25th Feb 2012
The atomic bomb is unarguably the deadliest creation of mankind; it has the power to destroy humanity like no other weapon of war. Even though it has been used only twice against a country, the resultant consequences have left such an indelible mark on the human psyche that any sane nuclear-capable nation will think twice about using it again. While we can hope that the atomic bomb will never be used again, a website has posted a nifty tool to help anyone simulate a nuclear explosion and estimate the damage that such a weapon will unleash at any point on the planet. It allows you choose the kilotonne yield of the bomb and the location (using Google Maps) where you want to unleash hell. Alternatively, you can choose from a preset list of important cities or locations of historic detonations, as well as weapon yields based on actual known nuclear bombs produced thus far. It's even possible to select multiple destinations to simulate a co-ordinated simultaneous attack.
Once you select the location and bomb yield, then press the Detonate button, the damage results are displayed in the form of five circular overlays on the map with different colours, each signifying the type of damage. The innermost circle is the actual fireball created at ground zero, while the outermost is due to the resulting thermal radiation, which will result in third-degree burns and very high mortality. It must be noted that this simulation does not take into account the after-effects of radiation spreading to other areas, as well as the genetic abnormalities that will be passed down to future generations from affected human beings who managed to survive.
It's more horrifying than interesting to note that the power of nuclear weapons has grown manifold since the Manhattan Project. The 16-kilotonne Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima had a 100% fatality diameter of 3.6 km, which is just about the size of a typical suburb. In contrast, a 10.4 megatonne thermonuclear weapon such as Ivy Mike has a 31.2 km diameter of total fatality, which can easily encompass an entire metropolis. There is even a preset value for a 100-tonne "dirty bomb" that can supposedly be prepared by terrorists.
The fact that this website has already recorded over 1.7 million (and counting) simulated explosions, points to the widespread interest among the public when it comes to weapons of mass destruction. However, the real message of the site is how nuclear bombs have the potential to instantly wipe out all life, and how it is therefore necessary to generate a consensus about global nuclear disarmament. We can only hope that this message gets across to the right people and that this moral is not lost amid a flurry of virtual attacks on every corner of the globe.