In last week’s Nuclear Friday I said that the 1982 MX Dense Pack basing plan likely came from a 1980 report that included some very implausible basing options. This report seemed to be making the case that the Racetrack plan favored by President Carter and the Air Force was somehow inevitable. I have since found […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: Atomic Dirigibles?"
The LGM-118 turned me into a serious amateur student of arms control theory and nuclear strategy. The controversies surrounding its development and deployment between 1979 and 1986 prompted the first really serious public discussion of nuclear weapons policy since the early sixties. And there were protests. LGM-118 was met with as much public opposition in […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: The Homeless Missile"
Just a short video and commentary post this week. It’s been a rough one. Got to meet the Death Nurse this week. At least that’s what I call her. The point of home hospice care is to keep my dad out of the hospital. That means you can’t call 911, because they’d take him to […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: Panic Mode"
If you follow defense news you probably noticed that there was an important successful test of the long-awaited midcourse-intercept exoatmospheric kill vehicle. The EKV was the payload of a Boeing designed Ground Based Interceptor launched from Vandenberg AFB in California. After being accelerated to tremendous speeds to the edge of space, the EKV intercepted an inert […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: It Came from Kwajalein"
I’ve always been a fan of clumsy yet effective workarounds to address technological limitations. One of the clumsiest was JATO, Jet-Assisted Take-Off. That name confused me when I first learned it. It’s not really a jet at all, it’s just little rocket motors stuck onto an aircraft to help it take off. But there wasn’t really much of […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: Thrust Issues"
When Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn began their research project that led to the discovery of nuclear fission they weren’t trying to discover nuclear fission. The were instead trying to perform a sort of alchemy, the transmutation of one element into another. Radioactive decay was already understood by then as a type of spontaneous natural […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: The Antacid of Alchemy"
Metaphors based on military technology sometimes enter popular usage and we forget their origins. Folks used to say “recharging my batteries” back in the late 20th century without knowing that the term came from WWII submarine crews. Diesel-electric submarines of that era had to surface and run their engines on full to recharge their batteries […]Read more "Nuclear Friday: Refueling"