NUKEMAP

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The original NUKEMAP was created in February 2012 by me, Alex Wellerstein, a historian of nuclear weapons. I have a B.A. in History from UC Berkeley, a Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University, and I am finishing a book on the history of nuclear secrecy in the United States from the Manhattan Project through the War on Terror. At the time I created the NUKEMAP, I was an Associate Historian at the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland. In 2014, I began working as an Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Note: I am a historian of physics, not a physicist — people seem to sometimes get confused on this because of the subject matter I study and where I have worked. You can read more about my research on my blog, Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog.

In July 2013, I unveiled NUKEMAP2 and NUKEMAP3D. NUKEMAP2 allows for many more effects visualization options, and the display of casualties and fallout information. NUKEMAP3D allows for the visualization of mushroom cloud sizes in a 3D environment. In December 2013, I upgraded the blast model of NUKEMAP2 to account for arbitrary-height detonations. In April 2015, I performed a major algorithm upgrade to the casualty model to give it much finer-grade calculation of people over small areas and to generally increase its speed of calculation. NUKEMAP3D’s development has been put on hold after Google announced its deprecation of the Google Earth Plugin API, on which NUKEMAP3D relies.

The original NUKEMAP and NUKEMAP2 are both Google Maps “mashups.” This means that they use publicly-available code to modify the way that Google Maps data is displayed (this is the “Google Maps API”) along with a custom-built Javascript model to show various nuclear weapons effects. In simpler terms, this means that the NUKEMAP is code that can work with Google Maps technology to show you what happens when a bomb goes off. NUKEMAP2 is essentially the same thing as the original NUKEMAP except the nuclear effects information is based on much more sophisticated coding and models. Information about the models is below.

NUKEMAP3D uses the same models, but uses the Google Earth API to display these in a 3D environment. This allows the visualization of 3D mushroom clouds, for example, by importing cloud models and manipulating them within the browser environment.

All of the coding, design, and adaptation of the old Cold War models to modern Javascript was done by Alex Wellerstein (me). The population density dataset was graciously purchased for this use by the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, and AIP in general needs to be credited for supporting the NUKEMAP activity.

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