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LostCosmonaut

Random Nuclear Stuff

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A wonderful story from a colleague of mine, whose father had been involved in the SA nuclear program:

 

In the late 80s the father had been working at Pelindaba on nuclear power at the sime time as the cold fusion story broke. Upon hearing about the Fleischmann–Pons experiment, they rushed to set up their own apparatus and then left it to run over night. The next day they discovered astoundingly high neutron spikes in the data. Shortly thereafter a number of government service types rushed in and demanded that they dismantle their apparatus, cease their experiments and not contact the press.

 

Lest this seem like the beginnings of a wonderful conspiracy theory; the reason was that, at the same facility, the nuclear weapons group was doing highly secret criticality experiments. And the neutron detector set up for the cold fusion experiment was close enough and sensitive enough (supposedly a strong overcast helped as well) to inadvertently out the work.

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While delving the archives, the Up-Ship blog manages to find something even more insane than Project Pluto.

 

Quote

Convair gave the concept considerable study from the beginning of the program in 1957 until at least 1961. Their “Big Stick” concept has been reasonably well known, but they had another idea that was somewhat further from the basic idea. It was mentioned in at least two briefings that I’ve come across; some amount of serious work was done on it, but the information I have is fragmentary. The concept was called simply the “Submersible Nuclear Ramjet.”

 

Pluto and Big Stick were unmanned cruise missiles. They would be launched from the ground with solid rocket boosters (some though was given to launching from ships, subs and aircraft) and would fly “grand tours” of the Soviet Union, spitting out a number of individual nuclear bombs. They would leave in their wake a line of ruin… the shockwaves from their passage would likely shake apart civilian structures, and the reactors would constantly spit out radioactive particles. At the end of the mission the missiles would crash into one final target.

 

But the Submersible Nuclear Ramjet would work a little differently. For starters… it was manned. There would be a crew on board throughout the mission.

 

Rather than starting off at some Air Force base, the Submersible Nuclear Ramjet would actually start off as a submarine, floating around on its own in the ocean. Propulsion would be provided by the nuclear reactor, serving as a “water ramjet” by heating seawater and expelling it. Feeding salt water, diatoms, kelp, fish and all the rest of the junk the ocean has to offer directly through a nuclear reactor seems a bit dubious.

 

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1 hour ago, LostCosmonaut said:

I haven't seen it yet, but a couple people at work were talking about it yesterday and said it was pretty decent. Coworker said Oliver tears Harry Reid a new one over Yucca Mountain, so it can't be too shit.

 

Interesting. Let me know what you think.

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Had a guy from Honeywell come to campus today just to talk about the place.  Went because I figured it'd be good to go to, was expecting talk on fans and RF scanners, instead was given talk on nuclear weapons.  Their branch of Honeywell (FM&T) is that one in Kansas City that builds pretty much all of the non-nuclear bits for our nukes.  Of all the talks I've sat around for so far, this one was certainly the one I found most interesting.  

 

The guy talking was some graduate of where I'm going and works with their enviromental testing stuff.  I knew nukes were built to not accidentally go boom, but hearing how they actually test it helps you appreciate how much they're built with that in mind.  I should have taken notes on some of the figures dropped, but they were fairly impressive.   Also fun is the guy apparently spent one of his interviews talking nothing but guns the whole time with the HR dude.

 

I should probably read up on nuke stuff.

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