mushroom cloud
NIH

Alex Wellerstein, a historian of nuclear weapons, has created a map that makes city living slightly terrifying. Because cities are natural targets for nuclear bombs, and Wellerstein’s NUKEMAP shows the damage that these bombs could actually inflict.

Wellerstein didn’t invent this tool ONLY to give you nightmares. He explains:

Most people still have a very bad sense of what an exploding nuclear weapon can actually do. Some people think they destroy everything in the world all that once, some people think they are not very different from conventional bombs. The reality is somewhere in between: nuclear weapons can cause immense destruction and huge losses of life, but the effects are still comprehendible on a human scale.

He just released two new versions — NUKEMAP2, with more detailed modeling than the original NUKEMAP, and NUKEMAP 3, which include such charming features as models of mushroom clouds. You can choose what size bomb to blow up and then see the radius of damages like where buildings will collapse, where people’s skin will be burned off, and where longer-term radioactive exposure could set in. (Don’t get comfortable, suburbanites.)