You may know that the “Fat Man” bomb dropped by the U.S. on Nagasaki, Japan, near the end of World War II was a 21 kiloton bomb, equivalent to blowing up 21 thousand tons of dynamite.* Or that as the Cold War rolled on the Soviets tested “Tsar Bomba,” the most powerful nuclear weapon ever used—a 50 megaton behemoth. Nuclear weapons stockpiled today are many, many times more powerful than anything ever before used in an act of war, but as with all things so great in size, it’s difficult to visualize the difference. NukeMap3D, a new Google Earth add-on designed by Alex Wellerstein, gives a helpful sense of scale for the ever-larger nuclear weapons designed by the world’s armies. The tools lets you place a range of historical weaponry anywhere in the world. And then detonate the bombs.
Here we’ve used Wellerstein’s tool to show what the bombing of Nagasaki would have looked like had you been flying over Busan, South Korea, in an airplane at the time of the attack.
Then, we’ve compared that against what it would have looked like had the Soviet’s Tsar Bomba been used instead.
*This sentence was updated: it’s 21 thousand tons of dynamites, not, as we originally wrote, sticks.
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