Everyone has wondered, from time to time, whether or not they would survive a nuclear war. But as disasters about which to be paranoid and terrified go, nuclear armageddon is frustratingly imprecise.

So what about a 100-megaton Tsar Bomba strike detonated on the end of Brighton Pier?

Yes, that's a bit more specific. And now, thanks to a new website by historian Alex Wellerstein from the American Institute of Physics in Mayland, you can find out if you'd make it or not.

alex wellerstein

Above: how a 100MT blast on Washington DC would look from New York City


Nukemap 3D is actually Wellerstein's third in a series of nuclear strike simulators, though it's the first to model the explosions and resultant mushroom clouds in glorious, haunting 3D.

The map allows you to select any location, and any real nuclear weapon - from the 'Little Boy' bomb detonated over Hiroshima to the device tested by North Korea in 2006, and see how the initial blast and resultant fallout cloud would develop over time.

The site even models likely casualty rates based on the population in the region, and how far they live from the centre of the blast.

Wellerstein wrote on his blog that the aim was to educate users about the deadly reality of modern nuclear weapons, and the still present threat they present.

"We live in a world where nuclear weapons issues are on the front pages of our newspapers on a regular basis, yet most people still have a very bad sense of what an exploding nuclear weapon can actually do."

In response to criticism that the map might be used by terrorists, Wellerstein adds - sensibly - that it might already be too late if would-be bombers are consulting his site for data.

"If we get to the point where a terrorist group is asking, 'where should I set off my nuclear weapon that I have?' then we've already gone past the point of no return. There's no way to avert a catastrophe at that point."

The recent burst of publicity has forced Wellerstein to move his site to new servers, and it's running a little slow, but the 3D maps are still available from his temporary blog.

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  • Mushroom cloud during Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons test on Bikini Atoll - July 1946

  • Frenchman's Flat, Nev. Atomic cannon test--History's first atomic artillery shell fired from the Army's new 280-mm artillery gun ... The fireball ascending -- May 25, 1953

  • Mushroom cloud with ships below during Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons test on Bikini Atoll -- July 1946

  • "Jap's-Eye view of A-Bomb blast" - circa 1946

  • Mushroom cloud with ships below during Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons test on Bikini Atoll -- July 1946

  • Mushroom cloud with ships below during Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons test on Bikini Atoll -- July 1946

  • Nagasaki, Japan under atomic bomb attack -- August 9, 1945

  • Unusual photo of Hiroshima bomb explosion -- August 6, 1945

  • Mushroom cloud with ships below during Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons test on Bikini Atoll - July 1946