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Comment: Re:Not MAD. (Score 2) 314

by careysub (#47973791) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

~1500 multiple warhead weapons is still enough to blow up the world several times over,

No it's not. The very idea is preposterous. Blast radius of a 1mt Minuteman warhead is about .48km. Assuming an absurdly unrealistic "destroyed" zone 100 times the area of the blast, and assuming perfect coverage with no overlap, 1500 warheads gets us an area of 1.1 million square kilometers.

Making up numbers are we? The destruction radius of a typical 400 kT modern warhead (urban airburst) is actually larger than the "4.8 km" you pulled out your nether regions for a 1 MT warhead. Far from being "absurdly unrealistic", your urban destruction radius is actually a low-ball. In a nuclear urban annihilation attack (multiple warheads against large cities) a destruction radius of 7 km is reasonable (anyone outside is fatally burned, buildings are damaged enough to serve as efficient furnaces as the multitude of set fires merge into a fire storm).

This gives us an urban area destroyed of ~150 km^2 per warhead, or a total of 225,000 km^2. This is not the whole world, but it is about half of the world's total urban area with populations larger than 500,0000 numbering 2 billion people. Such an attack could easily destroy the world's entire petrochemical processing and storage infrastructure in a single stroke, as well as all of its major ports. Half the urban population in the world dead all at once. No oil or food shipments for anyone, anywhere. A billion deaths is just the starting point. How far would the population fall through famine and disease until it stabilizes?

Not the "end of the world", but the "end of the world as we know it" for sure.

Comment: Re:MAD (Score 1) 314

by careysub (#47973489) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

They apparently used it in the Crimea. (Some sources say Sevastopol, others Kerch.)

In other words, they used them under circumstances where they did not fear retaliation in kind. Similarly Germany used gas to kill millions of captive people, again under circumstances where no retaliation was feared.

This actually supports the deterrence claims, it does not refute it.

According to Wikipedia, when they interrogated Goering after the war, he told them the reason they didn't use their nerve gas to repulse the landings at Normandy was that they hadn't been able to make an effective gas mask for horses.

Making gas masks for horses was a solved problem in WW-I. Germany had gas mask canisters that could protect against Tabun. Goering's ramblings in captivity mean little other than as a source for analyzing his personal delusions.

Comment: Re:MAD (Score 1) 314

by careysub (#47973421) Attached to: US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

No, they couldn't. The V2 was't design for delivering gas. It's warhead detonated on impact. Its a very inefficient method of delivery, because most of the gas would bury into ground at supersonic speed.

Anyway 3172 rockets was an equivalent of a single large scale bombing mission over Germany done with Lancasters.

The V-2 could very easily have been used to deliver gas. A very efficient manner for delivering the nerve gas Tabun is an air burst missile warhead, where the "burst" is caused simply by strip charges splitting the missile nose, exposing the agent to the supersonic airflow. This results in a vertical line of fine aerosol being generated, which then creates a long ellipse of highly exposed terrain downwind as if descends (the U.S. developed missile warheads that worked like this in the 1950s and early 1960s). The only triggering method required for this is a clock. They could calculate the flight time of the missile accurately enough to burst it 1000-2000 m in the air.

Each missile carried a 1000 kg payload. It was possible for Germany to launch about 100 V-2 a day in a maximum effort surge attack (a strategy not actually employed during the war). Additionally V-1s delivered a payload of 850 kg, and more than 100 were actually launched in a day at the peak of the V-1 campaign. Delivering 185 tons of Tabun into the Greater London area in a single day was within Germany's ability, and the casualties would have been considerable - truly a terror weapon.

But as you point out, Bomber Command could exceed this in dropping gas on German cities on a regular basis, even compensating for the lower toxicity of the agents employed (roughly an 8-1 ratio). Thus no plans for gassing London were ever developed.

Comment: Killer Drones (Score 1) 137

by careysub (#47955733) Attached to: Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

I sense a business opportunity here: killer drones!

These would be designed to go after and knock down the hovering picture-snapping kind, which would be easy pickings. The killer drones don't need to hover - they fly faster than the hovering kind and just go straight at 'em. Some kind of netting or framework to snag and entangle the drone rotors perhaps. Option of either hauling it back as evidence, or in true bird of prey fashion just applying a "killing blow" and letting it fall to the ground. Developing different kill mechanisms should be fun. Robot wars in the air!

Comment: Re:It's getting hotter still! (Score 4, Insightful) 633

by careysub (#47911457) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

Somehow a quite conservatively formulated claim (subjunctive mode, "some models, 75% chance, 5-7 years, during some month of the summer") magically morphed into the strong claim "Al Gore said in 5 years time the Arctic will be completely ice free".

And two years ago the summer arctic ice cover dropped to the lowest level ever recorded, only 1/3 of the average cover from 1981-2010, which is a divergence of more than three standard deviations, with all of the ice coverages since 2010 being far below that long term average.

It is pitiful how the existence of random variation superimposed over a very strong long term trend seems to succor the fantasies of denialists.

Comment: Re:Precident has been set (Score 1) 213

by careysub (#47910943) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

The other theories of formation (volcanism, subsidence, etc.) had been discredited by the late 1920s, leaving the meteor impact theory the only one left standing. And there was a lot of good evidence supporting it (finely pulverized rock under the crater floor, the meteoric iron under the crater found by drilling, etc.). There was no controversy about the crater's origin, had been none for decades, when Shoemaker found the polymorphs. I know, because I read the original published literature - from the teens, twenties and thirties, Shoemaker's paper on Meteor Crater, AZ, his subsequent paper where he showed that the Ries Basin was an impact feature due to the polymorph presence (this was the first real case where it was crucial in making the determination), and also Shoemaker's obit in Science, which does not assert that he proved the nature of Meteor Crater.

Your geology department field trip may have been passing along a "good story" rather than a critical examination of the literature.

Comment: Re:Precident has been set (Score 1) 213

by careysub (#47894981) Attached to: Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

Barringer Crater was a pre-existing landform that wasn't even confirmed to be of extraterrestrial origin until Shoemaker's 1960-ish PhD thesis. Granted, there was suspicion that it was from a meteorite impact, but the theories up until Shoemaker's were all incorrect.

Come again? The theory that it was a meteor impact was actually incorrect until Shoemaker found high-pressure quartz polymorphs? The preponderance of evidence supported it being a meteor impact decades before that, there were no other plausible explanations for the formation that fit the evidence. The discovery of the polymorphs coesite and stishovite provided a unique unambiguous indicator, but in no way was required to demonstrate that the meteor crater explanation was correct. The real significance of the polymorph discovery was to provide reliable indicators for other formations of uncertain origin. The original Shoemaker paper (Science, Vol. 132, p. 220, 1960) makes no claim that it "proved" that Meteor Crater was a meteor crater, the paper assumes that as a known fact.

Comment: Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (Score 1) 462

by careysub (#47885283) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

Like I said to another poster. This unlawful seizure has only happened in a handful of cases over the last decade, and those where corrected by the courts, property returned and officers involved appropriately disciplined.

...

Can you point us to support for this claim, somewhere? I'm sure you wouldn't just be making this up.

Thanks.

Comment: Re:Seems reasonable (Score 4, Insightful) 462

by careysub (#47885183) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

The Drug War kleptocracy, like the National Security State, and the Plutocracy we live in has been nurtured by both Republicans and Democrats for decades, nay, generations now. Neither party has opposed these trends. It is wrong to say that they are both alike, but in these essential areas of freedom and democracy, they have both been happy to be on the take, and to wield ill-gotten power.

Comment: Re:It's mostly a USA problem (Score 1) 200

by careysub (#47825987) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste

Can't cite an actual clause in the treaty "flat out saying" this can you?

The NNPT flat out gives unlimited permission for activities supporting peaceful nuclear energy - which includes reprocessing:

Article IV
1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination

Comment: Re:It's mostly a USA problem (Score 1) 200

by careysub (#47825889) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste

Well seeing as the US government took a huge amount of money from the nuclear generators over the years to fund a waste storage repository (which they are being sued over because of their utter failure to hold up their end of the deal) perhaps they could use that to pay for reprocessing? The electricity producers (and in turn, therefore, consumers) have already paid for it, taxpayers don't need to be involved.

Perhaps those funds could be used for that purpose. But what about the burner reactors to consume the separated actinides? Simply putting the actinides in a smaller pile forever accomplishes nothing.

Comment: Re:It's mostly a USA problem (Score 1) 200

by careysub (#47825829) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste

Yes, do see the AREVA plant. It was built in 1976 by the French government, and its operation was "privatized" by spinning it off into AREVA, which is majority owned by the French government (and alien concept to many Americans), and which provides the funds for the plant's operation. Thus the plant is still owned by the French government.

AREVA is simply a different way for the French government to manage its plant. Consider that the Los Alamos National Laboratory is actually operated by a private limited liability company: Los Alamos National Security, LLC formed by the University of California, Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, and URS Energy and Construction. Does this make LANL a commercial venture? Hardly. This is no way AREVA is a commercial venture.

Show me a plant built by private funds. You can't.

Comment: Re:It's mostly a USA problem (Score 1) 200

by careysub (#47823275) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste

It's mostly a United States problem that waste isn't reprocessed. This is now and has been done on an industrial scale in Europe and the U.K. for several decades. For some reason the United States, under the guise of non-proliferation, will not permit reprocessing of spent commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

Nonsense. Any company that wants to open a fuel reprocessing plant can do so, they just need to apply for a license and be willing to pay the bills.

Perhaps you mean that the U.S. government has decided not to run a fuel reprocessing plant at tax payer expense that produces fuel that no one will take unless paid upfront, and few can use anyway? There are no commercial fuel reprocessing plants anywhere in the world because they cannot make money, only spend it.

Having sufficient reactors under construction that could actually consume the reprocessed fuel stream seems to be an essential ingredient here, otherwise you are simply putting plutonium (and cousins) in a smaller pile. The first pile wasn't all that large to begin with. Little is accomplished by separating the actinides until you are ready to burn them.

Comment: Re:Already commented on this elsewhere (Score 2) 200

by careysub (#47823231) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste

The area is periodically inundated by tsunamis.

That's not what "flood plain" means. A flood plain is an area frequently inundated by a river. Else everything under about 1000 meters is technically flood plain (from nearby several km asteroid impacts).

Fukushima Daiichi is actually on a flood plain though. It is on an extended coastal sea-level estuarial marsh plain deposited by a series of rivers coming down from the mountains. BTW - there is no "frequent" required. Flood plain maps mark 100 year and 1000 year flood boundaries, something on the 1000 year boundary is still on the flood plain, even though that part floods rarely.

Comment: Re:Already commented on this elsewhere (Score 5, Informative) 200

by careysub (#47823225) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste

but it does seem like important stuff in a flood plain

Fukushima wasn't in a flood plain.

Yes it is. Take a look at this US Army topo map (the latitude is (37.427 degrees, its on the coast). It is on an extended flood plain stretching along the coast, created by several rivers (Takase, Maeda, Kuma. Tomioka, etc.) . The whole area is a sea-level marsh consisting of soil deposited by these rivers at flood.

The problem wasn't glaring except in hindsight.

Because, you know, no one had ever seen a tsunami in Japan before. Oh wait, tsunami is a Japanese word. That doesn't seem quite right, does it?

Japan had fifteen of them since 1900, before Tohoku (the slightly dated linked list misses the 2007 Niigata tsunami).

"What man has done, man can aspire to do." -- Jerry Pournelle, about space flight

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