I just nuked Manhattan in a realistic new VR simulation, and the experience changed how I understand the bomb

nukemap vr virtual reality demo new york city manhattan bombing simulation black mushroom cloud midtown christopher manzione

Nukemap VR is a new virtual-reality experience that lets users detonate a nuclear weapon in New York City.
The simulation is designed to educate the public about the scale and scope of atomic explosions.
The project is part of a $500,000 project called Reinventing Civil Defense at the Stevens Institute of Technology, which aims to “restore a broad, cultural understanding of nuclear risk.”
Future iterations of Nukemap VR, which is based on the interactive Nukemap tool, may let users simulate any nuke and location in the world.

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Nuking the city of New York was terrifyingly easy and disturbingly informative.

From the bank of the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey, while gazing out at the Manhattan skyline, I simply moved my hand over a giant red button, and then pushed it in.

A bright white flash temporarily blinded me. About half a second later, a deafening blast akin to 1,000 thunderclaps pounded my ears. Next came an ominous and murmuring roar: the audible lingering aftermath of the nuclear explosion. The noise bounced around the area for what seemed like an eternity, yet was no more than a minute.

When my vision recovered, the city’s skyline reappeared, and I watched a pillar of thick black smoke rising from the blast site in Midtown. The cloud mushroomed and cooled, then slowed in its climb. It ultimately soared to about 10 times the height of the World Trade Center before it began to dissipate.

A din of fire engine sirens came a couple of minutes after the blast. As they wailed toward the devastation in the heart of the city, I pressed a blue button that said “RESET.”

Almost as quickly as I’d inflicted this unspeakable horror on the world, everything went back to normal. Then I pressed the big red button again.

Fortunately for everyone, my unforgivable actions were contained in a virtual-reality simulation called Nukemap VR.

What it’s like to use Nukemap VR

I tried this new 3D experience at its public debut at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. By coincidence, the demo was held August 9: the 74th anniversary of the US bombing of Nagasaki during World War II.

My guide for the roughly eight-minute first-person experience was Christopher Manzione — Nukemap VR’s creator, a sculpture artist, and a creator of virtual-reality installations for museums. After I put on an Oculus Rift headset and headphones, he handed me a pair of hand controllers to interact with the world he’d designed and coded.

In a clever yet disquieting move, the Nukemap VR experience started on a patio outside the the building where I was demoing the tool. In the distance was the Manhattan skyline; immediately in front of me was a table with the red button.

“Look around,” Manzione said.

I turned in place, and behind me was a life-size model of the “Little Boy” uranium bomb that the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. To the right of the bomb, a virtual TV screen …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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