This week, we’ve been following the North Korean nuclear tests pretty thoroughly. Seismologists found the blast registered a 4.9 to 5.1 on the Richter scale (conflicting reports), which means the blast was equivalent to about 10 kilotons.
To put this in perspective, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was 15 kilotons.
The arrogance of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is certainly commendable, especially since the entire U.N. is putting together a strategy for in the event the North Korean government needs to get bitch-slapped. Hell, even China — a country who is very interested in keeping North Korea safe — is shaking their heads. Kim Jong-Un is certainly redefining the concept of “pushing the envelope”.
I find it interesting that the possibility of nuclear war is now bubbling to the surface in my generation. I can honestly say that, at one point, I was naïve enough to think that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that nuclear war was a thing of the past. Of course, I was wrong, thanks to North Korea being a bunch of asshats.
Of course, there were a couple of instances when our own government nearly fucked us over because of nuclear stupidity.
Two Atomic Bombs Were Dropped on North Carolina
On January 21, 1961, a B-52 with two nuclear warheads on board exploded over Goldsboro. Five crewmen lived, while 3 others died, but even the dead were in danger of dying again when the two MARK 39 thermonuclear bombs disengaged from the plane, free-falling to Earth, assumingly with a drawn-out whistling noise, like when Wile E. Coyote defies death… somehow. Anyway, each of the warheads had a yield of 2 to 4 megatons (conflicting reports), but just know that each one was about 250 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
Both nukes were recovered after the incident, but for a moment, the world held their breath. If they would have detonated, the entire state could have been ripped off the map, meaning North Carolina would have been more radioactive than Chernobyl, and Michael Jordan would have never existed…
That, on it’s own, is terrifying.
World War III Nearly Happened in 1995
On January 25, 1995, I was in Mrs. Shields’ 2nd Grade class, probably learning how to spell the word Connecticut. I was also probably reading a Goosebumps book at some point that day, which would have been A Night in Terror Tower, since I got the new one’s when they came out and never fell behind (Goosebumps Fan Club, for the win). Little did I know that I almost didn’t get the opportunity to own The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.
Apparently, while I was learning that you spell it Connect-i-cut or reading about how the characters escaped from The Lord High Executioner, the United States and Norway (of course, it was Norway) launched a research rocket. While it’s purpose was to chart the Arctic, a Russian radar thought it was a nuclear missile headed to Moscow from a U.S. submarine. The military called a vodka-soaked Boris Yeltsin, prompting the groggy (and possibly still fucked up) President to activate the infamous black suitcase for the first time in Russian history. So, a drunk and/or half-asleep Russian President had all of Russia’s nuclear codes in front of him, ready to activate them, and I’m finishing a Goosebumps book.
Damn, nuclear war is scary.
Luckily, before Yeltsin got the opportunity to push the button, Russian radar showed the “weapon” moving out to sea. Alert cancelled. Crisis averted. Stoli consumed. C-o-n-n-e-c-t-i-c-u-t.
Just another day.
Bonus: The United States and Soviet Union considered detonating nuclear weapons on the moon
This is not an unused scene from Dr. Strangelove. This was a legitimate idea by the two scariest nations in the world at the time.
In 1958, some guy in the U.S. government, who probably had something to prove, had the bright idea to nuke the Moon. Apparently, the rest of the government thought this guy was on to something and commissioned the Air Force Special Weapons Center to spearhead the project, christening it Project A119, “A Study of Lunar Research Flights”.
In the Soviet Union, the reports were shocking. While the Soviet government drank a ton of vodka in response, I hypothesize that there was a radio on, and the song “Anything You Can Do” began playing. One if the Soviet officials stopped, smiling like Grinch, then decided they were going to do the same… but better. The Soviets created project E-4, which would have sent a probe with a A-bomb to the Moon and, you know, destroying it.
Man, the Cold War sucked.
Needless to say, we should all be happy neither of these cockamamie schemes ever came into fruition. Science has discovered that the moon is one if the most important factors to Earth’s very existence and a nuclear blast (or two, as the U.S. and Soviet Union did in the Spy vs. Spy scenario I just imagined) would dismantle the moon’s size and orbit, severely impacting life on this planet.
Both countries got wise and decided the moon was better suited for the Great Lunar Race, which still achieved a similar result. Claiming the moon and killing some people in the process.