Wandering through Half Price Books yesterday, I happened to spot this book sitting on a cart. It's plain cover, sitting amongst the garish colors of its neighbors, caught my eye, and I picked it up.
Commissioned by the Department of Defense, these books were first published in 1951, but were updated several times since, expanding in size as our knowledge grew. Originally only 99 pages, by the time the 1993 revision came out, it weighed in at over 5500 pages across 27 volumes. I picked up the 1966 edition, which was the last edition compact enough to be held in a single volume.
Much of the information presented within is quite obviously not designed for the layman, while some is so stark it could be understood by almost anyone.
If you're interested, a later version has been scanned and is available online here.
Of particular interest, however, was what I found at the back of the book. Tucked into a paper envelope glued to the inside back cover was what is billed as a "Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer".
At the time this was published, you could send the US Government $1 and they would mail you one of these puppies if you weren't lucky enough to get your hands on this book. Basically, by specifying the weapon yield (kT or MT), the crater depth and radius can be determined. By also specifying the range, the maximum overpressure (PSI), the maximum wind speed (MPH), the estimated dose (rem) and the thermal radiation (cal/cm2) can be determined. The weapon yield can be determined from the radius of the fireball, or vice versa.
Of course, when I saw it, the first thing I thought was that it was a really advanced version of this bad boy:
Seeing as how it's government issue, and as such copyright free, I'm surprised Twilight 2000 didn't slip one of these in their box sets - as crunchy as it was, it would have fit right in, and I doubt anyone would have batted an eyelash.