This went viral a while ago, but is still worth a watch during a contemplative evening. If you know anything at all about nuclear explosions, you know they’re not considered good for your health. So watching this video, the oddly elegant beeps and hums of the explosions, the barely contained fireworks of these behemoth bombs, makes you sincerely worried for anyone living, say, around Mongolia, or in Nevada, or on those little islands in the Pacific that don’t even warrant a place on the map. I want someone to do a ‘Wear Sunscreen’ style poem over the top of this, it’s an oddly soothing backbeat.
But then, of course, it makes you worried for all of us, because there have been far more of these than we usually think about. This poor old planet’s taking a beating. If you want to know more about the impact of nuclear explosions, read Bill Bryson’s Short History of Nearly Everything. Bill does his usual generous trick of making a subject that seems huge and distant and complicated into something that is meaningful for an individual. This video helps do the same thing, by simply presenting what happened between 1945-1998, the merest speck of time. If watching the whole thing seems like a drag, you can cut to the end where each countries efforts are shown one by one. There are 2053 individual explosions shown on this video, by the way. I’d say that’s too many by about 2053.
If you’re looking for a more personal and horrifying understanding of what this brave new tech is for, read Hiroshima Notes by Kenzaburo Oe. Even if you’re not, read it anyway. It’s one of those books you read because you have to, not because you’re going to like the story.