Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

No big, just some declassified Soviet test footage of the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated

Illustration for article titled No big, just some declassified Soviet test footage of the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated
Screenshot: YouTube (Fair Use)

Another day, another reminder that it’s a goddamn miracle the human race has somehow survived this long. Last week, Rosatom—Russia’s state nuclear energy agency—released a previously classified 40-minute documentary delving into the development and testing of their legendary 50-megaton hydrogen bomb. It provides the public’s best, most comprehensive look to date at the RDS-220, a.k.a. the Tsar Bomba.

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And it’s metal as hell.

Honestly, the thing that strikes us almost as strongly as witnessing a nuclear explosion 700 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima is just how thoroughly Soviet the documentary looks. The big, bold Cyrillic text, the upbeat, military orchestra soundtrack, the vintage video footage, that narrator’s chipper attitude that almost assuredly stems from knowing his country just hands-down won the nuclear arms race—it all seems almost too on-the-nose to be true. That could also just be us wishing that such a nihilistic death apparatus as the Tsar Bomba was a figment of our nightmares, but alas, it was very much a real thing.

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But hey, maybe we’re not looking at this with the right lens. Nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein described the declassified Soviet doc as “a nice addition” to the public body of knowledge, as if this were a new kitchen island installation on This Old House and not our starkest look yet at a machine that could kill God.

[via The New York Times]

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Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).

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