Source: Daily Press | Steve Hunt | December 16, 2017

Image result for nukemapNorth Korea’s continued missile testing, particularly of advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, has ratcheted up tension in Asia and prompted a war of words between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated Tuesday that the United States was willing to talk to North Korea, the U.S., South Korea, Japan and even Hawaii have been on heightened alert in the event Kim Jong Un decided to launch a nuclear strike.

Speaking to the Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington, Tillerson said the United States was “ready to talk any time they’re ready to talk,” but reiterated there would first have to be a “period of quiet” without nuclear and missile tests, according to Reuters.

Clearly, North Korea takes its membership in the world’s nuclear club seriously and it now possesses the ability to strike the U.S. mainland. But would Kim Jong Un try to do so, or is he simply hoping to use the threat to his advantage? That’s the question American political and military leaders must determine and failure to accurately answer it could be very costly.

For those wondering about whether or not to be alarmed, a five-year-old website called NUKEMAP offers a way to determine how many would be killed or injured during a nuclear attack virtually anywhere in the world. Call it a dose of Doomsday, and some of what you learn from NUKEMAP will scare you to death.

NUKEMAP is the brainchild of Alex Wellerstein, assistant professor of Science and Technology Studies at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. Wellerstein is a science historian who studies the history of nuclear weapons. His interest in the topic, as well as his research skills, led him to create one of the more amazingly interactive websites on the internet.

The Daily Press reached out to Wellerstein recently and conducted an email Q&A with the NUKEMAP creator.

Daily Press: How did you come up with the idea for the NUKEMAP website?

Alex Wellerstein: I have studied nuclear weapons for a long time, but always found their size and effects difficult to really wrap my head around. NUKEMAP is a tool for helping people (including myself) get a rough, back-of-the-envelope sense of their consequences, beyond the extreme “end of the world” scenario that most people have in their heads when thinking about them.