Why Were There So Many Giant Insects in the 1950s?

Hollywood produced some 500 science fiction movies during the 1950s, and the stars of many of them were colossal mutant insects. Why were people in the mid-twentieth century obsessed with giant bugs? One economist sums up the dominant theories. » 4/18/14 10:28am 4/18/14 10:28am

Freedom Drop: The 1968 plan to nuke North Korea

When North Korea captured a U.S. Navy electronic surveillance ship, the USS Pueblo, in international waters in 1968, it was perhaps the worst security breach in U.S. history. One of the potential responses to North Korean aggression, drafted and approved by top military officials, was nuclear war. » 1/28/14 8:00am 1/28/14 8:00am

Newly declassified docs reveal Queen's secret 1983 nuclear war speech

During the early 1980s, as the Cold War heated up, British officials drafted a stirring speech for Queen Elizabeth in the event of imminent nuclear war. Here's what she would have said to her loyal subjects on the eve of armageddon. » 8/01/13 1:40pm 8/01/13 1:40pm

1954 film claims a well-kept house could survive a nuclear attack

Is good housekeeping important for civil defense? It is according to this 1954 film, produced by with the cooperation of the Federal Civil Defense Administration, which claims that a clean, nicely painted house is more likely to survive a nuclear attack than its dirty, run-down neighbors. » 6/30/13 9:30am 6/30/13 9:30am

That Time American School Kids Were Given Dog Tags Because Nukes

In the early 1950s cities across the U.S. spent hundreds of thousands of dollars outfitting their children with military-style dog tags. Why were we giving kids something that's usually reserved for people at risk of dying horrifically in the line of duty? Because in the era of duck and cover, kids were on the front… » 5/20/13 5:17pm 5/20/13 5:17pm

North Korea blows up the U.S. Capitol building in this latest batshit…

North Korea, in a hilariously absurd act of chest pounding fury, has released a four-minute propaganda clip depicting the White House under attack. Entitled, "Firestorms Will Rain on the Headquarters of War," the video is yet another example of the disturbing — and seemingly inexplicable — rhetoric that's suddenly… » 3/21/13 11:19am 3/21/13 11:19am

U.S. had plans for a ‘full nuclear response’ should the President…

Well, this is a bit disturbing: According to recently declassified documents made available by the U.S. National Security Archive, the United States had a contingency plan in effect where, in the event that the President went missing or was killed during an attack on the country, the military was instructed to launch… » 12/13/12 11:40am 12/13/12 11:40am

Dear Last Resort: You can't turn mass murder into a minor subplot

There are movie ideas and there are TV show ideas. Plenty of movies have been turned into great TV shows, and vice versa — but there are some ideas that can only work in movies or television. Some ideas need 100 hours, some can only support two. » 10/12/12 5:09pm 10/12/12 5:09pm

9 Global Disasters That Never Came to Pass

It's easy to get caught up in apocalyptic paranoia. After all, it's 2012, the economy is fucked, the oceans are rising, and all our coolest fictional heroes are post-apocalyptic one way or another. But let's just take a moment to remember all the calamities that didn't happen. Over the past few decades, people have… » 9/14/12 10:00am 9/14/12 10:00am

10 Places to Ride Out the Apocalypse

You've assembled your post-apocalyptic reading list. You've packed your bug-out bag. You've even practiced a little melee combat, just in case. But where should you go when the global pandemic hits or sky starts raining fire? » 2/29/12 10:00am 2/29/12 10:00am

A short documentary about people who build condos in nuclear bunkers

We've seen such luxury end-of-the-world residences as the Vivos doomsday shelters, but Vivos aren't the only folks pioneering fallout chic. Meet Edward Peden and Larry Hall. The former deals in selling bunkers to prospective homeowners and survivalists, whereas the latter is helming a residential development known as… » 11/05/11 8:50am 11/05/11 8:50am

Ed Sullivan once scared the hell out of kids with a face-melting…

On May 27, 1956, The Ed Sullivan Show aired Peter and Joan Foldes' apocalyptic animation A Short Vision, thereby scarring wee viewers who had no clue they had front-row seats to doomsday. » 6/27/11 10:20am 6/27/11 10:20am

Advice from the U.S. government on how to furnish your nuclear…

Nuclear War Survival Skills, by Cresson H. Kearny, is a book that was once only available to people in the U.S. military, but now it's available to everybody for free online. Packed with all the information you need to survive a nuclear attack, it's the perfect guide for survivalists or science fiction writers trying… » 3/01/11 7:20am 3/01/11 7:20am

A candidate for the most ill-conceived video-game ad ever

This 1984 ad for Starfire Games' Global Thermonuclear War is the superlative of unfortunate. "Do you target for military, industrial, or civilian targets?" Yeesh. The worst part of all? It doesn't appear to tie in with War Games. [Modern Mechanix] » 5/27/10 9:00am 5/27/10 9:00am

Atomurbia: The Most Spaced Out Neighborhood In America

In 1947, Life magazine published an article on how to atomic bomb-proof America: by spreading the entire population across the nation checkerboard style and burying all industry underground. The cost in 2010 money? $5 trillion. [via Ptak Science Books] » 5/09/10 10:00am 5/09/10 10:00am

Retro Atomic Bomb Art Celebrates The Kitsch Of Nukes

Nevada used to be atomic blast central, so it's fitting that students at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas paid tribute to the weirdness of atomic-bomb art and propaganda with a new exhibition, "Cloud 9." » 3/25/10 9:30am 3/25/10 9:30am

The City-Sized Nuclear Bunker Chairman Mao Built

In 1969, Chairman Mao began work on a giant bunker beneath the city of Beijing to house the city's population in the event of a nuclear attack. The underground city was never operational, but the tunnels and facilities still remain. » 11/18/09 12:46pm 11/18/09 12:46pm

Bomb Shelter Decor for Post-Nuclear Living

In the days of duck-and-cover drills and atomic anxiety, many families bought space in bomb shelters, stocking and decorating their possible nuclear homes. Richard Ross's photographs capture the abandoned shelters and what some families planned to take to the apocalypse. » 8/25/09 11:30am 8/25/09 11:30am

An Underground Volcano Symbolizes Our Hobbesian Doom

I kind of love this sequence from 1951's The Unknown World, where a scientist decides to die by underground volcano, because the human race will just self-destruct anyway. It's nakedly political, and dementedly awesome. » 1/09/09 6:15pm 1/09/09 6:15pm