Here’s What Nagasaki Would Have Looked Like If the Tsar Bomba Had Replaced ‘Fat Man’
A Google Earth add-on helps you understand the strength of the world’s nuclear arsenal
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.
NukeMap3d grew out of Wellerstein’s earlier NukeMap2. Like that earlier effort, NukeMap3d also includes the weapons known to still exist in the U.S. arsenal, like the 1.2 megaton B-83.
*This sentence was updated: it’s 21 thousand tons of dynamites, not, as we originally wrote, sticks.
More from Smithsonian.com:
The U.S. Once Wanted To Use Nuclear Bombs as a Construction Tool
Six Guys Stood At Nuclear Ground Zero And Lived To Tell The Tale