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Here’s What Nagasaki Would Have Looked Like If the Tsar Bomba Had Replaced ‘Fat Man’

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Wed, 24 Jul 2013 14:24:19 +0000
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<div class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_18226" style="width: 502px;"><a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/files/2013/07/07_24_2013_nagasaki-real.jpg"><img alt="" class="size-full wp-image-18226" height="600" src="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/files/2013/07/07_24_2013_nagasaki-real.jpg" title="07_24_2013_nagasaki real" width="502"></a><p class="wp-caption-text">The mushroom cloud produced by the “Fat Man” bomb from the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nagasakibomb.jpg" target="_blank">Charles Levy</a></p></div><p>You may know that the “<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Man" target="_blank">Fat Man</a>” bomb <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki" target="_blank">dropped by the U.S. on Nagasaki, Japan, near the end of World War II</a> 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 “<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba" target="_blank">Tsar Bomba</a>,” 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. <a href="http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap3d/" target="_blank">NukeMap3D</a>, <a href="http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap3d/" target="_blank">a new Google Earth add-on </a>designed by <a href="https://twitter.com/wellerstein" target="_blank">Alex Wellerstein</a>, 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.<br>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.</p><div class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_18227" style="width: 575px;"><a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/files/2013/07/07_24_2013_nagasaki-fat-man.jpg"><img alt="" class="size-full wp-image-18227" height="427" src="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/files/2013/07/07_24_2013_nagasaki-fat-man-e1374673621879.jpg" title="07_24_2013_nagasaki fat man" width="575"></a><p class="wp-caption-text">The detonation of the Fat Man bomb over Nagasaki, as seen from Busan. Photo: Alex Wellerstein / NukeMap3d / Google Earth</p></div><p>Then, we’ve compared that against what it would have looked like had the Soviet’s Tsar Bomba been used instead.</p><div class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_18229" style="width: 575px;"><a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/files/2013/07/07_24_2013_nagasaki-tsar-bomba.jpg"><img alt="" class="size-full wp-image-18229" height="432" src="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/files/2013/07/07_24_2013_nagasaki-tsar-bomba-e1374673674362.jpg" title="07_24_2013_nagasaki tsar bomba" width="575"></a><p class="wp-caption-text">The detonation of the Tsar Bomba over Nagasaki, an event that, fortunately, never happened. Photo: Alex Wellerstein / NukeMap3d / Google Earth</p></div><p>NukeMap3d grew out of Wellerstein’s earlier <a href="http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/">NukeMap2</a>. Like that earlier effort, NukeMap3d  also includes the weapons known to still exist in the U.S. arsenal, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B83_nuclear_bomb" target="_blank">like the 1.2 megaton B-83</a>.</p><p>*<em>This sentence was updated: it’s 21 thousand tons of dynamites, not, as we originally wrote, sticks.</em></p><p>More from <a href="http://Smithsonian.com">Smithsonian.com</a>:</p><p><a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/01/the-u-s-once-wanted-to-use-nuclear-bombs-as-a-construction-tool/" target="_blank">The U.S. Once Wanted To Use Nuclear Bombs as a Construction Tool</a><br><a href="http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2012/07/six-guys-stood-at-nuclear-ground-zero-and-lived-to-tell-the-tale/" target="_blank">Six Guys Stood At Nuclear Ground Zero And Lived To Tell The Tale</a></p>
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