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(Discover)   Today is the 50th anniversary of the Starfish Prime nuke test that blew out lights in Hawaii and shocked the hell out of scientists   (blogs.discovermagazine.com) divider line 48
    More: Scary, Hawaii, physical effects, megatons, atolls, Starfish Prime, gamma-ray, collateral damage, magnetic fields  
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6652 clicks; posted to Geek » on 09 Jul 2012 at 4:49 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-09 02:31:30 PM
It's pretty freaky to think that only a few nuclear bombs detonated at high altitude over the U.S. would basically cripple the entire country, due to the EMP.
 
2012-07-09 03:49:36 PM
Castle Bravo was also a big "oops" moment.
 
2012-07-09 03:51:02 PM

Mark Ratner: It's pretty freaky to think that only a few nuclear bombs detonated at high altitude over the U.S. would basically cripple the entire country, due to the EMP.


Yes, but just imagine the new demand it would create for replacement electronics.
 
2012-07-09 04:23:25 PM

It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

www.vcefilms.com

Love this documentary....
 
2012-07-09 04:51:50 PM

Marcus Aurelius: Mark Ratner: It's pretty freaky to think that only a few nuclear bombs detonated at high altitude over the U.S. would basically cripple the entire country, due to the EMP.

Yes, but just imagine the new demand it would create for replacement electronics.


I'm guessing my renter's insurance doesn't cover that.
 
2012-07-09 05:00:01 PM

Marcus Aurelius: Castle Bravo was also a big "oops" moment.


yeah the "oops" moments when dealing with nuclear weapons is sort of scary.

scientist> yeah so that castle bravo thing.. it was 250% larger than we thought it was going to be
PR guy> ...
 
2012-07-09 05:08:39 PM
Compare this obvious fake
i.imgur.com

with authentic explosion showing compressive horizontal shockwaves
upload.wikimedia.org

which "Astronomer Philip Plait has described the explosion and resultant shock wave as "the most dramatic ever"
 
2012-07-09 05:11:48 PM
Speaking of "oops" moments, there's a reason this one was called Starfish Prime...

The initial Starfish launch attempt on June 20 was aborted in flight due to failure of the Thor launch vehicle. The Thor missile flew a normal trajectory for 59 seconds; then the rocket engine stopped, and the missile began to break apart. The range safety-officer ordered the destruction of the missile and of the warhead. The missile was between 30,000 and 35,000 feet (between 9.1 and 10.7 km) in altitude when it was destroyed. Parts of the missile and some radioactive contamination fell upon Johnston Island and nearby Sand Island and the surrounding ocean. (wikipedia)
 
2012-07-09 05:14:47 PM
Starfish Prime? Sounds like a boring lay transformer sexbot.

/Hey look, it's an innie and and outie.
 
2012-07-09 05:17:03 PM

basemetal: It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

[www.vcefilms.com image 303x305]

Love this documentary....


It is a great doc and you can see it if you have Netflix streaming.
 
2012-07-09 05:17:25 PM
Wzrd1 in the comments there already covered much of what i was going to say:

One can actually date when a human lived by radioisotopes from nuclear weapons tests in their bones.
As mentioned above, strontium 90 is one rather nasty isotope, with a natural affinity for bones.
It's also present in traces in every human since the first above ground tests of nuclear weapons.

Also, the cancer rates in towns downwind of the above ground testing (and one below ground test that accidentally vented to the atmosphere) have been far higher than normal. That was only relatively recently acknowledged by the US government.


But i'd like to add that forms of cancer like Leukemia and Thyroid cancer were extremely rare before nuclear testing, and first started showing up in high concentrations downwind of nuclear testing sites, but are now sadly common around the globe. Cancer in general has been rising steadily ever since the nuclear age.

No great benefits came from all this nuclear 'testing', either. It was all just done to see what would happen. We, as a race, are profoundly stupid and reckless.
 
2012-07-09 05:22:11 PM
Goddamm they had so much fun back then. The 50's/60's was a freakin' engineers playground. "Oooo, let's see how many different ways we can shoot off nukes" "Hey, let's build a nuclear ramjet!" "Wanna go to the moon?" "let's build the coolest Mach 3 bomber EVAR!!" "Rocket planes, lots of rocket plane...."

I burn with the envy of a thousand suns the previous generation of engineers. They had all the fun. All we have today are plastic airliners, a "smart grid", retread Apollo capsules and other optimized crap. yay.
 
2012-07-09 05:25:14 PM

basemetal: It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

[www.vcefilms.com image 303x305]

Love this documentary....


Until I saw this video (new window), I thought there had been, you know, a few here, a few there. Probably no more than fifty nuclear weapons explosions on the planet total. Holy crap, was that naive.
 
2012-07-09 05:29:23 PM
You mean an Emp?
 
2012-07-09 05:35:47 PM

RoyBatty: Compare this obvious fake


with authentic explosion showing compressive horizontal shockwaves


which "Astronomer Philip Plait has described the explosion and resultant shock wave as "the most dramatic ever"


Praxxus didn't stand a chance.
 
2012-07-09 05:36:18 PM
What a cool idea for a firework's finale.
 
2012-07-09 05:42:54 PM
♫ That's the night that the lights went out in Kauai! ♫
 
2012-07-09 05:46:08 PM

wildcardjack: Starfish Prime? Sounds like a boring lay transformer sexbot.

/Hey look, it's an innie and and outie.


upload.wikimedia.org

He's right, ya know?
 
2012-07-09 05:50:31 PM
This test turned out kind of necessary. Knowledge of EMP effects was needed for nuclear war planning, and may have helped frighten people properly and prevent it happening at the end of the twentieth century.

I thought the EMP was a chance discovery and the test was supposed to check for the theoretical artificial Van Allen belt that was also generated. IIRC there was some sort of flap over a supposed USSR laser facility accused of zapping satellites. Then I read later that it was a cover story for the EMP test effects.
 
2012-07-09 05:58:31 PM

J. Frank Parnell: But i'd like to add that forms of cancer like Leukemia and Thyroid cancer were extremely rare before nuclear testing, and first started showing up in high concentrations downwind of nuclear testing sites, but are now sadly common around the globe. Cancer in general has been rising steadily ever since the nuclear age.

No great benefits came from all this nuclear 'testing', either. It was all just done to see what would happen. We, as a race, are profoundly stupid and reckless.


1. Cancer awareness, better detection, and people not dying of something else first have also been rising steadily since the nuclear age. That's not letting nuclear testing or other pollutants off the hook, but it's not like nothing else has changed in the meantime.

2. I'd say the negative effects we experienced from doing the testing are precisely what made the testing worthwhile. Would you prefer that we learned about all the (formerly unknown) bad stuff that comes from nuclear blasts by actually using them in conflicts?
 
2012-07-09 06:05:46 PM

SwiftFox: I thought the EMP was a chance discovery and the test was supposed to check for the theoretical artificial Van Allen belt that was also generated.


darkstarastrology.com

You want his belt so bad, you go get it, but there's no need to start detonating nukes to make a new one.

/i bet it reeks of sweat, man-juice and lots of drugs
 
2012-07-09 06:09:49 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Wzrd1 in the comments there already covered much of what i was going to say:

One can actually date when a human lived by radioisotopes from nuclear weapons tests in their bones.
As mentioned above, strontium 90 is one rather nasty isotope, with a natural affinity for bones.
It's also present in traces in every human since the first above ground tests of nuclear weapons.

Also, the cancer rates in towns downwind of the above ground testing (and one below ground test that accidentally vented to the atmosphere) have been far higher than normal. That was only relatively recently acknowledged by the US government.

But i'd like to add that forms of cancer like Leukemia and Thyroid cancer were extremely rare before nuclear testing, and first started showing up in high concentrations downwind of nuclear testing sites, but are now sadly common around the globe. Cancer in general has been rising steadily ever since the nuclear age.

No great benefits came from all this nuclear 'testing', either. It was all just done to see what would happen. We, as a race, are profoundly stupid and reckless.


And doomed. Don't forget doomed.
 
2012-07-09 06:13:13 PM
Name the two most famous myths of civil defense.

We can win a nuclear war.... and the survivors are the lucky ones.
 
2012-07-09 06:19:23 PM

mark12A: Goddamm they had so much fun back then. The 50's/60's was a freakin' engineers playground. "Oooo, let's see how many different ways we can shoot off nukes" "Hey, let's build a nuclear ramjet!" "Wanna go to the moon?" "let's build the coolest Mach 3 bomber EVAR!!" "Rocket planes, lots of rocket plane...."

I burn with the envy of a thousand suns the previous generation of engineers. They had all the fun. All we have today are plastic airliners, a "smart grid", retread Apollo capsules and other optimized crap. yay.


You know who else engaged in science without ethics?
 
2012-07-09 06:27:18 PM

basemetal: It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

[www.vcefilms.com image 303x305]

Love this documentary....


That is the awesomest documentary ever, that's not even counting Shatner narrating.

/And if you aren't scared of the Chinese now, you will be after the final scene
 
2012-07-09 06:28:43 PM

tankjr: mark12A: Goddamm they had so much fun back then. The 50's/60's was a freakin' engineers playground. "Oooo, let's see how many different ways we can shoot off nukes" "Hey, let's build a nuclear ramjet!" "Wanna go to the moon?" "let's build the coolest Mach 3 bomber EVAR!!" "Rocket planes, lots of rocket plane...."

I burn with the envy of a thousand suns the previous generation of engineers. They had all the fun. All we have today are plastic airliners, a "smart grid", retread Apollo capsules and other optimized crap. yay.

You know who else engaged in science without ethics?


Thomas Edison.
/Well, strictly speaking, it wasn't actually science.
 
2012-07-09 06:29:54 PM

bighairyguy: basemetal: It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

[www.vcefilms.com image 303x305]

Love this documentary....

That is the awesomest documentary ever, that's not even counting Shatner narrating.

/And if you aren't scared of the Chinese now, you will be after the final scene


The atomic cavalry?
 
2012-07-09 06:34:50 PM

basemetal: It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

[www.vcefilms.com image 303x305]

Love this documentary....


QFT. Cost me one cheap sub-woofer. Ultra low frequency indeed.

/horse gas masks
 
2012-07-09 06:50:27 PM

rummonkey: Praxxus didn't stand a chance.


An "incident"!!
 
2012-07-09 07:16:22 PM

Marcus Aurelius: Castle Bravo was also a big "oops" moment.


As were most of the early tests


My favorite is still upshot knothole, not just for the name, but because it was a farking artillery shell.

Might as well make nuclear hand grenades
 
2012-07-09 07:41:10 PM

chasd00: Marcus Aurelius: Castle Bravo was also a big "oops" moment.

yeah the "oops" moments when dealing with nuclear weapons is sort of scary.

scientist> yeah so that castle bravo thing.. it was 250% larger than we thought it was going to be
PR guy> ...


Crossroads Baker was a bit of an oops as well. Too nasty to clean up so they basically called it quits.
 
2012-07-09 07:49:04 PM
The video at the bottom of all the detonations from 1945-1998 was interesting. I loved it when it hit 1989 and the numbers just plummeted.
 
2012-07-09 07:50:30 PM

SwiftFox: may have helped frighten people properly


People still don't brush and floss properly!

/Minister of Fear!
 
2012-07-09 08:05:51 PM

MonkeyAngst: basemetal: It's just amazing how many nukes have been tested in the world. AMAZING.

[www.vcefilms.com image 303x305]

Love this documentary....

Until I saw this video (new window), I thought there had been, you know, a few here, a few there. Probably no more than fifty nuclear weapons explosions on the planet total. Holy crap, was that naive.


Exactly.
 
2012-07-09 08:27:05 PM

Harvey Manfrenjensenjen: 1. Cancer awareness, better detection, and people not dying of something else first have also been rising steadily since the nuclear age. That's not letting nuclear testing or other pollutants off the hook, but it's not like nothing else has changed in the meantime.

2. I'd say the negative effects we experienced from doing the testing are precisely what made the testing worthwhile. Would you prefer that we learned about all the (formerly unknown) bad stuff that comes from nuclear blasts by actually using them in conflicts?


1. "Cancer was extremely rare in antiquity."

A compilation of studies showing exposure to radioactive materials greatly increases the chance of cancer. Including ones detailing the widely known link between nuclear fission and Thyroid cancer/Leukemia. Everyone agrees nuclear fission causes Leukemia and Thyroid cancer, because the facts are irrefutable, the only disagreement is to what extent, with the usual suspects trying to play it down.

2. We found out the link between radioactive materials and cancer by exposing the entire planet to it, and creating a world where cancer is fast becoming the number one killer across all age groups. I'm not sure how knowing this after the fact is helpful.

We need to be scientifically responsible, instead of just rushing ahead like giddy children who stole the keys to dad's car everytime we discover something new to play with. If we don't learn this lesson now, there will surely be other discoveries to be reckless with in the future that have even more dire consequences.
 
2012-07-09 08:30:46 PM

Ivo Shandor: Speaking of "oops" moments, there's a reason this one was called Starfish Prime...

The initial Starfish launch attempt on June 20 was aborted in flight due to failure of the Thor launch vehicle. The Thor missile flew a normal trajectory for 59 seconds; then the rocket engine stopped, and the missile began to break apart. The range safety-officer ordered the destruction of the missile and of the warhead. The missile was between 30,000 and 35,000 feet (between 9.1 and 10.7 km) in altitude when it was destroyed. Parts of the missile and some radioactive contamination fell upon Johnston Island and nearby Sand Island and the surrounding ocean. (wikipedia)


I believe Trinity and Beyond shows this test... not 100% sure since ive seen it (is it still on netflix?)

CSB.... My dad was stationed at Johnston Island off and on for a few years back in the late 90's/early 2000's at the JACADS
 
2012-07-09 09:27:15 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Harvey Manfrenjensenjen: 1. Cancer awareness, better detection, and people not dying of something else first have also been rising steadily since the nuclear age. That's not letting nuclear testing or other pollutants off the hook, but it's not like nothing else has changed in the meantime.

2. I'd say the negative effects we experienced from doing the testing are precisely what made the testing worthwhile. Would you prefer that we learned about all the (formerly unknown) bad stuff that comes from nuclear blasts by actually using them in conflicts?

1. "Cancer was extremely rare in antiquity."

A compilation of studies showing exposure to radioactive materials greatly increases the chance of cancer. Including ones detailing the widely known link between nuclear fission and Thyroid cancer/Leukemia. Everyone agrees nuclear fission causes Leukemia and Thyroid cancer, because the facts are irrefutable, the only disagreement is to what extent, with the usual suspects trying to play it down.

2. We found out the link between radioactive materials and cancer by exposing the entire planet to it, and creating a world where cancer is fast becoming the number one killer across all age groups. I'm not sure how knowing this after the fact is helpful.

We need to be scientifically responsible, instead of just rushing ahead like giddy children who stole the keys to dad's car everytime we discover something new to play with. If we don't learn this lesson now, there will surely be other discoveries to be reckless with in the future that have even more dire consequences.


It's easy to look back and be a know-it-all. Or perhaps, you would've preferred the Soviets get the upper hand, because I guarantee they weren't being "green."

Nuclear testing was the cold war! It was basically, look what we can do, so don't f*ck with us. There were consequences, sure, but not as bad as a full scale nuclear war.
 
2012-07-09 09:30:41 PM

cretinbob: Marcus Aurelius: Castle Bravo was also a big "oops" moment.

As were most of the early tests


My favorite is still upshot knothole, not just for the name, but because it was a farking artillery shell.

Might as well make nuclear hand grenades


Pretty close. They fielded a mini-nuke launched from the back of a jeep, called "Davy Crockett". Unpredictable effects made it almost as dangerous to our troops as it would be to its Target. Actually deployed through the late 60's.
 
2012-07-09 09:32:28 PM

chasd00: Marcus Aurelius: Castle Bravo was also a big "oops" moment.

yeah the "oops" moments when dealing with nuclear weapons is sort of scary.

scientist> yeah so that castle bravo thing.. it was 250% larger than we thought it was going to be
PR guy> ...


Apparently that's when we discovered an interesting little trait of lithium, that upon neutron bombardment it transmutes into helium three and hydrogen which only adds fuel to the fusion reaction. The fuel used by the castle bravo was lithium deuteride and since they didn't know about that particular trait of lithium's they only calculated for the deuterium bonded to the lithium and didn't realize that the lithium itself would also convert into fuel.
 
2012-07-09 09:45:42 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Harvey Manfrenjensenjen: 1. Cancer awareness, better detection, and people not dying of something else first have also been rising steadily since the nuclear age. That's not letting nuclear testing or other pollutants off the hook, but it's not like nothing else has changed in the meantime.

2. I'd say the negative effects we experienced from doing the testing are precisely what made the testing worthwhile. Would you prefer that we learned about all the (formerly unknown) bad stuff that comes from nuclear blasts by actually using them in conflicts?

1. "Cancer was extremely rare in antiquity."

A compilation of studies showing exposure to radioactive materials greatly increases the chance of cancer. Including ones detailing the widely known link between nuclear fission and Thyroid cancer/Leukemia. Everyone agrees nuclear fission causes Leukemia and Thyroid cancer, because the facts are irrefutable, the only disagreement is to what extent, with the usual suspects trying to play it down.

2. We found out the link between radioactive materials and cancer by exposing the entire planet to it, and creating a world where cancer is fast becoming the number one killer across all age groups. I'm not sure how knowing this after the fact is helpful.

We need to be scientifically responsible, instead of just rushing ahead like giddy children who stole the keys to dad's car everytime we discover something new to play with. If we don't learn this lesson now, there will surely be other discoveries to be reckless with in the future that have even more dire consequences.


The problem with cancer rarity in antiquity, I have found, is that working people did not live to the ages that they do now. Oh and they weren't quite the fattey, fat, fats, that they are today.

They thing that has not changed is that aristocrats still like their fancy war machines.
 
2012-07-09 10:00:42 PM
That was sobering, I knew there were tests done, but never imagined that over 2000 tests had taken place.
 
2012-07-09 10:01:52 PM

Tainted1: Apparently that's when we discovered an interesting little trait of lithium, that upon neutron bombardment it transmutes into helium three and hydrogen which only adds fuel to the fusion reaction.


Close. The lithium reaction was expected, but they thought that it would only work with one isotope. Again from Wikipedia:

The yield of 15 megatons was two and a half times as great as expected. The cause of the high yield was a theoretical error made by designers of the device at Los Alamos National Laboratory. They considered only the lithium-6 isotope in the lithium deuteride secondary to be reactive; the lithium-7 isotope, accounting for 60% of the lithium content,[citation needed] was assumed to be inert.

It was expected that lithium-6 isotope would absorb a neutron from the fissioning plutonium and emit an alpha particle and tritium in the process, of which the latter would then fuse with the deuterium and increase the yield in a predicted manner. Lithium-6 obeyed this assumption.

However, when the lithium-7 isotope is bombarded with energetic neutrons, it captures a neutron then decays yielding an alpha particle, a tritium nucleus, and the captured neutron. This means more tritium was produced than expected, and the extra tritium is fused with deuterium. In addition to tritium formation the extra neutron released from lithium-7 decay produced a larger neutron flux. This caused more fissioning of the uranium tamper and increased yield.

This resultant extra fuel (both lithium-6 and lithium-7) contributed greatly to the fusion reactions and neutron production and in this manner greatly increased the device's explosive output. The test used lithium with a high percentage of lithium-7 only because lithium-6 was then scarce and expensive; the later Castle Union test used almost pure lithium-6. Had more lithium-6 been available, the usability of the common lithium-7 might not have been discovered.
 
2012-07-09 10:04:22 PM

Mark Ratner: It's easy to look back and be a know-it-all. Or perhaps, you would've preferred the Soviets get the upper hand, because I guarantee they weren't being "green."


I never pointed a finger at the US specifically. It would have been better for the human race if we all exercised caution instead of rushing ahead.

StoPPeRmobile: The problem with cancer rarity in antiquity, I have found, is that working people did not live to the ages that they do now. Oh and they weren't quite the fattey, fat, fats, that they are today.


They address the age thing early in that article, because it was something the study looked at. There are zero ancient corpses of children with evidence of cancer, and many children suffering from cancer now.

Diet and exercise are big factors in vulnerability to cancer, because they impact your immune system's ability to defend itself, but i don't think there is any evidence they alone cause cancer. And people had even poorer diets before modern times. Malnutrition was rampant. Yet no cancer epidemic.
 
2012-07-09 10:29:09 PM

J. Frank Parnell: Mark Ratner: It's easy to look back and be a know-it-all. Or perhaps, you would've preferred the Soviets get the upper hand, because I guarantee they weren't being "green."

I never pointed a finger at the US specifically. It would have been better for the human race if we all exercised caution instead of rushing ahead.

StoPPeRmobile: The problem with cancer rarity in antiquity, I have found, is that working people did not live to the ages that they do now. Oh and they weren't quite the fattey, fat, fats, that they are today.

They address the age thing early in that article, because it was something the study looked at. There are zero ancient corpses of children with evidence of cancer, and many children suffering from cancer now.

Diet and exercise are big factors in vulnerability to cancer, because they impact your immune system's ability to defend itself, but i don't think there is any evidence they alone cause cancer. And people had even poorer diets before modern times. Malnutrition was rampant. Yet no cancer epidemic.


Once again, you're being obtuse and short sighted. What about a number of other things in the modern industrial age that causes cancer?

Processed food, fertilizer, acid rain, lead paint....etc.
 
2012-07-10 02:40:29 AM

Marcus Aurelius: Mark Ratner: It's pretty freaky to think that only a few nuclear bombs detonated at high altitude over the U.S. would basically cripple the entire country, due to the EMP.

Yes, but just imagine the new demand it would create for replacement electronics.


There would be very few people left to purchase them since the destruction of every motor vehicle made since roughly 1960 would collapse the food harvesting and distribution network, as a result of which the cities would burn in a week and most people would be dead inside a month.
 
2012-07-10 04:35:58 AM

J. Frank Parnell: We need to be scientifically responsible, instead of just rushing ahead like giddy children who stole the keys to dad's car everytime we discover something new to play with. If we don't learn this lesson now, there will surely be other discoveries to be reckless with in the future that have even more dire consequences


Try telling that to the pro-GMO crowd
 
2012-07-10 06:23:28 AM

J. Frank Parnell: Wzrd1 in the comments there already covered much of what i was going to say:

One can actually date when a human lived by radioisotopes from nuclear weapons tests in their bones.
As mentioned above, strontium 90 is one rather nasty isotope, with a natural affinity for bones.
It's also present in traces in every human since the first above ground tests of nuclear weapons.

Also, the cancer rates in towns downwind of the above ground testing (and one below ground test that accidentally vented to the atmosphere) have been far higher than normal. That was only relatively recently acknowledged by the US government.

But i'd like to add that forms of cancer like Leukemia and Thyroid cancer were extremely rare before nuclear testing, and first started showing up in high concentrations downwind of nuclear testing sites, but are now sadly common around the globe. Cancer in general has been rising steadily ever since the nuclear age.

No great benefits came from all this nuclear 'testing', either. It was all just done to see what would happen. We, as a race, are profoundly stupid and reckless.


Cancer has been rising steadily since human life expectancy rose from 41 in the 1840s to 76 today. We are also finding out that cancer is extremely common and naturally occurring. 80% of all males autopsied show some signs of prostate cancer. You can find cancer in Egyptian mummies. It's an artifact of getting old.
 
2012-07-10 10:12:59 AM
I think we knew it would mess with the electrical grid, but not to what degree.

So we tested over Hawaii to keep whatever happened off the North American continent.

/operation chocolate starfish....commence primary ignition.
 
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