A Haunting Drone’s-Eye View of Chernobyl

Back in August, Colin Marshall remarked that drones “have drawn bad press in recent years: as the intrusive tools of the coming surveillance state, as deliverers of death from above in a host of war zones, as the purchase-delivering harbingers of world domination by Amazon.com.” “But as with any technology,” Colin went on to note, “you can also use drones for the good, or at least for the interesting.” Like capturing mesmerizing aerial footage of major cities around the world, cities such as Los Angeles, New York, London, Bangkok & Mexico City. Now let’s add Chernobyl to the list.

While working on a recent 60 Minutes episode, filmmaker Danny Cooke visited Chernobyl, and, using a drone (a DJI Phantom 2 and GoPro 3+, to be precise), he captured haunting footage of the city devastated by the nuclear meltdown of April 26, 1986. Chernobyl has cooled off enough that journalists and scientists can now visit the area for short periods of time. (Biologists, for example, are actively studying the crippling effects radiation has had on Chernobyl’s animal life, and producing disturbing videos showing how birds are developing tumors, and spiders are spinning asymmetrical webs.) As for when Chernobyl will be truly habitable again, the best guess is another 20,000 years. By that time, the detritus will have fully given way to nature, and, if people still roam the earth, they’ll get something close to a fresh start.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.