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Interview: U.S., Russia still face mutual destruction threat

  1. Jun 1, 2005 #1
    http://www.wpherald.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20050518-072100-9737r
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 1, 2005 #2

    russ_watters

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    She's talking utter nonsense. She doesn't know what she's talking about regarding nuclear power plants. The interview is very alarmist and she doesn't seem to be aware that the cold war ended - ie, she doesn't mention the significance of the fact that the US and USSR agreed to a vast reduction in their nuclear stockpiles.

    A google shows that the NPRI is a fringe special interest group intent on eradicating nuclear-everything: including nuclear power. Nutty.

    Check out the website: http://www.nuclearpolicy.org/ She has an article on the costs (financial and environmental) of nuclear power. Its downright hilarious. One key argument is that nuclear power requires coal power for processing the fuel. Wait, wanna run that by me again...? :uhh: And nuclear power requires fossil fuel for transporting materials, bulding the plants, etc. Wait, again -- fossil fuel doesn't? :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2005
  4. Jun 1, 2005 #3

    Pengwuino

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    They will die a slow and painful death!!! slooowly, slooowly, there melting, ohhhh what a world!!
     
  5. Jun 1, 2005 #4

    BobG

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    She does have a point about EMP from nuclear bursts in the upper atmosphere. I don't know about the effect on nuclear power plants, but it would disable virtually all civilian communications, whether satellite or ground based. Commercial comm networks are designed based on cost/profit. There just aren't very many commercial users willing to pay for communications that would withstand a nuclear war (that would make for interesting long distance service commercials). Of course, that threat exists regardless of Bush's space policy - she doesn't really explain why the change in policy makes that scenario more likely.

    She's also correct about nuclear power satellites. The US doesn't use nuclear power Earth-orbiting satellites because having radioactive satellite parts survive re-entry makes you unpopular (just ask Canada how much they liked the idea of a Russian nuclear powered satellite landing in their country). Interplanetary probes, and especially extra-solar system craft, are more likely to use nuclear fuel, since the amount of solar power you can generate decreases the further from the Sun you are. That's still no change in policy and I don't think the military is asking for approval to station nuclear weapons in space.

    She's also correct about the topic of nuclear war having dropped much lower than the threat has. At the numbers the US and USSR had at their peak, the spirit expressed by nuclear weapons reductions is still more significant than the levels either side has reached. The ability to maintain good relations with Russia and China are probably the only serious threat of an ABM system. Russia and China also have to realize that the US isn't the only nuclear threat facing the world - Iran and North Korea also have to be considered emerging nuclear threats.

    In any event, her emphasis is definitely from a nuclear weapons perspective and misses the real implications of expanding war into outer space. Space is already militarized and plays a significant part in current wars. The main thing the military is asking for is the ability to protect their own information and the ability to deny information to the enemy. Satellites happen to be the one of the key information tools in today's world, whether reconaissance satellites or navigation satellites to gather information or communications satellites to distribute information.
     
  6. Jun 1, 2005 #5

    Pengwuino

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    I thought satellites orbit way the hell away from the earth? Like... fractions of the distance to the moon. Got any information about the pulse being a actual viable weapon?
     
  7. Jun 1, 2005 #6

    BobG

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    Satellites orbit at all kinds of different altitudes, depending on their mission. Geosynchronous satellites, like those used for satellite TV, orbit about 36,000 km (22,000 miles) above the Earth's surface, but the International Space Station only orbits about 350 km (220 miles) above the Earth (in fact, the ISS is visible from the ground - heavens-above can provide you times when it's visible).

    EMP does a lot of damage to solid state circuitry, a little like a surge of lightning would. Considering how many things rely on electronic circuits, the results would be bad - even your car probably wouldn't work - but not as bad the results of the radioactive fallout. Plus, it's impossible to fry the enemy's electronics with an EMP without frying your own, so it's more of a bad side effect of a nuclear blast rather than an effective weapon.
     
  8. Jun 1, 2005 #7

    Pengwuino

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    But can the pulse progate that far... for say, the ones that are very far out?
     
  9. Jun 1, 2005 #8

    BobG

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    I think EMP would only damage the low orbiting satellites, but the transmitters and receivers on the ground that communicate with the satellites (low or high) would be damaged unless they were protected from EMP.
     
  10. Jun 1, 2005 #9

    Pengwuino

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    Why though? I mean we've tested a lot of nuclear weapons on the ground and in the atmosphere before and ... well.. was there problems?
     
  11. Jun 1, 2005 #10

    BobG

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    Yes. I think we only did one high altitude test back in 1963 and took out the phones in Hawaii or something similar. Once people realized what would happen, the US and USSR were quick to agree not to ever try that again.
     
  12. Jun 1, 2005 #11

    Pengwuino

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    Didnt france do a lot of atmospheric testing?
     
  13. Jun 1, 2005 #12

    GENIERE

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    France lit off 193 a-bombs, 46 were atmospheric tests, and their last big bang was in 1996.

    A few Algerians glow in the dark, but what the hell.

    ...
     
  14. Jun 1, 2005 #13

    russ_watters

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    They really do annoy me even while they entertain me.
    EMPs are line of sight and the atmosphere absorbs the pulse, so they need to be more or less directly above their targets.
     
  15. Jun 1, 2005 #14
    also i would imagine that an emp in space, would travel much further then on earth, because of the whole space vaccum thing and no air resistance pretty much, but im not sure, just throwing out an idea
     
  16. Jun 2, 2005 #15

    BobG

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    There's a difference between atmospheric testing and high altitude testing. Detonated 50 meters above the ground, anything close enough to experience EMP would be vaporized by the blast. Detonated 250 miles above the center of the US, the entire lower 48 would be within the line of sight.

    This link explains the effects of EMP and probably provides a better assessment of how many high altitude tests were conducted. Suffice it to say, both the US and USSR found high altitude testing to be a bad idea.

    The primary effect I was thinking of was the Compton Effect.

    Evidently, there's some other effects that would affect even high altitude satellites (geos, etc).

     
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