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In Retrospect: If ColdWar-to-HotWar Had Happened ?

  1. Jun 8, 2010 #1
    In Retrospect: If ColdWar-to-HotWar Had Happened....?

    In 1961, as a poor-boy turned physicist and freshly-commissioned USAF Lieutenant (from my college's ROTC program), I was ordered from NYC to SAC in Omaha, where it seems I and others played a significant role in convincing the MAD Russians (and indeed they were!) NOT to touch that nuclear holocaust dial. Should they be so unwise, my 54 Titan II ICBM's (totaling the nuclear equivalent of 9720 Hiroshima's) would soon be paying a very final visit to them....

    (T-II = 9.0 MT; Hiroshima = 50.0 KT)

    Would anyone like to take a crack at two questions:

    1. What would be the asteroid-strike equivalent of one of those T-II 9.0 MT beasties being detonated? (E.g., diameter of asteroid. Needless to say, this warhead was never tested above ground, but we were pretty sure it'd work.)

    2. Assume all 54 T-II's were detonated close to each other (in locale and time) within Russia. Might that energy jolt have made a significant difference in Earth's orbit?

    WW-III was awfully close to happening, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Per Einstein, WW-IV will be fought with sticks and stones -- and he was right....:)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2010 #2
    Re: In Retrospect: If ColdWar-to-HotWar Had Happened....?

    So let me guess this straight - you're claiming to be a nuclear physicist from the 1960s?
  4. Jun 8, 2010 #3
    Re: In Retrospect: If ColdWar-to-HotWar Had Happened....?

    I had a B.S. in general physics, wherein I had studied some modern physics. But in the SAC job, the most useful skill was simple orbital mechanics, and its use in war-gaming software development that provided key inputs to continual enhancements of the SIOP war plan. (One had to learn software fast; that was a big side-benefit.) That early Offutt AFB job couldn't provide the type of think tank environment which, say, the R&D of Wright-Patterson AFB could, but it was an impressive spin-up for this young guy. 5 years before, with no educated mentors in the poverty of my family of origin, I couldn't see the need for college and tried to turn in my NY State Regents scholarship because it only paid half-tuition!

    No top physicist here -- I morphed into a computer scientist/systems engineer/technical project manager.

    I've great respect for the Army and Marines, because that's where the fighting is done now, and those services have solid R&D futures as a result. But, to me, it always seems that USAF R&D has been top-notch for 50 years. No Hubble or Challenger disasters (caused, no doubt, by NASA's post-Apollo God complex; having subcontracted with them for 8 yrs at JSC, I know of it first-hand.) USAF is always unveiling a new goody....now SCRAM jets! Go, USAF!
  5. Jun 8, 2010 #4


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    Re: In Retrospect: If ColdWar-to-HotWar Had Happened....?

    That really depends on the velocity and density of the asteroid. For and asteroid of average density, hitting the Earth at escape velocity, you get a diameter of 74 meters. since would likely hit at a higher velocity, it would likely be smaller.
    Even if all the energy was applied to altering the Earth's orbit (which it would not be by a long shot), the resulting change in the Earth's orbital velocity would be measured in picometers per second. Which is an insignificant change.
  6. Jun 8, 2010 #5


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    Re: In Retrospect: If ColdWar-to-HotWar Had Happened....?

    There's several asteroid impact calculators out there. Here's one:
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