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Comment Re:The scale is totally different nowadays.... (Score 1) 490

Germany had "cruise missiles" of sorts in WWII -- the V1 and V2 -- guided and ballistic missiles respectively and pretty advanced for their time. They cost more than the Manhattan Project by about 50%, despite the use of slave labor. Neither changed the outcome of the war, and the V2 in particular was likely not worth the resources it took to build compared to normal aircraft. They built something like 8k+ V1s and 6k V2s.

Also keep in mind in World War II, Germany for the most part was technologically superior to us. The use of drones against a technologically superior foe today would be a very risky endeavor. In addition to vulnerability without air superiority, the systems themselves are technologically vulnerable.

Comment Re:About time.. (Score 5, Interesting) 278

Sorry, but the burden of proof is on he who is fracking things up. And a lack of data does not indicate safety, either.

Before fracking as we know it today was commercially viable, under the "Plowshares" program, nuclear bombs were detonated to stimulate the release of natural gas. They included Project Rio Blanco and Project Rusilon in Colorado, and Project Gasbuggy in New Mexico.

For the most part, this was not a successful venture. Rio Blanco, a test which used three bombs in close proximity, failed entirely. Rusilon and Gasbuggy succeeded -- Rusilon especially -- but as you probably correctly guessed already, the gas was radioactive and unmarketable.

But, all the plans required careful designs for preventing the release of contamination to a degree no one has to live up to with modern fracking.

Now, pull up Google Earth and look at 39.405278, -107.948528 . This is the where the Rusilon device was detonated in Colorado. Now start zooming out and panning around. You will note a great deal of little patches of concrete and dirt in the area. These are natural gas wells. The DOE is still accountable for making sure no radioactive contamination from Rusilon ever gets out.

So what you see here is someone taking advantage of mysterious, conveniently rich and abundant quantities of natural gas suddenly found in this region in the last 40 years. But none of it's directly contaminated by the Rusilon test. Either the isotopes have decayed or secondary effects from the blast unrelated to contamination resulted in long-term changes to the region. The water quality in the Rusilon area has been extensively monitored, so at least that was not affected here.

But the point is, I can state things definitely here because the DOE has spent millions watching these sites like a hawk. And even the most minute traces of radioactive contamination can be detected, because it is its own radioactive tracer.

Can anyone say the same about modern fracking? Who's going to be watching modern fracking sites in 40 years? Who's making sure the secondary long-term effects upon region geology don't negatively impact others?

I'm not arguing for detonating nukes for natural gas production, I think it's a dumb idea, but these tests have shown long-term effects upon area geology caused by the blast effects alone, which while not negative in these three cases, certainly have the potential to be, no matter what force of nature you're relying on to frack things up for you.

And then there's the contamination. And you have to use a lot more fracking stuff to stimulate the same amount of natural gas production as a couple kilograms of plutonium. That equates to injecting a lot of fracking crap in the ground. No monitoring, no testing, changes to area geology, no half-life that it will decay in... do you think every fracking site out there is going to sequester things away forever?

Comment Re:U.S. loves to kill things (Score 4, Interesting) 400

Wrong. No one uses uranium to make weapons. No one. Uranium can only be used in gun-type designs which are 1) inherently unsafe and 2) extremely inefficient. When India and Pakistan developed nukes, they were full Teller-Ulam designs. If you think Iran would waste perfectly good uranium in a weapon, you're wrong. They wouldn't. They would use that uranium to breed Plutonium-239 and use *that* in a weapon. Uranium is very common, but not common enough to waste it in weapons when you can create vast amounts of Pu-239 with it.

Meanwhile, yes, the world's medical isotope supply is VERY DEPENDENT upon HEU targets. LEU is very inefficient, doesn't work for shit. So-called "anti proliferation" efforts have resulted in a near inability to generate medical isotopes to the point where if a reactor goes offline people die. And there are only FOUR REACTORS in the entire world producing medical isotopes. All are past their lifespan and running when a power-generating reactor wouldn't be allowed to. Every year they save more lives than nuclear weapons and accidents have ever killed.

I hope one of those four reactors doesn't go down when you or your family require cancer treatment or diagnostic imaging. Not like moly cows last too long.

"Well yes, we'd love to give you the best treatment for your rapidly growing cancer we can and find out where it is in your body with some nice Tc-99m, but well, a reactor went offline and due to political lobbying by anti-nuclear activists and the US state department, it will be at least 25 years until a replacement can be built. Although one probably never will be. But the chapel is down the hall and to the left..."

Comment Re:Micro Nuclear Power Plants (Score 2) 200

"Proliferation risks"... no one makes weapons with uranium, it is a waste of uranium. Weapons are made with plutonium. That's a disingenuous assertion by those opposed to nuclear energy. The fact is, highly-enriched uranium is the only practical way to make most of the world's medical isotopes, amongst other things. I wonder how many arguing against HEU would be willing to give up effective medical imaging and cancer treatment for themselves and their families. Not many, I suspect.

There are a number of civilian vessels with naval nuclear propulsion. There was the NS Savannah from the US (warning: epic pictures at that link). Security of the reactor did requite additional personnel on the ship, but these are issues that have been solved long ago. And there are a number of Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers today. In fact, you can book a cruise on one, if you're into riding around with a bunch of Russians in the arctic.

And things like the A4W reactor and its fuel are declassified and common knowledge. There is no great secret here.

There have been no failures to date of any reactors aboard US Navy vessels. This is hardly surprisingly given that Admiral Hyman G. Rickover ruled that program with an iron fist and was extremely anal about safety and protocol. Down to hand-picking the crew. There have been a few incidents with Russian naval reactors, but in all fairness Russia also pushed the design envelope more than we did, and there are risks in doing so.

Comment Re:This is one area we've regressed. (Score 5, Informative) 252

Indeed, and this is something we can progress in without recreating incidents that gave us little intelligence but cost us a great deal of goodwill.

An example of the more recent advances in interrogation used by the US -- still actively taught today, actually -- came from studying how American POWs in WWII were interrogated by the Luftwaffe's master interrogator, Hanns Joachim Scharff. Sort of like the Erwin Rommel of interrogation.

I'm sure the image that most people have about Germans interrogating US POWs in WWII is like an ill-tempered Jack Bauer, but that wasn't the case at all, at least for Scharff.

Scharff's techniques were purely psychological, and did not rely on causing physical or (much) psychological distress. I'll try to briefly summarize what I recall reading quite a while ago. Scharff would treat prisoners well, and engage them in conversation, even giving them leave to walk with him outside the base. He would take note of what they said, at first without prying that much, and then in later conversation where they felt more comfortable around him, interject those things learned earlier in ways that the prisoner would elaborate on a topic that they would not normally divulge, perhaps even under torture... usually without even realizing they had given him the intel he wanted.

It required extreme attention to detail, patience, interpersonal skills, and getting to know and understand who he was interrogating. Much more difficult than torture, but it produced consistently good results.

I don't know what advances can be made in interrogation in the future, but as Hanns Scharff proved, they need not all be brutal to be effective.

Comment Re:Subtext (Score 1) 93

Test ban, shmest ban. After they know you have working nuclear weapons, what are they gonna do? Nothing. Because you've got BASES FULL OF GIANT NUCLEAR MISSILES.

When India and Pakistan detonated their test nukes, we whined about it, and threw some limp-wristed sanctions on them we gave up a few years later. Didn't exactly make them regret developing them, did it?

The only value of the knowledge of who has nuclear weapons is who you can't fuck with. You can tattle on them to their mom and the UN, but it won't change anything.

All we do with a test ban is artificially limit the evolution of our own technology, substituting the laws of man for the laws of nature, and annoy the rest of the world with our hypocrisy trying to dictate technological development to sovereign nations we have no right doing so to.

Why are we comfortable letting humanity's best weapons and defense remain the unevolved old original designs from Oppenheimer and Teller forever into the future?

How long are computers made in the 1970s and sucking fast neutron radiation since then going to remain viable for controlling our existing weapons?

Comment Re:Culmination of a dream (Score 4, Insightful) 372

Right. When all else fails, call them a World War II name. If the US was truly fascist, you and your family would be summarily executed for making that post. Do you know at all what that means?

Kids these days just have zero conception of how little human life was worth in the 1940s, or what really went on. It seems that historical reality is beyond the capacity of your imagination.

On all sides. It was not merely Germany, Italy and Japan targeting civilians and taking rights away from people on the homefront. Every country did it in the name of survival. Anything you want to whine about the Nazis or Fascists doing, we already did. Restrict rights of domestic citizens and put them into concentration camps, or conscript them into war? Check. Bomb the hell out of German civilians with our British bros all night long? Check. Push a prototype nuclear weapon of mass destruction out of the back of an airplane over a city filled with civilians ... twice? Check. Firebomb and kill even more civilians with incendiary weapons before we got our dubya emm dees? Check. Shoot our own soldiers in the back if they didn't push forward (zee Russians)? Check. Because that's what survival in a real war takes.

Calling someone a fascist is inane and meaningless, and is an insult to history.


During radiolysis of the Pressure Suppression Pool water below the Chernobyl reactor, hydrogen peroxide was formed. Hypothesis that the pool water was partially converted to H2O2 is confirmed by the identification of the white crystalline minerals studtite and metastudtite in the Chernobyl lavas,[25][26] the only minerals that contain peroxide.[27] -Wikipedia

Or if you're not a fan of Wikipedia, here's another link for the NRC.

Though I originally read it in an interview with Russians who were at Chernobyl. I don't recall in what, but I suspect if you Googled for "Chernobyl alpha radiation" (as I just did) and paged through the results you'd find it eventually. Or maybe " - ".

Comment Re:INSIDE THE CONTAINMENT CHAMBER (Score 4, Interesting) 282

Yeah, but how sure are we their readings are accurate, either way?

First, high radiation messes up electronics. I have a tennis-ball sized chunk of natural thorium ore (thorite), that was just lying on the ground in Colorado. Put it near a digital camera, you get a lot of static (~52 uSv/h of gamma alone on a PM1703 if anyone was curious).

So, you've got radiation levels over 1,500,000 times more than my little rock that causes obvious interference, and non-redundant electronics on a prototype probe someone slapped together with minimal testing. I doubt it was all radiation-hardened sapphire circuitry.

I'd just be wary of drawing too many conclusions from a single measurement from a single probe in such an environment. There's a lot of things that can cause imperfect results, even not in nuclear reactors.

High radiation just does weird stuff. At Chernobyl they had to dive into the water to release a valve (suicide mission, obviously). As I recall the first team couldn't even find it, because ultra-intense alpha radiation had turned the water into H2O2 and it oxidized their suits, skin, and equipment too quickly.

I doubt it's hot enough to melt through the concrete, but just sayin'.

Comment Re:The people will be the ones who suffer (Score 5, Insightful) 667

... and, to top it all off, sanctions don't work. This has been clearly demonstrated before with India and Pakistan. Both had clandestine nuclear programs that produced full Teller-Ulam designs and we didn't know about either until it was too late. A few years after sanctions were started, we dropped them.

Fundamentally, nuclear weapons come down to digging rocks out of the ground. Theoretically you don't even need to enrich the uranium; you can use heavy water as a moderator if you have access to an ocean. Which Iran does. So they could produce plutonium entirely from natural uranium. And there is a great deal of natural uranium.

I also don't agree with the notion Iran is going to make weapons from uranium. India and Pakistan didn't. It's a complete waste of uranium. They are better off transmuting uranium into plutonium.

Then again, I never really agreed with the idea of dictating a sovereign nation-state's technological development in the first place. It always has failed, and always will, and just serves to piss a country off and unite its people against you. You reinforce every reason and argument to develop nuclear weapons in the first place, and remove any internal opposition to it.

Nuclear technology cannot be stopped -- it is just too abundant in nature. You might as well try to stop nature itself. We are delusional to think otherwise when we have always failed in the past.

Comment Re:Not a chance (Score 2) 207

And the old guard in the US is gone as well. And not just retired. You cannot replace people like Werner von Braun, Walter Doringer, Kelly Johnson, and Sergei Korolev. Russia may be using 20 year old designs, but here's the thing: we're begging to ride on those 20 year designs.

When you don't have a car, you can't bitch about the year of your friend's car who's giving you a ride.

Over 25,000 Americans lost their jobs when the Space Shuttle program ended. And you complain Russia isn't paying its people? Looks like it's not exactly a rewarding profession met with gratitude no matter which side of the pond you're on.
,br> Yes, I'm sure Russia's schools didn't meet whatever arbitrary meaningless criteria was used in those unscientific rankings. ("low diversity! Minus 300 points. There are mostly Russians in Russia! Who knew?", "Lack of a women's studies department, minus 20 points.", "Did not emphasize liberal arts enough to engineering majors, minus 50 points", "No sports teams or athletic scholarships, minus 1000 points")

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