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A book and its “computer” join our collection

A version of the computer can be seen in the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove.
August 1, 2017
A book called The Effects of Nuclear Weapons

So what about the move "Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop worrying and Love the Bomb?" How does it enter the picture?
A book called The Effects of Nuclear Weapons and its companion “computer” initially arrived at the Museum separately, from two different people. Now book and computer have been rejoined.

The book, prepared by the Department of Defense and published by the Atomic Energy Commission, has a strong tie to the Laboratory because of the nature of work done here. If there are any doubts about that connection, editor Samuel Glasstone concludes the preface to the 1962 edition (the one we have) with the words Los Alamos, N. Mex.

He indicates that the book was written for a wide variety of audiences and includes both introductory and technical sections within each chapter. This allows readers to get an overview of the material or delve into the nitty-gritty as their interest guides them.

It is hoped that this format, which was also used in the previous edition, will permit the general reader to obtain a good understanding of each subject without the necessity for coping with the technical aspects with which he may not be concerned. On the other hand, the technical material is available for the use of specialists, such as architects, engineers, medical practitioners, and others, who may have need of such information in their work connected with defense planning.

The accompanying “Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer” includes a note that it was “Designed by the Lovelace Foundation” and functions somewhat like a round disk-like slide rule. It can be used to calculate things such as “Max Wind MPH” and the expected maximum velocity of airborne glass, rocks, and soil, as well as potential crater size.

So what about the move Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop worrying and Love the Bomb? How does it enter the picture?

In one of the final scenes, a main character uses the “computer” to figure out how long people might need to remain in a bunker in order to survive an anticipated nuclear blast.

It’s something to look for the next time you see the movie.

In case you just can’t wait, you can see the computer several seconds into this YouTube clip.