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July 22, 2009

Frightening map

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — Pat Coleman @ 9:35 am

Effect of a 20-megaton bomb

As the curator of the currently showing “Minnesota on the Map” exhibit an elderly gentleman asked me if I could do the entire exhibit again with completely different maps. My immediate response was “I wish,” and then I told him that with another 23,000 maps in our collection to choose from it would be easy to do a sequel. In fact now that the map exhibit has been up for a few months I have been second guessing some of my decisions anyway.

One of the maps I had originally planned to put in the exhibit was a product of the revival of the “Ban the Bomb” movement which flourished briefly during the Reagan administration. It was known as the “Nuclear Freeze Movement.” The Friends for a Non-Violent World collaborated with Northern Sun Alliance [known for their creatively graphic anti-war merchandise] to produce a horrifying map titled “Effects of a 20-Megaton Bomb On the Twin Cities Ground Zero – State Fair Grounds, Detonated at Ground Level.”

Using data from the United States Office of Technological Assessment the maps shows a series of concentric circles overlain on a simple map of the state’s urban core. In few words and plain language they describe what would happen to people, plants and buildings in each zone. Some examples: in the six to eight mile radius “Total causalities;” ten miles, “People in basements survive 15 – 30 minutes;” fifteen to sixteen miles, “Ignition of buildings, grass, leaves, car upholstery.”

I wish I picked this map to be in the exhibit – which is coming down on Labor Day – as it is a perfect example of a strikingly successful use of a map for a political purpose.

Patrick Coleman, Acquisitions Librarian

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One Response to “Frightening map”

  1. cathy walters Says:

    This is frightening,so is living within area if nucular power plant fails,which they don’t report all the hiccups they have.One can not hide under a desk.Wonder if those that live around the buried cast feel safe.



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