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Atom bomb nearly exploded over North Carolina in 1961

  1. Sep 21, 2013 #1
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2013 #2
    Maybe there was some kind of von Neuman-esque logic at play.
     

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  4. Sep 21, 2013 #3

    nsaspook

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  5. Sep 22, 2013 #4

    OCR

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  6. Sep 22, 2013 #5

    SteamKing

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  7. Sep 22, 2013 #6

    Drakkith

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  8. Sep 22, 2013 #7

    Mk

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    The wiki article says it had six failsafes.
     
  9. Sep 22, 2013 #8

    Office_Shredder

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    From my reading, it had three fails, and one failsafe actually
     
  10. Sep 22, 2013 #9
    :confused:
     
  11. Sep 22, 2013 #10
    Ironically what we referred to as failsafe devices were the same devices that armed the weapons.

    Edit.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/eric-schlosser-command-control-excerpt-nuclear-weapons
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013
  12. Sep 22, 2013 #11

    Drakkith

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    From this wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W39

    I'd guess that one of the safety devices is something that only works on the ground. Perhaps a physical pin, separating the connections of an arming device, which is pulled before flight. I don't know about the other two which were "rendered ineffective by the aircraft breakup".

    Just found the following info as I was typing this post. From this site:http://nuclearweaponsaccidents.blogspot.com/
    (Bolding mine)

    Also this from the same site:

    Goldsboro_fusingtable.jpg

    I agree with the final words of the article.

     
  13. Sep 22, 2013 #12

    nsaspook

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  14. Sep 22, 2013 #13

    OmCheeto

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    Wiki's external link for the "Emergency Action Message" is food for some serious jokes.

    Cover Sheet
    Followed by 29 effectively blank pages.
    Even the index is mostly whited out.

    Hey! Has anyone read the declassified document, that supposedly started this conversation?

    Its only two pages long, and pretty funny when you study it in detail. Someone wrote a book about the incident back in 1962. Page one of the declassified document contains a critique of page 127 of the book. (Right hand side notes)

    Didn't this latest thing in the Guardian get aired because someone is once again writing a book?

    Ugh..... :rolleyes:
     
  15. Sep 22, 2013 #14

    marcusl

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    I attended a science policy and arms control conference (Student Pugwash) in grad school. Edward Teller, father of the H bomb, made an impassioned plea for students to work on the next generation of nuclear weapons. H claimed that a lot of thought went into the design of safety measures. "The US has never had a weapon detonate accidentally," he said. "We need the best and the brightest to continue this work to ensure that our nuclear arsenal is absolutely reliable and safe." I don't know if any students in attendance worked on weapons as a result (I did not), but I was somewhat reassured to hear about the emphasis on safety.
     
  16. Sep 22, 2013 #15

    SteamKing

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    You know, the second nuclear core from the Goldsboro crash is still in the ground in NC. The point of impact of the bomb was found after the crash and excavated, but the nuclear core had so deeply penetrated into the earth that it was left there after digging stopped.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1961_Goldsboro_B-52_crash

    UNC estimated that the core penetrated to a depth of about 180 feet, but because the ground was so swampy, the excavation filled with water before the core could be reached. Thus it was left in place and 'monitored' afterwards.

    Investigators found that this second bomb left the aircraft partially armed, although it did not detonate when it struck the ground.
     
  17. Sep 23, 2013 #16

    FlexGunship

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    This raises a very significant question for me:

    What are "nose crystals"?​
     
  18. Sep 23, 2013 #17

    AlephZero

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    That quote all looks very nice and reassuring, but it makes one big assumption which does not apply to the situation: namely, that the aircraft systems and the aircrew were all functioning as per their design intent. That was clearly not the case, since the weapons were "accidentally" released from the plane.

    IMO, the final words you quoted
    are simply a statement of historical fact (i.e. there was no explosion). The connection between that fact and the previous quote is not at all obvious to me.

    But whether the author of the article actually believed his own (ill)logical argument, or was simply writing a PR piece, is probably an unanswerable question.
     
  19. Sep 23, 2013 #18

    Drakkith

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    Nonsense. They looked at the actual weapons after impact and determined the status of their safing devices. They didn't assume anything.

    Looks pretty obvious to me.
     
  20. Sep 23, 2013 #19

    SteamKing

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    You mean "accidentally" released from an unstable aircraft breaking up in mid-air? I don't know how you could keep two large bombs (approx. 6000 lbs apiece) from falling out of the wreckage in that case.
     
  21. Sep 23, 2013 #20

    SteamKing

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    See this link: http://www.ibiblio.org/bomb/hansen.html

    If a bomb fails to detonate in the air, 'nose crystals' are a back-up fuzing system which will detonate the bomb when it hits the ground, probably using piezo-electricity.
     
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