The Cold War may be long over, but the threat of nuclear annihilation remains. To drive home the point, the nonprofit Federation of American Scientists provides its Nuclear Weapon Effect Calculator, a Java applet that lets visitors see how far the zone of destruction would stretch if an atomic bomb of a specific size exploded in Washington, D.C., or in one of 24 other American cities. “This is just a very graphic way to let anyone see what the effect of a bomb on his city would be,” says Ivan Oelrich, director for the federation's strategic security project.
The foundation's Web site offers scientific guidance on issues from energy-efficient housing to biomedical computing, but its focus is nuclear arms control. You'll find tutorials on timely questions such as how a gas centrifuge could help a rogue nation amass the uranium necessary to make a bomb. Reports also apply technical expertise to policy analysis, arguing for instance that an adversary could evade the U.S.'s proposed earth-boring “bunker buster” bomb simply by tunneling deeper.