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Top 20 Facts about Nuclear Weapons that Will Blow Your Mind

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  1. The Biggest Bomb on Earth: In 1961, a hydrogen bomb was detonated by the then Soviet Union that still holds the record as the most powerful explosive device ever used. Called Tsar Bomba (‘The Tzar of Bombs’), it produced a shock wave so strong that it was still registering on seismic equipment on its third trip around the world.
  1. A program exists among the NATO countries known as ‘Nuclear Sharing’, where member countries without nuclear capabilities host nuclear devices from other countries. Currently, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey are hosting weapons actually belonging to the United States. But here’s the catch: the bombs cannot be detonated without a special authorized security code issued by the US Armed Forces.
  1. Ever heard of the nuclear scare that sent United States troops into Iraq? Well, there is proof that these documents were fakes. While the fact that the documents are forgeries has been established, the identity of the forger is still unknown.
  1. One might expect that the funding for the production, storage and maintenance of nuclear weapons designated for American national defense would come from the United States Department of Defense, but in fact the actual funding of the US nuclear arsenal can be found in the budget of the Department of Energy.

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  1. One unexpected discipline that benefits from the advent of atomic bomb technology is the certification of paintings that were supposedly created prior to 1945, when the first Atomic Bomb was tested. If the paint on the canvas contains one of several artificial isotopes created only by nuclear explosions, it cannot be a pre-1945 work.
  1. In addition to being terrible engines of destruction, sometimes something can be created by a nuclear bomb. Kazakhstan’s Lake Chagan began as a crater resulting from a nuclear test. In recent years, the residual radiation has dropped to the point that the lake is now safe for residents to swim in.
  1. Ten percent of the nuclear energy that the United States uses is made from recycled Russian nuclear weapons.
  1. In order to determine the effects of nuclear explosions on human tissue, several animals were placed in the vicinity of Pacific Ocean weapons tests conducted in 1946. When examining the area following one of the detonations, a pig, designated #311, was found swimming in the water. He was examined and declared unharmed and finished out his life in a Washington DC Zoo.
  1. While the military takes great care to make sure that their nuclear weapons do not go astray, in 1961, two of them were accidentally released while the plane carrying them was flying over North Carolina. Neither weapon detonated, and the landings were soft enough that no nuclear material was released into the environment. Still, a pretty close call.

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  1. The Vela Incident occurred over the Indian Ocean in 1979, where a nuclear weapon was dropped in the water. No country has claimed responsibility of the detonation of this three-kiloton bomb ever. Even now.
  1. One of the most prolific of the US Nuclear Test sites is in the largely desert state of Nevada, where more than 900 tests, both above and below ground, were conducted between 1951 and 1992.
  1. Astronomer and scientific commentator Carl Sagan worked on a project to detonate a nuclear bomb on the surface of the moon. The main goal was to find out more information about the moons geology and the effects of nuclear devices in a near vacuum environment. It was also hoped that the fact that the explosion and its effects could be seen from earth would have a positive effect on the cold war. Neither this project, nor its Soviet counterpart, was never completed.
  1. An underlying fear of all of the workers on the Manhattan Project was that the nuclear fission would cause Earth’s atmosphere to ignite.
  1. During a test of the atomic bomb, one of the cameramen took of his glasses shielded his eyes, and saw the bones of his hand through his skin: just like he was looking at an x-ray.
  1. In 1968, a US B-52 bomber carrying 4 nuclear weapons was lost over the North Atlantic. Sightings indicated that the craft crashed on the coast of Greenland and the US government reported that the craft and its weapons had been secured, and the bombs subsequently destroyed. However, a 2008 BBC report claims that the bombs were never actually found. So if you see one, call someone, would you?
  1. Remember Hiroshima? The yield of one of the several nuclear weapons deployed on a typical American stealth bomber is seventy times more powerful than the device that destroyed that city.
  1. The famous formula E=MC2 defines the amount of power that would be released if matter is converted entirely into energy. Based on this formula, it would only take .7 grams of matter to produce a yield equal to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  1. A rare nuclear test in outer space in 1962 had the unexpected side effect of turning large portions of the Earth’s atmosphere blue and green.
  2. For everyone who lived in the Bikini Atoll after the atomic weapons testing, the US government continually pays for medical compensation for their health complications.
  1. A survey of the chemical content of baby teeth in 1961 by Dr. Louise Reiss revealed that the teeth and bones of babies were becoming contaminated by radioactive materials introduced into the environment by nuclear testing. The disturbing nature of these findings contributed to many of the test ban treaties which limited the number, nature and magnitude of nuclear tests.

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The Effects of Nuclear Weapons

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We have all seen horror movies and heard stories about how powerful and destructive nuclear weapons can be. What are the facts? Can they really melt our faces off? According to Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness, these are the real facts about nuclear weapons and their effects. Before we visit these facts, let us review what happens during a nuclear explosion.

A nuclear explosion is the most powerful force yet created by the agency of man. As with most explosive devices, the initial destructive force is caused by the rapid release of heat. Conventional explosives, such as dynamite and TNT, create temperatures at detonation in the thousands of degrees range. With nuclear weapons, temperatures exceeding 20 million degrees have been recorded. The firestorm resulting from a nuclear blast can destroy an area many miles across, and the shock waves can cause death and destruction beyond the limits of the firestorm.

In addition to heat, other forms of radiation are also released, many of which can injure or kill humans.

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  1. People directly in the blast of the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II were instantly killed by the intense heat and the massive force of the explosion.
  2. Some who were outside the primary blast radius were killed, injured or scarred by the flash of hard radiation from the explosion. Others were killed or injured by the collapse of buildings caused by the resulting shock waves.
  3. Other injuries included damage to the hearing from the sound of the explosion or loss of sight from looking at the brilliant flash created by the device. Some people who could have survived the attack died because most of the medical facilities and supplies were destroyed.
  4. Even those who were not affected directly by the explosions suffered ill effects. The bombs used in the attack on Japan were known for creating a condition known as radioactive fallout. This occurs when soil, ash and other debris is mixed with the radioactive elements from the bomb and thrown high into the atmosphere, where it can be carried great distances by the wind. Wherever this debris ‘falls’, it can contaminate the soil, water, and air, and will cause radiation sickness to any in the affected area. Symptoms include hair loss, bleeding, sores, vomiting and the condition is often fatal.
  5. Birth defects, spontaneous abortions, and cancers, including leukemia, are other long term affects of exposure to areas contaminated by fall out.
  6. Nuclear fallout can also cause the destruction of nerve cells, small blood vessels, and seizures.
  7. Sometimes, the symptoms of radiation poisoning can go on for years without notice. Early symptoms of exposure can mimic the flu and may continue to go under the radar until a blood count is done. Other symptoms include bleeding and shedding of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
  8. This can also cause mutations in DNA, resulting in a multitude of health problems and diseases that are irreversible.

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A good question to ask next is: how do I protect myself from radiation in the event that a nuclear blast would explode near me (very improbable):

  • Limit your exposure time
  • Distance yourself from the source
  • Shield yourself using lead, concrete, or water
  • Contain the radioactive material

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The Best Arguments for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Worldwide

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There are lots of arguments circling around about keeping or destroying nuclear weapons, who should have them, and where or when they should be developed or used. If you want a solid argument against the production of these kinds of weapons and want to wipe them out completely, here are the most informed arguments that you can use to win any fight during your in-law’s tooth-and-nail dispute.

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  1. The United States needs to fulfill their existing obligations, along with the rest of the world. Every nuclear weapons state has made explicit promises to negotiate towards nuclear disarmament. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed by the US, Russia, Britain, France, and China, was extended in 1995, and 2000. Even countries that are not a part of the NPT have sworn to destroy their own nuclear weapons (India and Pakistan) if others like them agree to do so as well. The only nuclear state that has not joined in is Israel. Your argument will come full circle when you remind your stubborn adversaries of the International Court of Justice’s obligation to nuclear disarmament that clearly reveals an obligation to reduce atomic weapons to zero: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”
  1. Why don’t we just stop nuclear weapons proliferation? If nations fail to eliminate their nuclear weapon arsenals, then it is likely to result in proliferation of nuclear weapons to dangerous countries. The argument that powerful nations should protect themselves with powerful weapons will surely lead to less powerful nations will make that argument as well. This will cause the Non-Proliferation Treaty to hang in a delicate balance when all parties meet for the next NPT Review Conference.

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  1. Abolishing nuclear weapons helps avoids nuclear accidents. Miscommunication, miscalculation, misfiring, or malfunctioning can occur, considering the thousands upon thousands of nuclear weapons that are already deployed or are on high alert status. This risk is especially high considering the short amount of time allowed for making decisions about if there is a state of emergency occurring or not. (For bonus points, you can even add on that the breakup of the USSR weakened the nuclear weapons early warning system, which renders the country at an increased likelihood of an attack.)
  1. If we destroy nuclear weapons, less nuclear terrorism will occur. (If you need to elaborate on this, here is what you could say just in case that is not enough of an argument.) Nuclear weapons and their production sites are vulnerable to terrorist attacks at any time. Because of their power and overall destructive potential, nuclear weapons are especially wanted by terrorists (seriously though, if you have to keep going here is what you can say). This threat is even greater when you consider Russia’s early warning system has been vulnerable since the Cold War, so their ability to sense a terror attack is weakened as well. Also, if you think about it a little more, and your audience needs more convincing, you can tell them that in a world where terrorists are hard to find, and nuclear weapons need a steady target; therefore, it will be near impossible to attack terrorists with nuclear weapons since they are hiding beneath the sand.

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Nucleomituphobia

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Are you finding yourself being extremely afraid of nuclear weapons? Do you start sweating when you are in a room and your friends bring up that topic that you especially dread? Does your heart beat extremely fast when you are caught talking about nuclear weapons, their creation, their destruction, their history? Then you might just have nucleomituphobia. It is okay to be afraid of nuclear weapons. Since their introduction to the general public, widespread fear of nuclear weapons is not uncommon.

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A video released called “Duck and Cover” helped fuel the fire of public fear of nuclear weapons. This fear could have even been exaggerated so that the every day person would be hyper aware of their safety. Hiroshima caused a rush of horror stories around the world, which also put logs on a fire that was already burning bright.

Is This You?

Most people with this specific phobia are very extreme in their outward expressions of their fear. It is not uncommon for them to have bomb shelters built into their basement, internet searches dedicated to increased safety features, and may even become agoraphobic (afraid of going outside) in fear of falling prey to a nuclear attack. The truth is that the likelihood of this event is extremely low.

What You May Be Experiencing

There are certain symptoms of anxiety that you may be experiencing. This includes, but is not limited to: heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, tremors, fear of going outside, and even panic attacks. If you are experiencing these symptoms and you think that they night be associated with your fear of nuclear weapons, then there is help to be found. This can occur even if you are exposed to pictures of nuclear events or see a movie about nuclear weapons. It is not limited to simply having a conversation about this topic.

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Treatment

There are many options for treatment of this specific type of fear. Some opt for psychotherapy. This would include any array of therapeutic techniques and types of therapists that are free for you to choose from. You may also be able to take a medication to help manage your anxiety, like Ativan or Prozac.

Tell Your Friends and Family

Another great way to combat your fear of nuclear weapons is to talk about it with your friends and family. This is perfect because they spend the most time with you during the day, and can help when you are feeling overwhelmed with your anxiety. They can aid in reminding you about the real statistics and risk of being under a nuclear attack that can return you back to reality faster than if you were simply dealing with it by yourself. Reaching out to family and friends is a great way to feel supported through your fear and dissuade yourself from being overtaken by it. Having a supportive community is also something that a therapist might suggest as a tool during therapy. One of the greatest things that you can have to battle this fear is a safe place to go that surrounds you with people who understand and love you.

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The State of the Anti-Nuclear Weapons Movement

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 The struggle to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world has not made much press in the 21st century, partly due to the massive attention that nuclear armament received throughout much of the latter half of the 20th century. We watched missiles installed in Cuba, test ban treaties made and broken, and the creation of enough nuclear weapons to annihilate the world many times over. And then, the cold war froze solid, and the dangers of nuclear war seemed pushed to the back burner. Diplomacy lead to detente, and the tensions that characterized much of modern history seemed to relax.

But the weapons remained. Deadly, devastating, and just waiting to be deployed. Modern watchdog groups estimate that more than 10,000 nuclear bombs still exist today, many full functional and ready to be launched.

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There are a number of groups working to keep track of these devices and to reduce or eliminate their presence from the global landscape. A few of the more active include:

  • Greenpeace: While primarily an environmental organization, they are aware of the threat of what nuclear war can do to the population and to the environment. In addition to loss of life, both animal and vegetation, from the fires and explosions resulting from a nuclear attack, a large scale nuclear conflict could precipitate a condition known as Nuclear Winter, where particulates are spewed into the air that will diminish the Sun’s warming effect, essentially triggering an ice age.
  • Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: A group made up of members from 86 countries which is dedicated to ferreting out and creating effective responses to attempts by terrorist nations and organizations to add nuclear weapons to their arsenal. They also have created plans and contingencies to be used should a terrorist group successfully launch a nuclear attack on a target.
  • The ATOM Project: This is an international initiative trying to bring a global nuclear nonproliferation treaty to fruition. This act, while not a total solution, would greatly reduce the chance of nuclear weapons being used by countries engaged in conflict, and would severely limit the availability of nuclear weapons and material to terrorist groups.
  • Global Zero: An international group whose aim is to cause the complete elimination of specific weapons systems, especially nuclear weapons systems, which are the greatest threats to global stability and safety.
  • The International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons: As the name implies, this civilian organization is dedicated to the complete elimination of the nuclear option on a global scale, due to the tremendously inhumane nature of these weapons, regardless of the reason behind their use. Over 60 countries have partner groups supporting this goal.
  • The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs: An omnibus group looking after the threats caused by all weapons of mass destruction, whether biological, chemical or nuclear. While its ultimate goal is global disarmament, it works with existing treaties, legislation and accords to limit proliferation and to reduce current stockpiles.

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The Modern Major Fears Associated with Nuclear Weapons

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Members of the younger generations of the 21st century look back with amusement at the fears of the people who lived through the cold war and with the threat of nuclear war. Bomb shelters, air raid drills and the famous ‘duck and cover’ films shown in American schools seem funny now, but at the time, the possibility of nuclear attack seemed, and was, very real. And while we weathered those decades of fear and paranoia, the dangers presented from nuclear weapons are just as real now, though they may take a somewhat different form.

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World War III:

During the cold war, the most credible scenario for nuclear disaster was a shootout between the US and the USSR, a possibility that was always described by newscasters as being ‘on the brink of becoming a reality’. However, through a lot of diplomacy and the realization that no attack could negate a devastating retaliation, we survived. But both countries still have the capacity for global thermonuclear war, something that many politicians and watchdog groups have not forgotten.

It is especially an issue as China has entered the equation and while they are a distant number 3 in the ranks of nuclear powers, this Asian powerhouse has a history of ill feelings towards both Russian and America.

Powerful, just not Super Powerful:

Countries never considered a super power before are now nuclear powers, and as such are only a button push away from leveling entire cities and regions. India and Pakistan are an area of particular concern. These bordering nations share two things. They have a long history of hatred and distrust towards each other, and they are tied for 6th place among the nuclear nations with 120 weapons a piece. It would not take much to light up that part of the world, and 240 nuclear bombs can do a lot of damage in a very short time.

Declining safeguards:

Another problem is that after the breakup of the Soviet Union, many nuclear safeguards have fallen into disarray, which could lead to either an unplanned nuclear incident or, just as bad, working nuclear weapons disappearing and falling into the hands of terrorist nations around the world.

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Third World War I:

While many fear the coming of World War III, where the remaining super powers will unleash their arsenals, an equally disquieting fear is that countries with a history of aggression and terrorism will obtain the essentials for creating their own nuclear bombs. And while they may not have the means to launch and target these devices, a working nuclear device could be assembled at or near a target without the need for missiles or planes. Many consider the possibility of suitcase nuke, a bomb small enough to be carried to ground zero, as credible a threat as a mass attack from an existing super power.

The solution:

While total nuclear disarmament may still be a dream, the measures in place to reduce the massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons will help to add stability to a dangerous situation.

 

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Nuclear Proliferation: Which Countries have the most Nuclear Weapons?

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 Nuclear Proliferation – the uncontrolled spread of nuclear weaponry, has been the fear of nations since the first bombs were dropped in World War II. And while the US remains the only country in the world to use strategic nuclear bombs in a combat situation, the stockpiles of these weapons of mass destruction are a major concern to governments and private groups around the globe.

The problem is difficult to define as most counts focus on the nuclear devices themselves, and not the delivery system required to make it true weapon. Many countries listed as having nuclear capabilities lack the missiles or aircraft to make them a true long range threat.

So. Who has them and how many do they have?

Top Two: Russia and the United States:

To anyone who has read about or lived through the arms race of the 20th century will not be surprised that these two superpowers are at the top of the list for nuclear bombs, and by a hefty margin. Both the US and Russia have over 7,000 warheads, while the rest of the nuclear countries have 300 or less.

Some people might be surprised to learn, however, that in this contest, Russia scores in the number one slot with 7,700 devices to America’s 7,100. Still, at that scale, the difference is largely academic.

Leading the rest of the pack:

Representing Europe are two neighbors across the channel, France and Britain, ranking number 3 and 5 with 300 and 225 nuclear devices respectively. Ranking #4 with 260 warheads is China, the best armed of the Asian nations.

Tied for 6th with 120 warheads each are India and Pakistan, two other neighboring countries who share a long border and a longer history of animosity towards each other. This delicate balance is under careful scrutiny by those keeping an eye on nuclear issues.

Finishing up the list are Israel at #7 with 80 devices, and North Korea at #8 with 8.

Other nations may also have access to an ally’s nuclear arsenal under various treaty agreements. For example, NATO members Germany, Italy, Belgium and Turkey currently have nuclear weapons belonging to the United States which they are ‘hosting’ under NATO defense agreements.

 

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The Dangers of Nuclear Proliferation:

The problem with so many weapons out there is that it doesn’t take much to push a regime over the nuclear edge. Especially when the players have a long history of aggression, like Pakistan and India, North Korea and China, and of course Russia and the US. The chances of someone ‘hitting the button’ continues to be a source of concern.

Even the countries with smaller arsenals and a lack of long range attack capabilities are an issue. Bombs can be deployed over land and still be an effective weapon against a neighboring country. And with the kind of payload that even a small strategic nuclear device caries, accuracy in targeting is not the first concern.

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Nuclear Disarmament:

While many countries are genuinely working to reduce the total number of weapons both in their own arsenals and worldwide, other countries are looking to join the list of nuclear powers. This makes it important to keep an eye on the state of nuclear armament.

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Treaties That Limit Nuclear Weapons

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The threat of a nuclear war has hung over the world since the first military use of an atomic weapon in 1945. Each generation since has had to deal with the potential dangers of large scale nuclear conflict. While some feel that the continued stockpiling of nuclear weapons is the best way to prevent war, a growing movement exists that has 2 main goals:

  • Anti-Proliferation: to limit the expansion of nuclear weapons technology.
  • Nuclear Disarmament: to reduce the total number nuclear devices in existence, ideally down to zero.

Here are some key treaties and accords currently in place:

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  • Antarctic Treaty (1959): One of the first international weapons agreements, this treaty recognized the unique strategic danger that military installation and weapons sites in Antarctica would present. With emerging missile technology, nearly every other continent would have been in range of attacks from Antarctic based weapons. This treaty essentially demilitarized the entire continent, prohibiting any military exercises, troop emplacements, and the testing of or installation of weapons systems, both nuclear and conventional.

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  • Limited Test Ban Treaty (1969): This treaty recognizes and addresses that there is a danger to the world population not only from nuclear attacks, but from the side effects of the development and testing process itself. Studies had already shown that residual nuclear material from testing was making its way into the air, food and water supplies around the world, causing potential harm to men, women and children. Essentially, this treaty limited nuclear testing to underground sites, which reduced their impact on the environment.
  • Strategic Arms Limitations Treaties: Known as SALT I and SALT II, these treaties were crafted during talks between the then nuclear powers during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The idea was to address the rapid expansion of nuclear arsenals and stockpiles. Nicknamed ‘The Arms Race’, this accumulation of nuclear weapons was an attempt by both the US and the USSR to have a strategic advantage from the size of their arsenals, trying to maintain a condition of Mutually Assured Destruction.
  • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (I and II): A set of treaties worked out in the latter part of the 200th century which tried to reduce the total number of nuclear weapons systems in use. The first treaty was forged when the USSR was still a world power, while the second was established after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
  • Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972): This controversial treaty tries to address one of the main issues behind the arms race, which is weakening the ability of one side to destroy the other, thus upsetting the balance of power.
  • International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005): This treaty was designed to address a new nuclear threat posed by the possibility of nuclear weapons or material coming into the possession of nations or organizations who engage in acts of terrorism on a regional or global basis. It allows nations to prosecute anyone planning, threatening, or attempting any act of terrorism using a nuclear device or radioactive materials, or involving acts of sabotage on any nuclear power plant or other nuclear facility.

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