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

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


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




Episode #67: Top Gun - Maverick

In this episode, we found ourselves in the danger zone watching a surprise nuclear weapon plot in the fun movie Top Gun: Maverick (2022) where Tom Cruise needs to teach a crew of hot shot misfits to airstrike a uranium enrichment facility on the Death Star (kind of). Why did Top Gun sequel feel the need to raise the nuclear stakes in the plot? Any real life influence on the story related to airstrikes against similar nuclear facilities? Will this movie series ever run out of teambuilding...


Episode #66: Star Trek Voyager - Warhead

In this episode, we investigated a distress beacon to find our new artificially intelligent WMD friend in the Star Trek Voyager episode “Warhead” (s5 e25 - 1999) where the crew picks up smart bomb hitchhiker hellbent on finishing his military mission. Why don’t all nuclear armed missiles have a self-destruct feature? How do you deter against a nuclear strike from a planet 80 light years away? How does the USS Voyager convince a nuclear bomb to stop loving itself and not explode? Tim Westmyer...


Episode #65: Choose Your Own Adventure Book

In this episode, we flipped our way through the pages of the Choose Your Own Adventure book, The Brilliant Dr. Wogan (1987), where a missing scientist might have a radiation neutralizer that can end the threat of nuclear war. How does the multiple ending and narrative freedom of this book genre help teach kids about nuclear dangers? What does this radiation neutralizer have in common with Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program? When is the book report on this story due again (this might just be a...


Episode #64: A Carol for Another Christmas

In this episode, we found a bootleg DVD in our stocking of the 1964 TV movie A Carol for Another Christmas, which retold the classic Christmas Carol story but with nuclear war. What was the public diplomacy mission of this pro-UN film? How does isolationism and international engagement theories suggest doing with the problem of nuclear weapons? Does the Ghost of Christmas Future know when the last two books in A Song of Ice and Fire come out? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and podcast...


Episode #63: The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica

In this episode, we went interstellar with our intercontinental ballistic missiles to talk about nuclear weapons in two science fiction shows: The Expanse and Battlestar Galactica. How are nuclear weapons used as weapons (and themes) in these two stories? What would the impact of a nuclear weapon actually be against a space ship? When are we getting our Gaius Baltar and Paolo Cortázar buddy comedy? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest Stefan Sasse (@StefanSasse), host of the...


Episode #62: False Alarm

In this episode, we watched the documentary False Alarm (2021) about that time in 2018 no one talks about anymore when the people of Hawaii received an erroneous warning on their phone that North Korea fired a nuclear armed ballistic missile and they had minutes to live. What was the reaction of people who received this ominous message? How does this ordeal stack up to Hawaiians’ long history of being on the short end of the nuclear arms race? Have there ever been a worse case of...


Episode #61: Crimson Tide

In this episode, we called opened our nuclear launch code safes to pull out the DVD box for Crimson Tide (1995) about two leaders on a submarine butting heads about whether to launch nuclear missiles and possibly start and/or stop WWIII. How accurate did the film portray nuclear command and control launch procedures? What role do boomers play in nuclear deterrence? How does Captain Ramsey’s dog have such a keen sense of a person’s character? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and returning...


Episode #60: Notorious

In this episode, we called our sommelier for advice on the best atomic alcohol to drink while watching the Alfred Hitchcock movie Notorious (1946) telling a spy romance story that discovers uranium ore stashed in a wine bottle owned by ex-Nazis hiding out in Brazil. How did Hitchcock introduce the first major atomic MacGuffin plot device so soon after the reveal of the Manhattan Project? What could a rogue element do with uranium ore hidden in a wine cellar? Why don’t the ex-Nazis hide the...


Episode #59: The Heroes Of Telemark

In this episode, we put on our skis and telemarked our way to the winter lodge to watch the movie The Heroes of Telemark (1965) about a team of Norwegian resistance fighters sabotaging a heavy water plant during WWII to prevent Germany from getting closer to an atomic bomb. How close was Nazi Germany from building a nuclear weapon? What is the importance of heavy water in a nuclear program? What is more likely: that Tim builds a homemade nuclear device or Tim properly pronounces all these...


Episode #58: Twilight's Last Gleaming

In this episode, we put a crew together to seize a movie theater to watch the nuclear missile silo hostage taking movie Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977). How easy is it to hijack a nuclear Titan ICBM launch site? What does the Vietnam War have to do with the logic of nuclear deterrence? Is “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” what they call the sparkly skin in those vampire movies? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast), Gabe, and returning special guest returning special guest Stephen Schwartz...


Episode #57: The Day After

In this episode, we looked at our calendars and realized it was finally the day to watch The Day After (1983). What would happen to a “middle of nowhere” city in Kansas in the event of a nuclear war? How did this TV movie impact the public dialogue about nuclear weapons? What about the movie scared Ronald Reagan so much he had to write about it in his diary (this is not a joke)? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest David Craig (@Producing2Power), Clinical Associate Professor of...


Episode #56: On The Beach

In this episode, we raised the periscope on our nuclear submarine to enjoy the story of On the Beach - both the movie (1959) and book (1957). What is the more likely ultimate catastrophe of a nuclear war: global nuclear fallout or nuclear winter? Why did the Eisenhower administration try to shut this movie down? If you read On the Beach while sitting on a beach, is that just tempting fate? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione), Distinguished Fellow at...


Episode #55: The Manhattan Project

In this episode, the high school yearbook voted us “Most Likely to Join the Nuclear Club” after we watched the 1986 movie The Manhattan Project where student Paul Stephens builds a nuclear bomb with plutonium stolen from a secret government lab run by the guy dating his mom. How easy is it to build a homemade nuclear weapon? What motivates a brilliant scientist to devote their life to WMD? Do you enter a homemade nuclear bomb at the science fair under the project category of physics,...


Episode #54: Deterrence

In this episode, we left the polling booth to watch the movie Deterrence (2000) about a president fighting a nuclear war against Iraq while stranded in a diner during a snowstorm on the campaign trail. Are nuclear weapons useful to deter chemical, biological, or conventional weapon attacks? Can anyone stop an irrational president from ordering a nuclear strike? Is there a connection between the diner’s famous greasy chiliburger and the IBS News station? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and...


Episode #53: By Dawn's Early Light

In this episode, we scrambled our B-52s so we could watch the in-flight movie By Dawn’s Early Light (1990). What is the U.S. president to do once a nuclear war begins? Who is in command of the nuclear stockpile when POTUS is missing? Why is James Earl Jones always finding his finger on the nuclear button? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest Sylvia Mishra (@MishraSylvia), doctoral researcher at King’s College London where studies nuclear strategy and emerging technologies, answer...


Episode #52: Testament

In this episode, we got the family together over Zoom to watch the most depressing “Hallmark movie” of all time, Testament (1983). How can one Mom keep the family going after a nuclear attack cuts off their community? How accurately does the movie portray the horrors of radiation sickness? How does nuclear war turn ham radio operators into the most important people on the planet? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and returning special guest Lucy Steigerwald (@LucyStag), contributing editor to...


Episode #51: Miracle Mile

In this episode, we pulled an all-nighter to watch the thrilling movie Miracle Mile (1986) about star crossed lovers trying to escape Los Angeles at night before a possible nuclear attack. Why do we keep nuclear weapons in North Dakota? How long would you have before the missiles start landing in your backyard? Does Google Maps have a good escape route preprogrammed in the event of a pending nuclear war? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and Gabe answer these questions and more. Before we...


Episode #50: Spies Like Us

In this episode, we aced our foreign service exam and started our undercover mission to the movie Spies Like Us (1995). How well does this comedy deploy a Soviet road mobile nuclear missile for hilarious effect? Can you actually recall a nuclear missile once it is in the air? Doctor, doctor, doctor, doctor, doctor, doctor, doctor, and doctor. Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and Gabe answer these questions and more. Before we open up the nuclear disarmament negotiation board game box, we...


Episode #49: Matinee

In this episode, we leave our bunkers and march like atomic ants to the movie theater to enjoy the film Matinee (1993). What does this story about director Joe Dante’s love of B-movies monster flicks have to say about the Cuban Missile Crisis and its impact on kids living in Florida? How do you write an effective comedy about topics that are usually nightmare fuel? When can we equip our own home theaters with Atomovision? Tim Westmyer (@NuclearPodcast) and special guest Matthew Gault...


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),...