NUKEMAP: Simulator shows nuclear explosion effects on map - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

See a nuclear blast in your hometown with NUKEMAP

What the recently tested North Korean 10-kiloton nuclear bomb would look like if it exploded at the Empire State Building in New York City. (Source: Google Earth/NUKEMAP3D) What the recently tested North Korean 10-kiloton nuclear bomb would look like if it exploded at the Empire State Building in New York City. (Source: Google Earth/NUKEMAP3D)

(RNN) - If you ever wondered what a nuclear blast would look like if a bomb went off in your city - believe it or not, there's a map for that.

NUKEMAP 3-D, billed as "a nuclear weapons effects simulator for Google Earth," allows the user to choose the location of the detonation as well as the strength of the bomb - anything from the smallest nuclear weapon ever produced by the U.S. (the 20-ton "Davy Crockett") to Russia's designed 100-megaton "Tsar Bomba" (Russia did test Tsar Bomba in 1961, but at 50 megatons).

The 3-D map, which is an updated version of the 2-D skeleton version released in February 2012, offers the options to view the blast as a mushroom cloud or as rings of destruction, showing the fireball, air blast and radiation distances from ground zero.

If curious, users also can view the estimated fatalities and injuries of the blast as well as the potential direction and distance of the fallout. Or there is the option to go for the full effect of the simulation by selecting the option to see an animated version of the mushroom cloud rising from a variety of viewpoints, including on the ground.

NUKEMAP's creator, Alex Wellerstein, is an associate historian at the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics in College Park, MD. He also runs the Nuclear Secrecy blog, which is undergoing a server change as of the time of the release of this article.

Wellerstein said NUKEMAP is an educational tool, even though he has had people tell him that the simulation is "fun."

"Still others, even when calling it 'fun,' referred to it as 'scary.' This fun/scary coupling is perhaps a novel way to approach the imparting of otherwise dry data about nuclear weapons," he wrote on WMD Junction in 2012.

Within a year of its original release, NUKEMAP has had 10 million "detonations" by users all over the world, according to Wellerstein.

While critics argue that the simulation could be used by terrorists to maximize casualties, Wellerstein argues that it would already be too late if that was the case.

"If we get to the point where a terrorist group is asking, 'Where should I set off my nuclear weapon that I have?' - then we've already gone past the point of no return. There's no way to avert a catastrophe at that point," he said on his blog, according to The Huffington Post.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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