Animated map of nuclear explosions, 1945-1998

This is mesmerizing.

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto's "1945-1998" is an animated map showing the 2,053 nuclear explosions that took place around the world during the 20th century, from the detonations at Alamogordo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998.
Pink Tentacle: Animated map of nuclear explosions, 1945-1998


  1. Too bad they didn’t indicate the relative scale of the explosions as sound volume and flash size. This would have been “moresmerizing”…

  2. At first I thought-neat! Then I got thoroughly depressed when it traveled from Trinity to Japan. Keeping the Fat Man and Little Boy nicknames made it more chilling. So, good job to Hashimoto. It got a reaction from me. Also,I am not passing judgment on anything before it gets trolly in here.

      1. The fallout wouldn’t extend that far.

        Take’s a while to start up but once it does… god.

  3. I’m surprised this took as long as it did to reach boingboing.

    It just goes to show you: humans love blowing things up.

  4. At first I thought: slow! But by the mid-’50s I understood the pacing. Love the soundtrack…he even cared enough to give it a stereo mix. A quibble — I know for sure he missed at least one explosion. I can clearly recall that in early June, 1963, Michigan USA an A-Bomb went off in my pants, with all the world-changing effects you’d expect….

  5. this is beautiful, important mesmerizing. hiroshima day always gets me in the heart–the first person conversation with a survivor when i was 15 has had a life-long impact. i note that he vela blast produced by israel and south africa is missing. it would also be nice to see this updated to the oughts so that north korea is in the mix.

  6. Hey I posted this to the Submitterator a week or so ago. No credit? I see why people want to blow things up – just kidding.

    Imagine a Slim Pickens on each one of those bombs.

  7. No wonder Nevada has the highest rate of childhood cancer in the US.

    random addition: the first word in the recaptcha for this post is in Japanese.

  8. It’s really interesting to see how much it slowed down after the START treaty came into effect in 1994. It just stops. After that, it’s only India, Pakistan and France (we boycotted the shit of those frogs after that happened) that still do tests. Credit where credit is due: good work presidents Reagan, Gorbachev, Bush I and Clinton! That was a great accomplishment.

  9. You’re right…that WAS mesmerizing. I wasn’t able to watch the whole thing yet…does it show the Israeli test off the coast of South Africa?

  10. It’s tragi-comic that America and Russia basically bombed themselves with nuclear weapons during the cold war.

    This video doesn’t really make me want to visit Nevada for the next 704 million years.

    Nice one science.

  11. Pop quiz. Do *you* know what the most bombed place on earth is? tick…tick…tick… BAAMP!
    It’s right here in these united $tates — in what is now called Arizona on Western Shoshone land. The u.$. gov’t has exploded over 1000 nuclear weapons there.

    1. Anon #17: Arizona may be “the most bombed place on Earth” because of the military’s conventional bombing ranges located there, but most of the US nuke tests were done in central Nevada, not Arizona.

  12. Remember, the only sure way to get rid of a bomb is to blow it up. Think of each explosion as incremental, but permanent, disarmament.

  13. I admit I’m torn. On one hand, nuclear weapons are some of the coolest pieces of technology developed, especially at the time, and I would have loved to have been a nuclear physicist in that era working on those machines.

    But on the other hand, it is too bad that such powerful weapons have been pursued with such enthusiasm — and I do feel a little guilty for thinking these things are cool. I think it is the depersonalization. We (engineers) dont’ develop weapons — we develop things which go “zoom” and “wisshhhhh” and “boom”, moving quickly and making loud noises. What little boy doesn’t like that?

  14. The first couple of minutes, I thought it was pretty slow and dragging, but it quickly became, as you rightfully describe, mesmerizing.

    The quiet moments became heavy with suspense. Really neat.

    1. I think its insane how we allowed Great Britain to use our deserts for their tests.

      Is that an American opinion, or an Australian one?

      At least the Brits were relatively restrained, with a mere 45 bombs. Unlike the bizarrely pointless “tests” set off by the US and the USSR. How many bombs are needed to prove that nuclear weapons can completely overwhelm the resources of any state? I would have thought the two in Japan were enough for that.

      The ones that really pissed us off down here, though, were the French. After the Algerians told them where to go they moved to Mururoa and bombed the bejesus out of it, first with atmospheric bombs, then after they were banned, with underground shots. They kept doing it until the atoll’s bedrock cracked open and started leaking radioactivity into the beautiful Pacific. Bastards. They never promised to stop for good, either.

      They should try firing them off in the Massif Centrale, and see how that would go down with the rest of the EU.

      1. “The ones that really pissed us off down here, though, were the French. … Bastards. They never promised to stop for good, either.”

        Actually, yes, we did. France signed and ratified the CNTBT, which is one step further than the USA.

        1. “France signed and ratified the CNTBT, which is one step further than the USA.”

          Hey good for you, and my apologies for not mentioning it – for some reason that piece of information didn’t hit the headlines much down here.

          At least, not as much as when French government agents attached a limpet mine to the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior while it was in Auckland harbour preparing to sail into the Mururoa exclusion zone to protest French nuclear tests. The only act of terrorism ever committed by a foreign power against New Zealand and it was the French who did it.

          Many of us are still pretty annoyed about it.

  15. Wow. Its like sending a message to outer space: “Warning. We are all bat-shit crazy. Planet under quarantine.”

  16. Wow. Summer/Fall 1958 was hellacious. Fully 1/3 of the world’s first 300 nuclear blasts took place between May and November.

    But that just shows how it became more posturing than actual “testing.” How much more useful could test #193 be than test #166?

    “Boom?” “Check.”
    “Things fall down?” “Check.”
    “Fireball?” “Check.”
    “Impressively tumescent mushroom cloud?” “Check.”
    “Sufficiently lethal?” “Check.”
    “Adequate fallout for long-term suffering?” “Check.”
    “Significantly better ‘bang for our buck’ than last month’s tests?” “Uh… sure, okay.”

  17. This is so cool, it’s like what you would see in an old dusty computer bank if you explored a post-apocalyptic earth in a video game (or possibly RL)

  18. Pretty Sad.

    Interesting though: South america is the only inhabited continent to never have had a nuclear explosion.

  19. Coincidentally, I was just talking to a coworker today about the cold war the the nuclear arms race. Our small difference in age (29 vs 35) are enough that one of us grew up when the possibility of nuclear war with Russia was very real, and one of us grew up in a world where even the existence of nuclear weapons was one of those things you read about only in textbooks.

    1. You do know that we still carry nuclear arms around on ballistic missile submarines, right?

  20. I was amazed by all the tit-for-tat testing. A flurry in the US, then a flurry in the USSR, back and forth. All that money just to blow up dirt, not to mention other kinds of damage.

    What’s scary too is the fact they used human subjects in the 1950’s. My grandfather flew through radiation clouds when serving in the USAF. He was the last to die of his crew, at the age of 70. Every last one of them died of colon cancer, though the VA would never admit they were linked.


  21. This is not quite what it seems. It doesn’t differentiate between above- and below-ground testing and that, I assure you, makes a big difference.

  22. Seeing as how the US has basically set off more nuclear explosions than all other nations combined, and the only country to have ever used them against another, I can definitely see why other countries turn a deaf ear to the US when we preach against nuclear proliferation and try to tell other countries to not develop nuclear weapons.

  23. Fallout from the Nevada testing site extended to the East Coast and beyond. One test ruined an entire production run of Kodak film in Rochester,NY. Radiation detectors in Oak Ridge,TN, the Atomic City, were set off by fallout from Nevada. To be really scared read “American Ground Zero” by Carole Gallagher. People immediately downwind in Nevada were described as “…a low-use segment of the population…” To be properly horrified read “The Plutonium Files” by Eileen Welsome and “The Treatment” by Martha Stephens. Or ask me. My father worked at K25, Y12, and Oak Ridge National Lab. When he died in 1993 there was cancer in his lungs, his brain, and his colon. Work records(urine tests)showed he was putting out uranium, fluorine and mercury. Oak Ridge lost 450,000 lbs. of mercury producing lithium deuteride for thermonuclear bombs, enveloped the city in a cloud of radioactive iodine, and while K25 was active(40 years)kept the city soaked in uranium dust and fluorine.

    1. From John Wayne’s wikipedia entry:

      “Among the 220 or so cast and crew who filmed the 1956 film, The Conqueror, on location near St. George, Utah, ninety-one had come down with cancer, with an unheard of 41 percent morbidity rate, including stars Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Agnes Moorehead. The film was shot in Southwestern Utah, east of and generally downwind from where the U.S. Government had tested nuclear weapons in Southeastern Nevada, and many contend that radioactive fallout from these tests contaminated the film location and poisoned the film crew working there.”

  24. Nevada Represent!
    But where were the Israeli shenanigens off South Africa? And I guess the North Korean tests were subcritical so they don’t count?

    Keep in mind people, you can’t model what you don’t know.

    1. Me either. I can’t even fathom what they we *testing* with all those.

      And did really need to set off multiple bombs per month? It seems like one couldn’t even set up test procedures and analyze the data that fast.

      This is mind blowing to me.

  25. “And I guess the North Korean tests were subcritical so they don’t count?”

    1945-1998 dude, I don’t think the North Koreans detonated anything in that time-frame.

  26. Every member of every national government at every level needs to be made to watch this. It is only fifteen minutes long, it should be their very first introduction to governance. It might shock and sober at least some of them into reconsidering their values and assumptions.

    ~D. Walker

  27. I wonder to what extent the purpose of the tests was technical testing and to what extent the purpose was shows of force.

  28. I guess the first 1000 tests missed a few vital bits of information that required another 1000 tests. The US alone probably wasted close to a trillion dollars on all the tests and the effort to get them built.

  29. Absolutely brilliant piece of work. Makes one appreciate that we all are post-nuclear holocaust survivors already.

  30. A strange duet between the Soviet Union and the United States – with France pretending to be part of the performance.

    Especially chilling for me is that I was born before the Limited Test Ban treaty banned above-ground nuclear weapons tests (among the signatories) in October 1963.

  31. I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?” It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period. This is it: “Nothing.”

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