Atomic fireballs: the man with the pics

Tom James @ 20-05-2009

tumbler_snapper_bombThought ya’ll might get a kick of the old sensawunda out of these “rapatronic” high-speed photos of nuclear bombs exploding:

The exposures were often as short as 10 nanoseconds, and each Rapatronic camera would take exactly one photograph.

A bank of four to ten or more such cameras were arranged at tests to record different moments of early fireball growth.

They provide technical information about the device’s disassembly.

Some really awesome images captured here. More on rapatronics here.

[via Sachs Report][image from the page]


Blinded by the laser light

Tom James @ 30-03-2009

green_laserIn what won’t be the last instances of laser-related “friendly fire” three US soldiers in Iraq have been hospitalised, and one has been blinded in one eye, by a green dazzling laser:

Since November 2008, a single unit in Iraq “has experienced 12 green-laser incidents involving 14 soldiers and varying degrees of injury. Three soldiers required medical evacuation out of Iraq and one soldier is now blind in one eye,” writes Sgt. Crystal Reidy

[from Wired][image from Wired]


Revealed: Pentagon predicts wars of the future

Tom James @ 11-03-2009

viperfull_2The proud journos at TPMMuckraker have managed to acquire the titles of various Pentagon Office of Net Assessment reports through a Freedom of Information request. Here’s what’s been on their minds:

The Great Siberian War Of 2030

The Revival Of Chinese Nationalism: Challenges To American Ideals

The Future Of Undersea Warfare

Chinese And Russian Asymmetrical Strategies For Space Dominance (2010-2030)

That last one is relevant to the recent news of a military (but possibly not weapons-carrying, what with the Outer Space Treaty [thanks commenter Kian]) Chinese space station.

The whole list is here.

As the actual content of the reports is still classified we can amuse ourselves by wondering what Biometaphor For The Body Politic [March 2006] refers to. It sounds like a description of someone explaining the Facts of Life with handpuppets.

[via Danger Room][image also from Danger Room]


Could Mexican narco-terrorism produce a massive open-source insurgency?

Paul Raven @ 04-03-2009

The news is full of the escalating war between Mexican drug traffickers and that country’s government, and it’s not a pretty picture – especially not for Mexico’s more northerly states and cities.

But what if the problems could spill over? Apparently they already have – there are claims that Canadian gang violence is connected to the Mexican situation, as is often the way with complex illicit supply chains.

John Robb hypothesises that it wouldn’t take much to spark an open-source insurgency in the region – one that could turn the northern states of Mexico and the southern states of the US into a no-go zone for the military forces of either country.

By itself, it’s doubtful that a narco/smuggling open source insurgency could accomplish this goal, although it would make a very good run at it (particularly given the declining budgets of their opponents).  However, the prospects for successful achievement of the plausible promise would radically improve  if the coming global depression drives

  • the creation of new violent groups — new primary loyalties formed from fear, revenge, and necessity — and
  • the economic deprivation necessary for a vibrant bazaar of violence — this is a marketplace that forms when, due to a need to purchase food and shelter, there is an endless pool of people willing to kill for a couple hundred bucks.

It’s not really that implausible an idea, and an illustration of the way that nation-state borders are being broken down by modern technology, economics and realpolitik.

When a nation can’t control an insurgency at this sort of scale, what will that do for its credibilty among its more stable neighbours?


Looking back on 9/11

Tom Marcinko @ 11-09-2008

911-memorialImagine trying to exit a burning building.

Based upon conversations with the WTC survivors, researchers from the Universities of Greenwich, Ulster and Liverpool concluded that more than half of them delayed evacuating because they wanted to gather information about what was happening; those intent on getting more info about the attacks before exiting took between 1.5 and 2.6 times longer to begin evacuating than others; and congestion in stairways was the main cause of delay in getting out, even though the towers were less than one-third occupied that day.

Also: Al-Qaeda HQ has harsh words for AQ in Iraq:

Taken in context, Zawahiri’s latest memos seem to indicate that al-Qaeda’s oft-cited “central front” is a persistent if increasingly difficult management challenge for the movement’s front office.

And some angry leftist observes:

Aside from everything else, 9/11 was the day our mainstream news people promised they’d stop focusing on the trivial.

Oh well.

[Bayonne, NJ 9/11 memorial, Sister72]


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