a small atomic war. There isn't if we're talking about a serious nuclear conflict.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:05 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Kurzgesagt: (wikipedia, web site). If I were animating the Hitchhiker's Guide, I'd think about hiring these guys.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:09 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Uh... we did? Couple of times? It was pretty awful? Please don't tell me that we've forgotten history, you know what comes next.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:18 PM on October 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


Please don't tell me that we've forgotten history, you know what comes next.

Never hurts to explain this again to new/younger audiences. And given how history is taught, unless one has lived through something, one often only knows about it trivially, if at all.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:23 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


I find it fascinating that when we're naming weapons of war, we name them after animals. Colt, Falcon, Python, Cobra, Eagle, Blackhawk, Nighthawk, Goshawk, Raptor...

But when we named the bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we called them Fat Man and Little Boy. We named them after humans, because nothing is more frightening.
posted by MrVisible at 3:29 PM on October 13, 2019 [5 favorites]


We named them that so anyone who inadvertently learned the names would think: “what the fuck is a fat man or a little boy”?

The Germans gave their secret military shit “clever” names and the Allies were often able to deduce capabilities from them.
posted by sideshow at 4:12 PM on October 13, 2019 [11 favorites]


I'm also pretty certain that the bombs were very different sizes and Fat Man was pretty rotund and Little Boy was less so.

At that point I think that only two actually functional bombs had been completed and these two were those.
posted by hippybear at 4:24 PM on October 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


I wish they had been more specific as to what sort of bomb they were describing... Nuclear weapon design - Wikipedia.

I almost went into the Navy in '87 because they were promising me a masters in nuclear engineering. A benefit of being a high school physics nerd. Luckily or not I decided that I didn't want to cut my hair and would be bad at taking orders so didn't sign that piece of paper. Yay! On the other hand, I wonder what would have happened.

Tom Lehrer - We Will All Go Together When We Go.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:14 PM on October 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Fat Man and Little Boy both weighed about 10,000 pounds. They were different shapes because Fat Man was an implosion plutonium type (like the very first Trinity bomb) and Little Boy was a gun type uranium bomb.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:20 PM on October 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


a quick, painless death
GenXer here. That's what we hoped for, back in the 70s and 80s.
Think about that in terms of generational experience.
posted by doctornemo at 6:24 PM on October 13, 2019 [12 favorites]


At that point I think that only two actually functional bombs had been completed and these two were those.

No, Trinity was ahead of the war use.
posted by Mitheral at 6:37 PM on October 13, 2019


So what was the payload in the video? I didn't catch the megatonnage.
posted by doctornemo at 6:46 PM on October 13, 2019


Who is "we"?
posted by yonega at 7:15 PM on October 13, 2019


Humans
posted by mbrubeck at 7:17 PM on October 13, 2019


GenXer here. That's what we hoped for, back in the 70s and 80s.

I can't remember if I'm a genxer or not, but I grew up in the era of psychopaths like Reagan and Thatcher, and films like Threads fed my nightmares. Other sociopaths like Trump and his enablers chill my hopes for humanity having much of a future. I can only hope for a quick death for myself and my loved ones.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:07 PM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


I can only hope for a quick death for myself and my loved ones.

Who Will Be Eaten First?
posted by thelonius at 8:21 PM on October 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


.

Lest we forget the 129,000 to 226,000 civilians killed by the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
posted by fairmettle at 10:59 PM on October 13, 2019 [6 favorites]


A North Korean attack would not have global consequences significantly worse than Chernobyl.

With all serious respect, as someone who grew up in the Cold War, I have serious doubts as a Cold War child that N. Korea launching its nukes would have no consequences beyond whatever western US cities it hits. That's a full-out nuclear exchange with China, which loves North Korea, for whatever stupid reasons. Endgame for humanity.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:55 PM on October 13, 2019


China tolerates NK for historical and political face reasons. SK is a much bigger and more important partner economically. The idea that China would be all in supporting an insane NK first strike is totally misinformed.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:09 AM on October 14, 2019 [7 favorites]


The Germans gave their secret military shit “clever” names and the Allies were often able to deduce capabilities from them.

Sorry but this is complete nonsense. It's also the first time I've heard of it, so citations needed. But, no, "Mouse" does not tell you it's a tank, "retaliation" does not tell you it's a missile, and "swallow" does not mean jet engines. No, allies were not able to deduce any capabilities of german weapons from just the name.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:42 AM on October 14, 2019


During WWII, British intelligence was able to glean details of new German technologies simply by considering their code. For instance, when they began hearing of a new system known as Wotan, Reginald Victor Jones asked around and found that Wotan was a one-eyed god. Based on this, he guessed it was a radio navigation system using a single radio beam. This proved correct, and the Royal Air Force was able to quickly render it useless through jamming.
posted by ambrosen at 5:06 AM on October 14, 2019 [12 favorites]


Curious fact: the B-29 project, that created the most advanced bomber in the world at the time, the only US bomber capable of delivering a nuclear bomb, cost more money than the Manhattan Project. $3 billion vs. $2 billion for the bomb. When B-29s had to make emergency landings in Siberia during the war, the Soviets reverse engineered the plane and made exact copies, down to making the planes in imperial measurements rather than in metric.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:18 AM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


There's a sources page which answers which model was used for the model: "In this video we calculated with the biggest bomb of the US Army: The B83 with a yield of 1.3 megatons."
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:07 AM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


The B83 is a variable yield bomb, so this video has it dialed up to maximum.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:20 AM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


A North Korean attack would not have global consequences significantly worse than Chernobyl.

IF North Korea has only one single missile and only uses that one single missile, and IF China, Russia, and the United States all choose to enter into the ensuing political negotiations following such an attack with calm, diplomacy, and perfect equanimity.

When was the last time you saw Putin, Trump, or Li Keqiang display calm, diplomacy, and perfect equanimity?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 AM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


During WWII, British intelligence was able to glean details of new German technologies simply by considering their code.

Ok this is pretty hilarious. The claim nevertheless remains false. Nobody "often" deduced "capabilities". "While most colour and noun combinations were meaningless, some were real names, although quite unrelated to the project they designated." It remains straightforwardly false that the nazis gave names from which "Allies were often able to deduce capabilities from them".
posted by Pyrogenesis at 7:14 AM on October 14, 2019


I think I've posted this is other nuclear war threads, but I feel like I should do it again, the only post nuclear war story you'll ever need: The Manhattan Phonebook (abridged).

I wish we could force the leader of every country that develops nuclear weapons to spend a full 8 hours in the Hiroshima pace museum. They're not allowed to leave until they've read every account written by a child about what it was like to survive that.
posted by Hactar at 7:47 AM on October 14, 2019 [9 favorites]


...Earth's biosphere would return to what now passes for normal after a decade.

Crows dismantle shiny bags under cobwebbed LEDs in the Handicap spot just outside the Mini-Mart door, panning for that last pork rind. Life imitates Mad Max. Or at least provides the sets for dystopian rom coms in the near future. Or perhaps we are all in some stoned betentacled Yuggoth dude's single shooter Horr Haus for the Vroog. And really, what's the difference?
posted by y2karl at 3:28 PM on October 14, 2019 [3 favorites]


Thank you, ZeusHumms .
posted by doctornemo at 5:38 PM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


I found a reference with much research (namely, one web search) in the always-reliable Wikipedia which claims the Germans tended to use "ad hoc code names as nicknames which often openly revealed or strongly hinted at their content or function," with six examples cited. I don't know that six makes for "frequently," given the thousands of code names probably used by the Germans, but it doesn't sound completely "hilarious." It also doesn't sound like "complete nonsense." What it does sound a little like is this XKCD.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 7:27 PM on October 14, 2019


Horr Haus for the Vroog

Holy shit, y2karl, that's gotta be the first Margaret St. Clair pop culture ref I've ever seen, not just on Metafilter but anywhere.

If any of you haven't read "Horrer Howce", you are in for a doozy of a scare.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:38 PM on October 14, 2019


2 nitpicky/sidebar things:

How about the EMP effects? Destroying all communication devices in range is going to hinder rescue efforts even further.

And; at some ranges, the vision loss from seeing the blast is permanent. (You will have other, more pressing problems
at that range though.)
posted by fragmede at 3:48 AM on October 15, 2019


I wish we could force the leader of every country that develops nuclear weapons to spend a full 8 hours in the Hiroshima pace museum. They're not allowed to leave until they've read every account written by a child about what it was like to survive that.

I have a much, much easier and cheaper idea - make the leader of every country that develops nuclear weapons watch a screening of Threads.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:38 AM on October 15, 2019


This video both overstates and understates the various dangers, but quibbling about the details does nothing to change the big picture, which is that a lot of people would die, and a far larger proportion than we are comfortable with believing would find it a very unpleasant and extended end, not the instant conversion to hot plasma, the literal conversion into a part of a weapon of mass destruction. An end that is simultaneously the most merciful possible under the circumstances and the most grave violation of person possible, to be used in that way without consent.

That said, I do take nerdly pleasure in quibbling over the details, so don't let me stop anyone.
posted by wierdo at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2019


If any of you haven't read "Horrer Howce", you are in for a doozy of a scare.

Oh, so true dat.
posted by y2karl at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Although in retrospect I see now that my vroog could have used some more voom.
posted by y2karl at 12:44 PM on October 18, 2019


Although in retrospect I see now that my vroog could have used some more voom.

Naahh, that strange feeling of almost-right wrongness is the appropriate uneasy mood for jokes about Horrer Howce. WE FIX FLATTEDS
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:11 PM on October 19, 2019


WE FIX FLATTEDS ! ! !

At Ivar von Clavdivs's Panopticon o' Tires ! ! !
posted by y2karl at 7:10 PM on October 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


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