What effect would it have outbreak of an atomic bomb in Italy? Within what radius would the radiation hazard manifest itself? These are the questions that many are asking themselves in these days, in which the growing tensions of the war in Ukraine have awakened the nightmare of NATO involvement and a nuclear escalation of the conflict. The answer is offered by the free application Nukemap, an online simulator capable of calculating the effects of the detonation of different types of nuclear warheads anywhere on earth. (You can try it here: https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/)
The site has gone viral in these days and is spreading on social media and whattsapp chats.
How the simulator works
The Nukemap simulator is a project developed in 2012 by the science historian and nuclear weapons expert Alex Wellerstein of the Stevens Institute of Technology. The application allows you to select different types of nuclear weapons: from the historical ones like that of Hiroshima (of “only” 15 kilotons), to the contemporaries currently present in the US, Russian or North Korean arsenal and even the largest newspapers (such as the Soviet “Tsar Bomba” the largest ever tested with a power of 100 megatons).
To see that effects would have the explosionjust select the type of weapon and indicate the area on the map and click on “detonate”. Once “detonated“the simulator shows the affected radius from the “fireball” (the area within which everything is vaporized due to the heat released), from the thermal wave and that of the shock wave. You can also see the contaminated areas (in the short and long term): the area of radiation and that of the “radioactive fallout” (the fallout of radioactive material that occurs starting 15 minutes after the explosion). You can also get an estimate of the number of casualties and injuries calculated based on the selected area.
The application created to study the effects of a nuclear war
The simulator was originally created as pedagogical device to illustrate the stark difference in scale between bombs a fission it’s at merger. Going viral, the high number of visitors had made it necessary to switch to new servers as early as 2013. According to the site in November 2021, more than 230 million nuclear weapons have been virtually “dropped” at the site. The “3D” option which showed 3d models of the mushroom cloud in different parts of the earth has been disabled as Google Earth canceled the plug-in.