Saturday, August 7

Nuclear Tests 1945-1998.

This is a trip o.O


Hans said...

Good light show - i like the way they showed them separately at the end. Crazy how many!!

Metamatician said...

Yeah! Amazing and scary... but at least they were TESTS (except the two dropped on Japan).

I sure wouldn't want to live in New Mexico...

Giusi said...

They were TESTS, but were they necessary??? I don't believe so!

Metamatician said...

Of course not; it was all just political sabre-rattling.

One can make the case the fear of nuclear war has caused the last 50 or 60 years to be a period of relative peace, in that WW3 has not occurred.

If you were to make a graph plotting years on one axis and human life lost in wars as a percentage of overall population, you'd find that things remained fairly stable until the 19th century, during the industrial age. The depersonalization of killing allowed by new long-range weapons such as artillery led to an increase in casualties; the line starts to curve upward on our graph.

The 20th century produces the most startling and horrible curve upward in the graph, as airplanes, tanks, ships of war, missiles, rockets, and machine guns come into use to allow massive slaughter of an often unseen or barely-seen foe. WWI and WWII are notable not only for the sheer number of casualties they produced, but for the percentage of those casualties which were noncombatants - countries deliberately bombed cities and killed civilians on a massive scale for the first time in history.

Then the nuke comes along. The line on the graph takes a sharp turn downward, back to levels not previously seen for two hundred years, and all the wars (declared and undeclared) that have been fought since then have been on a much smaller scale than the "world" wars.

The bomb's use as a deterrent to large-scale warfare between superpowers is pretty hard to ignore. Still, the reality of a nuclear holocaust DID almost come about on several occasions. And all it takes is ONE time to come along where the leaders of these regimes are careless or insane; or on a lesser but still terrible scale, for terrorists to get such weapons in their hands.

Then all bets are off. And as science marches onward (doing a lot of good things, too), it will become easier and easier for less than stable states to be able to produce such weapons on their own.

Religious and tribal fervor is as high as ever - there's been no decline in that. So I see an awful future where at some point these things are used again.

Some testing by the way WAS needed if a nuclear arsenal was to be maintained and reliable, but not nearly to the scale shown here. What you saw was a giant pissing contest between powerful countries.

As we move forward, nukes, biological and chemical weapons, information warfare, suicide attacks, genetic manipulation, and many other instruments of mass destruction will become increasingly available to first governments, then to smaller and smaller organizations, including those who don't care if they live or die. At that point, we've got a huge problem.

I don't have any answers. You can second guess history all your want, but it's happened, and you can't put the genie back in the bottle. Yet, human nature seems to me to be fairly savage, covered by a layer of civility and morals and ethics that will give way to the animalistic urge to survive, conquer, or compete when the environment is right. This breaking point is different for all people, of course, but the point is, it exists in almost everyone.

This leads into the discussion of how billions of human beings with an evolved need to survive, procreate, and protect their "tribe" by fearing and fighting "outsiders" can ever get along and NOT start WWIII. That is something that will have to be continually dealt with.

Hopefully I will die peacefully in my sleep of natural causes before something catastrophic happens!

This would make for a good but lengthy topic on its own - but I fear the human psychology, philosophy, biology, technology, and so on that would have to be discussed would engulf the entire blog and cause it to shrivel up and die, so I probably won't be talking about global warfare any time soon.

Added to the fact that it's so damned depressing.

Metamatician said...

Check out the video in its context at Phil Plait's little corner of Discover magazine's website:

Read the many comments below the video; I think you'll find many people weighing in on all sides of the issue of not only nuclear weapons, but warfare in general, and more - some things that I've touched on and others I haven't.

As horrifying as it is, it's actually pretty fascinating reading; the way a mushroom cloud is almost hypnotizing. It's almost as though we're standing before God and can't make sense of it and don't quite know what to say.

Many of the people who witnessed the first nuclear test - the very scientists who built the bomb - fell silent, broke into tears, or left in a daze after what they had witnessed. From what I've read of the event, there was no cheering or hand-slapping going on. Everyone knew the world has changed forever.

In my view technology isn't "progress" - it's technology. As long as we are the animals we are, which are violent, superstitious, territorial creatures, all technology will be tools to serve that animal. For good and for bad.

Could we 'engineer' ourselves biologically to be more peaceful? Possibly. But we could also make ourselves even more monstrous. Again, the technology is indifferent - it's the people of the (near) future who will have the tough decisions to make.

Based on our history of war, hierarchies of power, corrupt leadership, global corporations which don't have any conscience since no one person is in charge, ghastly medical experiments, genocide, slavery, and escalating powers of physical destruction, I'm not optimistic.

I wish I could be...

An Gabhar Ban said...

On a lighter note... at least we know why Cali is going to fall into the ocean one day... ;)

Metamatician said...


Archived Posts

Search The Meta-Plane