The threat of global nuclear war does not seem as distant as a few weeks ago. A recent CBS News poll found that 70% of adults are worried that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to the fight against nuclear weapons.

Many people are wondering what nuclear war will look like, so Alex Welerstein, a historian and professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology, has developed a website called NUKEMAP. It can mimic detonation anywhere in the world.

As in real life, the simulation starts at the touch of a button. CBS News’s Tony Dakupil and Welerstein have modeled a scenario of what Times Square would look like if it were hit by a bomb similar to the one that hit Hiroshima.

“There’s some area here, and … which is pretty hopeless no matter what,” Wehlerstein said, pointing to much of downtown Manhattan in the simulation.

When larger, more modern bombs were simulated, the website showed that a single explosion could cause serious damage throughout the metropolitan area and kill millions.

Winds can also carry radioactive particles even further.

“This is an area where if you don’t hide a few hours after the explosion, you can get enough radiation to die,” Wellerstein said, referring to cities under the wind from New York in the simulation. “You can get enough radiation to get sick a lot.”

There was a time when the Americans were ready for this kind of attack. In the 1950s and 60s, schoolchildren practiced in exercises to help survive the explosion, and a public campaign taught Americans how to survive after rainfall. Teams from the Department of Civil Defense also spent hundreds of millions of dollars on building and stockpiling rain shelters across the United States, but a visit to the basement of a public library in Passoika, New Jersey, shows that the threat has fallen deep into our minds. .

In a room that was designed to accommodate up to 90 people, decades of dust settled over drugs and food that had long since run out, in the basement. Construction supervisor Gary Salvatoriella told CBS News that no replenishment is planned. Instead, a one-time shelter from precipitation, like many others, has once again become an everyday shelter.

George Washington University professor Sharon Squassoni said she warned about it risk of nuclear conflict for many years.

“The lessons of the Cold War seem to have been forgotten,” she said.

The number of nuclear weapons fell sharply after the Cold War. But Russia and the United States have more than 1,500 weapons deployed and ready to fire. Squasoni said she was afraid of it can happen eventuallyeither accidentally or intentionally.

“We know from Russian doctrine that they have a plan or they have thought about using nuclear weapons to escalate, end or de-escalate the war,” she said.

The big question is: what will happen after the initial attack?

“The world would recoil in horror. And I’m sure there will be many voices that require some kind of action. But do you really want to provoke World War III? Third World War?” Said Squasoni.

“I don’t think Vladimir Putin wants to be confused with NATO,” she added. “I don’t think he wants to contact the United States, but I also think we’ve misread him for quite some time.”

The truth is that very little stands in the way of a complete nuclear war.

“The only thing that really stands out is that … it’s not really in the interests of our enemies for this to happen to them,” Wehlerstein said.

Although nuclear weapons have not been used in combat since 1945, Welerstein said the threat they pose has never disappeared.

“We have a long list of things to worry about. But I think they should be on the list. I’m not saying they should be at the top of the list all the time. But I think if they were on the list , you may end up getting a slightly different world, ”he said. “Future problems are brewing, I guarantee it.”

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