Nuclear weapons are already scary enough, but when you dig deeper and find out how powerful the weapons truly are, they get even more terrifying. The weapons we've built after the first atomic bombs are so strong that you can basically use Hiroshima as a unit of measurement. The largest nuclear explosion in human history, the Tsar Bomba, detonated with a force of 50 megatons, or the power of 3333 Hiroshimas.
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The destructive power of nuclear bombs has been seared into our collective memory, thanks to archival images of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There's the blast itself, and then all the radioactive fallout to contend with. A new interactive map shows what the damage from fallout would be if nuclear bombs were dropped on target cities today.
Video: Only five countries have been able to create strategic bomber aircraft with the capability of carrying nuclear weapons. That would be the US, Russia, the UK, France and China. We've put together this video that details every single one of those bombers. It's fascinating to see how each country develops its only style of aircraft for these missions.
In 1961 an eight-year-old girl from Marine City, Michigan wrote to President Kennedy. She wanted to know if the Russians were going to bomb the North Pole. JFK responded with the letter below, assuring her that Santa would be just fine.
Sarah Zhang has a fascinating post over at Wired about the systematic study of Cold War-era nuclear test films that's currently being undertaken by nuclear physicist Gregg Spriggs. One of the most interesting elements to the story is the fact that of the 7000 films discovered so far, 4000 are still classified.
During a meeting of military officials in Sochi, Russian TV crews captured footage of a document not intended for public consumption. The supposedly "secret data," which was subsequently shown on Russian television, revealed details of a "nuclear torpedo" designed to inflict "assured unacceptable damage" to enemy coastal installations.
In the face of mounting criticism, the US Air Force just completed the first test flight of the B61 Mod 12 mock up nuclear bomb in the Nevada desert. This marks the next step in updating a cold war-era weapon that many experts consider to be completely useless today. The military might as well drop a nuke on a pile of taxpayer dollars.
The physicists who invented the nuclear bomb worked out of Los Alamos in New Mexico, but the people who did the dirty work of making the bombs were in Hanford, Washington. Throughout the Cold War, Hanford churned out plutonium for our nuclear arsenal. It was also, conveniently, a place to experiment with radiation.