Friday, April 20, 2012

The peak of our weapons

I came across some frightening Cold War imagery, courtesy of Io9 today. Images that are both a chilling reminder of an apocalypse that never happened as well as a milestone in the evolution of military arms.

This insanely sinister infographic illustrates the power of the world's strongest nuke: "Tsar Bomba"

'via Blog this' via Io9

Humanity's drive to create larger, more powerful weapons reached its high point in 1961 with the detonation of the Soviet Union's colossally powerful Tsar Bomba. Past this point, the general trend has been a downward one as guidance and delivery systems have grown increasingly accurate.

There have been some exceptions. Tank main guns have gone up in size to deal with improved armor packages, but again, the overall trend has thankfully been a downwards one. 

Watching this footage earlier today was enough to send a chill down my spine and evoke memories of childhood fears from growing up during the Late Cold Ware, when I was well aware that our species had the power to create a global holocaust. This was very much the stuff of nightmares, and it found an occasional cultural expression in the science fiction of 60s, 70s, and 80s. Mainstream novels such as On the Beach and genre works like A Canticle for Leibowitz explored the dark sides of post-apocalyptic scenarios, while the fears or realization of a nuclear armageddon drove the plots of near-future science fiction books like Greg Bear's excellent and forward-looking Eon.

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