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As interest in nuclear weapons history grows ahead of the anticipated release of director Christopher Nolan’s film Oppenheimer, some conspiracy theorists have decided that such explosive devices never actually existed.
In a tweet last week, Owen Benjamin, a disgraced comedian known for his far-right politics and anti-semitic views, claimed that decades-old footage of a nuclear weapons blast was fake because cameras were able to film it up close without being destroyed.
“It’s weird that the nuclear blasts vaporized brick houses but not the old timey camera recording it. It’s because nukes are fake,” Benjamin wrote. “Hiroshima and Nagasaki never had any fall out radiation. The whole narrative and all the evidence is absurd.”
Thankfully, Benjamin’s claims proved too absurd for even the most hardened conspiracy theorists. In thousands of replies, the comedian was heckled for putting forward such a ludicrous claim.
Yet Benjamin doubled down. When asked how 9 nuclear-armed nations were all lying, the comedian suggested that the United Nations was responsible for the coverup.
“Ever heard of something called the ‘United Nations?’ It’s like the United States except it’s the United Nations,” Benjamin said. “You see how the entire world all acted in lockstep during Covid? Yeah there already is a one world government and has been since at least WWII. It’s very public.”
As always, such absurd claims are easily debunked when the most basic of research is done. The footage, which showcases the first ever detonation of a nuclear weapon, was filmed on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
Despite Benjamin’s claims, the cameras that filmed the explosion were not as close to the destruction as they appeared but merely relied on telescopic lenses. Not only that, as documented in pictures and videos of the test site, the cameras were housed in specially-built bunkers over five miles from ground zero.
The comedian’s claims regarding Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the two Japanese cities hit by U.S. nuclear bombs during World War II, are also easily debunked. Benjamin correctly states that there was little radioactive fallout, which he believes proves no nukes were dropped.
Yet, contrary to popular belief, the majority of nuclear weapons are designed to detonate not on impact with the ground but well above their target. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, for example, was detonated 580 meters or 1,870 feet above the ground for maximum damage. Radiation in such instances is quickly dispersed, whereas a nuclear explosion on the ground would cause a massive cloud of dirt and radiation to launch back up into the atmosphere.
Although there is much less fallout from an above ground detonation, countless people in the direct blast zone were still exposed to huge amounts of radiation. Cases of Leukemia skyrocketed in the following years for those who survived.
None of Benjamin’s claims are even remotely grounded in reality.
Why it matters
While the conspiracy theory that nuclear weapons are fake seems ridiculous to many, it wouldn’t be a shock if the claim, much like flat earth, caught on at some point.
For now, science, history, and reality have prevailed.
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