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crazy4space
2003-Nov-26, 10:03 PM
I just watched this movie last night and I was wondering?

I thought the only time that we had a bomb that used an electron stream /gun was Fat Man and Little Boy but, in the movie the scientists came up with implosion to make the mass go cricital.

Which is right? I tried searching the site but to no avail.

Madcat
2003-Nov-26, 11:03 PM
Fat Man is/was an implosion type bomb. As was the "gadget" of the Trinity test.

Little Boy is/was a gun type bomb. There isn't really an electron gun involved though. It's an actual gun- the thing shoots part of the fissionable material down an artillery tube using explosives into the rest of the critical mass.

Avatar28
2003-Nov-26, 11:04 PM
The two bombs used different methods. Little Boy used a uranium gun. Basically they had a near critical mass of U-235 at one end. The mass had a wedge cut out of it. At the other end was a wedge to perfectly fit the whole. At detonation, the wedge was explosively fired into the hole, attaining critical mass and causing the explosion.

Fat Man used a plutonium (Pu-238) core that was imploded to bring it to critical mass. Also, we had detonated at least one or possibly two (I forget now) nukes beforehand as tests. That used a plutonium implosion core as well

mike alexander
2003-Nov-26, 11:35 PM
One test, at Trinity. 7/20/45.

kucharek
2003-Nov-27, 07:28 AM
They were sure, the uranium, gun-type (Little Boy) bomb would work. So no test shot was done. The plutonium, implosion-type (Fat Man) was another concept they wanted to test (Trinity).

Harald

PS: I recently got Michael Light's (Full Moon) new book "100 Suns (http://www.michaellight.net/100suns/index.html)" into my fingers. It really gave me the creeps.

Harald

crazy4space
2003-Dec-02, 03:06 PM
The two bombs used different methods. Little Boy used a uranium gun. Basically they had a near critical mass of U-235 at one end. The mass had a wedge cut out of it. At the other end was a wedge to perfectly fit the whole. At detonation, the wedge was explosively fired into the hole, attaining critical mass and causing the explosion.

Fat Man used a plutonium (Pu-238) core that was imploded to bring it to critical mass. Also, we had detonated at least one or possibly two (I forget now) nukes beforehand as tests. That used a plutonium implosion core as well

I am curious, the gun type, how big was this thing?

kucharek
2003-Dec-02, 03:20 PM
The two bombs used different methods. Little Boy used a uranium gun. Basically they had a near critical mass of U-235 at one end. The mass had a wedge cut out of it. At the other end was a wedge to perfectly fit the whole. At detonation, the wedge was explosively fired into the hole, attaining critical mass and causing the explosion.

Fat Man used a plutonium (Pu-238) core that was imploded to bring it to critical mass. Also, we had detonated at least one or possibly two (I forget now) nukes beforehand as tests. That used a plutonium implosion core as well

I am curious, the gun type, how big was this thing?

Please stand by for a quick visit by the Homeland Security Department...


;-)

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2003-Dec-02, 03:38 PM
The two bombs used different methods. Little Boy used a uranium gun. Basically they had a near critical mass of U-235 at one end. The mass had a wedge cut out of it. At the other end was a wedge to perfectly fit the whole. At detonation, the wedge was explosively fired into the hole, attaining critical mass and causing the explosion.

Fat Man used a plutonium (Pu-238) core that was imploded to bring it to critical mass. Also, we had detonated at least one or possibly two (I forget now) nukes beforehand as tests. That used a plutonium implosion core as well

I am curious, the gun type, how big was this thing?

Please stand by for a quick visit by the Homeland Security Department...


;-)

[Takes out Clipboard and Pencil]Alright Sir, what seems to be The Problem?[/Puts away Clipboard and Pencil]

Stuart
2003-Dec-02, 04:08 PM
I just watched this movie last night and I was wondering? I thought the only time that we had a bomb that used an electron stream /gun was Fat Man and Little Boy but, in the movie the scientists came up with implosion to make the mass go critical.Which is right? I tried searching the site but to no avail.

There are two distinct types of nuclear device. A Gun-Configuration and an Implosion-Configuration. The device initiated over Hiroshima was a Mark 1 device using a gun-configuration. The device initiated over Nagasaki was a Model 1561 device utilizing an Implosion-Configuration. Please note by the way, these things are devices, not bombs and they are initiated, not exploded.

A gun configuration is exactly what its name suggests. It consists of a gun barrel down which a slug of fissile Uranium is fired. The target (at the other end of the barrel) is a series of rings of fissile uranium followed by some plugs of solid fissile uranium. This target assembly forms a closed cylinder into which, the projectile moving down the barrel fits (exactly). When the projectile meets the target, the critical mass of the fissile uranium is exceeded. Embedded in the first fissile uranium disk is an initiator that gets crushed when projectile hits target and starts thewhole thing off. Gun-Configuration devices are always made of fissile uranium - it is possible to make them out of fissile plutonium but pre-ignition problems mean it would have to be huge.

An implosion configuration consists of a hollow sphere of fissile material (either uranium or plutonium) surrounded by a double layer of explosives and having the initiator in the middle. The two layers of explosives have very different properties and together act as a lens. When the device is initiated, they crush both the outer shell of fissile and the initiator in the middle.

Gun type devices have the merit of being simple. So simple, until recently it was thought that nobody could design one that would fail to work. Then the Pakistanis managed it - and we still don't know how. Curious. The problem with gun configurations is that there is virtually no compression of the fissile so the efficiency is very low. The efficiency of the device initiated over Hiroshima was in the order of around four percent. The real yield of that device was around 8 kilotons. (Most of the available data published on the Hiroshima and Nagasaki device yields is wrong).

Implosion devices have much more compression of the fissile so are more efficient. The 1561 initiated over Nagasaki had a yield of around 15 kilotons. Model 1561 was productionised as the Mark 3 and improved versions were the Mark 4 and Mark 5. Yield went up greatly with each step simply by improving core compression. The problem with implosion devices is that they are finicky things to design; everything has to go just right to get an initiation.

Avatar28
2003-Dec-02, 07:18 PM
Here's a couple of pictures for you. Unfortunately it's hard to get a good idea of scale.

http://gk12.rice.edu/trs/science/Atom/picc.htm

http://gk12.rice.edu/trs/science/Atom/picb.htm

Here's a couple of others as well

http://history.acusd.edu/cdr2/WW2Pics4/91050.gif

http://history.acusd.edu/cdr2/WW2Pics4/91049.gif

From looking at the cart in the last picture and comparing it to the third one, you can get a decent idea of the scale. Little boy was about 10 feet long.

Stuart
2003-Dec-02, 07:38 PM
Here's a couple of pictures for you. Unfortunately it's hard to get a good idea of scale.

http://gk12.rice.edu/trs/science/Atom/picc.htm

http://gk12.rice.edu/trs/science/Atom/picb.htm

Here's a couple of others as well

http://history.acusd.edu/cdr2/WW2Pics4/91050.gif

http://history.acusd.edu/cdr2/WW2Pics4/91049.gif

From looking at the cart in the last picture and comparing it to the third one, you can get a decent idea of the scale. Little boy was about 10 feet long.

Actually, the last two linked pictures are incorrectly captioned. The first is a Mark 8, the second appears to be a training version of the Mark 3. I don't think any real casings of the Model 1561 survive.

Mark 1 was 28 inches in diameter, 120 inches long and weighed 8,900 pounds. Its nominal yield was around 15 kilotons but its real yield was approximately 8 kilotons

Model 1561 was 60.25 inches in diameter, 128 inches long and weighed 10,300 pounds. Its nominal yield was 20 kilotons; the one dropped on Nagasaki yielded 18 kilotons. Improvements to configuration and fuzing later improved the yield of Model 1561 to 23 kilotons.

Mark 3 was the productionized version of Model 1561, same dimensions and weights but had a yield of 37 kilotons, later improved to 49 kilotons

Mark 4 was a cleaned up version of Mark 3 but had a yield of 31 kilotons.

I've seen the Model 1561 listed as being a Mark 3A but that's incorrect as is the hypothesis that Model 1561 was Mark 2. Model 1561 was never anything other than a Model 1561.

crazy4space
2003-Dec-02, 07:49 PM
Please stand by for a quick visit by the Homeland Security Department...

It's OK I was in the nuclear surity program however, I never worked on anything so antiquated. 8)

Avatar28
2003-Dec-02, 09:09 PM
Okay, who here has seen the actual bomb pits that they had to use to load the bombs into the B-29's? Not very impressive, really. Amazingly, the runways are still in relatively good shape, considering 50 years of non-maintenance and tropical weather and typhoons.

RBG
2003-Dec-03, 02:34 AM
Re the gun-type device:

Why must the projectile be fired with a high rate of speed? Why can't the missing wedge be gently placed into the target hole?

And presumably the target is immediately destroyed by the projectile but not before that exact milisecond moment when everything is in correct alignment to send it critical.

RBG

RBG
2003-Dec-03, 02:38 AM
And one scarey, semi-hypothetical thought:

What if it became clear that just about anybody could build a nuke bomb. What would our world be like & look like after that?

RBG

GarethB
2003-Dec-03, 09:55 AM
Re the gun-type device:

Why must the projectile be fired with a high rate of speed? Why can't the missing wedge be gently placed into the target hole?

As Stuart pointed out in his reply to crazy4space: "Embedded in the first fissile uranium disk is an initiator that gets crushed when projectile hits target and starts thewhole thing off."

Gently placing the wedge in the fissile core will cause the core to become unstable, with an increased likelyhood of a fission chain reaction, but it's not 100% guarranteed to initiate to full effect. The initiator releases extra particles and energy into the fissile core which forces the core to go into a full fission chain reaction. The initiator acts like a detonator in a bullet cartridge, and firing the wedge into the fissile core does two things. 1: It brings the fissile core up to the critical mass required for the fission reaction to occour in the desired manner. 2: It triggers the initiator, in a similar manner to the hammer of a gun striking the detonator in a bullet cartridge, which ignites the gun powder inside the cartridge.

This method allows control of when the device goes boom, by controlling when the fissile core reaches critical mass and control of when the initiator is activated. Fire the wedge into the core at the right time and let nature do the rest. Putting the wedge into the core then trying to activate the initiator some other way is anopther step in the process of making an instant bucket of sunshine which could fail completely, or not occour when it's supposed to (an intended airburst which becomes an unintended groundburst is a possibility).


And presumably the target is immediately destroyed by the projectile but not before that exact milisecond moment when everything is in correct alignment to send it critical.

As I understand it, the wedge doesn't destroy the rest of the fissile core. It becomes part of the core and the fission reaction of the critical mass, overcharged by the initiator being set off, consumes the fissile core as a form of fuel.

Conrad
2003-Dec-03, 11:11 AM
And one scarey, semi-hypothetical thought:

What if it became clear that just about anybody could build a nuke bomb. What would our world be like & look like after that?

RBG

"On The Beach" is predicated on nukes becoming very widely available - IIRC one of the characters comments that even Albania had a nuclear arsenal by the time shooting broke out.

kucharek
2003-Dec-03, 11:39 AM
There are two distinct types of nuclear device. A Gun-Configuration and an Implosion-Configuration. The device initiated over Hiroshima was a Mark 1 device using a gun-configuration. The device initiated over Nagasaki was a Model 1561 device utilizing an Implosion-Configuration. Please note by the way, these things are devices, not bombs and they are initiated, not exploded.
Are these pure euphemisms or are there rationales behind?

Harald

GarethB
2003-Dec-03, 11:48 AM
Well, in litteral terms, an implosion device isn't exploded it's imploded. :D

As for using the term "initiated", it probably originated from the physicists who developed them inthe first place. If they had the precision of thought to be able to design them in the first place, they probably weren't prone to using sloppy terms to describe how they work.

Stuart
2003-Dec-03, 01:38 PM
Re the gun-type device: Why must the projectile be fired with a high rate of speed? Why can't the missing wedge be gently placed into the target hole?

Because of a thing called pre-ignition. As the projectile approaches the target, the two start to interact. With fissile uranium this interaction is slow and weak so a relatively moderate approach speed is needed to make sure the components unite before the pre-ignition process damages the assembly beyond functioning. With fissile Plutonium, the interaction is fast and strong so they units have to start much further apart and approach much more quickly.


And presumably the target is immediately destroyed by the projectile but not before that exact milisecond moment when everything is in correct alignment to send it critical.
No, the projectile and the target unite to form a super-critical mass in which chain reactions are started by the initiator.


What if it became clear that just about anybody could build a nuke bomb. What would our world be like & look like after that?
Its not hypothetical at all. Its a pretty exact description of the modern world. Non-proliferation is a farce; anybody who really wants to can build a nuclear device. A gun-type device is extremely easy to design and build and is so reliable that it doesn't really need to be tested. The Pakistanis achieved something truly awe-inspiring when they managed to produce a gun-configuration device that fizzled. We still can't work out how they did it. By the way, another inside joke for you; all the fuss being made about the US not being able to find Saddam Hussein's nuclear program - not only was there one, we have substantial evidence that he did a test-shot.

The reason why more people don't build nuclear devices is that they don't want to; the penalties are more onerous than the probable gains. The "penalties" referred to here are political and military ones inherent in the implications of possessing such things, not any "international sanctions". They're about as effective as trying to fight an army of fire ants witha feather duster.

Stuart
2003-Dec-03, 01:55 PM
Are these pure euphemisms or are there rationales behind?

Serious rationales.

A nuclear device is the assembly that, when initiated, produces a destructive effect. The device may then be incorporated in other things, such as a bomb or a missile warhead. Nuclear devices are indicated by Mark numbers, bombs by B numbers and missile warheads by W numbers. If you like, a comparison may be drawn with explosives. A stick of dynamite is an explosive, not a bomb although it may subsequently be incorporated in a bomb.

A nuclear device is initiated because the act is the start of a complex process, the end result of which is a massive release of energy and destructive effects (followed by peace and quiet hence the slogan "Peace is our profession"). Again, a simple comparison. When somebody fires a gun, the act is initiated by pulling a trigger which releases a firing pin that strikes the primer in the cartridge, causing the propellent in the cartridge to explode. Nobody calls pulling a trigger "exploding a gun".

RBG
2003-Dec-03, 09:17 PM
The reason why more people don't build nuclear devices is that they don't want to; the penalties are more onerous than the probable gains.

I hope the penalties aren't all that's holding a bomb-maker back. I'm thinking of wackos bent on the belief that it is their holy mission to purify & purge the Earth of infidels, etc. "Dang it, I really wanted to take out the world but I see here I'm a little short on cash for the fine."

RBG

Stuart
2003-Dec-04, 04:20 PM
I hope the penalties aren't all that's holding a bomb-maker back. I'm thinking of wackos bent on the belief that it is their holy mission to purify & purge the Earth of infidels, etc. "Dang it, I really wanted to take out the world but I see here I'm a little short on cash for the fine." RBG

There are certain components that have very limited uses outside building a nuclear device. Those components are tracked. Try to buy one and you ***WILL*** get a visit from some people driving Chevvy Suburbans.

Its not international agreements or political pressure that stopped the most advanced candidate for a nuclear device building an arsenal of them - it was the US Army and Marines grabbing the guy's capital. Unfortunately, that's about as far as it goes. Preventing nuclear proliferation is pretty much a farce, its like trying to control the wind.

In a mroe profound sense, this is one symptom of the situation where the world, seen as an overall "civilization," is rapidly heading for a new Dark Age. After two centuries in which humanity was actually doing something to structure and rationale the natural violent means of resolving international disputes. From the Peace of Westphalia through to the Hague and Geneva Conventions human society started to evolve a set of rules and aspirations that provided a frameowrk in which international relations could be structured. All of that is falling apart. The current war on terrorism is a direct result - its the effort by those who believe in a steady progress towards a structured and rational world to defeat those who are taking us in the opposite direction. Sadly, that issue is by no means resolved nor is victory in that struggle even remotely assured. The best ally the terrorists have are the "pacifists" (eternal damnation be unto them) who are trying to hobble our ability to defend ourselves. In their self-centered wails for "violence becoming softened" and the "implementation of ethics" they march in lock-step with the Adolf Hitlers, Joseph Stalins, Saddam Husseins and Pol Pots of the world. And they're tearing the world apart around our ears.

Any rational and realistic look at the world around us shows that the trend towards a structured system of international relations has been badly - possibly terminally - disrupted. The key point was, perhaps, the UN failure to enforce its own edicts over Iraq, leaving the United States and its allies to go it alone. With that act, the UN destroyed any pretensions it may have had to being an important ethical institution. Thank Heavens those pretensions were never that deeply seated and the UN had already gone far to discrediting itself. Had this not been so, its probable that the pacifists (defined as a people who love every country but their own and will support anybody but their friends) would have neutered any attempt to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. As it is their efforts have made it likely that we will see a significant enlargement in the numbers of countries with access to such weapons (primarily nuclear - such weapons have significant operational advantages over other WMD options). While there was a structured international environmnet for inter-state relations, the costs of maintaining a nuclear arsenal outweighed the benefits gained. Now the pacifist/anti-war movement have ensured that structured system is being destroyed, that equation either no longer holds or is in the terminal stages of being discarded.

It'll be an interesting question whether a nuclear war actually takes place in my lifetime. But, the probability is that a collapse of civilization, either as a result of nuclear conflict or a more generalized collapse of international relations will come and in the not too distant future. When it happens, the pacifists/anti-war movement will be wailing "we never wanted this, all we wanted was everlasting peace and human rights for whales." Trouble is, the old saying is true all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Forcing good men to do nothing is the whole object of pacifism; that's why the spread of nuclear weapons is probably unstoppable and it won't end with nation-states.

Sorry to be so pessimistic but the world is the way it is, not how we would like it to be after singing all 500,000 verses of Kumbaya. Again, that's why getting into space on a sustained and self-supporting basis is so important - its a race between the coming dark ages and completing the lifeboat. To be honest, I think we've lost that race. The pacifists will have got their "peace" all right; they will have been responsible for the extermination of the human race.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2003-Dec-04, 04:50 PM
Yeah, it kinda reminds me of an argument I used to have with my Ex-Girlfriend.

She was practically a Hippie, definitely a Peacenik.

What I used to tell her, was that I wanted peace too, but the only kind that works, is "Peace, through Superior Firepower."

Or as Vegetius said, "Let him who desires Peace prepare for War."

Stuart
2003-Dec-04, 05:17 PM
Yeah, it kinda reminds me of an argument I used to have with my Ex-Girlfriend. She was practically a Hippie, definitely a Peacenik. What I used to tell her, was that I wanted peace too, but the only kind that works, is "Peace, through Superior Firepower." Or as Vegetius said, "Let him who desires Peace prepare for War."

I've been reading some reports this week and its been pretty depressing. Its terrifying that some people don't seen to understand that some things are worth fighting for. Another quite for you "its better to die on your feet than live on your knees". Vegetius had it right; the tragedy is that his words are so often forgotten. The trouble is that those who sabotage the efforts to defend freedom are so rarely held to account for the results of their actions.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2003-Dec-04, 05:32 PM
Very true.

One thing that a lot of people forget about the Romans though.

Everyone blames their Decadence for the fall of their Civilisation, and while it may have played its part, what really got them, was the Creeping Unprofessionalism of their Army.

That is one Lesson, we thankfully seem to have taken to heart.

crazy4space
2003-Dec-04, 10:50 PM
Yeah, it kinda reminds me of an argument I used to have with my Ex-Girlfriend. She was practically a Hippie, definitely a Peacenik. What I used to tell her, was that I wanted peace too, but the only kind that works, is "Peace, through Superior Firepower." Or as Vegetius said, "Let him who desires Peace prepare for War."

I've been reading some reports this week and its been pretty depressing. Its terrifying that some people don't seen to understand that some things are worth fighting for. Another quite for you "its better to die on your feet than live on your knees". Vegetius had it right; the tragedy is that his words are so often forgotten. The trouble is that those who sabotage the efforts to defend freedom are so rarely held to account for the results of their actions.

Kinda makes you sad to think the human race is 15,000+ years old and not smart enough to stop fighting. :cry:

daver
2003-Dec-04, 11:03 PM
Kinda makes you sad to think the human race is 15,000+ years old and not smart enough to stop fighting. :cry:
Evolution in action? Pacifist governments (at least ones not geographically isolated) tend not to survive very long?

Madcat
2003-Dec-05, 04:43 AM
Hey Stuart, can you tell us anything about that Iraqi test-shot? I'd never heard of that, not that I doubted Saddam's intentions...

Colt
2003-Dec-05, 06:58 AM
I'm with Mr. Thomas Hobbes on this.

"To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues."



- Oddly yours, Colt

lpetrich
2003-Dec-05, 11:38 AM
I am not an absolute pacifist, but I am not an absolute militarist either.

Some of those here have claimed that the only reasonable peace is the "peace" of everybody else being under threat from one's superior firepower. But do they interact with other people by pointing guns at them and demanding that they act "peaceably"?

In particular, do those with Significant Others point guns at them in order to have peaceful relations with them? After all, anything less than that would be lily-livered pacifism, which is a great evil, right?

Stuart
2003-Dec-05, 01:40 PM
Hey Stuart, can you tell us anything about that Iraqi test-shot? I'd never heard of that, not that I doubted Saddam's intentions...

I must stress, the suggestion (its no more than that) that Iraq detonated a gun-configuration highly enriched uranium nuclear device underneath a lake in September 1989 remains highly unproven. The story is that the test, which is said to have gone undetected by UN inspectors after the Gulf War, a prototype device using a gun-style detonation had been completed. The accounts claim that six gun-configuration nuclear devices, but without fissile material, had been purchased from the then-Soviet Union in the 1980s. Allegedly, some 20 to 50 kilograms of highly enriched uraniumthe fissile material was acquired from South Africa via Brazil. It has also been claimed that France also supplied highly enriched uranium after the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor in 1981. The reported test shot was allegedly conducted underground under Lake Rezzaza, some 150 km southwest of Baghdad, at 10:30 am on September 19, 1989. It was reportedly a 10-kiloton explosion, It reportedly created a seismic event measuring 2.7 on the Richter scale. The test was supposedly "decoupled", a method of suspending the device in an open space in such a way that it does not register its full seismic force.

These reports claim there were two separate nuclear projects in Iraq. The one which detonated the alleged successful test was called "Group Four", and was working on a gun-style device; the other was working on an implosion device, and it was this program which was discovered and described by UN inspectors after the war. Group Four is said to have been headed by a "Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Sayeed", and not to have been discovered by the UN inspectors. A letter said to have been written by Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamel, confirmed a nuclear test using 93% highly enriched uranium and yielding a 10 kiloton blast. This letter also stated that Iraq now has up to nine nuclear devices stored in bunkers in the Hamrin Mountains north of Baghdad. These are said to include three gun-type weapons, three implosion weapons, and three thermonuclear weapons. The degree of detail provided in the story, and at least a reasonable familiarity with basic nuclear weapons terminology, seem to be the strongest elements arguing in its favor. Nor would any UN inspector be totally confident that all of Iraq's nuclear programs were uncovered. But there are some cogent arguments against accepting the story at face value. Among them:

Hussein Kamel defected to Jordan in 1995 and was certainly debriefed thoroughly by Western intelligence. He later returned to Iraq and was killed by his family. If Kamel knew about a successful nuclear test, would he not have told Western intelligence? And would Western intelligence, even if it failed to confirm the story elsewhere, have remained quiet about it, given the effort to discredit Saddam? The argument that Western intelligence might have remained silent to protect sources and methods would have been rendered moot when Hussein Kamel was killed.

Given the intrusiveness of the inspections, could Western intelligence really have failed to learn of a successful test? Why would a defector with clear knowledge of such a test go to a journalist but not to Western powers? If he did go to Western powers, why would they remain silent at a time when they are under heavy criticism for sanctions against Iraq, and when they have regularly accused Iraq of pursuing nuclear weapons programs?

Even assuming that Iraq carried out the test, could it really have produced three gun-style devices, three implosion devices, and three thermonuclear devices by this time? The UN inspectors confirmed that Iraq had a workable design for an implosion bomb, but not enough fissile material. The technology has never been in doubt: it's the fuel that hasn't been there. As for a fusion device, this is a much, much more complex issue and suggestions that the Irawis jumped straight to it seem highly implausible. There is a big jump in design art form a gun configuration to an implosion configuration and an even bigger one to a fusion device.

In the wake of the change of government in South Africa, would the sale of highly enriched uranium have remained a secret? Would France, as alleged, have actually transferred a potential weapons fuel to Iraq? Would the Soviet Union really have provided the gun-type weapons design or, as claimed, actual mechanism?

So what is one to make of the story? It could, of course, be true. But a more likely scenario seems to one of the following two possible explanations:

Deliberate Iraqi Disinformation It would obviously suit the Iraqi leadership to pretend that a test had been conducted to raise morale or to lend credibility to Saddam Hussein's threats to attack Israel. Convincing the world that one has the bomb (or nine bombs) when one doesn't could provide Iraq with a "virtual" bomb, a nuclear threat it doesn't really have. Perhaps this is not the case, and Iraq does have those bombs. But if so, it had a useable weapon during and after the Gulf War, and if that was the case, and it didn't use it then, why would it use it now?

Deliberate Iraqi Fraud There is an enticing possibility that Saddam Hussein actually believed he had weapons of mass destruction available. That the money he had been pouring into the programs had been misappropriated by the authorities who had been giving Saddam falsified progress reports. If this is the case, it explains a lot. it explains why he wouldn't allow inspection of his programs (he was afraid of what would eb found) and why no assistance is forthcoming now (people are afraid of what won't be found). Why pre-war intelligence was so good and now the searches are drawing blanks.

Stuart
2003-Dec-05, 02:04 PM
Some of those here have claimed that the only reasonable peace is the "peace" of everybody else being under threat from one's superior firepower. But do they interact with other people by pointing guns at them and demanding that they act "peaceably"? In particular, do those with Significant Others point guns at them in order to have peaceful relations with them? After all, anything less than that would be lily-livered pacifism, which is a great evil, right?

Most of us would love to live in a world of peace, harmony and tranquility. Unfortunately, we don't. In the real world, when the lion and the lamb lie down together, only the lion gets a good night's sleep followed by a hearty breakfast. We live in that real world, and we have to base our opinions and actions on that real world.

Your analogy with marriage (or its equivalents) is false for a number of reasons, not least of which is that its quoting individuals not nation-states. Nations have to do things in their professional capacity that they deplore in their personal capacity. However, there is a germ of a valid comparison there. While few marriages are carried out by the respective partners pointing guns at eachother, marriage as an institution is guaranteed by a series of laws that protect things like property and the lives/safety of those involved. Few families suffer from systemized child abuse yet detecting and preventing such abuse is an important function of the law enforcement community.

Following that analogy, a pacifist response to a child-abuse scandal would be that it shouldn't occur so we must act as if it didn't occur and abolish all forms of defense against it. Which was, by the way, a widespread attitude for many years.

The sad fact is that, despite the best intentions in the world, it takes only one side to start a war. it doens't matter how little the other side wants to fight, if they are attacked they have to either fight back or capitulate. Now, one of the major achievements of the period from the Peace of Westphalia until (around) the beginning of this century was that the right of declaringw ar was essentially restricted to nation-states and efforts were made to restrict the extent of hostilities to the armed forces of nation-states. That structure is breaking down now, with non-nation-statem entities (such as al qaeda) claiming that their religious dogma gives them the right to wage war. Furthemore, they claim that since their war is waged on a society (western liberalism) rather than a nation state, they have the right to attack any and all members of that society. This is a return to a pre-Peace of Westphalia situation and one that marks a huge jump backwards in civilization. If this attempt to redefine the rights of warfare stands, human society will revert to the 7th century - which is the avowed, explicit aim of groups like al qaeda.

Do you want to live in the 7th century?

Earlier, we pointed to the evolution of human society. At its lowest level, members take responsibility for nobody but themselves. (here, taking responsibility is defined as risking one's own life and safety to protect others) As human society evolved, members first took responsibility for protecting their immediate family. Further stages of evolution saw peole taking responsibility for an extended family and then a clan. A big jump was when people started to take reponsibility for those not related to them by blood. This saw the development of a tribe that might contains everal extended families. The next jump (and conceptually the biggest) was when people started to take responsibility for their community where they did not personally know all the people they were defending. The next jump beyond that is those who take reponsibility for humanity as a whole - which is why I believe the military will lead any human expansion into space.

Pacifists represent the lowest stage of human social evolution; they refuse to take any responsibility for others, hiding their cowardice and moral depravity behind loft-sounding fantasies about world peace. At the other end of the scale, the current US activities in Iraq and Afghanistan represent the top level of social evolution reached to date; they are an attempt to prevent a breakdown in the structure of national relations and a return to the dark ages. The activities of the pacifist/anti-war groups are in stark contrast to that aim. As has always been the case, their moral and physical cowardice is working hand-in-glove with the evils in the world.

ToSeek
2003-Dec-05, 08:24 PM
Stuart, while I am not a pacifist myself, I find your one-dimensional characterization of them ignorant and offensive. Yes, there are those who meet your description, and I realize your frustration at the attitude that "If we're nice to everyone else, everyone will be nice to us." But there are those like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King for whom it is ludicrous to state that they took responsiblity for no one but themselves. And saying that a pacifist would ignore child abuse is about as fair as saying that a militarist would blow the heads off of everyone accused of committing it.

And we are getting way off-topic here....

Stuart
2003-Dec-05, 08:42 PM
Yes, there are those who meet your description, and I realize your frustration at the attitude that "If we're nice to everyone else, everyone will be nice to us." But there are those like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King for whom it is ludicrous to state that they took responsiblity for no one but themselves.

Note that I carefully defined "taking responsibility" in this context as being prepared to risk one's own life and welfare for a specific group. In short, people who put their life on the line for the greater good of a specific segment of the population. That sense of responsibility grows and evolves as that segment of society grows wider. Now, it is possible to define responsibility in other ways that are suited to other contexts but thats for those strings.

As to MG and MLK, frankly I have little regard for either. Remember what Is aid about pacifists walking hand-in-glove with wvil? MG was quite happy to turn India over to the Japanese. You can imagine (but would probably rather not) what they would have done with those who put their faith in Ghandi.


And saying that a pacifist would ignore child abuse is about as fair as saying that a militarist would blow the heads off of everyone accused of committing it.

I didn't say that they would; I said the mental process is the same. the fact that (mostly) they wouldn't is indicative of the fallacy in the basic pacifist argument. I was also using the child-abuse analogy to point out a basic flaw in the one that was presented to me (marital negotiation by relative firepower).


And we are getting way off-topic here.

I don't think so; its been remarked how there is a surprisingly large quantity of people with military backgrounds here. I suggest that this is because being in the military means one does take responsibility for society as a whole and in its survival. I'd also point out that opposition to space research, space programs etc is part of the standard package that goes with the pacifist/anti-war, extreme-environmentaliism and anti-science movements. I'm trying to suggest a basic hypothesis (social evolution as expressed by a willingness to take responsibility for ever-wider groups of people) that explains that linkage.

ToSeek
2003-Dec-05, 08:59 PM
Well, I find your "social evolution" hypothesis dubious as well. Hitler took responsibility for the entire Aryan race, but I don't consider that much of an advancement. I think people have always identified with their gangs or tribes or whatever. Advancement occurs when you're willing to respect others' rights, not to initiate the use of force and to only use it as a last resort, and to understand that those in the other gangs may have the same hopes and fears as you. You can go too far in that direction and think too well of other people, figuring that if you're not bent on their destruction they must not reallly be bent on yours. Overall, though, I think the "good of the many" has been responsible for or at least lent a veneer of morality to most of the evils of the past century, from the Third Reich to Communism to militant Islam. I'll take a plain old in-it-for-himself scoundrel over over any of the representatives of those regimes any day.

Archer17
2003-Dec-06, 01:55 AM
Well, I find your "social evolution" hypothesis dubious as well. Hitler took responsibility for the entire Aryan race, but I don't consider that much of an advancement. I think people have always identified with their gangs or tribes or whatever. Advancement occurs when you're willing to respect others' rights, not to initiate the use of force and to only use it as a last resort, and to understand that those in the other gangs may have the same hopes and fears as you. You can go too far in that direction and think too well of other people, figuring that if you're not bent on their destruction they must not reallly be bent on yours. Overall, though, I think the "good of the many" has been responsible for or at least lent a veneer of morality to most of the evils of the past century, from the Third Reich to Communism to militant Islam. I'll take a plain old in-it-for-himself scoundrel over over any of the representatives of those regimes any day.Hmm .. curious analogy. If the Allies in World War 2 spurned the "good of the many" philosophy and played the "in it for himself" card, wonder what would have happened? You mention the "evils" of the Third Reich, Communism, and militant Islam as potential consequences of the "good of the many" mind-set but fail to quantify the positives which outnumber periodic madmen and failed imperialistic power-plays masquerading as ideology (communism). Your use of Hitler etc to make your point is rather lame and hypocritical. While you found Stuart's earlier post regarding pacifism to be "one-dimensional," so is your so-called rebuttal. To lump the "good for the many" ideal with the likes of Hitler and Bin Laden is "ignorant and offensive" to me who has lost relatives and friends to both sickos. Spouting things like "respecting others' rights and using force as a last resort" was meant to score points against Stuart, but actually it's basically the way this country is, a country that has sacrificed a lot for the good of the many. It's a shame you can't see the forest for the trees .. your trees I might add.

ToSeek
2003-Dec-06, 03:50 AM
Hmm .. curious analogy. If the Allies in World War 2 spurned the "good of the many" philosophy and played the "in it for himself" card, wonder what would have happened?

I would argue nothing much different: it was in the interests of a great many people to fight Nazism and tyranny. I don't see that it's necessarily unselfish to do so. For very selfish reasons, I would not want to be ruled by a Hitler or a Stalin.


You mention the "evils" of the Third Reich, Communism, and militant Islam as potential consequences of the "good of the many" mind-set but fail to quantify the positives which outnumber periodic madmen and failed imperialistic power-plays masquerading as ideology (communism). Your use of Hitler etc to make your point is rather lame and hypocritical. While you found Stuart's earlier post regarding pacifism to be "one-dimensional," so is your so-called rebuttal. To lump the "good for the many" ideal with the likes of Hitler and Bin Laden is "ignorant and offensive" to me who has lost friends and relatives to both sickos.

Well, I'm sorry, but I think that if you asked either Hitler or the sickos who flew airplanes into buildings a couple of years ago if they were acting for the good of humanity, I think they would say yes. I was just trying to point out counterexamples to Stuart's notion that people with broader perspectives are always better than people with narrower ones. I think it is an admirable quality, but it's not a fundamental one. If you want to act for the good of humanity on your own behalf, that's fine with me, but I get nervous when someone thinks the "good of humanity" means they can tell other people what to do. I have more of a belief in respect for individual rights, even at some cost to "the good of humanity." At the very least, you can't go as far wrong with that attitude.


Spouting things like "respecting others' rights and using force as a last resort" was meant to score points against Stuart, but actually it's basically the way this country is, a country that has sacrificed a lot for the good of the many .. it's a shame you can't see the forest for the trees.

Yes, I was afraid people were going to jump on that phrase - I didn't mean it to be as pointed as it came out. I actually do think that the use of force is justified in retaliation for attacks on the US and to prevent future ones.

I agree that the US has done some very good things in the world, but it has also done some dreadful things - most notably, in the present context, having supported some of the regimes that we are now fighting against. I think we would have had a much easier time in Iraq now if we hadn't spent most of the 80's supporting Saddam Hussein. But, again, we were acting (I'm sure they would say) for the good of humanity.

How much longer before the BA locks this thread?

Oops
2003-Dec-06, 04:18 AM
What would it take to develop an atomic bomb from unclassified information and available materials? How much information is still kept from the public?

mike alexander
2003-Dec-06, 04:43 AM
As a layman of middling mentality, I would say the major problem is obtaining fissile material, not information. At least from things I've looked at off and on over the last couple of decades.

Homemade explosives/conventional bombs may lack the terror aspect of a nuclear device, but in an interlinked, technonogical society with insufficient redundancy I feel they are at least as great a danger. And they are so easy to make.

Archer17
2003-Dec-06, 05:01 AM
ToSeek ..first of all, while I don't agree with you, I respect your right to have your own opinions and defend them. It's basically what a bulletin board is all about. Second of all, I don't think your distinction between individual rights and collective ones are mutually exclusive ..the "good of the many" includes basic individual rights as well. Third, the coward that incited brainless zealots to fly planes into buildings while hiding in a cave didn't do it for the "good of the many", he did it for the good of the few, namely his own small, hateful terrorist clique. Most practitioners of Islam don't subscribe to his perverted interpretation of that religion. Fourth, it's easy to play arm-chair quarterback with geo-politics. I agree with you that we haven't always made the right moves, but our intentions were good based on the circumstances of the time. Fifth (and last), this is my last OT post here .. I felt compelled to respond based on what I read from you. As far as the BA locking this thread? I don't think he will. We disagree but we were adult about it. If it gravitates back on topic I think it'll live on. To help with that, I'm outta here.. (I didn't see the movie)

jamestox
2003-Dec-07, 10:21 PM
Hey Stuart, can you tell us anything about that Iraqi test-shot? I'd never heard of that, not that I doubted Saddam's intentions...

I must stress, the suggestion (its no more than that) that Iraq detonated a gun-configuration highly enriched uranium nuclear device underneath a lake in September 1989 remains highly unproven. The story is that the test, which is said to have gone undetected by UN inspectors after the Gulf War, a prototype device using a gun-style detonation had been completed.
....
snip
....
If this is the case, it explains a lot. it explains why he wouldn't allow inspection of his programs (he was afraid of what would eb found) and why no assistance is forthcoming now (people are afraid of what won't be found). Why pre-war intelligence was so good and now the searches are drawing blanks.

Stuart, do you have any references for this info? You have me curious to do some research....

JT

Jpax2003
2003-Dec-08, 07:20 AM
I just read through this thread and I bet it will be locked. However, before it is, I want to make a suggestion. Instead of arguing about how the state of world affairs got to this point, why don't we all put our reasonable heads together and try to figure out a solution. As the saying goes: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

We all have different perspectives that relate to these matters. A marriage works because the participants decide to make it work. A lasting peace can work if all the participants decide to make it work. It's that simple. Notice I did not say it is easy.

The different designs for the bombs are based on material insertion speeds and neutron mean free paths. Essentially, you want to take each material in a subcritical form, and make it supercritical so fast that it doesn't have time to explode before you get to an efficiency high enough to do any damage. I hope that's vague enough.

However, I think this is an apt analogy for our world's predicament. We need some form of world government. I am not specifically advocating the UN, but we need to have something centralized and with at least a modicum of authority and power. The insertion time for such a regime fits into a narrow interval between realization that we need it and reaching a point we blow ourselves up. There are essentially two ways to do it. One way is to work together, which probably means compromise on many things we hold dear. The other way is domination by one country or countries over the rest. But, if one country is to dominate, then it needs to achieve hegemony before any large scale resistance can be organized against it (insertion time).

We can have peace-through-peace or peace-through-war. But we must act quickly, or we will achieve neither, resulting only in death. I think we have less than a decade to act. We must create a more perfect union of nations, or we must commence the subjugation of nations in earnest. Except, I think it might be a good idea to get a ballistic missile defence in place first. Alothough that's not a requisite, we're overpopulated here anyways...

Stuart
2003-Dec-08, 01:52 PM
What would it take to develop an atomic bomb from unclassified information and available materials?

Almost anybody can develop a gun-type device given access to the required materials. They include a 76 millimeter gun barrel of the required length, the initiator and, of course, the fissile. Implosion devices are much harder to design and produce. The good news is that gun-type devices are inefficient and strictly limited in explosive power (15 kilotons is a max). An improvized device is likely to yield around 5 - 8 kilotons. By way of comparison, the aircraft that were flown into the WTC gave explosions rated at around two kilotons. By the way, if that comparison seems odd, remember the destructive power of a nuclear device is proportional to the cube root of its explosive power.


How much information is still kept from the public?
Yes. :lol:

Stuart
2003-Dec-08, 02:44 PM
Hitler took responsibility for the entire Aryan race, but I don't consider that much of an advancement.
Again. you're ignoring the basic definition of the phrase "took responsibility for" that was included in the original post. This defines the act as putting oneself at risk - potentially up to and including risking getting killed - for others. Claiming "responsibility" by asserting leadership doesn't come close. Faced with the opportunity to really take responsibility in 1945 (by going out and joining the fight against the advancing Russians), Hitler first hid in a bunker then committed suicide by taking poison and shooting himself. In teh terms we are using here, an ultimate denial of responsibility.


I think people have always identified with their gangs or tribes or whatever.
Again, we're not talking about "identification" we're talking about "putting your life on the line for". If you think that's commonplace, you'd think wrong. I'll give you an example. The Swedish foreign minister was murdered not long ago - she was literally hacked apart by a homicidal maniac with a knife in a crowded shopping mall, a process that took some little time. Nobody there made an effort to help her, nobody. Saving her life would have taken one person to dive in and grab the killer's knife hand. (before anybody gets to feel too superior, that's an example not an exception - the pattern of people standing and watching crimes being committed is international). Instead, those present just stood there and watched.

In one of his books (Expanded Universe), Heinlein speaks on the subject of what patriotism actually is. He uses an example that dates from pre-WW1 Chicago. Back then, one of the city's parks had an unfenced railway line running through it. A young couple were walking in the park when the wife got her foot caught in the frog of a set of points. The husband was struggling to help her free it when a train started approaching. Another man, a complete stranger, jumped forward and started to try and help. It quickly became obvious the train couldn't stop and the foot couldn't be freed. It would be reasonable to expect the two men to jump clear but they kept trying until the train hit them. The wife and stranger were killed instantly, the husband died of his injuries shortly afterwards. Compare the conduct of that stranger with the crowd in the Swedish shopping mall and you'll get the point about social evolution/


Advancement occurs etc etc etc
Polemics, not meaningful or relevent.

This issue really does carry forward into the culture and ethics of expanding humanity into space. Members of the military forces put their lives on the line (again the meaning of the phrase "take responsibility for") their society as a whole, regardless of whether they know the members personally or not. They're not alone in that of course; the firemen and police who went into the WTC in an effort to get the trapped people out, even the stranger in Heinlein's commentary, did the same. Did it, didn't just make a lofty speech claiming they could do it. The next step upwards is those who put their lives on the line for humanity as a whole. The Astronauts who lost their lives on Apollo One, on the two lost space shuttles and the other space flights that have ended in tragedy paid that price for us all. They took responsibility for the future of humanity and paid the dues. That's why we should honor their memory; in a very real and very special sense, they died for all of us and for our children.

In contrast, the terrorist and the pacifist take responsibility for their own beliefs and nothing else. They are identical in that they are prepared to sacrifice anybody and everybody else for those personal beliefs. They are also similar in that both can function only with the consent of those they attack. Terrorism could be defeated very quickly and very effectively, only the way we would do it is not one we, as a society, would accept. instead, we accept a specific level of terrorism as a price we pay for specific liberties. Pacifists work the same way; the pacifist credo can only work when it is tolerated by society as a whole. Ghandi's civil disobedience campaign was possible in India because the British were, by and large and with a few exceptions, fundamentally decent rulers who would not take the steps necessary to destroy the movement. Ghandi was too stupid and self-centered to understand that simple fact. During the Second World War, he and his organization did everything in their power to undermine British efforts to defend India against the Japanese. Asked whether he preferred to see India ruled by the Japanese he replied, in effect, that if the Japanese took India he (Ghandi) would ask them to leave. If they didn't then he would call for civil disobedience. It was pointed out that the Japanese had a very simple means of dealing with that problem; they would ring off a community then rape, torture and murder every living thing in it. Then move to the next and repeat the dose until the rebellion collapsed. Ghandi's reply was that would be a victiory because it would shame the Japanese into withdrawing. He didn't seem to understand that this wasn't hypothetical; iot was exactly what the Japanese were doing and, far from being shamed by it, Japanese newspapers were running front-page stories on competitions between Japanese officers over who could decapitate the most civilians against time. The Japanese weren't "shamed" into leaving China, they were driven out by military force.

Ghandi's "pacifism" only survived because the British were decent enough to let it survice. Faced with a Japanese occupation, he would have been crushed in a holocaust of slaughter - if you doubt that, look at what happened in Nangking. A friend of mine did a count; his estimate is that by delaying the necessary actions against evil regimes, pacifists are directly reponsible for the deaths of 200 million people during the 20th Century.

ToSeek
2003-Dec-08, 04:10 PM
You ignore, among others, the pacifists who marched in the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, some of whom did indeed pay with their lives, and the citizens of Le Chambon, France (http://www.auschwitz.dk/Trocme.htm), who while under Nazi occupation risked their own lives by harboring thousands of Jews without engaging in violence.

You also ignore that, in our current battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are fighting against those we armed in the first place. If we had considered less militaristic solutions 20 years ago, we might not be having the problems we're having now.

Humphrey
2003-Dec-08, 08:45 PM
guys, not to intrude on this little spat, but i would just like to warn you to calm down and remeber the FAQ. Both of you are way to special and necessary to get banned

[end intrusion]

tracer
2003-Dec-11, 01:23 AM
Another quite for you "its better to die on your feet than live on your knees".
"You've got it backwards! It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees!"
-- old guy in Catch-22

lpetrich
2003-Dec-11, 02:23 PM
First, Stuart's comments about Hitler being unwilling to put himself at risk applies to other national leaders. Neither FDR nor Winston Churchill nor Charles deGaulle put themselves on the front lines in WWII. Does that make them evil cowards?

Also, I'm not sure what tactics he would have preferred for the civil-rights movement. Should it have threatened and used violence against white people suspected of being antiblack?

And I wonder what he thinks of kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers -- they have been willing to give their lives for what they were fighting for, which presumably makes them Good People Fighting For Worthy Causes.

And if pacifism is SO evil, then why brag about what a pacifist one is toward members of one's family?

Archer17
2003-Dec-11, 07:05 PM
As Monty Python would say, "now for something completely different" .. I've finally seen the movie. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. I got a question relating to the early nuke tests. I've heard somewhere that a blind girl was able to "see" the flash .. this sounds like an urban legend. Anyone know if there's any truth to this?

Waarthog
2003-Dec-11, 07:39 PM
I've heard somewhere that a blind girl was able to "see" the flash .. this sounds like an urban legend. Anyone know if there's any truth to this?

According to Snopes, No.

http://www.snopes.com/science/atombomb.htm

Archer17
2003-Dec-11, 08:09 PM
Thanks Waarthog. Snopes! Arrrgh!! .. what was I not thinking! #-o