NUKEMAP is an interactive map using Mapbox API and declassified nuclear weapons effects data, created by Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology who studies the history of nuclear weapons. The initial version was created in February 2012, with major upgrades in July 2013, which enables users to model the explosion of nuclear weapons (contemporary, historical, or of any given arbitrary yield) on virtually any terrain and at virtually any altitude of their choice. A variation of the script, NUKEMAP3D, featured rough models of mushroom clouds in 3D, scaled to their appropriate sizes. NUKEMAP3D is no longer functional as Google deprecated the Google Earth plugin.
The computer simulation of the effects of nuclear detonations has been described both as "stomach-churning" (by Wellerstein himself) and as "the most fun I’ve had with Google Maps since… well, possibly ever" despite the admittedly abjectly grim nature of the subject. Originally intended in part as a pedagogical device to illustrate the stark difference in scale between fission and fusion bombs, more than three million people as of 2012 have exploded some 30 million virtual nuclear warheads; having gone viral, the increased popularity of the website necessitated a move to new servers. The website averages five "nukes" per visitor. According to the site's own counter, in November 2016 users had simulated over 90 million nuclear explosions. Wellerstein's Nukemap has garnered some popularity amongst nuclear strategists as an open source tool for calculating the costs of nuclear exchanges. As of November 2019, more than 184 million nukes have been "dropped" on the site.
- Wellerstein, Alex (October 24, 2018). "To give numbers: to handle the 200K map loads per month that NUKEMAP gets, Google wants to charge me >$1000 a month. Even if I ran ads, that's not sustainable. It's crazy. Fortunately MapBox makes for a perfect alternative (esp. w/LeafLet), and has totally reasonable rates. (2/3)".
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- Wellerstein, Alex (2012-05-04). "So Long, Mom, I'm Off to Drop the Bomb: A Case Study in Public Usage of an Educational Tool". wmdjunction.com. Archived from the original on 2013-07-27. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
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- Jones, Brian (2013-07-16). "This Scary Interactive Map Shows What Happens If A Nuke Explodes In Your Neighborhood". Business Insider. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- "NukeMap 3D: Google Earth Sim Lets You Model Nuclear Strikes On Any Location". Huffington Post UK. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- "Interactive Nukemap Now In 3D - Slashdot". Slashdot. 2013-07-21. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- Drew Bowling. "NUKEMAP Uses Google Maps API To Let You Blow Up The Outside World". WebProNews. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- Terdiman, Daniel (2012-02-23). "Nukemap: Shall we play a game? | Geek Gestalt - CNET News". CNET News. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- Kroenig, Matthew (2018). The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780190849191.
- "Nuclear Weapons Data Visualization Reaches Finals of National Science Foundation's "Vizzies" Award". Stevens Institute of Technology. 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2016-01-01.