May 312014

A panorama of the B-47 on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History down in Albuquerque. Also visible are the museum’s Titan II and Thor.

2014-05-18 nuke pano 06small

 Posted by at 8:50 pm
May 312014

Bowe Bergdahl, Army Sergeant Held by Taliban Since 2009, Is Released

Not so much “released,” as “exchanged.” For five stellar individuals that had been held in Guantanamo: Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Abdul Haq Wasiq.

There is an interesting statement in the article:

Hagel said security measures are in place to ensure the national security of the United States would not be compromised by the prisoners’ release.

Now, if this was a better world, we could assure that these guys would present no threat to the security of the US because we secretly replaced their Folgers Crystals with polonium 210 on the flight to Qatar, or they swallowed capsules containing small explosive devices, or we’ve Manchurian Candidate reprogrammed them, or we showed them secret footage of disguised Navy SEALS driving nuclear weapons around Certain Holy Cities. But I suspect, given the current feckless administration, that we just asked them really nicely to promise to not do anything naughty in the future.

And then there’s THIS WRINKLE in the story:

Rep. Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Jim Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee…

“In executing this transfer, the president also clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated,” they continued. “Our joy at Sergeant Berghdal’s release is tempered by the fact that President Obama chose to ignore the law, not to mention sound policy, to achieve it.”

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
May 312014

No, really. You be the judge. Anybody would be better than the judge in this story:

Cancer patient: ‘If I’m found guilty, I’m a dead man’

Short form: a guy in Long Grove, Iowa, was arrested with 71 marijuana plants. Why did this nefarious villain have this much Evil Weed? Because he has cancer, and the oil he extracts from the plants is apparently all that’s keeping the cancer from eating him alive.

OK, if it’s not bad enough that the police are arresting people for simply having a *plant,* and if it’s not bad enough that they are arresting cancer patients who needs said plant in order to have any sort of quality of life, there’s this to consider:

a Scott County District judge has ruled he won’t allow Mackenzie to use his ailment as a defense.

“I’m not allowed to mention anything,” Mackenzie said Thursday, the day Judge Henry Latham’s ruling was filed. “I’m not allowed to give proof why I was using. Now, there is no fair trial.”

The patient/defendant makes a damned fine point here:

“If I’m to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and the court doesn’t let me tell the truth, they’re making me a liar”

But hey, at least the cops didn’t use a grenade to blow a baby’s face off during the initial raid, so there’s that.

The defendant here looks to be dying. If he’s convicted, he’ll get three years, and he doesn’t expect to survive it. So… why not jump up (as much as he can jump) during testimony, show the jury the bleeding tumors, and explain as quickly as possible just what’s going on? What’s the worst that can be done to him? A contempt citation? Please. If he does that the judge will likely instruct the jury to ignore it. Someone should then blurt out to the jury the concept of “jury nullification.”

 Posted by at 2:26 pm
May 312014

(Yes, yes, I ran this artwork a year ago. But I’m running it again, this time with more verbage & photos.)

A cutaway illustration of the KIWI-A nuclear rocket test unit. As shown here it is actually upside down compared to how it was tested; as with I believe all the other nuclear rockets that were tested, the nozzle fired upwards towards the sky. This rocket engine was not meant to represent a flight-capable system, rather just a basic proof of concept. And thus it was named after a flightless bird. Note that the hydrogen “propellant” is injected at the nozzle end of the reactor, travels forward through the graphite reflectors, then makes a U-turn and goes through the reactor “plates” that wrapped around a deuterium oxide central moderator. This is not at all like what later, more developed nuclear rockets like NERVA used.

Note that test firings on the KIWI system began in *1959.* That’s 55 years ago when we had the functional start of nuclear rocketry. Today we have… Powerpoint.



A photo of the test setup. The full-rez version is HERE.


KIWI firing. Note orange hydrogen combustion plume. This is not due to combustion within the engine, but due to superheated gaseous hydrogen mixing with the oxygen in the air and burning externally. Full rez HERE.


Probably the most entertaining test must have been the KIWI-TNT (Transient Nuclear Test)test. Here, a KIWI engine was put on a  rail car and allowed to go prompt critical, with the result being that the engine blew up with the approximate force of about 100 pounds of TNT. The nuclear fuel was uranium oxide, so it was already oxidized and very likely underwent little to no chemical change; but the graphite reflector was pure carbon. Pure *shattered* carbon. Pure shattered carbon at extremely high temperature. And thus it promptly caught fire int he air and burned, with the result you can see below:


The “sparks” should be chunks of reflector. The fireball would be hydrogen… *if* hydrogen was being pumped through it at the time. I’m not sure that it was, though.

 Posted by at 9:36 am
May 312014

Detroit is coming back! Google Street View lets you check out the same places over a span of years, and the progress has been remarkable. You can check out a number of these fantastic images of progress HERE.

Now who could argue that the policies of Detroits fine leadership over the past few decades has been anything other than inspired?



 Posted by at 8:42 am
May 302014

It seems the Cold War Gallery at the US Navy Museum has a full-scale reproduction of a Trident warhead on display. It seems a long way to go from rural Utah to get photos of that one thing, but photos of that one thing – especially photos with a good scale reference in frame, and photos taken from “below” to see the aft end of  it – would seem to be potentially very useful.

Ballistic Missile Triggers and MIRV

I don’t know the layout of the place, but what I’d *love* is a photo taken with a long lens as far away as possible while still keeping the warhead large in frame, to get as orthogonal a view as possible. But what would be vital would be photos that give dimension to the thing. Measurements of the *glass* would be handy.

Any help appreciated.

 Posted by at 11:46 pm