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NUKEMAP is an interactive map using Google Maps API and unclassified 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,[1][2][3] 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.[4] A variation of the script, NUKEMAP3D, featured rough models of mushroom clouds in 3D, scaled to their appropriate sizes.[5][6] 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.[7] 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;[8] having gone viral, the increased popularity of the website necessitated a move to new servers.[5] The website averages five "nukes" per visitor.[2] According to the site's own counter, in November 2016 users had simulated over 90 million nuclear explosions.

The NUKEMAP was a finalist for the National Science Foundation's Visualization Challenge in 2014.[9]

Wellerstein's Nukemap has garnered some popularity amongst nuclear strategists as an open source tool for calculating the costs of nuclear exchanges.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The NUKEMAPs are here | Restricted Data". 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  2. ^ a b 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". Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  3. ^ "Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog". Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b "NukeMap 3D: Google Earth Sim Lets You Model Nuclear Strikes On Any Location". Huffington Post UK. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  6. ^ "Interactive Nukemap Now In 3D - Slashdot". Slashdot. 2013-07-21. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  7. ^ Drew Bowling. "NUKEMAP Uses Google Maps API To Let You Blow Up The Outside World". WebProNews. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  8. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (2012-02-23). "Nukemap: Shall we play a game? | Geek Gestalt - CNET News". CNET News. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  9. ^ "Nuclear Weapons Data Visualization Reaches Finals of National Science Foundation's "Vizzies" Award". Stevens Institute of Technology. 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  10. ^ Kroenig, Matthew (2018). The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters. New York City: Oxford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780190849191.

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