53 years of nuclear tests as electronic music

I've seen this video described as a musical depiction of all the nuclear bombs ever detonated. But that sort of makes it sound like you're about to get a particularly bombastic version of the 1812 Overture. Instead, "1945-1998" by Isao Hashimoto is more like an infographic with sound effects — or, possibly, a mash-up of the games Simon and Global Thermonuclear War.

What you get is an interesting depiction of nuclear tests through time — 2053 of them (including the non-test explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki). I found it particularly interesting to watch the slow ramp up over the course of the late 1940s and early 1950s, when months or years would tick by between tests. After that, beginning in the late 1950s, you see these patterns of sudden flurries of explosions, usually happening in the US and the USSR almost simultaneously. The cultural sense of panic is almost palpable.

Discuss

14 Responses to “53 years of nuclear tests as electronic music”

  1. Syn - says:

    This is wonderful. 

  2. Didn’t know about France atomic testing sites in Africa.
    Cool infographic.
     

  3. Sigmund_Jung says:

    What a waste of fuel.

  4. incipientmadness says:

    One of my favorite videos  of all time. I think the Hiroshima bombing actually was a test. No U-235 “gun-type” bomb had ever been exploded until then.

  5. Carl Ryll says:

    Shouldn’t South Africa and Israel be included here? Or can’t we “prove” that those tests happened?

    • Ned Carlson says:

      Basically we can’t prove that they did.  Something blew up, almost certainly nuclear (it could actually have been an impact, but there are good reasons to believe otherwise), but most of all we don’t have good evidence as to how credit/blame should be apportioned.

  6. Boundegar says:

    How about a nice game of chess?

  7. Festus says:

    My fellow K-12 or university teachers! (I know you are reading–everyone knows teachers are big BoingBoingers.)

    This is one of the most successful teaching tools in my modern US history course. Colleagues use it to teach Asian history, world history, history of technology, etc. Don’t miss showing this to students. They find it immediately compelling and it is a great conversation starter. 

  8. Sandhurst says:

    half of those explosions are in south west USA since the late 40s. and Britain used Australia as a testing ground, Britain also used south west USA for some of its bombs. WOW

  9. scorzonera says:

    You’ve reminded me that I took the sountrack of this, removed the silences, then posted to Soundcloud a while back.  Not in keeping with the original concept, of course, but the result was surprising.  https://soundcloud.com/strawman-special/nuclear-edit

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