In Heaven’s Ant Farm, the Korbibtorians believed they had a divine right to take back their world for their lord and almighty god, for whom their religion was named. So they declared a Holy Nuclear War against the other religions and nations to cleanse the world of nonbelievers. But the armed pagans fought back and surrounded a Korbibtorian holy city in the desert, a place rumored to be where their god had first announced his presence to the world.
Fearing they may loose the war, the Korbibtorians decided to setoff their ultimate weapon—a gigaton sized nuke salted with cobalt-thorium X. Best to destroy the heathens, the Korbibtorians thought even if it meant their own death. A worthy sacrifice, they believed, and a far better alternative then letting the wicked infest their world.
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So how big is a gigaton sized nuclear explosion? A hell of a lot bigger then what you see in the picture. Those little long things around the blast perimeter in the picture are old WWII battleships and cruisers. Some suggest that a gigaton bomb burst in our upper atmosphere would ignite all combustible substances (forests, buildings, humans) in a 600 kilometer circle below. That’s a 373 mile wide circle—greater than the distance between New York and Boston! Figures released by the Atomic Energy Commission in the early 1960’s show that a one gigaton warhead detonated about 16 kilometers up could be expected to start fires over an area of more than 700,000 square kilometers. That’s why in Heaven’s Ant Farm the world glowed bright orange as firestorms roamed the hemispheres and ignited forests, cities, and towns like match heads during the Holy Nuclear War.
The concept of a doomsday bomb is not science fiction. And salting a nuke to enhance its radioactive punch is the stuff of the cold war. Wrapping a large nuclear weapon with sodium would produce radioactive fallout with a half-life of about fifteen hours. But a bomb commissioned by Dr. Strangelove wrapped in cobalt would have a half life of about five years. Check out this YouTube video of Dr. Strangelove explaining the logic of building a doomsday bomb.
In the movie Dr. Strangelove, the Russians built their doomsday bomb with cobalt thorium-G to produce a radiated dust cloud that would last 93 years. So of course, for Heaven’s Ant Farm, I took the liberty to use an even stranger substance called cobalt thorium-X to produce radiated dust that would last for thousands of years. The only way to survive is to follow Dr. Strangelove’s advice and use underground shelters as he describes in this YouTube video below. That was the only way for the 5500 survivors from the Holy Nuclear War in Heaven’s Ant Farm to stay alive—for two thousand years.
Peter Seller’s rendition of President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove (whose real name, it turns out in the movie is Dr. Merkwuerdigichliebe*) is fantastic in this classic film. Of course, the discussion between Peter Seller’s characters and George C. Scott’s General Buck Turgidson degrades to more manlier things that spoofs on the fears, sexism and stupities of that era.
By the way, while researching this topic I discovered that the names used in the movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb have double meanings. This is a tool I used to name the characters in Heaven’s Ant Farm. It’s no wonder I love this movie! Check out this link to the movie’s study guide to learn more.
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* I understand that in his book Nuclear War Films, Jack G. Shaheen (1978) wrote that during WWII, there was a V-2 rocket builder at Peenemunde actually named Dr. Merkwuerdigichliebe, or “Dr. Strangelove.”