Friday, March 25, 2022

Now YOU Can Nuke Your Own Neighborhood. Here's How:

Pepe the Frog looks out at a nuclear inferno over his city.  Pepe was a popular right-wing meme during the Trump years, although Thee Optimist certainly has plenty of left-wing Pepe memes.  Pepe is flexible like that. 

Nuclear apocalypse is on a lot of people's minds these days, and with good reason.  

Generally speaking, humans slogged through thousands of years of lack, outright famine, interpersonal violence, war, disease, genocide, slavery and natural disasters to arrive at this relatively soft period where we find ourselves today.

But make no mistake: we are evolved to anticipate threats.  Which is why we are happiest and most engaged when we have an existential crisis hanging over our heads like the Sword of Damocles.

Nuclear War.  AIDS.  The Ozone Layer.  Y2K.  September 11.  The Great Recession.  Climate Change.  QAnon.  Covid.  Now Nuclear War again.  What goes around, comes back around.  We love this stuff.

Where was I?

Right.  You can nuke your own neighborhood.

Now, you can't do it literally.  Maybe YOU can, but if you can, please refrain for the time being.  

But figuratively, you can do it.  And it's kind of fun.  

Well, fun.  It's interesting.  I don't know if that's fun or not.  It's not bungee jumping style fun.  More like cerebral fun.  

And the way you can do it is by simply going to a friendly nuclear apocalypse website called:


A map of the Tampa Bay region of Florida, demonstrating the effects of one 2.4 megaton nuclear missile hit from the Russian (actually, a Soviet leftover, but they still have them) arsenal.  Please do click to enlarge.  Notice the dead count: 223,270, just from the bomb blast itself.  Yowza!  That one hurt.

You Dropped A Bomb On Me... Baby.

NUKEMAP is the brainchild of someone named Alex Wellerstein.  No, I don't know much about Alex, other than he must be a clever monkey because he made the NUKEMAP website.  Thee Optimist sure couldn't do that.

NUKEMAP uses Google Earth technology to locate any place in the world, and then drop a nuclear bomb on it.  The site says there have been over 255 million detonations since Alex first built it.  I've done a few of those.  

Alex has included helpful pre-sets, including popular cities, and various sizes of nuclear munitions.  

You could, for example, bomb New York City with the 50-megaton Soviet-era "Tsar Bomba," the largest nuclear bomb ever tested.  You could even do it with the 100-megaton option that the Soviets never did test.  

Or you could, just for nostalgia purposes, bomb Hiroshima again with the 15-kiloton (tiny by modern standards) "Little Boy" atomic bomb the USA dropped in 1945. 

In the saved image above, I nuked the city of Tampa, not because of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, but because I am currently about 60 miles south of there.

In any nuclear missile exchange scenario, Tampa is going to get walloped.  This is because Tampa is home to MacDill Air Force Base, which in turn is home to the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), and the United States Special Operations Command.

CENTCOM is where we organize and oversee our various wars and entanglements in Central Asia and the Middle East.  It is a very important place.  You know how we're always bombing wedding parties in places like Pakistan with drone strikes?  The sleepless drunks who are piloting the drones work at CENTCOM.

Yes, very far away from the actual killing.

If you look closely at the image, you will notice that I dropped the 2.4 megaton bomb dead center on the front gate at MacDill, right near where the housing units are.  

No one at MacDill Air Force Base is going to survive a nuclear war.  That much is clear.  The very idea that the Russians will drop just one bomb there is silly.  They have more than 6,000, so you know they can waste some and put the double- or triple-tap on certain places.

Would it even be a waste?  Not if it gets the job done.

Promised earlier, a left-wing Pepe meme.  Here, Pepe is a long-suffering World War II-era Soviet soldier, with a modern, laser-guided rifle, about to burst the brains out of a Victoria-era capitalist meme.

Wind is Important

In the Tampa example above, you can see that the radius of the blast absolutely annihilates MacDill Air Force Base and causes a firestorm there.  

It probably kills a lot of people in the cities of Tampa and Saint Petersburg, injures many more, and levels much of the infrastructure.

But if you're on the beach in Clearwater, you might not get hurt at all.  Also, if you're further east in the city of Lakeland, the blast might not affect you.

Certainly, the city of Bradenton in the south is outside the blast radius.  

Here's where we introduce another concept: nuclear fallout.  In the weeks and months after a nuclear war, fallout is going to kill a lot of people from radiation poisoning. 

Of course, in a real nuclear war, the ensuing nuclear winter will cause a famine that will likely kill almost everyone in the Northern Hemisphere.  So I'd purchase those tickets to New Zealand right now.

Regardless, Thee Optimist is going to hang on as long as he can.  As a result, fallout, and the related concept of prevailing winds, become super important after Tampa gets nuked. 

Fallout gets carried on the prevailing winds.  In this region of southwest Florida, it is fairly breezy.  The winds blow off the Gulf of Mexico, generally towards the north and east.

Which means that if Thee Optimist is lucky, the fallout from a nuke dropped on Tampa will blow north and east, toward Jacksonville, and away from where Thee Optimist is.

There is nothing out in the Gulf of Mexico worth bombing.  There is no reason to bomb Mexico at all.  Little if any fallout should blow into this region from Mexico or the Gulf.  

All of this adds up to the idea that one (or two) nukes dropped on Tampa is potentially not a world-ending calamity for Thee Optimist.  He can survive (at least initially), eat canned food and loot his neighbor Stephen King's waterfront mansion to his heart's content.

Kind of looking forward to that.

Pepe survived the nukes.  Now he's a warrior in the wasteland, regarding a soda bottle of his own urine with something less than pleasurable anticipation.

Words of Wisdom

"Interestingly, there was a Japanese news station that was extremely interested in this particular project. They were very interested in this sort of re-simulating of the bomb.

"One provocative question they asked me was, 'Do you think people who were victims of the Hiroshima bomb would be offended by this sort of gamification or simulation of that experience?' 

And my answer was essentially, 'Well, I hope not.'"

- Alex Wellerstein, talking about his NUKEMAP Virtual Reality project

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