Dropping the Bomb

Nuclear weapons have spent an alarming amount of time in the news recently, with the rhetoric from North Korea drawing much attention. In discussing the risks of a nuclear weapon, staff writer for the Exponent Telegram Rusty Marks brings up a little known online tool developed in 2012 by Allan Wellerstein, a historian focused on the study of nuclear weapons. Called Nukemap, this tool works with Google Maps to produce estimates of what would happen if various types of nuclear weapons were detonated over various towns and cities. While not intended to be exact, Nukemap still gives an idea of the incredible scale of deaths that could result from a nuclear detonation over a populated area, with totals in the hundreds of thousands being possible depending on the location and the size of the explosion.

Observes historian Alex Burns, who teaches modern military history at West Virginia University, it's unclear as to how modern generations understand the scope of damage such an attack would cause. "It's sort of a morbid thing to play with, but it's also very interesting," he says.