What the hell were we thinking?

By Phil Plait | July 21, 2010 7:20 am

This is a video that starts slow, but around 3 minutes in… well. It shows every nuclear bomb explosion on the Earth from 1945 — the US test before the bombs dropped on Japan — to 1998, when India and Pakistan joined the madness.


The animation is an art project by Isao Hashimoto, and is powerful indeed. I grew up when the cold war was at its coldest, and seeing this still gives me a chill. In May 1998 I was at a meeting in the Canary Islands when India and Pakistan tested their weapons, and I had a hard time finding news in English (the internet was unreliable there and then, too). Not knowing what was going on was maddening, but not nearly as maddening as what I did know.

These weapons are out of the bottle, and even though there has been no detonation in over a decade, the knowledge of how to build them will always be with us. We use nuclear power for peaceful purposes now, and in the future we may even use it for exploring the solar system and beyond — we already use fissile material to power some probes — but we should always bear in mind the first use to which this power was put.

Tip o’ the Pu-238 to AstronomyBlog, who retweeted PekingSpring.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Miscellaneous, Piece of mind

Comments (219)

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  1. Jeff

    The point is, which people are “we”, certainly not me or other scientists. Scientists are used like pawns by governments which is why I stayed my career in a back water school where they wouldn’t bug me.

    Scientists have always been manipulated by leaders, for example, the Julian calendar wasn’t invented by Julius Caesar, but by a court scientist.

    To me, scientists who get used for military , etc., should look to their own consciences and say no-more, no-more, no-more!

  2. KC

    “Scientists have always been manipulated by leaders”

    Ehhh…I find that statement to be hard to swallow. Casting all scientists in the role of Little Red Riding Hood and government as the Wolf is a little too pat. Scientists are human beings subject to ambition, ego and other messy emotions and desires. You can’t say, for example, that scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project didn’t know exactly what they were doing. (“I am am become death shatter of worlds….”)

  3. I think what we were thinking (as the US) was that Germany was working on getting the bomb already, and that taking Japan without them would have led to 1M+ deaths.

    We might have been wrong, we might have missed a better solution, but I believe it’s a case of only having horrific solutions to horrific problems available.

  4. Chris

    even though there has been no detonation in over a decade

    North Korea tested some nukes in 2006 and 2009, they were wimpy but still they were nukes.

  5. Doesn’t the Indian test in 1974 count as joining the madness?

  6. Keith (the first one)

    It certainly makes you think. A few things I noticed.

    The defence cuts in Britain in the late 50s and 60s obviously had an effect on the UK nuclear deterrant. While those cuts are generally viewed quite badly (especially from aviation enthusiasts) it seems to have had a more positive effect in nuclear terms.

    The end of the cold war very quickly brought the amount of nuclear testing almost to a halt. It highlights that most of the cold was was quite a scary time.

    India seemed content with one bomb for a good 20 years until Packistan got their first bomb tested.

  7. Grizzly

    @5

    India was there at the bottom of the screen… in 1974

  8. Chris

    Jeez, if I ever go to the SW I’m bringing a Geiger counter with me! I have a hard time actually believing those numbers, but I looked them up and they’re true. Although Wikipedia says the US actually exploded 1054 bombs. You would think after the first hundred you’d know what they’d do. It’s amazing we didn’t blow ourselves up.

  9. um…during the 40s/50s/60s, scientists were more than happy to test these. Some were against it, but some were quite happy about testing and building bigger bombs.

  10. Nice of Britain and France to test their nukes on their home soil.

  11. ND

    Holly f___!!! Thems a lot of nukes!

    On a completely different note. The nuclear beeps reminded me of the alien communication scene in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind.

  12. Juiceman

    Doesn’t this disprove the assumption that a nuclear war will result in a nuclear winter and end life as we know it? It looks like there were several detonations each month throughout the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. How is this different than a full on war?

  13. Scary. I’m sure the vast majority were underground tests, but still… scary.

  14. JohnK

    Jeff,

    When I graduated from college, I had the chance to work for a company that was making the fuel for Nukes. Personally, I just couldn’t work for a company that was making WMDs. I chose the space program instead. You are only a pawn, if you let yourself be a pawn.

    After 1963, Russia and the US tested thier nukes underground. So saying “on the Earth” could be a bit misleading.

  15. I was born in 1974, so the Cold War was still on and the phantom of a Nuclear War was present. Living in a small Country that became an USSR satellite after 1979 for 10 years, we were told about how dangerous the U.S. were and how the mighty USSR would prevail against the U.S. Empire.

    Of course… that was the “officialist government opinion”. The people did not swallow that and as soon we obtained free elections, we got rid of them.

    But, the menace of a “nuclear retailation” was spread in the young minds for a long time. News in the TV, newspaper and radio made a large propaganda about that… and when the Blackbird made those 2 passes above my Country, some hidden fear appeared momentarily. I was playing in a field when I heard the first sonic boom in my life. All people in the neighborhood walked toward the streets looking up the sky, nervous.

    Good thing that is over now… is it over, right?

  16. Speaker2a

    When they really got going the beeps also reminded me of standing in a casino. Time will tell how this biggest of gambles pays off.

  17. MT-LA

    I was born and raised in Los Angeles…I guess this explains my third arm.

  18. Nikolaj

    I just found out why we haven’t been contacted by aliens…

    We scared them s***-less.

    Seriously, this must be detectable from far away in space. Or is it, Dr. Plait?

  19. Grizzly

    When was that supposed Israeli/South African explosion off of the south coast of Africa?

  20. drow

    meh. so long as science is a human endeavour, both good and bad shall come of it. and nuclear weapons are certainly no greater a madness than building cities without sanitation.

  21. ppb

    Grizzly@18
    That was September 22, 1979, though it is still not officially confirmed.

  22. One Eyed Jack

    High score!

    We win, right?

    Professor Falken?

  23. Jeff in Tucson

    Two words: Nuclear Pulse Propulsion
    (Yes, I know that’s three)

  24. Erik

    @Juiceman
    Others can chime in with more precise information, but a full-on nuclear war between the US and USSR would have involved a lot more than a few detonations each month. Think hundreds in a single 24 hour period. Besides which, a lot of the test detonations were underground.

  25. RobT

    Here’s a link to Google Maps that shows an aerial view of the main test range in Nevada. Pretty much every crater is a nuclear test detonation, the biggest one at the top. Scroll down to see the rest of the bombing range.

    http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=37.169482,-116.054935&spn=0.038232,0.077162&t=h&z=14

  26. Alex

    Anyone know why there were no tests in 1959, and only French tests in 1960?

    It seems weird that it was ramping up from 1951, with more and more tests each year, then suddenly none at all, before returning to the pattern in 1961.

  27. That final image, the map with the nuclear detonation sites highlighted and the countries’ totals would make for a nice wall poster. The audio, at one point, was both beautiful (the tones themselves, not what they represented) and frightening.

  28. BJN

    I live in a “downwind” state (that is, very closely downwind — a lot more of the country was exposed to testing fallout than most Americans are aware of). It’s ironic that Cold War weapons took their greatest toll on this country’s own citizens. In addition to the insanity of nuclear testing, we also created massive stockpiles of biological and nerve agent weapons. The notion of scientists used as “pawns” is ridiculous. Some like Teller were zealous advocates for weapons of mass destruction, some saw themselves as patriots, some had moral ambivalence but valued something like a paycheck or professional success. I suspect that very few scientists with strong moral objections were forced to work as “pawns”, at least in this country.

    As to the above and below ground discussion, 154,013 kilotons of the total U.S. testing yield was above ground, only 40,441 kilotons were below ground.

  29. AliCali

    @ 24 Alex

    “Anyone know why there were no tests in 1959, and only French tests in 1960?”

    There have been periodic bans on testing, mainly between the US and Soviet Union. One ban was broken by Khrushchev when the Soviet Union detonated a 50-megaton weapon, which supposedely a scaled down version of a 100-megaton weapon and capable of being carried by aircraft. This still stands as the biggest detonation ever, and triggered more testing by the US. Basically, this was all sabre-rattling.

  30. Josie

    These weapons are out of the bottle, …the knowledge of how to build them will always be with us.

    like how to go to the moon :/

    @#12 Juiceman, these bombs were not detonated in strategic military targets nor in major civilian metropolitan areas. War is in large part about destroying infrastructure. Like Erik said many of these were tested underground so as to minimize destruction.

    @#3 Shane Brady, I agree…I am reminded of the trolley dilemma.

  31. Well, at least the vast majority of these were due to testing and not warfare.

  32. Andrew

    @10: At the time, Algeria was a part of France, not just a colony or territory, making it as much ‘home soil’ as Alaska is to the United States. I’m sure the Algerians weren’t too happy about it, though. And their non-Algerian tests were indeed done on French Polynesia, which is a territory.

  33. Man… Was that uncomfortable to watch…. I’d say that some of those sites are now contaminated for a *long* time, having had so many tests at the same place….

  34. Mount

    Aren’t we forgetting North Korea? They were threatening a “rain of nuclear fire” just last year.

  35. wright1

    Fascinating and chilling. Watching the progression of testing and proliferation, I wonder again at the restraint exercised in NOT using nuclear weapons in war since 1945; what was it’s basis?

    The threat of Mutual Assured Destruction? Fear of condemnation and retaliation by the rest of the world? A measure of empathy? The last seems (sadly) doubtful, given how readily humans resort to violence.

  36. JJ (the other one)

    A lot of these tests were underground, some even in space.

    Wikipedia has a lot of high quality and sobering articles on American nuclear weapons testing.

    Operation Castle (particularly Castle Bravo) was an early series of tests where the lack of experience & knowledge led to some serious fallout concerns. Operation Crossroads has both an interesting political story and some sobering fallout stories (like washing off radioactive ships with radioactive lagoon water).

    Operation Fishbowl includes Starfish Prime, the high-altitude thermonuclear detonation that produced a series of well-known photographs from Hawaii of the glowing sky (it also trashed a couple satellites and messed with the radiation belts). Detonations that high don’t produce atmospheric fallout.

    Even though the tests seem so numerous they are still nothing compared to a serious nuclear exchange between the well-armed nations, where hundreds of weapons will go off within minutes of each other – not over remote testing areas but over crowded cities, with a spread of tactics used, some ground-burst, some air-burst, depending on the target.

  37. michael

    The really, really astounding thing is that these terrifying weapons have only twice been used in a war or in anger. 65 years without the use of these weapons must be a record for any kind of war technology.

    Also, in WWII the allies killed at least 1.5 million civilians without the use of any nuclear weapons at all before the two bombs used on Japan. Humans will always find ways to efficiently slaughter one another.

  38. Nemesis

    I’m a little more ashamed to be an American. It’s hard to defend your government’s decisions, when they make so many careless ones. What a bunch of d—ks.

  39. “The really, really astounding thing is that these terrifying weapons have only twice been used in a war or in anger. 65 years without the use of these weapons must be a record for any kind of war technology.”

    This is true … but it’s of little comfort. The nuclear cat is out of the bag. To assume that some terrorist organization is not actively pursuing the offensive use of such a device is … well, whistling past the graveyard.

    Imagine how truly destabilizing it would be if just one nuclear device was used in war or in anger sometime in the near future. Imagine waking up in the morning to BBC News on the clockradio and hearing something like … “We have unconfirmed reports of two nuclear explosions in the Persian Gulf.” I find it difficult to believe that something like this will NEVER happen again.

  40. Joe R.

    Horrible weapons though they are, there’s a strong case for them having dramatically reduced the number of people killed in wars since their invention.

    WWI (1914-1918): 16 million dead
    Russian Civil War (1917-1921): 5 million dead
    WWII (1939-1945): 40 million dead

    Invention of Nuclear Weapons (1945)

    Korean War (1950-1953): 2.5 million dead
    Vietnam War (1959-1975): 2.5 million dead
    Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988): 400,000 dead
    Second Congo War (1998-2003): 3.8 million dead

    The difference in the scale of conflicts before and after nuclear weapons is dramatic. What’s also significant is that these latter wars with large-scale casualties are largely being waged by countries that don’t yet possess nuclear weapons.

    Of course you can never prove what might have happened in the alternative, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable conclusion based on the evidence that nuclear weapons have been a moderating factor in the conflicts the human race has gotten itself involved in. At this point in history, there are probably millions of people who are alive who would not otherwise be because of these weapons that are so horrible, we know better than to use them.

    The experiment is ongoing, but it would take a major nuclear war at this point to outstrip the lives that likely have been saved by their invention. Even a horrific event such as a terrorist detonation of a nuclear weapon in a city such as New York or Tokyo wouldn’t come close to the numbers of casualties a conventional world war would have inflicted.

    *All numbers are the low estimates from the following wikipedia list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_and_disasters_by_death_toll

  41. Shoeshine Boy

    I find the self righteousness in this thread’s comments nauseating.

    For all the problems they wrought, and there were plenty of serious ones, “those d–ks” prevented World War III.

  42. I didn’t know that many had been detonated here and around the world. I was always a bit fascinated by nuclear technology growing up. Morbid curiosity?

    When I was a kid growing up in the 80s it was pretty common to hear about that stuff on TV on the news or just in pop culture. I was interested to know how they worked, at least on a basic level. “How could something so small create such massive devastation?” I wondered.

    My mom helped me find some of the answers, ya know, before we had the ‘internet’ and had to go to places called ‘libraries’. ;) I was amazed that splitting a tiny atom could do that. It’s mind boggling.

    If I had been around at that time I’d have been interested in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. I still think there is a place for it today with energy production. I don’t think I could sleep well knowing I’d help create weapons designed to kill millions upon millions of people.

    Now we just have to keep smaller rogue nations from making those same mistakes.

    I think I’m going to try and nab the video and speed it up a bit there were parts that were reallllly slow. Slow for me at least, being at work and all. :)

  43. MaDeR

    “What the hell were we thinking?”
    Two words: Cold War.

    What will be next? No one knows. But having faith in humanity?… good luck with that.

    “The really, really astounding thing is that these terrifying weapons have only twice been used in a war or in anger. 65 years without the use of these weapons must be a record for any kind of war technology.”
    Deterrent of MAD was successful. This in itself, of course, is insane. And while we could count on USA and CCCP having at least shred of sanity, things like Pakistan/India quarrel or North Korea ramblings are significantly less… stable.

  44. John Paradox

    The most disturbing thing to me was how much it reminded me of watching popcorn.

    J/P=?

  45. Nullius in Verba

    “What the hell were we thinking?”

    We were thinking of the Glavnoye Upravlyeniye Ispravityel’no-Trudovih Lagyeryey i koloniy, of course. And the Laogai.

  46. Benjamin

    And that my friends is how the US contained the dreaded Jackalope menace. What the heck those other nations were doing…I don’t know. But at least its comforting to see that after taking out the small colony of Jackalopes that had made their way into the Outback, our British friends were kind enough to occasionally lend a hand in clearing America of that dangerous beast. When you let another nation let forth blast after wicked blast of nuclear fire in your nation’s scenic areas, then and only then do you know you truly have a “special relationship.”

    Benjamin

    P.S. Given that fact that we haven’t had a world rocking great powers conflict that led to the death of millions upon millions of people since the advent of MAD, makes nukes the lesser of two evils in my book.

  47. Zathras

    I still clearly remember a scientist who worked at one of the USA’s nuclear labs. He was an older gentleman who was a child or teenager during WWII, and lived under the opresssion of the Nazi’s. He made a very eloquent argument for his work, which came to (poorly summarizing on my part) :
    1) He NEVER wanted to see that kind of thing happen again.
    2) He wanted to make DAMN SURE the good guys won.

    Whether the USA is the “good guys” may be open to some spirited debate…but I certainly could not fault this gentleman for following his beliefs.

  48. Nemesis

    @#38

    “I find the self righteousness in this thread’s comments nauseating.”

    “For all the problems they wrought, and there were plenty of serious ones, “those d–ks” prevented World War III.”

    I find your arrogance disturbing.

    Have they navigated around the threat of WWIII, so far? Maybe. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean they’ve prevented it. Are you the guy who can’t learn from history? Who has to see a potential problem through to fruition, before you decide that the “cynics” were actually right.

    They detonated over 1000 nukes like they were black cats!

    It’s as if you’ve been so effectively brainwashed, you’ll support anything they do. Keep waving your flag until it’s a tourniquet.

  49. mike burkhart

    I would like the person who left a comment a few month ago on this blog that said “we should nuke the Middle East that would solve the problems of Global warming and Terroism ” to wacth this and maybe it would change his mind about mudering millons of people and turning the Middle East into a radioactive waste land. If that dosen’t do it then maybe wacthing the movies On the Beach, The day after and Damnation alley and playing the video game Missel Comand will do it.

  50. mike burkhart:

    and playing the video game Missile Command will do it.

    (Typos fixed.) That’s the game that young John Connor is playing at the arcade just before his run-ins with the two Terminators.

  51. Torbjörn Andersson

    @#41, It reminded me of the communication scene in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, which I guess is also kind of a disturbing comparison.

  52. Agustina Iansilevich

    Jeez, good thing I live in the South American continent. Also Greenland.

  53. Nah, we just steer a small asteroid into the middle east, or “moon hoax” them into thinking one’s coming. We can hoax much better now. Our CGI has advanced since the 60s.

  54. @5 India was there at the bottom of the screen… in 1974

    @7 Which is why I wanted to comment that Phil’s “to 1998, when India and Pakistan joined the madness” was inaccurate.

  55. Okay, I have an open question to anyone reading, that requires a little background.

    The US nuclear arsenal (and all others to my knowledge) suffers from a distinct trait, in that there is a shelf-life – nuclear weapons do not last forever, and always decay to the point of reducing effective yield or simply not reaching the chain reaction necessary to do more than produce very localized fallout.

    These weapons are now timing out, requiring them to be retired. They are still dangerous, from a radiation sense, but will not make big booms anymore. They will also not make nuclear power fuel rods.

    So, do we maintain a nuclear arsenal, perhaps at some distinct level, or not? If I were assigning this to a class, I’d say support your answers, but feel free to simply chime in with yea or nay.

  56. DennyMo

    Just Al: “Reprocessed”, not necessarily “retired”, but the simple answer to your question is “Yes”.

  57. Josie

    <>

    Not quite sure what the intent was with this statement. Any comment on civilian loss of life should perhaps include the killing of civilians in Russia and of the systematic killings in Germany and German occupied territories during that same war. Both of which dwarf the 1.5 million figure. Were they more or less efficient than nukes? Does it matter?

    None of these killings is morally defensible but they did happen.

  58. Moose

    Made it half way through. Gah, that’s depressing.

  59. Wow I had no idea how many nukes had been detonated on (and off) Earth. I always thought it was like a few dozen maybe. Of course, given over 2000 nuclear detonations, and the fact that the Earth (or even the US) isn’t a festering radioactive wastland…i guess nuclear blasts aren’t as hazardous as many people assume, just to those in the immediate vicinity. Still, best to be cautious.

  60. Lawrence

    The DoD has more than a few supercomputers dedicated to testing the efficacy of US Nuclear weapons (without the need for real-life use). Within a very tight percentage, they can guarantee the viability of the arsenal & also tell us when weapons need to be retired, i.e. won’t work anymore.

    This process has also been used to assist in designing new weapons, so that we know they are supposed to work when they are supposed to. Of course, most of the third world countries (like India, Pakistan & North Korea) don’t have access to these types of testing routines & won’t be able to say whether or not their weapons will operate as designed without testing them in the open.

    With an arsenal of about, what, 6000 warheads, we certainly have enough to act as a deterent or be utilized as a weapon of last resort. I do find it interesting that China went the cheap way – rather than build a couple of thousand warheads (which they were capable of manufacturing) they built just enough to act as a credible deterrent against the Russians (and us, I guess) since they would still be able to destroy quite a few large cities on both sides of the Pacific – perhaps the better way to go, in my mind.

    As far as non-use, it is only a matter of time before someone, somewhere, uses a nuke either as a terrorist action or perhaps a small-scale war between India/Pakistan. That will be a sad day indeed, and that in today’s world, we can’t all sit down at a table and rationally discuss non-proliferation and gradual elimination of nuclear weapons.

  61. Chris Winter

    Thomas Joseph wrote: “Nice of Britain and France to test their nukes on their home soil.”

    I haven’t watched the video yet. If that’s what it shows, it omits some tests. France detonated at least one bomb in Polynesia. (This was the test that inspired the French foreign minister’s comment, “That is not a bomb — it is a device which is exploding!”) And Britain tested some bombs in Australia’s outback in the 1950s. The one I can verify was called “Totem.” It took place on 14 October 1953.

  62. Shoeshine Boy

    @#45

    Not “so far, maybe”. So far “yes.” As of today, WW III has not occurred. I’ll grant that we don’t know the future.

    It isn’t arrogant to claim that things could have been a whole lot worse, it is arrogant to think I am so much smarter than the world’s leaders during the cold war that I can call them names that requre self-censorship.

    My point was that MAD prevented the cold war from becoming WW III. The Soviet arsenal held the Americans in check, while the American arsenal did the converse. (I am not so naive to think that American power didn’t need to be checked).

    Was this the best solution for its day? I can’t say if it was or wasn’t. It was a certainly frought with danger, and a mistake on either side could have lead to disaster. The bottom line, however, is that it pretty-much worked. Can you propose an alternate approach that would have had a higher likelhood of keeping the (relative) peace between the two superpowers? Could you have done so in 1960?

    Is this the best approach the best going forward? I don’t think so, and those in power seem to agree. The world is a very different place than it was during the cold war, that much I’m sure of.

  63. Andrew

    @57 – exactly. He was being sarcastic; no nukes have ever been tested on British soil, and the only nukes to be tested on French soil were in Algeria. The video does indeed show all of the British and French tests in the Pacific, and even the British ones done in the United States.

  64. Sili

    Lots of stuff I didn’t know: That the UK has tested outside of Australia – ‘funny’ that they got to testfire in the US. Revenge, I guess.

    That the USSR had that many testsites.

    That France had done that many test. Nor that they had done them in Africa. I still remember the opposition to their last test under Chirac while I was in highschool.

    That India had only done one test until Pakistan entered the market.

    Interesting also, that Israeli arsenal is completely untested. But of course they don’t officially have one, so I guess any tests woulda been hushed up. Of course, they don’t exactly have any colonies to test them in either, so I guess that pretty much leaves the US.

  65. Katharine

    If World War III will be fought with nuclear power, World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

  66. Mike

    In the piece at the end I saw a small number of tests in what looked like Louisiana. When/where did that happen?

    Edit: Found it: http://thereadonwnc.ning.com/forum/topics/1972559:Topic:1921

  67. Chris Winter

    Belatedly, I get it that Thomas Joseph was being sarcastic. I suppose I need my sarcasm detector tuned up.

    The video is impressive. I think the second part was the best. There, it shows each country’s tests by themselves in sequence. The whole thing runs 14:23.

  68. Andrew

    @60: Israel has had no official tests, no, but it’s somewhat suspected that the Vela Incident was an Israeli or South African (or joint Israel-South African) nuclear test.

  69. RL

    @ Shoeshine Boy

    Actually, you’re right. I don’t have the figures but the trend in warfare was for casualties that continued to grow at a frightful rate. Each war kept growing until WWII where I’ve seen estimates of 20 million killed world wide. Since the invention of the nuclear bomb, this trend halted due to the fact that all-out war is now too costly. I need to find that analysis again.

  70. My main thought as I watched the video was: What a waste of energy. Does anyone know how much energy could have been provided if the material from those tests had been used in power plants rather than bomb tests? Regardless of whether it could power New York City for a week or the United States for 30 years, it does seem like an awful waste of fissile material.

    Secondary thoughts: The French seemed a might bit twitchy during the 90′s. Did they think someone was going to attack their precious hexagon?

    As to the sentiment that I think is being expressed in the blog post title, I think that the development of nuclear weapons was an unavoidable eventuality. There are too many free agents in the world to prevent knowledge from being applied. For better or for worse, useful scientific knowledge is very difficult to permanently suppress.

    Final thought: It’s not altogether clear to me that the development of nuclear bombs was an unmitigated evil. Thus far, no major population centers have joined Hiroshima and Nagasaki and no nuclear powers have engaged in all-out war with each other. Obviously a belligerent spirit was present throughout the Cold War and such a spirit remains in Indian and Pakistan, but we haven’t seen a bomb used in an attack since 1945 and since there is no means to truly test counterfactuals in history, it’s difficult to tell what would have happened otherwise.

    It’s conceivable that all-out war would have occurred between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (i.e. WWIII) if nuclear weapons hadn’t been developed and if such is the case, then I’d say that the wasteful show of power illustrated in the video wasn’t for naught (though they probably could have gotten away with an order of magnitude fewer tests).

  71. Josie

    RL –that estimate is low.

    Checking wikipedia puts the wartime death tally military and civilian at closer to 60 million :(

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

  72. Not all of the nuclear tests in the US were weapons tests. Several tests, like those of Operation Plowshare (in which the Sedan Crater was created), were to see if nukes could be used for other purposes (like mining, for instance). In addition, data from the tests helped to gain further understanding of structural integrity, which was used to help in making building codes especially for structures in earthquake prone areas.

    A fun, disturbing, scary, and informative little place called the Atomic Testing Museum (http://www.atomictestingmuseum.org/index.html) in Vegas is well worth the visit should you find nukes interesting. (It’s difficult to find appropriate emotional terms to use when talking about nukes…”horror” lacks the “awe” of power, energy, and scientific accomplishment, but “awe” lacks the horror of their combat uses, potential use, and so on.)

  73. Michael Campbell

    @RL (65)

    This was mentioned on the Modern Marvels “The Manahattan Project” episode. Paraphrasing; “…if you look at a graph of worldwide deaths due to war over time, it’s an ever increasing curve. Until 1945. Then it drops down to about a million, and has stayed there ever since…”

    I’d love to find that graph somewhere; I’ve looked for it many times. Perhaps it isn’t based on reliable data, but you’re not the first person to posit this idea, for sure.

    So, perhaps *THAT’S* “what the hell we were thinking”. It’s easy to be smug now, but we weren’t there then. Is doing something “bad” to prevent something worse, worse than not? Some here seem to think so.

  74. locke

    Well, having nukes isn’t by and of itself “madness”. You can make a very compelling argument that the U.S. and U.S.S.R. having nukes at the same time PREVENTED WWIII. And as an Indian general reportedly said after Gulf War I: want to stop the U.S. from invading you? get nukes……

  75. Cory

    I do not share the terror with which people view nuclear weapons. They single-handedly prevented what would have been an incredibly brutal World War III between the two strongest superpowers in all of history.

    We must be vigilant, respectful and protective of the technology while we can, but we ought to still recognize what great benefits the nuclear deterrent brought and brings to the modern world.

  76. Radwaste

    Folks, don’t pretend. There is a difference between “what is” and “what should be”. Further, one is affected by opinion, and the other isn’t.

    Don’t miss The Nuclear Weapon Archive.

    And try not to notice that a country that cannot control its borders can’t prevent a man-portable device from being delivered. Not in the last phase of delivery, that is.

  77. Bob_In_Wales

    Couple of figures:

    @ 65 – Estimates for WWII dead range from 50 to 80 million. Your figure is out by a factor of 3! The USSR alone lost over 20 million.

    Total estimated dead in nuclear bombing of Hiroshima – 90,000.

    Total estimated dead in fire bombing of Tokyo 9/10 March 1945 – 100,000.

    Total estimated dead in 100 days with mainly machetes, Rwanda, 1994 – 800,000.

    With technology you can do it quicker.

    I don’t think we should worry too much about technology – more about motivation.

  78. interested bystander

    My mother was in her twenties in the 1950s and had five children between 1950 and 1960. We lived in a state that got fallout from the above ground testing and we drank lots of good cow’s milk. My mom and my oldest sister have both had thyroid cancer that has been treated successfully. My thyroid is abnormal and is being checked regularly. My little sister born in 1956 died at 18 months of some rare childhood cancer that I do not know the name of. I think our family and many others are still seeing the effects of the foolishness of the testing done in that era.

  79. Steve

    Reminds me of “Simon”. And if you’re old enough for this to remind you of “Simon” you’re also old enough to remember Tom Lehrer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S769YancquU

  80. MauiPancakeGuru

    Reminds me of the movie with Mathew Broderick, and the crazy wargame computer. Was that the title? “Wargames?” Anyway the computer program (from the 80′s no less) was somehow in the process of starting a nuclear war with Russia, or should I say Soviet Union. Alas, a spoiler for those who havent seen it. A teenager confuses the computer with tic tac toe. Hey, it could happen… Maybe in India.

  81. 8. Chris Says: “Wikipedia says the US actually exploded 1054 bombs. You would think after the first hundred you’d know what they’d do.”

    Nuclear weapons are just like any other technology and went through a sizable development curve. The first plutonium bomb “gadget” exploded in New Mexico (and later over Nagasaki) weighed over 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) for a yield of just 20 Kt. By the 1970′s, the standard “physics package” in a MIRVed warhead weighed only a few hundred pounds with a yield of about 100 Kt.

    This was done by refining the process of nuclear detonation and introducing “accelerators” which vastly increase the number of neutrons produced with very little additional mass. However, as others have noted, these accelerators have limited effective lives, so the “shelf life” of a weapon is only a few years before having to be reprocessed.

    Also, in the early ’50s development of thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs was started and that actually is what a lot of the tests in the US and USSR were in that period.

    - Jack

  82. t-storm
  83. Kyle

    Well I had no clue how many nukes had been detonated. I was figuring in the 1000 total range, not double that. I was surprised that China had “only” detonated the same number as Great Brittan.

  84. The first time I came to begin to grasp the magnitude of the nuclear tests was about five years ago. I was using Google Earth and checking out Area 51, smiling at the baseball field there, and then crawling over the landscape looking for other interesting features. You can use Google Maps or Google Earth and just find Area 51 / Groom Lake, then wander about 6 – 20 miles to the south west and check out Yucca Flats. When I realized I was scrolling through the scars of our nuclear tests I got chills, still do.

  85. Ian

    According to the summary animation at the very end we nuked Japan like fifty times. :-)

  86. NAW

    Wow that was a lot. If you have a bunch of time here is a list of old videos of some of the tests. http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=bomb%20test%20AND%20mediatype%3Amovies You will have to dig through it put some movies and other stuff on the list. But my favorite is this one http://www.archive.org/details/ExerciseDesertRock1951 it was a test on using the bomb as support for ground troops. Yea that is right, drop the bomb on an opposing army then send your own troops in to attack.

    @Ian: Have you not watched Godzilla movies, that is how he keeps powered up.

  87. Scottynuke

    Just Al happens to be just wrong — weapons-grade uranium has been downblended into nuclear power plant fuel for quite awhile:

    http://www.usec.com/megatonstomegawatts.htm

    And the U.S. and Russia have an agreement to downblend excess weapons-grade plutonium in the same way — it’s called MOX fuel, and a MOX fabrication facility is under construction:

    http://www.moxproject.com/about/
    http://www.nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/mox/licensing.html

    Let’s hope these programs have a long and useful life literally turning swords into plowshares.

  88. @30 Josie It would be a dream to see a map like that of all the Moon launches (although hopefully they would keep going!)

    I was privileged to visit the Trinity site in April (it is open two days per year to the public: first Saturday in April and October). If you are in the area, you should definitely try to make that one.

    I am not a big fan of nuclear weapons, but am definitely glad the U.S. got them at the end of WWII before anyone else. I have thought about the decision to drop them on Japan and reluctantly think it may have been the least bad option.

    I think nuclear weapons would have been used in war shortly after the were invented no matter who found them first. Fortunately, it was the end of a war. Fortunately, leaders around the world took note at how destructive they could be and decided not to use them in future wars (up to this point). I also have to hand it to the Japanese people. The nation handled the aftermath of the attacks and advocated against the use of nuclear weapons should make any nation proud. As long as we remember what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the memory keeps them from being used again, I give qualified support to the original decision to use nuclear weapons.

  89. idlemind

    On at least three occasions the US and USSR were a hairsbreadth from a nuclear exchange. Even if you assign conservative odds to those occasions, the expected value of casualties is higher than all the other war casualties in the twentieth century. Most of us are damn lucky to be here.

  90. JJ

    Detonating all those bombs in the name of politics…what a colossal waste of time and money…leave it to the politicians.

  91. AliCali

    I’ve read through the comments, and I want to insert a few things of my own:

    1. Several mentioned the decrease in casualties in each war after WWII. I’m not sure this is due to nuclear weapons.

    First, the weaponry was getting more advanced, and by the time of WWII, we had bombers that could lay out a whole bunch of bombs in one run. However, the technology to aim the bombs was not good, so we just laid out a huge number. This killed quite indescriminately. Now, we have much more tactical weapons. We only need one cruise missle to take out a target rather than hundreds of unguided bombs. Also, we haven’t had to storm a beach like Normandy, where there are lots of lives lost. This is due to weapons technology other than nuclear weapons.

    Secondly, we didn’t have a holocaust in other wars where millions were killed just because.

    Third, WWII was a much larger war than any afterwards, so the death toll should be naturally higher in WWII.

    2. There was lots of testing, but most of them were sabre-rattling. We wanted to keep reminding the Soviet Union that we had good nukes. When the test ban treaty came into effect, we had no problem in stopping the tests, but the Soviets decided to break that with a major bang, so we kept right on going.

    3. It’s true that there were tests for integrity. We’d set up buildings and shelters of varying material just to see how they’d react. We’d see if we could use nukes to excavate. We’d see if we could have the army set off a nuke just ahead of an attack. But there were WAY more tests than necessary for these purposes. Again, mainly sabre-rattling.

    4. Remember that the very first test wasn’t to see if the atomic bomb would work in general, but rather to test a particular design (plutonium trigger, I believe). The original design was used without testing right on top of Japan.

    5. As testing and design progressed, they were not to see how big of a nuke could be created. New designs were to bring the size and yield down to make a more surgical strike (if that’s even possible with nukes).

    6. The decision to use or not use did come down to empathy sometimes. If I remember correctly, Richard Nixon wanted to use nukes on Vietnam, but was talked out of them by his generals.

    7. The Atomic Testing museum in Las Vegas is interesting (as someone pointed out). It has pictures of the strip with a mushroom cloud in the background, since the testing was not too far from Vegas. The museum did not condemn the tests, as many people were employed. They saw it as very necessary. I personally think a few were necessary, but the majority were just for show.

  92. Rory Tate

    The Cuban Missile Crisis is probably the most well known image of a nuclear war narrowly averted, and it is worth noting that after the Cold War ended and the US and Russia came together to share their histories, they found that they were a lot closer to WWIII than either had previously imagined (hours from launching as opposed to days). Also, I recommend to everyone that they look up the name Stanislav Petrov, who made a decision against his military orders and is likely the reason any of us are alive today. Lastly, I have heard this from many people, but I realize that it might be complete hearsay, but did Reagan not say that he would have used nuclear weapons if he had been President during Vietnam?

    My point is that, inevitably, nuclear weapons will one day be used again, and then no one will even think of arguing that they are a “good thing”. They are a weapon of mass destruction, nothing more.

    The real reason that war has been prevented is because of civilians who are willing to stand up to their government when war is not justified, great ideas like the Doomsday Clock, the changes and understandings gained from mass media and world-wide communications, and a lot of other factors. These things would have existed — in one form or another — without nuclear weapons, and the positive effects from them would have existed without nuclear weapons. They are what is good.

    I am always surprised when I read threads like this at the justifications made for Hiroshima/Nagasaki. The news articles and history books always read: “The bombs were dropped on Aug 6 and 9, and Japan surrendered soon after.” A causal chain is created where one actually doesn’t exist. The ignored (but essential) history is that Russia (previously a neutral country in this affair) declared war on Japan on Aug 9 by invading Manchuria. On Aug 12, the US — in response to the Russian move — offered new conditions of surrender to Japan (and not the unconditional surrender they had demanded weeks earlier). Japan then surrendered on Aug 15, 1945.

    Most historians now understand that the US’s main objective at this point in WWII was to stop a Russian “land grab” in Europe and Asia. In the words of Herbert Hoover:

    “I told MacArthur of my memorandum of mid-May 1945 to Truman, that peace could be had with Japan by which our major objectives would be accomplished. MacArthur said that was correct and that we would have avoided all of the losses, the Atomic bomb, and the entry of Russia into Manchuria.”

    Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, pg. 350-351.

  93. ScienceHead

    @40 Joe R.
    You forget that correlation does not mean causation. Just because world conflicts have had lower death counts since the proliferation of nuclear arms does not mean that nukes caused the lower counts. It could be that humanity has learned how to coexist better, it could be that there just hasn’t been the cause for another massive world war, or it could be that we have just gotten better at precision warfare, and don’t have the need for millions of deaths to achieve our goals.

    It makes sense that nukes are a deterrent, but you have to remember that if any country actually used a nuke, they would get wiped off the planet by the rest of the world. I would think that if anybody was going to attack a nuclear-armed country they would realize that the defense would not be nuclear-based. Just look at 9/11; USA was attacked-which was justification in 1941 to enter a war leading to the use of nukes- but this time we have yet to use them. They obviously did not deter the conflict. In fact, the only thing deterred was our use of our most powerful weapon. If we did that, then everybody else would attack us. Therefore, nukes are useless and are a relic of a bygone age. It’s time the US becomes the role-model we used to be and disarm completely. How about we become a country whose greatest defense is that the rest of the world loves us too much to hurt us?

    I don’t care if I sound like a hippy, does anybody honestly think that this would be a bad thing?

  94. Via

    Anyone who persists in following the myths that we had no choice but to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it saved thousands or millions of lives of American troops, ought to track down Martin J. Sherwin’s “A World Destroyed,” if it’s still in print. He systematically debunks all of these mistaken beliefs, and in a very thorough manner demonstrates conclusively that there were viable alternatives.
    - The U.S. establishment, once the weapons were prepared and demonstrated, were essentially on autopilot, and the assumption that (given the expense and effort) they would be used was so overwhelming that the few naysayers were ignored;
    -The Japanese government had already sent out feelers regarding terms of surrender. They only sought to preserver the status of the emperor, but the American tradition of Unconditional Surrender made any conditions- even one so essential to the Japanese psyche at the time- unacceptable.
    -The alternative of giving a “demonstration” to designated representatives of the Japanese government and military- to show what they were facing- was almost completely ignored, and dismissed without serious consideration.
    -Eagerness to show the Russians that we really didn’t need their help mopping up Japan also dominated thought.
    -Almost no time elapsed between the first and second bombs that would have allowed the authorities in Japan to assess the impact of Fat Boy, and signs were that they were well on their way toward surrender when Little Man was detonated.

    As far as the “logic” of Mutual Assured Destruction- there is as much evidence that this works as there is for Trickle-Down Economics. Holding all of humanity at the point of a nuclear gun is not rational or moral, and Ronald Reagan realized this, even if many of his subsequent followers do not.

    Finally, even if we must argue that we still need a stockpile- “just in case”- what possible threat is there that demands the costly maintenance of over 6,000 of these weapons?

  95. @Scottynuke: Well, yes and no. While I had not heard about the HEU to LEU programs (I don’t make it a point to study this stuff routinely) and thanks for that link, weapons grade materials also include that Plutonium that isn’t being recycled – yet. I’ve heard a lot about the recyclability of various materials, like the power plants that were 80-95% efficient and resulted in low-grade waste, but these have not really come to pass. I’m not yet sold on the claims of how nuclear power can be made “clean.”

    Regardless, you never answered the question ;-)

  96. Some would call M.A.D insanity. However, there’s no denying it works and kept a world divided and teetering on the edge of conflict from erupting into it for much of the 20th century.

    The only thing scarier than a world with so many nuclear weapons is one without any. I don’t want to die in a war, nuclear or otherwise and the nice thing about nuclear weapons is that they don’t need to be used to do their job.

    Do H-bombs kill people? History would seem to indicate that they do not. They sit in their bunkers and silos, quietly collecting dust and occasionally being used as a diplomatic trump card. They do one thing quite effectively, and that is to force world leaders to use cooler heads when confronting possible conflict. Leaders are entirely willing to go to war and cause death and destruction “over there” where they won’t have to deal with it. Nuclear weapons make it personal, because a single one can kill the leader and his (or her) family quite easily. That makes a huge difference.

  97. @AliCali
    2 & 3, I totally agree with you and would even make the hypothesis that even on tests which were non-(primarily)-military based that even then it would be used a political saber rattling and/or the other side would interpret it as such. It’s the complexity of the issue which intrigues me where the scientific faction of military is testing to make “better” bombs (as you point out in 5) but there’s the political factions using it for saber rattling and in the early days there’s the scientific curiosity of just what are the total sum effects; fall out, radiation, “dirty” vs. “clean,” effects on land, air, water, underground, underwater, space, etc. But were there “WAY” to many tests, my initial reaction is to agree. :)

    7, When I visited the Atomic Testing Museum I was surprised to see no condemnation, but it came across as neutral to me; This is the era, here’s pop culture items (which from the 50′s were very pro-atomic toys, candies, etc.), here’s videos/interviews of people who worked at Yucca flats, here’s videos of the tests themselves, the protests, etc. If I remember correctly (but it has been a few years) there was even a write up on the Allen Ginsberg sit in on the train tracks. It all came across as “this is what happened,” they had a life size cardboard cut out of “Miss Atomic” from the 50′s with the mushroom cloud behind her…but they weren’t promoting a new “Miss Thermonuclear” pageant (thank Cthulhu). From a historical standpoint, it allowed me to get a sense of what it was like in the 50′s and 60′s and link that to my own understanding and thoughts. Anyway, I came away feeling that the museum let me make up my own mind as to whether all the testing was good, bad, or occupying space in both. :)

    @ Just Al
    I’d like to just get rid of them. The danger, the suffering, the pain, of using just one is horrific. But I also can’t ignore the fear that possession of nuclear weapons has deterred some chances at conflict, even though fear is a terrible thing to make decisions on. The Cold War International History Project (http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=topics.home&topic_id=1409) published translated transcripts of USSR generals discussing the early 80′s Polish Crisis and it is frightening enough to “hear” them talk about moving battalions to the border without the thought of no deterrence. Regardless, I applaud any and all efforts to unilaterally disarm the world of nuclear weapons. :)

  98. Composer99

    Nullius @45:

    A piss-poor justification for 1,000+ nuclear tests. A few hundred devices in a mixture of delivery modes suffices to protect the US (or any great-power) against any serious great-power threat.

  99. 94. Via Says:
    > Anyone who persists in following the myths that we had no
    > choice but to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it saved
    > thousands or millions of lives of American troops

    No one here has said there were no alternatives. There were several alternatives that all involved a prolonged homeland invasion of Japan. The US was essentially broke and not willing to risk ~1M US casualties in the invasion. After VE day the public was really expecting the war to be over relatively quickly, and prolonging it another year would have been a really hard sell.

    > The U.S. establishment, once the weapons were
    > prepared and demonstrated, were essentially on
    > autopilot, and the…few naysayers were ignored

    This is total BS and pure historical revisionism. Try reading Harry Truman’s memoirs to understand that 1) only the President could authorized the use of nukes (even then) and 2) the agony he went through to do so. Yes there were naysayers, but they weren’t ignored, it’s just that their view didn’t prevail.

    > The Japanese government had already sent out
    > feelers regarding terms of surrender. They only
    > sought to preserver the status of the emperor, but
    > the American tradition of Unconditional Surrender
    > made any conditions- even one so essential to the
    > Japanese psyche at the time- unacceptable.

    Well far from it for us to damage the Japanese psyche at the end of the war. Why don’t you ask the survivors of the Nanking (Nanjing) massacre how they feel about that particular attitude. The warlords who were still essentially in control wanted a fight to the death before surrender. That attitude resulted in over 50,000 Japanese casualties on Iwo Jima, the first US operation on Japanese territory. The “feelers” you mention were essentially them saying, “OK, you win, just leave us alone.” No way that was going to happen.

    > The alternative of giving a “demonstration”
    > to designated representatives of the Japanese
    > government and military- to show what they
    > were facing- was almost completely ignored,
    > and dismissed without serious consideration.

    Everything is sure easy to figure out from a distance of 65 years, isn’t it? The Manhattan project took three years to come up with the different processes for producing weapons grade uranium and plutonium, and then spent another year running the plants 24/7 to produce enough for four bombs. We used one in testing at Alamogordo. What would we do if they didn’t surrender after the demo? It wouldn’t be very convincing if we couldn’t carry through on the threat. Besides, while we were busy arranging and conducting this demonstration, combat casualties continued at the rate of hundreds per week.

    >Eagerness to show the Russians that we really
    > didn’t need their help mopping up Japan also
    > dominated thought.

    This one’s probably true.

    > Almost no time elapsed between the first and
    > second bombs that would have allowed the
    > authorities in Japan to assess the impact of
    > Fat Boy, and signs were that they were well
    > on their way toward surrender when Little
    > Man was detonated.

    Outside of the fact that you can’t even get the nicknames of the weapons right (it’s “Fat Man” for the plutonium bomb and “Little Boy” for the uranium bomb) could you support this with any documentation? I’m sure they were debating it pretty furiously, but I doubt that they were “well on their way” to surrender. The fact is that they hadn’t surrendered and we demanded IMMEDIATE surrender, like have the Diet pull an all nighter after Hiroshima and tell us the next morning. They didn’t. Two days later, they were still debating and we have no idea whether they were “well on their way) or not. We had to give the impression that we could rain continuous, massive destruction with these weapons (even though we only had one or two more, and none withing striking range).

    > As far as the “logic” of Mutual Assured Destruction-
    > there is as much evidence that this works as there
    > is for Trickle-Down Economics.

    Glad to hear you say that, because they both work. After all, we HAVEN’T had a nuclear war and you are reading this on a computer connected to the Internet (an excellent example of how TDE works).

    > Finally, even if we must argue that we still
    > need a stockpile- “just in case”- what possible
    > threat is there that demands over 6,000
    > of these weapons?

    As someone who has worked in the nuclear weapons industry (albeit on the delivery system side), this objection shows the total ignorance of how MAD works. You need that many warheads to show the opposition that no matter how many countermeasures they deploy, and how many of our missiles, aircraft and submarines they take out with a first strike, we have sufficient reserves to totally annihilate them with a retaliation, even if our country is completely dysfunctional from the first strike.

    Morally repugnant, but that’s how the game is played.

    - Jack

  100. Justin

    Here’s an interesting map I came across today that shows you exactly where a lot of those blue ones occured: http://wikimapia.org/#lat=37.1291185&lon=-116.0829163&z=12&l=0&m=b
    Amazing to see the whole history of nuclear tests in a few minutes like that. Also terrifying.

  101. Mike

    We were thinking “nuclear deterrent” and it worked.

  102. Cobey Cobb

    Incredible video. Does anyone know where I can find some information on the India/Pakistan issue? Every time I read about nuclear warfare they say “but it will probably come down to India and Pakistan” but I have no idea what’s going on. Any help? Thanks guy, great comments

  103. Your Name Here

    It really all comes down to a ‘Who’s got bigger balls’ contest.

  104. Dr Cy Coe

    Ok, I think we have the complete spectrum of possible opinions, except one. So if you’ll allow me:

    By having postponed an all-out nuclear war for over 60 years and by allegedly limiting the death count of conflicts in the same period, I claim that this video clearly shows the Nuclear Powers are responsible for over-populating the Earth.

  105. John P

    @10

    I think the UK or France testing on home soil (or anywhere in Europe, really) would have proven problematic! I’m sure the tabloids would have had some good headline fodder though.

  106. Nigel Depledge

    Cory (76) said:

    I do not share the terror with which people view nuclear weapons. They single-handedly prevented what would have been an incredibly brutal World War III between the two strongest superpowers in all of history.

    This is nothing more than a guess.

    Sure, the principle of MAD made a kind of mad sense, but I think you should live in a prime target before so off-handedly dismissing the terror of nuclear weapons.

    I grew up in the 1970s & 1980s in Cheltenham, which contains the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ – or, as we referred to it at school, “Shhhh…”). The town would almost certainly have been a prime target in the event of a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. One of our physics teachers was a member of the CND, and he did some calcs to determine the effect of a single 1-megaton weapon detonated 5000 feet above Cheltenham. He calculated how many people were likely to be killed in the initial burst of radiation, by the shock wave, by the subsequent firestorm and from radiation sickness. The total, based on the 1979 census, was 135,000 deaths. The total population of Cheltenham, based on the 1979 census, was 135,000.

    Do not think so lightly to dismiss the terror of nuclear weapons.

  107. @ 85, Wayne on the Plains wrote:

    I made back in 1985. It was surprising how many of the “letters to 2010″ reflected fear that the world might have ended in nuclear holocaust by now.

    A s a kid growing up in the 60s, I was terrified of war. My dad had joined up when he was 14 in ’45 after the loss of his parents, and the military was all that he knew. So, I saw Vietnam every night on the news… and it scared the hell out me. My mom would always comfort that the war would be over before my allotment, or I could get a college deferment, but it was still there, and I have never forgot it. Even though the kids of America didn’t suffer the horrors of the bombing, we empathized; if nothing else, from fear. At least I did.

    @ 93, AliCali wrote:

    The decision to use or not use did come down to empathy sometimes. If I remember correctly, Richard Nixon wanted to use nukes on Vietnam, but was talked out of them by his generals.

    Though, at the time, I didn’t understand the tactics, but the relief of Que Son was there every night, at dinner time, and my parents had spirited debates as to killing the Hun… frightening, it was. Up until then, the war was the second or third story, but then… that offensive.

  108. Everyone who insists WWIII has been prevented by MAD fails to realize that is unprovable.

    A third world war MAY have broken out, but would have been horrendously expensive for all sides to wage. We have no idea WHEN it would have happened, WHO was in charge, and how much of the threat was mere sabre rattling. If it HAD broken out, we don’t know how long it would have lasted, how many lives it would have taken, how much of civilization would have been destroyed, etc… We can SIMULATE scenarios that give us an idea how things would have turned out, but after Stalin, the threat of the Soviets became less about having a mad man in office and more about banging shoes on podiums and yelling at one another…but we’d built up such a good head of steam, and spent so much on military and nuclear technology, it seemed a shame to waste it (particularly given its effect on the economies of USSR, Europe and the US.)

    Much as we cannot say for sure that the Japanese may have surrendered quickly once they saw their home islands being invaded, or cannot say that we would have been repelled by a combination of fierce fighting and terrible weather, we cannot say for certain that WMDs mitigated a major world conflict…in fact, we HAD a major world conflict, and with many proxy battlegrounds…it simply wasn’t the kind of “conventional war” we had become accustomed to from WWII.

    Did nukes prevent the Soviets from nuking us? It might just as well be that nukes prevented the Soviets from nuking us back…

  109. @10 Yes, and nice of the US to test their nukes on their home soil. Go tell this to the inhabitants of the “Pacific Proving Grounds”, for instance the people of Bikini atoll:

    They were displaced to another atoll, Rongerik.

    Their home was repeatedly nuked: 23 atmospheric nuclear and thermonuclear detonations including two of the worst, Crossroads Baker and Castle Bravo.

    They were left dying of hunger on Rongerik, an uninhabitable place (which also received fallout from Castle Bravo).

    They were told they could move to a better atoll, Ujelang, but then no they couldn’t because the inhabitants from Enewetak atoll had to move there before their own atoll could get nuked.

    They were moved to Kili, an island where they had to give up their lifestyle (little local food, no lagoon, high seas) in favor of US aid delivered by cargo.

    They were told they could come back to Bikini where they started to die from radiation and contamination.

    They were moved back to Kili where they still are, 65 years later.

    I highly recommend FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND: A History of the People of Bikini and their Islands, by Jack Niedenthal and a visit to http://www.bikiniatoll.com/ .

  110. Grand Lunar

    Had no idea there was still some testing going on the in mid-1990s by other nations.

    I wonder where we’d be if all those bombs were used for a nuclear pulse propulsion instead?

    If only…………

  111. ntsc

    @ Jack Hagerty

    In support

    My father’s unit was slated for the invasion, the alternative to the use of atomic weapons was an estimated one million casualties and there was at the time misunderstanding if that was a million dead. Certainly the public assumed casualty meant dead not wounded. My mother did not think he would have survived his second invasion.

    The production line could produce two bombs a week, more were in the pipe line. As the military, and Truman understood why, didn’t want to use a single weapon, but one that could be continued to be delivered.

    There was a serious attempt to seize the Emperor and prevent his surrender, even after Nagasaki.

    I was not alive, but I have read. The war with Japan was fought with no quarter on either side. If there had been an invasion the Japanese casualty list would have probably been in 8 figures. Both Manchester and Uris have written of their experience in the Pacific.

  112. Messier Tidy Upper

    We. Came. *So*. Close. To. Annhiliation. :-(

    Scary. Yet oddly hopeful.

    Because we stepped back from that brink – more than once too.

    The Mutually Assured Destruction policy *was* crazy. Yet icily logical too. Utterly brutal yet it may well (& we’ll never know for sure but most likely) have prevented far worse from becoming reality.

    We came so close to a nuclear holocaust. Especially in the 13 days of the Cuban missile crisis. But there were a number of other “close calls” too. We are fairly lucky methinks that sanity prevailed and we need to avoid being too complacant about this fortune continuing.

    Interesting animation art project by Isao Hashimoto – well done and domo arigato ;-) – but it only gives a very small part of the story.

    It would be good to see a lot more information such as yeilds, the type of bomb eg. fission A-bomb / fusion H-bomb / neutron bomb etc .. and whether they were underground or above ground and so on.

    It also covers only nuclear testing (& only up to 1998) – we know other nations have the bomb that haven’t tested or have sought and come close to obtaining nuclear weapons.

    For instance, it is hardly a secret that Israel (unofficially) has nuclear weapons and has had for many decades and certainly South Africa, Syria, Iraq and Libya have had advanced programs to develop nuclear WMD’s.

    Israel prevented Saddam Hussein’s regime from developing nuclear weapons in the early 1980′s with a military strike condemned at the time but in hindsight we know that Israeli operation to destroy Saddam’s Osirak reactor was a very good idea. After the first Gulf War over Kuwait in 1991 the US discovered Iraq was actually a lot closer to going nuclear than we’d thought at the time and I do think there is a good case that removal of Saddam’s regime may have prevented that very nasty dictatorship from getting nuclear WMD’s eventually.

    Presently, Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons – and unlike the other nations fundamerntalist Iran really *is* highly likely to be crazy enough to actually *use* them given Iran’s dictator Ahmadinejhad’s messianic delusions and his apocalyptic anti-Semitic and anti-Western rhetoric. I do think we should do whatever necessary – including military options to prevent the Iranian regime aquiring A or H-Bombs. The alternative is simply too much worse.

    The fewer members the nuclear club has the better.

    That said, responsible nations like the US *do* need a level of nuclear deterent so total disarmament is not only unrealistic but also probably undesirable.

    I am ambivalent about this. It isn’t an easy issue and there aren’t any clear answers. I’ve thought about this an awful lot over, pretty much allmy life too.

    I grew up in the Cold War and vividly remember a high school drama class play with a group of classmates that depicted a nuclear holocaust scenario.

    One of my favourite books as I was a kid was an SF novel ‘Children of the Dust’ by about a nuclear holocaust and its aftermath.

    I’ve been to Hiroshima and the Genbakudomu – the one building left standing after the A-bombing which is now a museum and peace park. It was an incredibly moving and humbling experience walking through and seeing for instance, the clothes on the backs of schoolgirls when the Bomb went off.

    As an aspiring SF writer, I’ve imagined nuclear bombings – of my own city and the world countless times. It frightens me and awes me but things are not so simple and there’s no easy answers now. :-(

    We have The Bomb and we can’t just give it up. We have to learn to live with it and hope it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands or ever get used in anger again.

  113. Messier Tidy Upper

    Israel prevented Saddam Hussein’s regime from developing nuclear weapons in the early 1980’s with a military strike condemned at the time but in hindsight we know that Israeli operation to destroy Saddam’s Osirak reactor was a very good idea.

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osirak &

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera

    Apparently Ilan Ramon, Israel’s one and only astronaut who perished with the Columbia was among the pilots involved.

    It wa sa good an efefctive move and I’d like tosee something like it -but larger given the dispersed ad hiden and guarded facilities take place against Iran preferably combined with a “decapitation” strike against teh Iranian leadership. Bad perhaps but it beats the alternative.

  114. Messier Tidy Upper

    ^ Yeck. Typos. Ouuta time to fix. Sorry. :-(

    That’s meant to be :

    It was a good an effective move and I’d like to see something like it – but larger given the more dispersed and hidden and guarded facilities take place against Iran preferably combined with a “decapitation” strike against the Iranian leadership. Bad perhaps but it beats the alternative.

    I think this will just have to occur at sometime with either Israel striking alone or, better, Israel backed by the US. We will have to deal with Ahmadinhejad at some point. This is just NOT a situation where appeasement or diplomacy can work. :-(

    @81. MauiPancakeGuru Says:

    Reminds me of the movie with Mathew Broderick, and the crazy wargame computer. Was that the title? “Wargames?” Anyway the computer program (from the 80’s no less) was somehow in the process of starting a nuclear war with Russia, or should I say Soviet Union. Alas, a spoiler for those who havent seen it. A teenager confuses the computer with tic tac toe. Hey, it could happen… Maybe in India.

    There is a novel of that by David Bischoff (Penguin Books, 1983.) :

    “based on the screenplay by Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes. Now a sensational film”

    on my bookshelf – or, now, right in front of me. Great novel with lots of witty dialogue and some genuinely scary moments and one of my faves as a kid too. :-)

    A teenage hacker gets into a top-secret military program and plays a game not realising the computer is actually affecting things in real life and nearly causing a nuclear holocaust.

    I presume that’s the one you mean. ;-)

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Games_(film) – apparently a couple of movies were made from it.

  115. All those nuclear explosions. I wonder if it has played a part in global warming. ;)

  116. Charles

    @Messier: well said, and entirely pragmatic.

  117. Pete UK

    A few thoughts:

    Messier @113

    For genuine scary, you need something a little more robust than War Games. I would suggest the British drama-documentary “Threads”. It resonated with nearly everyone who watched (endured?) it, because we genuinely feared it could happen.

    It’s easy to look back from our vantage point in 2010 and opine that thousands of ICMBs brimming with megaton warheads prevented all-out war, but at the time we didn’t know that we’d have the luxury of contemplating that outcome. All we knew was that it might go wrong. The superpowers could fall out. Someone might misinterpret a radar scan. And the consequence would be the abrupt end of everything we took for granted, and the abrupt end, full-stop, of uncounted hundreds of millions of us.

    Most of the time you didn’t think about it, but it didn’t take much to trigger realisation that those things were out there and could be used. I can recall waking up in the much-cliched “cold sweat.

    Finally, I have seen discussions about nuclear war on the web in which it is clear that some of the younger contributors have clearly not really taken on board the power of these weapons. “Seen big bangs – Gulf War – shock and awe etc”. I’m sure that doesn’t apply to the intelligent readers and commenters of Bad Astronomy, but I feel when I see that happening that I must make sure the message gets home. However unlikely the outcome, however much it appears that the policy of deterrence seems to have warded off superpower conflict, everyone ought to be in no doubt how appalling the consequences of using these things would be. Teenagers too young to have lived through the early 80s or the CM crisis will one day be running our countries…..

  118. Nigel Depledge

    Messier Tidy Upper said:

    We will have to deal with Ahmadinhejad at some point.

    Maybe. But anything pre-emptive will simply prove that his rhetoric has a grain of truth.

    Why give his followers that satisfaction? Why not actually wait until after he’s done something that makes a declaration of war justifiable?

  119. Aaron B.

    Agree with @95 “…correlation does not mean causation”.

    @40 Joe R. –

    War has changed significantly in the past 50 years. Conflicts are smaller for many reasons but namely for the reason that the amount of ground troops that are being used today are much smaller. No longer are a massive amount of ground troops needed to nullify a target or objective. Missiles can be sent with amazing accuracy from 10-20+ miles away and take out a target. Not to mention myriads of other technology that has made the battlefield a place where less boots on the ground are required.

    So while the generalization of your assertion that the advancement of weaponry has decreased casualties is true; your are incorrect by directly asserting that the creation of nukes caused the reduction.

  120. Gary Ansorge

    120. Pete UK

    “in which it is clear that some of the younger contributors have clearly not really taken on board the power of these weapons.”

    ,,,and when I was in Saudi Arabia, an Arab friend remarked “We Arabs don’t believe in nuclear weapons.”

    “You don’t believe in using/having them?” I asked.

    “We don’t believe they’re real.” He responded.

    Just as many anti-vaxers don’t believe in the protection they get, because they haven’t SEEN the devastation those immune boosters have prevented.

    I expect, if there ever IS a regional conflict in the middle east that involves nukes, they’ll be more anti-nuke than Japan.

    I certainly hope they never have to learn the reality of nukes from experience.

    Gary 7

  121. erlando

    “We use nuclear power for peaceful purposes now, and in the future we may even use it for exploring the solar system and beyond — we already use fissile material to power some probes — but we should always bear in mind the first use to which this power was put. ”

    And it’s naive to think that nuclear weapons will never be used in aggression.

  122. JoeSmithCA

    I blame everything on the Romans, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have nuclear weapons.

  123. “What ‘ave tha Romans ever dun for us?”

  124. Cheyenne

    @Nigel – “Why not actually wait until after he’s done something that makes a declaration of war justifiable?”

    One can only hope that the “something” is not a nuclear detonation in Tel Aviv carried out by a proxy like Hezbollah. I’m not advocating for a pre-emptive strike on Iran. I think the consequences would be far too great. But I can understand why Israel is not taking pre-emptive strike off the table. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some Iranian nuclear scientists had some rather unfortunate accidents over the next few years. Mossad has a successful track record of that.

    edit to add – Gerald Bull is one interesting case of an Israeli assassination of a weapons builder in their region.

  125. Travis D

    As I’ve stated before I think stopping nuclear testing was beyond dumb. Being scared of some technology is just stupid. Be scared of what might be done with it but not of the tech itself and don’t ban valid research of it just because of your own ignorant fears.

    Or should we ban all explosives and sharp objects too just to be safe?

    Oh and Via, pretty much everything in your post on nuking Japan is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

  126. @Travis D
    I don’t wholly disagree with you. Humans having nuclear weapons is the scary thing, or at least the root of it, and if a human or group of humans really want to cause the death of other humans there are many ways to try and reach that end, nukes or no. A human with a sharp stick to my neck will instill greater fear in me than the nukes collecting dust. However, the amount of devastation from one 0.5 kt nuke dwarfs the effects of a conventional bomb or explosive, so I would say that fear of nuclear weapons is a valid and appropriate emotional response to their existence. Like I said, “fear is a terrible thing to make decisions on,” to which I’ll add…especially if reason and logic are divorced from the decision making process.

    As for stopping nuclear testing: To what ends are the tests designed for? Operation Plowshare is the kind of testing I would be inclined to support…can nuclear weapons be used in mining, excavation, etc? The end result was there would be to much contamination to make it feasible. Great tests. If it the tests had showed that nukes were great to use at construction sites and were cost effective then sweet, let’s use them. Other than for use in space flight I can’t think of any other non-military tests (doesn’t mean they aren’t there). On the other hand, with around 1,000 tests done by the US alone in order to build better bombs in which to either deter or use for war, I’d be hard pressed to say let’s test more based just on the contamination/pollution alone.

  127. 112. Grand Lunar Says: “I wonder where we’d be if all those bombs were used for a nuclear pulse propulsion instead?”

    Probably no further. Try reading Geoff Dyson (Freeman’s son)’s book on Project Orion. He does a pretty good job in describing the biggest advance to come out of the project was the “nuclear shape charge” device. This is a nuclear device designed to focus as much of it’s energy (in the form of photons) in one direction, e.g. towards the ship’s pusher plate. It required some amazingly subtle manipulation of the core shape to do this, and weapons, which are designed to spread their energy as widely as possible wouldn’t work.

    - Jack

  128. Messier Tidy Upper

    @121. Nigel Depledge Says: [July 22nd, 2010 at 11:11 am]

    Messier Tidy Upper said: “We will have to deal with Ahmadinhejad at some point.” Maybe. But anything pre-emptive will simply prove that his rhetoric has a grain of truth. Why give his followers that satisfaction? Why not actually wait until after he’s done something that makes a declaration of war justifiable?

    You don’t think Ahnmadinejad has done enough to make war justifiable *already* by the Iranian regime supporting terrorism against us and esp. Israel with Hezbollah and Hamas? Note that Iran has been supporting the terrorists attacking and killing Americans and other Westerners in Iraq here. So effectively, de facto we’re already at war with them via their terrorist proxies.

    Plus what (# 127.) Cheyenne has noted about the first thing Ahmadinejad doing being vapourising Tel Aviv and murdering millions of innocent civilians. You really happy to wait for that to occur? :-(

    Ahmadinejad has made it very clear that he wants to exterminate Israel – to wipe it off the map. He has denied the Holocaust, funds, arms and politically supports terrorist groups in Lebanaon, Gaza and in Iraq. He heads his nation’s regular public hate-sessions against the West and Israel – the US being the “greater Satan” in brain-washed Iranian minds. Plus he’s crushed his own people’s attempts at getting their freedom from his brutal theocratic dictatorship.

    Exactly what more do you think Ahmadinejad needs to do before you think we need to take real action?

    Develop a hidden WMDs program and lie to the world about it – oh wait he’s doing *that* already too! :-(

    How much more time do we give Ahmadinejad to develop the nuclear WMD’s he’s after and build up Iran’s military and terrorist forces for the attack we know he wants to launch?

    How long are we going to wait to act knowing every delay is making action harder and more costly in lives and damages to everybody?

    Appeasement is just making things that much worse. Nippping the Iran problem in the bud, ASAP, is the sanest and in the long run – almost certainly – the least costly and damaging course we can possibly take.

    Yes it will be bad, there will be bloodshed and a lot of pain. War is never good and yet there are times when it is inevitable and necessary and the lesser of the potential evils. Sometimes we have to do it and work for the best outcome anyhow. The alternative of a nuclear armed unstable and aggressive Iran led by a megalomanical dictator who wishes to bring on armageddon to usher in the “hidden imam” is far worse.

    [Trying very hard to avoid a clear historical parallel that would lead to a Godwin, thinking of the last time an aggressive anti-Semitic regime threatened the world & one powerful politician tried to appease it here.]

    As for the Muslim world hating us more? Meh. How can they hate us *more* than they already do? They’ll never like us while Israel exists and if the cost of Arab approval is wiping out the Jews is that really a price you wish to pay? I’m guessing you’re not Jewish here somehow or particularly concerned about what happens to them, eh Nigel?

  129. bob

    Perhaps this was already mentioned…but WHY was the bomb set off by ISRAEL in 1979 in collaboration with the APARTHEID racist regime in South Africa NOT included? Israel has a couple of hundred nukes. So much for a nuke-free Middle East. Is a ‘Jewish’ bomb not unacceptable?

  130. Nigel Depledge

    Messier Tidy Upper (131) said:

    You don’t think Ahnmadinejad has done enough to make war justifiable *already* by the Iranian regime supporting terrorism against us and esp. Israel with Hezbollah and Hamas?

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    IOW, all of the major players in the Cold War have supported equally terrible things in the name of democracy / communism (depending on which side of the Iron Curtain you’re on) and we don’t expect declarations of war to arise from that. Up until 1979, NATO supported a regime in Iran that was just as tyrranical as Sadam’s was in Iraq until Gulf War II. The difference was that the tyrranical regime we supported was pro-West and anti-Communist.

    Hell, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, we supported the Taliban. Now they’ve decided they don’t like the strings that were attached to that support and we’re opponents.

    Note that Iran has been supporting the terrorists attacking and killing Americans and other Westerners in Iraq here. So effectively, de facto we’re already at war with them via their terrorist proxies.

    Not so. The terrorists may be killing people and destroying meteriel, but that is nothing like the scale of desctruction in an actual war. And there is no official or proven link between the government in question and the terrorist groups (ever heard of “plausible deniability”? – yeah, well, they probably learned that from the US in the first place). Rhetoric is one thing, but sending in planes, tanks and troops is something completely different.

    Plus what (# 127.) Cheyenne has noted about the first thing Ahmadinejad doing being vapourising Tel Aviv and murdering millions of innocent civilians. You really happy to wait for that to occur?

    Actually, yes, I’d rather we waited for justification than started a war as the aggressor! You (and Cheyenne) seem to be supposing that it is merely a matter of time until Iran does something dramatic and horrific (in an official capacity), but what if it’s merely sabre-rattling? If we (or Israel) strike(s) pre-emptively, we’ll never know for sure if they would have used a WMD without our provocation.

    Maybe they’re genuinely scared of the US and want the wherewithal to protect themselves from Western Imperialism. I recognise that this term is overstating the case, but there is a very real and widespread perception in that part of the world that the US will not rest until all nations in the region are western lapdogs. Let’s face it, the US does not exactly have a track record of peace, harmony and equitable dealing when it comes to the Islamic world, does it (even before 11/9)?

    Similarly, to some extent, Israel has made the bed in which it currently lies. If you look at the history of the Middle East since the creation of the state of Israel, Israel has been the aggressor in most of the wars in that region, often with US support. How do you expect those Islamic nations to feel about Israel and the US?

  131. Damon

    ^^^^^^ This.

    If you believe open engagement is the only answer you’re not looking hard enough for a peaceful solution.

  132. Cheyenne

    “You (and Cheyenne) seem to be supposing that it is merely a matter of time until Iran does something dramatic and horrific (in an official capacity), but what if it’s merely sabre-rattling?”. Uh, no dude, I didn’t “suppose” anything with regards to what the Iranian leadership is going to do for certain. I merely stated that I hope that your “something” isn’t a nuclear holocaust in Israel carried out by their proxies. I think the odds of that happening in the next 10 years or so are low – but it’s still a calculated gamble with millions of lives at stake.

    “And there is no official or proven link between the government in question and the terrorist groups…”. Give me a break. You’re going to say that you don’t think Hezbollah and Iran are linked? Don’t be simple.

    “the US does not exactly have a track record of peace, harmony and equitable dealing when it comes to the Islamic world, does it (even before 11/9)?”. No, we’re certainly not as fair and capable as people like, say, the English. We don’t have that stellar historical track record like they have in the region :)

  133. Travis D

    “Similarly, to some extent, Israel has made the bed in which it currently lies. If you look at the history of the Middle East since the creation of the state of Israel, Israel has been the aggressor in most of the wars in that region, often with US support. How do you expect those Islamic nations to feel about Israel and the US?”

    I see you live in some alternate universe with some sort of alternate history. Is Lindsey Lohan President in your world? Do cows fly?

  134. Damon

    Yeah, I’m sure the IDF simply “mis-stated” every bullet they fired on that flotilla.

  135. Bollé

    Holl crap!
    US ans USSR didn’t need enemies – they bombed themselves like there’s no tomorrow!
    I’m my wors enemy! :)

  136. Brian Too

    I feel the horror of the Bomb. However if they must exist, I’d rather a stable democracy have them. Besides the usual suspects, I’m basically OK with India having them. Pakistan, not so much. China has been remarkably stable but I worry about the populace eventually having (re-having) a problem with it’s authoritarian leadership.

    I suspect that Iran is deliberately playing at being a provocateur with it’s anti-Israeli rhetoric. The Iranians like to distinguish themselves from the Arabs but then they go and make the same mistakes that the Arab world has been making for a long, long time (Egypt and Turkey get a pass on this). In fact they’ve entangled themselves big time in the Middle Eastern conflict and for what? The problem is that some people won’t be content to let it slide and take the chance it’s all puffery for domestic political consumption.

    Remember the game of Risk? In order to feel safe against your buildup, I must buildup more. That causes you to wonder what I’m up to, and you reinforce. Then I respond and exceed your reinforcements, and so on until we talk/think ourselves into a war…

  137. Andy Hughes

    Yes, Thosmas Joseph, because the UK is just as big as California.

    Oh no wait, it isn’t.

    Not nearly as big.

  138. nomuse

    From the profound to the….

    With all these tests, why is it the movies use the same six well-known clips over and over?

  139. Stargazer

    Let’s develop reactors for manned space exploration. That would be a wonderful use of this technology, certainly better than building weapons.

  140. Messier Tidy Upper

    @134. Nigel Depledge Says:

    Messier Tidy Upper (131) said: “You don’t think Ahnmadinejad has done enough to make war justifiable *already* by the Iranian regime supporting terrorism against us and esp. Israel with Hezbollah and Hamas?”
    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. …
    [Long screed on irrelevant past history stuff then follows.]

    I’ll note you didn’t answer my question there.

    Is the USA’s record perfect – no. Does that then mean we should let Iran get the Bomb and then in all probability use it to murder Israelis? HELL NO!

    Not so. The terrorists may be killing people and destroying meteriel, but that is nothing like the scale of desctruction in an actual war. And there is no official or proven link between the government in question and the terrorist groups (ever heard of “plausible deniability”? – yeah, well, they probably learned that from the US in the first place). Rhetoric is one thing, but sending in planes, tanks and troops funding, arming, training and supporting murderous terrorist groups and useing thenm as your political and military proxies is something completely different.

    Fixed that for you Nigel. ;-)

    BTW. We are indeed currently engaged in an actual War against Terrorism – and if we’re honest with much of the Islamic world that is frothing-at-the-mouth crazy for the Jihadist cause. They attacked the USA on Sept. 11th 2001 and have been leading terrorism all around the globe before that. Bin Laden declared war on the West and other Islamic nations and terrror groups have long hated and committed atrocities to try and control everything and everyone in the region and to exterminate Israel. This can’t just be ignored and brushed aside however PC people wish to do so. There is aclash of civilisations – or at least between Western civilisation and the barbarism of the Islamic Jihadists. Pretending this situation doesn’t exist really doesn’t help. :-(

    Actually, yes, I’d rather we waited for justification than started a war as the aggressor!

    You’d rather wait until Iran had the Bomb and nuked Tel Aviv with it? :-(

    Your philosophy there will make the war with Iran when it comes (& it is not *if* but *when*) far worse. You’re failure to act when action is needed means massive needless death and suffering. That’s how I and many others see it.

    As noted I think Iran has already done more than enough to justify Israel and the West acting in self-defence right now.

    Similarly, to some extent, Israel has made the bed in which it currently lies.

    What by actually defending itself and its right to exist and not just going away and dying like the Arabs want it to do? :roll:

    By being willing to talk peace and giving Gaza back to the Palestinians (along with other cities and areas) only for the Palestinians to then support the fanatcial terror group Hamas and use it as a Jihadist base for firing rockets at the Jewish state? :roll:

    Israel has been the aggressor in most of the wars in that region, often with US support.

    What like in 1948 when as soon as the Jewish state declared independence it was attacked by all the surrounding Arab nations which were openly basting they’d drive the Jews into the sea? Or in 1967 when Arabs were about to attack and wipe them out again .. or 1973 when the Arabs tried to, guess what, exterminate Israel, choosing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur or when the Palestinians launched an uprising against peace talks or because a Jewish leader dared to just visit the Temple Mount, the Jews most holy site, or etc .. Go read your history books please, Nigel. Try and imagine things from the Israeli point of view for once.

    How do you expect those Islamic nations to feel about Israel and the US?

    Like maybe they should admit defeat and give up on the notion of wiping them out or making war against them because each time they do they just lose bigtime? ;-)

    Or let’s put it this way – why should we care what the Islamic world thinks more than what the Jewish world thinks? Or what the secular Western world thinks?

    If somebody’s religion says its okay to stone women to death for having consensual sex, says that suicide-homicide bombing is rewarded in heaven with sex with virginal angelic sex slaves, says its okay to murder unarmed captured hostages – even wheelchair bound ones [Look up Klinghoffer and teh 'Achille Lauro' hijacking.], fly hijacked aircraft into buildings, etc .. etc .,. are their opinuions really worth listening to?

    I, for one am sick and tired of being told we have to always respect the views of the Islamic extremists when those Muslim views are insanely intolerant, sexist anti-Senmitic and seventh century and they are unwilling to respect any of our norms of civilised humane behaviour. Perhaps its time *they* were asked to respect our ideals and tolerate our culture & not vice versa? :-(

    @138. Damon Says:

    Yeah, I’m sure the IDF simply “mis-stated” every bullet they fired on that flotilla.

    On only one boat in that flotilla bringing aid to the terriorists in Hamas-stan was there any toruble. That was the one boat where armed aggressive misnamed “Peace activist” terrorist supporters met Israeli commandos with force trying to bash and murder the IDF men as they arrived. Go figure.

    If anything, isreal’s been far too restrained.

  141. Messier Tidy Upper

    @142. nomuse Says:

    From the profound to the…. With all these tests, why is it the movies use the same six well-known clips over and over?

    Probably because those are the ones with the best and most dramatic footage. ;-)

    Don’t forget that most of these tests were underground and I’m not sure how many of them would have recorded footage at all – let alone the sort spectacular set piece cinematography movie makers desire. Also, some of the test were at locations such as Muroroa (spelling?) atoll that may not fit in with the setting of the movies in question.

  142. Nigel Depledge

    CHeyenne (136) said:

    “And there is no official or proven link between the government in question and the terrorist groups…”. Give me a break. You’re going to say that you don’t think Hezbollah and Iran are linked? Don’t be simple.

    OK, point me to the evidence.

    I’m not saying there isn’t a link, all I was saying is that, if we can’t prove it, we have to behave as if it were not there.

    Otherwise, we’re no better than we say they are, at least in the eyes of the rest of the world. And that matters.

    “the US does not exactly have a track record of peace, harmony and equitable dealing when it comes to the Islamic world, does it (even before 11/9)?”. No, we’re certainly not as fair and capable as people like, say, the English. We don’t have that stellar historical track record like they have in the region

    Oh, my sarcasm detector went off the scale there.

    Irrespective of who started what (and you’ll note that I never claimed the English have never been imperialistic warmongers), the way we behave now is what we can control. My point was that there will be a legacy in the middle east of outrage at the injustices perpetrated upon them by western nations in the past. While we cannot change that, we can understand why they dislike western interference in the region and perhaps not be quite so vengeful following terrorist attacks in the US and Europe. If it isn’t already too late.

    Shortly before* Gulf War II, I recall George W saying “Saddam is a bad guy” as if that justified the war all by itself. And then the US perpetrates systematic abuse of human rights at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Tie these two things together and you have an apparent justification to invade the US.

    * Actually, this may have been during the invasion itself.

  143. Nigel Depledge

    Messier Tidy Upper (144) said (inter alia):

    We are indeed currently engaged in an actual War against Terrorism

    The very concept is self-defeating. All the “War on Terrorism” can ever achieve is to supply more recruitment materials for the terrorist groups you are trying to eradicate. The US and its allies are simply motivating more people to take up terrorism as an answer to what they perceive as past injustices.

  144. Nigel Depledge

    Messier Tidy Upper:

    What like in 1948 when as soon as the Jewish state declared independence it was attacked by all the surrounding Arab nations which were openly basting they’d drive the Jews into the sea? Or in 1967 when Arabs were about to attack and wipe them out again .. or 1973 when the Arabs tried to, guess what, exterminate Israel, choosing the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur or when the Palestinians launched an uprising against peace talks or because a Jewish leader dared to just visit the Temple Mount, the Jews most holy site, or etc .. Go read your history books please, Nigel. Try and imagine things from the Israeli point of view for once.

    Yes, maybe so. I only said most, not all. Israel has been the aggressor more often than not. Are you sure you checked your history books?

  145. Nigel Depledge

    Messier Tidy Upper:

    I, for one am sick and tired of being told we have to always respect the views of the Islamic extremists when those Muslim views are insanely intolerant, sexist anti-Senmitic and seventh century and they are unwilling to respect any of our norms of civilised humane behaviour.

    And what proportion of the Islamic world, exactly, do you suppose is represented by this viewpoint?

    My guess would be you’re talking about less than 1% of Muslims. Have you ever actually met any Muslims?

  146. When citing casualty figures one thing to remember is the dramatic improvement in medical treatments. Many of the casualties in WWI and WWII and wars before that were from secondary infection and disease, not the initial wounds. Also, the war then was against a nation, not just the nations army, thus the more civilian casualties, the better was the prevailing view, hence the various massive bombing of cities (Dresden, Tokyo, Berlin, London, etc).

    As a “cold warrior” I can tell we that at least on the USS John Adams, SSBN 620 (1976-1979) that whenever the “battle stations missile” alarms went off we all held our breaths until it was announced it was drill because we knew that if we ever really launched it was literally the end of the world.

    Would I like it if all the nuclear weapons in the world magically disappeared? The childish part of me says yes, but the realistic part says no. probably the only thing keeping WWIII at bay is the thought of nuclear devastation raining from the sky (North Korea, Venezuela, the Middle east all come to mind) . It will only get worse with the Islamicising of Europe (if current trends continue. most of Europe will be controlled by Moslems within the next 50 years or less).

    I am afraid blue sky wishing for peace has never accomplished anything (read up on Chamberlain in WWII) but misery. If you want peace, prepare for war.

    Mike

  147. Cheyenne

    “OK, point me to the evidence.”. What would you accept as evidence? Council on Foreign Relations, news outlets like the BBC, every friggin intelligence agency on the planet, Hezbollah’s own statements bragging that they receive money and armament like AK’s, RPG’s, Katyusha rockets from Iran? Maybe pictures of Hezbollah leadership with Iranian officials? Bank records tracking money transfers? I can’t think of anybody or any organization that actually has denied the openly admitted link between the two. To claim otherwise is just bizarre. Just a couple of quick links below to some sites out of the thousands that document the “evidence” that you need to be provided.

    World Wide Web cfr.org/publication/9362/state_sponsors.html
    World Wide Web terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/iran_hezbollah_e1b.htm
    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1908671.stm
    World Wide Web globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hizballah.htm
    World Wide Web independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/hizbollah-turns-to-iran-for-new-weapons-to-wage-war-on-israel-805763.html

    “Oh, my sarcasm detector went off the scale there.”. Good thing. I would have been worried if it hadn’t. ☺

    And I agree with your following paragraphs for the most part. Remember that all I said was that I didn’t agree with pre-emptive strike against Iran– but I can understand why Israel possibly would. Osirak and some of the actions in Syria and Jordan, in historical context, have now proven to be successes. They made the right choice to hit first. I think hitting Iran with an overt military response wouldn’t be though. I think it would open up a wasp’s nest.

    But we should at least acknowledge the incredible danger here – and not just to Israel. Iran going nuclear means the House of Saud is going to go nuclear. There’s no way the Arabs are going to let the Persians be the nuclear hyperpower in the region. Another escalated nuclear arms race in that region is a legitimate and large fear. It’s worth it to try economic sanctions, covert action, and anything else we can do to stop that from happening.

    In short, I suspect that you and I agree far more than we disagree. Except the Hezbollah thing. Dude, you’re like totally wrong on that bizness. They’re linked, Iran uses them as proxy warriors, and everybody and their mother knows it. I just hope that 5 years from now an Iranian agent doesn’t deliver a crude suitcase nuke to them in addition to their next round of Katyusha’s.

  148. spinetingler

    >The Atomic Testing museum in Las Vegas is interesting (as someone pointed out). It has pictures of the strip with a mushroom cloud in the background, since the testing was not too far from Vegas.

    That picture is a well-known fake. The Nevada Test Site (NTS) is a good hour drive from Las Vegas. No test cloud could be observed at that range. (The flash of night tests could sometimes be seen, though).

  149. wench

    Over 2000 weapons and half of them are American? I’m afraid what I initially took away from this was, “Yay! We got the highest score!”

    Ok, it’s a game nobody really wants to win. But the other consideration is, without the experience and data gained from these tests, we wouldn’t have any peaceful uses for nuclear energy, or any comprehension for the damage they can cause when they go wrong.

    We always have to learn things the hard way.

  150. Andrew

    Why do I see Britsh tests in Nevada?

  151. Christiaan

    Is there an open standards version of this I can view on my iPad somewhere?

  152. bernarda

    Michael Campbell @ 74. Look up on youtube or the site TED, a talk by Steven Pinker on violence. He argues that overall violence has been decreasing for centuries and that the 20th was the least violent in percentage terms.

  153. BornFree

    Since India “joined” the club in 1974, the caption at the top of the article should read “…..to 1998, when Pakistan joined the madness.”

  154. talin60_1

    @ 10

    Britain and France were nuking on colonies’ soil!

  155. Nolan

    No, and I’m the one causing “global warming” by driving my car to work. It has nothing to do with the 2000 nuclear bombs our world leaders have been dropping.

  156. Master

    All your base are belong to us.

  157. If you need experiment, please you conduct outside the solar system.

  158. So the bad thing that came out of this, aside from ending WWII because that was a horrible thing to do, was what exactly?

  159. Phil K

    Phil said: “we already use fissile material to power some probes”

    Strictly speaking, this is not true. The Pu-238 fuel in the radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) that we sent to the moon and the outer planets is not fissile. That term implies an ability to support a chain reaction. Pu-238 can’t. It simply sits there, steadily generating about half a watt of heat per gram as it decays with an 88-year half life to U-234 (which is also radioactive, but with a much longer half life of 246,000 years so it’s far less radioactive than Pu-238).

    Any radioactive substance can in principle fuel an RTG, and the Russians have used a variety in theirs. NASA likes Pu-238 because of its reasonably long half life and the fact that it emits primarily alpha particles, which are very easy to shield.

    Nor is U-238 fissile. This is the isotope that makes up nearly all natural uranium and even more of so-called “depleted uranium”.

    However, U-238 is *fissionable*, meaning that it will fission when hit by sufficiently energetic (MeV range) neutrons. But it won’t support a chain reaction because the neutrons released by fission aren’t in the MeV range.

    Ironically, most of the energy released by the largest nuclear weapons ever detonated by the US came not from thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes but from fission of large jackets of U-238 wrapped around the thermonuclear stages and irradiated by the MeV-range neutrons generated by the fusion reactions.

    The biggest bomb ever detonated, the Soviet 50 MT “Tsar Bomba”, was designed for a U-238 jacket. Had one been installed, the yield would have been 100 MT. Fortunately, some sanity prevailed and it was replaced with lead. This made that particular explosion one of the “cleanest” ever detonated in terms of the fraction of total energy that came from fusion.

  160. Phil K

    #71, I’ve had the same thought – isn’t it ironic that our wars are being increasingly fought over energy supplies, yet our most horrible weapons derive their horror entirely from the huge amount of energy they can produce?

    Problem is, not all of the energy generation mechanisms in a nuclear weapon are amenable to being slowed down to constructive, rather than destructive rates. The fission chain reactions in U-235 and Pu-239 can certainly be slowed down, but they produce only a small fraction of the total yield of most nuclear weapons. Most of their yield come from deuterium-tritium fusion that has yet to be carried out at rates and scales practical for power generation.

    Still more energy can be generated by the U-238 “tamper” when hit by fast fusion neutrons, but U-238 cannot be used in conventional thermal nuclear reactors. However, reactors can be designed to breed fissile Pu-239 from U-238, and still others (fast neutron reactors) can burn U-238 directly.

  161. Dreamer

    So, in over 2,000 detonations, only 2 were actual wartime use intended to cause damage to an enemy. In 60 years, what’s that-2 or 3 generations?
    Somehow, I think this actually indicates “restraint”. Apparently, calmer heads have continued to prevail.
    As was said at the start, however…the Djinni is out of the bottle. How long until those who are willing to blow up themselves as well as innocents of their own kind (“own kind” in the small-minded tribal thinking, rather than ‘We’re all one humankind”) realize that there is no reason (obviously, there is little “reason” involved in that kind of decision) not to up the ante and go out in as big a blast as humanly possible. Oklahoma city, Baghdad, Pakistan it makes little difference who does it first, but they will. No one country has the monoploy on extremist idiots. The question is after they do – just the one time -What happens next?
    I grew up with the air raid siren ‘tests’, and read every scifi book I could about that version of the end of the world. the point is-we didn’t do it. “we”. Humankind. I’d like to think there’s hope, in the long run.

  162. Voice of Reason

    I think many will agree with me that scientist are ego driven. This is not a bad thing, because of this many marvelous creations have been put into the world through science. Sadly this desire to always succed is used my others, often for military means or means taht damage human society as a whole

  163. Rationality

    Hey ya’ll.

    Those little blinking dots struck fear into my heart……

    I’m a midwestern teenager who just felt like popping some opinions of my own here- here goes….

    -Nuclear weapons have negative environmental impacts
    -And the potential to cause a World War with devastating environmental effects
    -They also serve as a powerful deterrent, as all the world’s nations fear the threat of “Immediate and Devastating retaliation”.
    - Such a nuclear war would kill millions in the initial blasts
    … and kill many more through radiation poisoning, something that could effect future generations
    - Additionally, radiation makes land highly unsafe to farm on, for horribly obvious reasons
    - Thus, survivors might have to deal with food shortages too.

    This “forum” is pretty cool, most everyone seems to have strong educated statements to make!

  164. Michael Skelton

    Goes a long way in explaining California ; )

  165. Steve

    I’m sorry but if you think you know how many bombs were detonated by the Russians, then you don’t have any clue how the things work down there.

  166. Alex Murphy

    at the end there is a blip shown around louisiana or alabama. whats up with that?

  167. Gerry

    Nemesis: “I’m a little more ashamed to be an American. It’s hard to defend your government’s decisions, when they make so many careless ones. What a bunch of d—ks.”

    Yeah… well you’re living in a country, one of the few in the world, that hasn’t been invaded in over 150 years (we’ll ignore the minor incursion of the Alaskan islands by the Japanese in WWII and Pearl Harbor was a strike on a military base, not an invasion).

    The world was a far different place 50 years ago when everyone KNEW they were going to be overrun at any moment and the atomic weapons didn’t CREATE the Cold War, only brought it to a stalemate.

  168. Peter Athans

    Wow. That’s like watching two gigantic bullies try to win a fight with one another by seeing who can punch THEMSELF in the nuts harder and more often. Then having other wimpy kids thinks it cool and start punching themselves in their own nuts. Until finally they all wander home, walking kinda funny. Except now their nuts are radioactive.

  169. Matt

    Why did the French test so many, and none in France!!

  170. Alay

    What does the number next to the russian flag in the bottom bar mean?

  171. Alay

    My bad I did not see it was China

  172. Katie

    Crap.

    I mean, wow. Just wow. That was far more powerful than I expected – maybe partly due to the fact that its 12:10am, but still.

    I really did make me think, what the hell were we – are we – thinking?

  173. kmashr

    It is alway the mindless first step that people take. They do not stop and think about the consequences of that first step. Example. Give a man a fast car and he will speed. Despite the fact that speed can kill. The power of the atom was discovered and the logical conclusion as above is how do you use it cause maximum damage. Then everybody wants it since somebody has it. And the result of all this is MAD, remember that?

  174. Connor

    So, since when did the USSR exist up until 1997?

  175. Me

    It seems as though everyone points at the US dropping the bombs in Japan as though if they had not dropped them everyone would have forgotten the science. I doubt it and someone would have used them since and probably far more devastatingly. The reality is though many died in the Japanese bombs and nukes are fairly indiscriminate non the less, last time I checked history they were the aggressors and the US was not.
    I would find it OK if they would morn for all the people they killed and destroyed the lives of the same as they memorialise those who died in Japan during the war.

  176. qed

    Let me see now.

    Nuclear weapons do not kill people. People do.

    Or how was it, NRA?

  177. David

    My father and hundreds or thousands of others died from working in the atom bomb plants, Oak Ridge, TN, Hanford, Washington, and Los Alamos, NM. Also, check out the book “American Ground Zero” by Carol Gallagher which details the experiences of the people immediately downwind from the Nevada test site. Also know that radioactive falllout coated the entire nation. In Rochester NY a production batch of Kodak film was destroyed when a passing cloud of radioactive material encountered a rainstorm, washing it out onto the ground. Voila, fogged film. In Oak Ridge, TN the radiation alarms sometimes went off in response to fallout drifting over the facility from Nevada. For an easy to read history of our bombs read Richard Rhodes’ books, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.” Oak Ridge’s facility, Y-12, is currently upgrading components on warheads so that they will last longer in storage. We don’t count those in our weapons inventory even though they could be mounted to a delivery vehicle in a reasonable amount of time. If you want to really be scared look up pictures of the original thermonuclear bombs and compare their size to larger yield units today. Each missile carries a number of MIRV’s, Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles: several thermonukes per missile, each independently targetable. Then look up the effects of a 10 megaton bomb. The government’s recent attempts to reintroduce training for nuclear war is based on WWII bombs of kiloton yield. Thermonukes or hydrogen bombs are of an order so far above those bombs that no reasonable protection for survival is available. If you’re within 40 miles of the drop you’re dead. From 40 to 100 miles you’re pretty sure to die. Beyond that range you’re probably going to experience a lingering death from a variety of causes beginning with nuclear effects and ranging to starvation as society collapses.

  178. Andy K.

    Fireflys of the apocalypse

  179. Frantic

    All that testing, and we’re to afraid to lift some into orbit to build Orion. Mankind has the capability to explore our nearest neighbour stars, and we simply don’t.

  180. STEVE

    We were thinking, let’s not let the USSR be first and turn the entire country into a crater. I think that’s a sufficient excuse.

  181. In the sixties I was in Europe and carried a Top Secret Clearance during the Cold War, Cuba Missale Crisis, The Building of the Berlin Wall, etc. and I thought the World had gotten dangerous then but now it is time to realize that the biggest danger of Global Warming is not the environment. You can only put so much air in a balloon before it pops. The real danger of Global Warming is the movement of people. India can only produce enough food to feed about 16% of its people. Even the Berlin Wall was built to stop the rush of people into West Germany when the air routes were opened from the Templehoff in Berlin into West Germany which at the time had a very strong economy and so many were crossing the border that it begin to disrupt their way of life. Chinese that are starving are moving across the borders into Russia at the rate of Tens of Thousands and the Russians do not like it. At this very time Russia and China could walk into a Nuclear Exchange against each other. Then there is Pakistan and Afghanistan. Lets not forget Iran and Isreal. The biggest threat is the movement of people and this country usually only complains about the borders with Mexico and what they have done to the Calif Economy. The movement of people from Mexico and Canada into the US is a very small plate as to what is happening in other countries. Not just the US but the whole world is Bankrupt and might survive if and only if the population numbers decrease in very high numbers. I am now 70 years old so have lived from The Great Depression to the New Great Depression. Only this time there will not be just a World War but a Golbal Nuk Exchange. Hunger can cause a Government to fail and is usually the root cause of war. I hope I never have to see it but the day is coming. The baloon will pop.

  182. Michelle

    All I can really say is “Wow” that was eye opening to me,

  183. Jeanette

    This was beautifully done, and entirely heartbreaking. I just kept thinking, “I will be so disappointed in my country if we break 1000″… And then we did… There toward the end (12:15, onward) I literally teared up, seeing all of the damage we had all wrought on ourselves.

  184. Martin Rosales

    That just made me sick, it takes disgusting to a hold new level…

  185. john

    I seriously don’t understand why it was nessseary to test sooo many times, I mean clearly to everyone the a-bomb worked!! so why?

  186. Thopter

    I guess in a “hot” war, you blow up your enemies. In a cold war, you blow up yourselves.

  187. And all these bombings didn’t go without their effects on our health… millions of girls are missing after radioactive fallout disturbed human birth sex odds – http://blogs.nature.com/from_the_lab_bench/2011/06/12/radiation-and-sex-odds

  188. Fred

    The past is another country. They do things differently there. (The Go-Between)

    And they never ever learn.

  189. ashley

    America did what it had to do, it is just staying on top of everything you think if we had let our guard down for a second we would have avoid the Cold war? we are luck we caught Russia when they were about to plant missiles in Cuba, and we all know North Korea is waiting for the world to let its guard down.

    I can clearly say im proud to be a American.

  190. Sasha

    Can some one explain how any one could survive in California if these bombings are real? If the area is unsafe from fallout alone until about ten times the half life (about 5.5 years half life for nuclear radiation, means about 55 years that area should be completely diseased if anyone can live there…) then how can ANYONE have lived in California? Is this just how they justify draining tax dollars?

  191. john

    If so many (2053 to be precise) nuclear bombs did go off and considering that earth is a closed system. It is possible that the current global warming crisis can be related to these tests. Well, too bad, nature doesn’t go to nevada to conduct its tests.

  192. jim sadler

    There is a tone in some of these responses that suggests that the US should not have bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That action saved endless American and Japanese lives and was more than justified. Further, demonstrating a willingness to use the atom bomb kept us out of a war with Russia in the months following the end of WWII. It also helped to contain the Korean War as that war would have been much more radical without North Korea and China realising that pushing harder probably meant atomic bombs were going to strike them.
    So far the atom and nuclear bombs have been the greatest tools for peace and prevented more suffering than anything else ever has.

  193. Jerry

    Ever wonder why Cancer rate started climbing in the 60′s and 70′s?

  194. Steve D

    Nemesis Says: “I’m a little more ashamed to be an American. ”

    If it’s any consolation, we’re ashamed of you, too.

  195. Kerry

    Actually, the 2053 nuclear bombs that ‘go-ed off’ caused, not global warming, but leftism, and its core belief that the Nagisaki and Hiroshima bombs were brutal horrors, but the murder, in the womb, worldwide, of some 1,261,023,500 innocent civilians since 1980, is “women’s health”. Perhaps if abortions were performed with .22 caliber bullets instead of knives the secular absolutists would be ‘agin’ it.’

  196. AndresMinas

    @ Steve D, #215

    No, Steve. He said, “…a little…”. Partly, because of the arrogance of people like you.

  197. katrinka

    If you were born in the Fifties or early Sixties, like millions of children were in this country, your health is certainly impacted by “the bomb”. Why do you think more and more people who are middle-aged are dying right up there with the 80 somethings? I have thyroid disease. I can tell you, it’s not inheirited, but I feel it’s a direct result of being in the womb and bombarded with all the fission products and byproducts and then unknowingly being subjected to them all of my childhood! Nobody wants to talk about THAT little “dirty secret”, but it’s a reality for many of us.

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