America Lost a Lot of Nukes During the Cold War
As the numbers of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal grew quickly during the early years of the Cold War, so did the number of accidents involving nukes. March 10, 1956 A B-47 carrying two nuclear capsules missed a rendezvous with a refueling tanker over the Mediterranean. The aircraft... Read more
‘They Will Not Forgive Us’
It was only an announcement, but think of it as the beginning of a journey into Hell. In late October 2018, Pres. Donald Trump made public his decision to abrogate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 agreement with the Soviet Union. National Security Advisor John Bolton, a Cold... Read more
Nuclear Arms Control as Metaphor in ‘The Expanse’
This post contains spoilers for all three seasons of The Expanse. The United States pulled out of Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and kicked off a new nuclear arms race. America and Russia are modernizing their arsenals by reducing the number of warheads and reshaping what remains into far more... Read more
Peril in a Tripolar World
When it comes to relations between Donald Trump’s America, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China, observers everywhere are starting to talk about a return to an all-too-familiar past. “Now we have a new Cold War,” Russia expert Peter Felgenhauer commented in Moscow after Trump announced plans to withdraw... Read more
When to Shoot a Nuclear Bomb With Your Gun
This story originally appeared on Jan. 30, 2015. The year is 1960 and a congressional delegation is touring military bases in Western Europe to evaluate custody and safety issues associated with U.S. nuclear weapons. With the delegation is a scientist named Harold Agnew—and he’s not just another congressional staffer.... Read more
See the Beautiful Stained Glass at the U.S. Air Force’s Mushroom Cloud Chapel
This story originally appeared on Sept. 14, 2014. Glass has a curious relationship with nuclear energy. That’s why it’s fitting to find a stained-glass depiction of a mushroom cloud in a U.S. Air Force chapel. The Strategic Air Command Chapel at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, is... Read more
Rescuing the Atomic Dog
This story originally appeared on March 9, 2014. Can dogs survive nuclear fallout? Indeed they can. In 1958, American scientists were stunned to find a canine survivor of the disastrous Castle Bravo test—the largest ever U.S. nuclear detonation. It also took a little politicking with American Airlines to rescue... Read more
The Lithium Blues—Or How America Triggered an Out-of-Control Nuke
This story originally appeared on March 17, 2014. You know lithium as the stuff that powers your iPhone, but you may not know that the lightest solid element also powers atomic bombs. Ignorance of lithium’s true nature once sparked a nuclear disaster. In 1954, the U.S. tested its first... Read more
Nuking the Aleutians

Nuking the Aleutians

WIB history September 21, 2018

This story originally approved on Oct. 5, 2014. On Nov. 6, 1971, the United States conducted its most powerful underground nuclear test to date. The massive, five-megaton blast detonated more than a mile below remote, windswept Amchitka Island in Alaska. The Cannikin shot tested a huge warhead the Pentagon... Read more
The SLAM Missile Would Have Been a Flying Chernobyl
This story originally appeared on Sept. 7, 2014. It was the perfect airborne death machine—a supersonic drone of nearly unlimited range, loaded with hydrogen bombs zooming around Earth at more than 2,500 miles per hour. To the engineers who worked on its development, it was “technically sweet” and the... Read more
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