Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 192: Simulating apocalypse

Yesterday on the BLDG BLOG I learned about a peculiar, as in bewildering, applet now available called Ground Zero. It comes from Carlos Labs and simulates damage created by dropping nuclear bombs of various sizes on cities or locations of your choice. You can install it yourself from the Lab, try it out above, or test an an alternative version available from the Federation of American Scientists. Interestingly, the last option on the drop down menu of Ground Zero is to have an asteroid collide with the earth at a location of your choosing. This option, by far, generates the most damage.

This whole endeavor leaves me speechless at the moment for a multitude of cultural, social, and psychological reasons. Feel free to post your thoughts under the comments if you happen to have any. I guess there is something educational about being able to see the effects of actual bombs that have been dropped -it does make them, their size, and effects real in a way that they weren't to me, who I consider to be an average unscientific person. But of course, the ease of dropping simulated bombs on maps, the same Google maps that we use to navigate our real cities, affords a desensitization that leaves me feeling incredibly anxious.

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