‘Oppenheimer’ Leaves Out Important Detail—Catastrophic and Fatal Risk of Nuclear Weapons Wasn’t Known Until 1980s

By: Riley Brown | Last updated: Jan 04, 2024

Oppenheimer is about the father of nuclear weapons, but the man himself was unaware of the worst-case scenario—the nuclear winter. 

Director Christopher Nolan filled the movie with the real physicist’s worst atomic nightmare.

The Power of Nuclear Weapons

J.R. Oppenheimer, the director of a group of scientists that created the world’s first atomic weapon, knew the power of what he was making. In Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of the man’s life, Cillian Murphy acts as the physicist. He led the Manhattan Project and created the atomic weapon for the US during its strife with Japan. 

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Oppenheimer later stopped working for the US after it used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

The Nuclear Winter

Oppenheimer’s nightmares are nothing compared to the doomsday scenarios scientists predict today. Nuclear battles with uncountable atomic explosions can push the planet into a state known as the nuclear winter. One in which many people would ultimately meet their demise. Look no farther than the strange tale of Hisashi Ouchi to see how devastating nuclear exposure can be. 

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Theoretically, nuclear winter is based on models. It is often scientifically debated, and according to predictions, it would be dark, cold, and radiated. It is believed it would eradicate plants, animals and almost all human life. 

Predicting Gigantic Infernos

The weapons will set cities ablaze, igniting little nuclear explosions that then merge into enormous uncontrollable blazing storms. The gigantic inferno would cause enough soot to block the sun, resulting in global cooling that would last for years. 

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However, a team of scientists has combined climate models and food-production simulations to better understand the possibility of atomic battles. Findings concluded that a battle between the US and Russia could cause billions of people to die of hunger after the effect of the weapons.

Hoping 'Oppenheimer' Prompts Questions

“Atomic weapons are one of the greatest threats posed by mankind today, but we seem to have forgotten about it, and so far, I think we’ve been lucky,” said Alan Robock, a professor at Rutgers University and a pioneer of nuclear winter research.

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Alan Robock hopes Oppenheimer will make people question why nuclear weapons are still being created—they should also ask how they could be used and why we need them.