Thursday marks the 70th anniversary of the United States dropping an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, instantly killing almost tens of thousands of people and wounding or poisoning even more. Days later, Nagasaki met a similar fate, and days after that, World War II was over.
It’s the only time in history that nuclear weapons were used in war, and they were used by the United States on civilian cities, albeit ones with a presence by the Japanese military.
The magnitude of destruction can be difficult to imagine, but PRI has created a tool to put it in context. The public radio nonprofit has created an interactive map that lets users hypothetically “drop the bomb” on their hometown to see how the atomic bomb would have devastated their local community.
To test out the map, I entered Fusion’s New York City office, near Union Square.
Here’s the result the map returned. The damage reaches far out into Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and New Jersey:
Within a decade, the atomic bomb was rendered obsolete by thermonuclear weapons. The largest hydrogen bomb ever created, the Soviet Union’s Tsar Bomba, was 1,400 times more powerful than the weapon being simulated by this map.
We can also test that scenario out using a different tool called Nukemap, created by historian Alex Wellerstein at the Stevens Institute of Technology.