Paul Rubinson
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Imagining the apocalypse
Nuclear winter in science and the world
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During the 1980s, Carl Sagan and other scientists used the theory of nuclear winter to criticize the arms race. Historians have largely dismissed nuclear winter as a political movement. In fact, nuclear winter influenced debate over nuclear weapons in the United States, despite contentious scientific and political arguments. In addition, an analysis of nuclear winter's reception in the Soviet Union reveals that the theory resonated on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The global debate over nuclear winter shows the potency of scientific arguments against nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and demonstrates the complex relationship between science and politics.

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Understanding the imaginary war

Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945–90


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