This week Joe, Kevin, and Toren are joined by Dr. Rob Tarzwell for a look at nuclear weapons. From “The Gadget” to Fat Man & Little Boy to the incredible destructive power of the fusion-powered “H-Bomb”, plus the world’s smallest nuclear weapon – the Davy Crockett recoilless nuclear gun! We’ll look at the timeline and effects of nuclear explosions, “Peaceful Nuclear Explosions”, and a special (and completely arbitrary) selection of nuke-related movies and video games.

Music: “Tic, Tic, Tic” by Doris Day




(the mention of this game was cut since all we did was describe what happens in the video)

20 Responses

  1. Joe, you were mentioning about how in your research you were surprised by how quickly technological progress was made in nuclear weapon development. Never have I seen that better represented visually than this haunting video by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto. It shows every nuclear detonation since the Trinity test in July of 1945.

    1. Very creepy video! Nuclear testing has continued since 1998, however, and we have North Korea to add to the list now.

  2. Great episode (as usual). Methink the quote “fuck’em if they can’t take a joke” is to be found in the old Church of the Subgenius books and is a recurring Subgenius mantra. (Praise Bob). I can’t wait for the next episodes on that theme and if you will tell the story of the Able Archer 83 incident and of Stanislav Petrov.
    Yours truly, Denis zee frenchman.

  3. A decent dose of science/engineering, a great guesst and nukes, in other words, an excellent episode!

    Would also like to second Josh’s recommendation above, a chilling and weirdly transfixing (and melodic) video. Even though I only meant to sample it the first time I saw it I ended up sitting glued in front of the screen all the way through.

      1. When I first saw it when I was about 13/14, I had just learned about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and was reading any book I could get my hands on in my local libraries (this being just pre-internet). Most of the books had photographs of the burns and the corpses found afterwards. Then I saw T2 and ended up having nightmares about that scene for several nights.

  4. Did I hear Kevin disrespecting one of the seminal movies of our time, Tremors? The second-greatest Fred Ward movie ever made (the first, of course, being Remo: Unarmed and dangerous)?

    1. I would never disparage TREMORS, I saw it in theaters twice!!

      Launched the career of an as yet untested Reba McEntire, Michael Gross’ first feature performance after Family Ties (tragically overlooked by the Academy), and one of the greatest moments in Creature Feature history — when they finally figure out the trigger for the monsters and the little girl goes by on the pogo stick…..

      I have dueled with pistols at dawn over less of an insult.

  5. There are a couple of comic characters that could deserve mention:

    There were a few Firestorm the Nuclear Man story arcs that dealt with the nuclear standoff during the Cold War. In one, I believe he sacrificed himself to save the world from nuclear devastation.

    And of course there is Doctor Manhattan from The Watchmen.

  6. re:fuck them if they cant take a joke. i went to high school in the 70’s and this was a common saying then. it was usually followed by “and joke them if they cant take a fuck”;

  7. Thanks to the youtube clips posted here, I found my way to other Civil Defence movies from the 1950s and 60s (seriously, someone made a playlist of about 70 of them)… I now know that in a pinch, books can be used to shield against radiation and the thicker the better – finally a use for all the Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey novels!

  8. I’m surprised you guys didn’t include any photos of, or mention, the snapshots of nuclear explosions captured by the Rapatronic camera! It was invented specifically to take a picture of a nuclear detonation less than a millisecond after it occurred, and the images are very trippy:

    Just one of the neat facts about those photos: the little spikes coming out of the bottom are the mooring cables stabilizing the camera. The reason they’re spiking like that is that they’re absorbing the heat from the explosion, and combusting.

  9. We came up with a “logical” reason Indy could have survived the infamous fridge of death. Consider in the previous movie, he -did- drink from the Grail. From a two-fisted pulp hero standpoint, it fits.

  10. Listening to the episode now. Great stuff. There’s a big wall of text that’s been floating around the internet that talks about nuclear war and the planning that goes into them. I can’t speak to the complete veracity of the contents but it certainly pegs the ol’ caustic meter.

    “A Chinese Officer here once on exchange (billed as a “look what we can do” session it was really a “look what we can do to you” exercise) produced the standard line about how the Chinese could lose 500 million people in a nuclear war and keep going with the survivors. So his hosts got out a demographic map (one that shows population densities rather than topographical data) and got to work with pie-cutters using a few classified tricks – and got virtually the entire population of China using only a small proportion of the US arsenal. The guest stared at the map for a couple of minutes then went and tossed his cookies into the toilet bowl. The only people who mouth off about using nuclear weapons and threaten others with them are those that do not have keys hanging around their necks. The moment they get keys and realize what they’ve let themselves in for, they get to be very quiet and very cautious indeed.”