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nuclear weapons

North Korea Probably Detonated A Nuke This Morning — Here’s What’s Different This Time

I hope you like things that are scary, because an unstable regime led by an untested young man probably just detonated its latest atomic bomb. All signs this morning point to a successful nuclear bomb test in North Korea, which the country has been threatening for some weeks. The move comes in defiance of the international community -- or as they are known in North Korea, "western devils jealous of the power and virility of glorious leader Kim Jong Un" -- which had urged North Korea not to undertake what is seen by the rest of the world as a clearly provocative and threatening action, probably because it is totally meant that way by North Korea.

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Doomsday Clock Ticks Down, 5 Minutes Until Apocalypse

After being moved to 11:56 two years ago, the Doomsday Clock is now back to ticking down and has gone to 11:55, a mere 5 minutes until armageddon, metaphorically at least. Admittedly, the Doomsday Clock isn't a conventional clock in any sense of the word. Instead, it's a meter by which scientists, specifically the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, can contextualize the intensity of their ever-present feeling that the world is ending. Right now, they're feeling pretty pessimistic.

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Convert These Missile Silos into Your Dream Home

You may not see these properties for sale in your local paper, but apparently there's a booming business in converting Cold War-era missile silos into fashionable, subterranean homes. At the forefront of this movement are Edward and Dianna Peden, who run the company 20th Century Castles (hosted at the aptly named from their "underground offices," and help put defunct missile complexes into the hands of interested buyers -- over 49 so far. After building their own home from the  super-hardened concrete husk of an Atlas-E launch site, the Peden's decided to help others who shared their dream of living in a place that could withstand multi-megaton blasts. Looking at the specs on the properties, it's easy to see the appeal: huge amounts of floor space, ample land as part of the deal, easy heating and cooling, and the James Bond appeal of living in a secret underground lair. The site also touts the unique, collectibility of these properties as well. They claim that due to the provisions of international treaties sites decomissioned after 1965 are being imploded, making these properties exceedingly rare.

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U.S. Lost Control of 1/9 of Nuclear Arsenal on Saturday Due to Engineering Failure

This past Saturday, the U.S. temporarily lost control of 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, or 1/9 of our domestic nuclear stockpile, due to an engineering failure. According to a military officer who The Atlantic spoke to, this incident represented an unprecedented loss of control: "'We've never had something as big as this happen' ... Occasionally, one or two might blink out, the officer said, and several warheads are routinely out of service for maintenance. At an extreme, '[w]e can deal with maybe 5, 6, or 7 at a time, but we've never lost complete command and control and functionality of 50 ICBMs.'" All told, according to Danger Room, for about 45 minutes, "launch control officers at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming couldn’t reliably communicate or monitor the status of 50 Minuteman III nuclear missiles."

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A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 (Minus North Korea’s)

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. Video below:

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The 5 Scariest Nuclear Accidents

The National Security Archive blog, dedicated to "informing the public debate through access to declassified documents," has a harrowing post up about a Department of Defense report on military accidents while handling nuclear weapons. Turns out there were 32... before 1980.

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