The Tragic Story of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

The Semipalatinsk Test Site ("The Polygon") was the primary nuclear testing site for the Soviet Union. It's about 150 kilometres west of the town Semey (named Semipalatinsk until 2007). The place was selected in 1947 by Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Soviet atomic bomb project, who claimed the huge steppe region was… » 3/05/13 3:00pm 3/05/13 3:00pm

A simple idea that could prevent future nuclear disasters like…

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 was caused in part by flooding that killed the power generators needed to maintain the plant's monitoring and cooling system. So, how could you prevent something like this in the future? How about by making systems that are self-powering, relying on the energy produced by … » 10/26/12 2:15pm 10/26/12 2:15pm

Butterflies in the Fukushima region plagued by "genetic damage" and…

A study of the pale grass blue butterfly in the regions around the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, site of the 2011 radiation disaster, has revealed that the insects are giving birth to mutants at an alarming rate. Indeed, the butterflies collected from younger generations have more abnormalities than butterflies born… » 8/15/12 11:51am 8/15/12 11:51am

These vintage postcards would nowadays pass for threats by mail

The postcard today is primarily an atavistic vacation novelty, but prior generations used these paper rectangles to convey a whole host of emotions. » 6/26/12 4:30pm 6/26/12 4:30pm

I like the passive-aggressive implications of this early 1900s card, namely that you were stoned as shit when you sent it. Who told what so? The bear? Is the bear…

An interview with a woman who survived the 1958 atomic bombing of…

On the afternoon of March 11, 1958, Ella Hudson was nine years old and visiting her cousins' home in Mars Bluff, South Carolina. After an otherwise normal school day wrapped up, Ella had the bizarre pleasure of witnessing firsthand the United States Air Force accidentally drop a nuclear weapon — with its fissile… » 5/08/12 9:20am 5/08/12 9:20am

In 1958, America accidentally dropped a nuclear weapon on two little…

For certain rural residents of the Carolinas during the Cold War, apocalyptic anxiety hit disturbingly close to home. In 1958 and 1961, the American Air Force lost nuclear weapons over the skies of South and North Carolina, respectively, raining potential apocalypse on the folks below. » 4/24/12 8:50am 4/24/12 8:50am

This insanely sinister infographic illustrates the power of the world's …

On October 30, 1961, the Soviet Union conducted an atmospheric test of the 50-megaton Tsar Bomba (Russian for "Bomb King") nuclear weapon over the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The ensuing detonation threw up a mushroom cloud 64 kilometers high and would've subjected anyone 100 kilometers away to third… » 4/20/12 2:05pm 4/20/12 2:05pm

Could a microwave save your electronics during an EMP attack?

You sleep with your iPhone beside you, waking up in the middle of the night to check your e-mail? Feel anxious when separated from your smartphone? » 4/19/12 7:00am 4/19/12 7:00am

If a nuclear bomb is detonated high in Earth's atmosphere, the damage from the blast would not be in the form of vaporized buildings, but in the form of a wide-scale . …

Wild Vegas parties celebrated atomic bomb tests of the 1950s

Crooners, bright lights, the ringing of slot machines, and...atomic bombs? This strange combination became a reality in Las Vegas during the 1950s. Scheduled nuclear detonations at the Nevada Proving Ground gave plenty of opportunities to party and raise a glass to a mushroom cloud. How did this bizarre slice of… » 4/18/12 7:00am 4/18/12 7:00am