Nuclear Weapons are both scary and fascinating. Such power and destruction created by man with the intent of destroying his fellow man. Using and manipulating the building blocks of all life to wipe it out in a blink of an eye. It’s hard not to be fascinated by such weapons and the story behind them. They arguably saved a lot of lives in ending the Second World War even if they had to eradicate many thousands of innocent Japanese people to manage this. Since the end of the war the world has had to live in the shadow of these powerful weapons and the politics that used them as tools of both fear and hope. The hope that wielding these weapons would keep you and your people safe while ensuring that these same weapons would strike fear into your perceived enemies. A stalemate and the threat of mutually assured destruction brought on by those weapons made sure that they were never used in anger again but we as a people came so close to ending our time on this planet very early.
Luckily the threat of a Nuclear holocaust or of a new world war fought entirely from an armchair deep underground in some military bunker has diminished rapidly since the break up of the Soviet Union and the end of the so called Cold War. This isn’t to say the threat has gone completely, nuclear terrorism or the current troubles in the Middle East with suspicions on Irans current nuclear agenda still keep the fear of the bomb in everyones mind.
Testing of these weapons went on for years far away from human population centres, in barren landscapes. Altogether there have been 2053 Nuclear weapon tests from 7 countries. The United States, Russia (USSR as it was known), China, France, The U.K. and more recently India and Pakistan. The U.S.A. is responsible for over half of these tests. North Korea is suspected of having carried out its own weapon tests but these haven’t been verified fully.
I stumbled across the work of Isao Hashimoto while reading up on the subject of nuclear testing. He has created a piece called “1945- 1998”, a timelapse video showing every single nuclear test to date. It makes for a slightly unnerving watch.
“This piece of work is a bird’s eye view of the history by scaling down a month length of time into one second. No letter is used for equal messaging to all viewers without language barrier. The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world map show when, where and how many experiments each country have conducted. I created this work for the means of an interface to the people who are yet to know of the extremely grave, but present problem of the world.”
Isao Hashimoto © 2003
Please check out the CTBTO’s website for more information on nuclear weapons testing.
Whatever your politics on the matter I think we can all agree that the sight of a nuclear explosion is as awe inspiring as it is scary.