Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Nagasaki Day

On August 9,1945, the Japanese city of Nagasaki was destroyed by the second atomic bomb in the world's first nuclear war. By modern standards, the 20 megaton "Fat Man" plutonium fission bomb was tiny. This was not really the last time weapons of this sort were used against inhabited locations - we just had the good manners to remove the populations from places like Bikini Atoll before we destroyed them in nuclear tests.

The artist Isao Hashimoto created an audiovisual time-lapse representation of the 2053 nuclear detonations from 1945 through 1998.1

1. Unfortunately, after this was created in 2003 - five years after the (at the time) last nuclear detonation - North Korea decided to enter the exclusive club of nuclear-weapons nations with detonations in October 2006 and May 2009. There will doubtless be more nuclear detonations in the future - perhaps not all of them tests.

Note also that the projection used in this map exaggerates the size of land masses in the Northern Hemisphere. In reality, the tests conducted in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly the ones in China and the Soviet Union, were much less spread out than they appear here.

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