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Super Critical Podcast

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Podcast over thinking movies about nuclear weapons with policy analysis, quasi-science, pop culture debates, and too many puns.

Podcast over thinking movies about nuclear weapons with policy analysis, quasi-science, pop culture debates, and too many puns.


United States


Podcast over thinking movies about nuclear weapons with policy analysis, quasi-science, pop culture debates, and too many puns.




Episode #48: Daybreak

In this episode, school is out for nuclear winter break, so we binged the Netflix series Daybreak about high school students surviving post-WWIII. How well does a nuclear war plot mesh with a John Hughes teenage comedy? What is the connection between sunflowers and nuclear disarmament? Who in our high school yearbook was voted “most likely to depress everyone with a podcast about nuclear war movies”? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest Cecili Thompson-Williams (@cecilitw),...


Episode #47: Gilligan's Island

In this episode, we tried to get healthy during quarantine by watching an episode of the TV show Gilligan’s Island called “Pass the Vegetables, Please” where the castaways get super powers from eating crops grown from radioactive seeds. Can radiation actually help farmers? What would happen if you ate radioactive food? Is the Professor a stand-in for Dr. Oppenheimer of the Manhattan Project? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and Gabe answer these questions and more. Before we our three hour...


Episode #46: Air Force One

In this episode released on April 1, the show gets inverted and becomes the Super Critical Angle of Attack podcast to talk about the movie Air Force One (1997). Sure, the movie has some nuclear weapon plots, but how well did it accurately portray POTUS’s airplane? Did the movie do justice to flight physics? If aviation accident prone Harrison Ford is your pilot, would you have a bad feeling about this? New podcast host Gabe and special guest Tim Westmyer (@Westmyer) answer these questions...


Episode #45: Fat Man and Little Boy

In this episode, we see how many scientists in the desert it takes to build an atomic bomb by watching the 1989 movie “Fat Man and Little Boy.” How did scientists and the military both collaborate and clash in the pursuit of the first nuclear weapon? What was the role of women scientists in this endeavor? Could you actually buy a condo in Manhattan even if you had the budget of the atomic bomb project? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guests/nuke experts Erin Connolly...


Episode 44: Twilight Zone - "Time Enough at Last" & "No Time Like the Past"

In this episode, we make time to watch two Twilight Zone episodes that deal with both “time” and nukes: “Time Enough at Last” and “No Time Like the Past.” How would the development of thermonuclear weapons impact your reading habit? If you had a time machine, how would you prevent the WWII atomic bombings? Does every household need a 2-in-1 bank vault/fallout shelter to protect their loved ones and valuables? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast), Gabe, and returning guest Elliot answer these...


Episode #43: Christmas at Ground Zero by Weird Al

In this episode, we ring in the holidays with the Weird Al Yankovic song, Christmas at Ground Zero. What does this 1986 jingle tell us about nuclear war? How does Weird Al repurpose Duck and Cover propaganda footage from the Cold War for his holiday melody? Is “dreaming” about a white Christmas technically a nightmare if it is snowing radioactive fallout? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and returning special guest Kevin answer these questions and more. Here is the song on YouTube:...


Episode #42: Superman IV - The Quest for Peace

In this episode, we explore what happens when someone with superhuman speed tries to finish the nuclear arms race in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). How easy would it be for Superman to destroy the planet’s nuclear weapons himself? What happens with Lex Luthor decides to rearm the world? Is that a bird? Is that a plane? Is that… a giant wad of nuclear missiles flying toward the sun? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast), Gabe, and special guest Will Saetren (@WillSaetren), Project Lead in...


Episode #41: When the Wind Blows

In this episode, we picked When the Wind Blows out of the children’s book bin to see what advise the 1982 graphic novel (and 1986 animated movie) have for surviving nuclear war in Britain. How easy was it to follow official government radiation survival guides during the Cold War? What was it like for the average family trying to make sense of nuclear deterrence? Will you ever be able to look at a baked potato again the same way after witnessing this story? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and...


Episode #40: Godzilla

In this episode, we explored the nuclear origin story of Godzilla. What famous nuclear test inspired the Godzilla franchise? How did Toho Studios and Hollywood handle the nuclear story over the ages? Will the “King Kong vs. Godzilla” movie have a cameo from Major “King” Kong from Dr. Strangelove? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guests Rachel Emond (@Rachel_Emond) and Geoff Wilson (@NuclearWilson) of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation answer these questions and more....


Episode #39: Amazing Grace And Chuck

In this episode, we lived #ShootYourShot and watched the movie Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987) where an NBA legend joins forces with a little league player to protest nuclear weapons. Could a child’s peaceful act of resistance against nuclear war inspire the world to Global Zero? What is the history of anti-nuclear weapon movements in the 1980s? If your chartered jet is exploded by an evil nuclear illuminate, is that technically a traveling violation? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and Pranay...


Episode #38: Six String Samurai

In this episode, we plucked Six String Samurai out of the cult movie bin to talk about the zany nuclear plots of this post-apocalypse western Kung Fu musical mashup. How would the power of rock and roll unite the wasteland after a nuclear war? Would Las Vegas be a target during the Cold War? Can this version of Buddy Holly handle the overpressure of ruling Lost Vegas? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and Gabe answer these questions and more. Before we our post-Bomb sanity snapped, we recommend...


Episode #37: Chernobyl

In this episode, we figured out how an RBMK reactor explodes by watching the hit HBO show Chernobyl. What caused the nuclear power plant disaster? How did the Soviet leadership and the Russian people respond to the crisis? If vodka is really such a powerful medicinal wonder, can it be covered by your health care insurance? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guests Meghan McCall (@Nuclear_Ginger_) and Geoff Wilson (@NuclearWilson) answer these questions and more. Our special guests...


Episode #36: Seven Days In May

In this episode, we debated the virtues of nuclear disarmament and democracy over a couple of days this month, specifically Seven Days in May. Does the movie realistically portray disagreements between the military and civilian leaders over nuclear weapons? What would cause the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to attempt a military coup? How long before General James Mattoon Scott becomes the 40+ person running for president in 2020? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest...


Episode #35: Game Of Thrones

In this episode, we debate one of the most important questions in international relations and nuclear policy today: are the dragons in Game of Thrones more like nuclear weapons or conventional air power? Does George R.R. Martin deploy the dragons as analogs for nuclear weapons? Do dragons serve more of a conventional air power or close air support role in the story's military battles? Perhaps the dragons themselves aspire to be artists and bakers rather than being typecast as weapons of war?...


Dr. Strangelove - Authors of Mass Destruction Podcast Episode

We want to share with Super Critical Podcast listeners an episode of the Authors of Mass Destruction podcast run by Dr. Natasha Bajema. Her awesome new podcast helps writers and authors tell compelling fiction about nukes while getting the details right. Tim Westmyer was a guest on the podcast – along with Dr. Justin Anderson – to talk about the movie Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. We will still try to release a regular episode of the Super Critical...


Mini-Nuke #12: Starship Troopers

In this episode, we wanted to learn more about the mobile infantry, so we talked about Starship Troopers, both the 1997 movie and 1959 book. How does the story deploy tactical nuclear weapons in the war against the bugs? Why was the book’s author inspired to write a protest against the campaign to end nuclear testing? Who would Herman Kahn enjoy talking to more: Carl or the brain bug? Tim Westmyer (@nuclearpodcast), Will Saetren (@WillSaetren), and Geoff Wilson (@nuclearwilson) answer these...


Episode #34: Nuke Themed Escape Room

In this episode, we convened a team of nuke nerd to play an Escape Room with a nuclear weapon scenario. Did it help (or hurt) to have a background in nuclear weapons policy? How accurate can an Escape Room capture the complexities of nuclear war? How many red buttons were pushed to the limit in the making of this episode? Tim Westmyer and special guest Will Saetren (@willsaetren) answer these questions and more. Before we look for more clues, we recommend checking out: -BGNlab YouTube series...


Mini-Nuke #11: 99 Luftballons

In this episode, we tuned the radio to the song 99 Luftballons (or 99 Red Balloons) by the band Nena and talked about its connections to nuclear weapons, the Cold War arms race, and anti-nuclear protests. How did the threat of intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe inspire Nena to write this catchy dirge? What happens when early warning systems confuse 99 balloons for UFOs and nukes? What artist will win their Grammy with a song about the dangers of Gamma Rays? Tim Westmyer and...


Episode #33: Sum of All Fears

In this episode, we did the math about what happens when you add a missing nuclear weapon together with neo-fascists and an unassuming CIA desk analyst in the Sum of All Fears (2002). How can terrorists get their hands on a plutonium core? Why did Russia allow the United States so many inspections of its nukes? Why won’t America just let Jack Ryan finish writing his memo. Tim Westmyer, Gabe, and special guest Jon Duke (@VortexAeroMedia) answer these questions and more. Before we nuke more...


Episode #32: THEM!

In this episode, we followed chirping sounds in the desert and discovered GIANT RADIOACTIVE ANTS in the movie THEM! (1954). What happens to insects exposed to radiation in the real world? How did nuclear testing and atomic monster movies change public opinion on nuclear weapons? Where was Ant-man when the people Alamogordo needed him to calm these killer atomic ants? Tim Westmyer and returning special guest Tim Collins (@WarAndCake), PhD candidate studying British nuclear history, answer...