This is a very oddly compelling video: scary, yet an elegantly powerful way to convey a large body of information:
Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear.
Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing “the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.
I do not know why the artist excluded North Korea’s nuclear detonations. (On the web page linked below, there’s a map, followed by the text of the article, followed by the video.)
Unquestionably, there is considerable debate over the moral issues inherent in the use — even the existence — of nuclear weapons. Whatever else may be said on either side of that debate, the existence of nuclear weapons is the overriding reason that, for 65 years, there has not been a full-scale war between Great Powers, let alone World War III. The Chinese-Soviet border skirmishes and the Korean War both were successfully contained from escalating into full-scale war (in the latter case much to Gen. MacArthur’s chagrin): those conflicts did not expand due to the fear of nuclear war.