Thursday, August 20, 2015

Under Cover: The Schoharie Valley Townsite Project

With Special Thanks to Anthony Casendino

In 1959, the Cornell College of Architecture launched a study to design a city that could survive nuclear attack. In the view of Prof. Fredrick W. Edmondson, existing cities were ill-suited to the demands of the Cold War, and he proposed to design from whole cloth a new alternative, better adapted to the rigors of the nuclear age. The Schoharie Valley Townsite project was one of the most ambitious civil defense proposals of the Cold War: a factory-town that could not only withstand nuclear attack, but maintain war production even as the hydrogen bombs burst around it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Two Links

I'm all over the place!   Specifically, my article "Alternate Nuclear Wars" can now be read at Alternate History Weekly Update.   In addition, my previous blog post on third-generation nuclear weapons can now also be read on William Black's deviantart.   Although most of you have probably already read that, you should check out his gallery anyway; Mr. Black is an extremely talented digital artist, who has contributed many of the images of Orions and other atompunk spacecraft you can see in such places as Atomic Rocket.

Sadly, I must warn you not to get used to this pace of updates.   A bunch of projects just happened to be completed at once.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Third-Generation Nuclear Weapons

I ran into this stuff while working on something else, and thought it was interesting enough to be worth sharing.   I may or may not do a longer article on this at some point; getting more information on this is likely to be very difficult, given that the US government holds this stuff pretty close to its chest (as it should).

So what, exactly, is a third-generation nuclear weapon?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Building a Spaceship in Dungeons and Dragons

Why? Because we can, that's why.

D&D space travel has been done before, usually with teleportation magic (or Spelljammers). What I'm setting out to do here, though, is to build an actual spaceship, that actually traverses the space it crosses. Specifically, I want to design a spaceship that can be built at the lowest level possible – most of the components are actually fairly cheap since the designers weren't expecting you to apply physics to them. The ship will be designed for a 1-man crew, but should be readily adaptable to larger crews.

In case it isn't obvious, I'm well aware this is deeply silly. For those of you here for the nuclear history, don't worry. This blog is still about history; this is just a momentary diversion. So if you don't like D&D just skip this and come back later.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Philosopher's Bomb, Part 3

Those Magnificent Men and their Atomic Machines

The Philosopher's Bomb: The AEC Effort to Create New Elements with Nuclear Explosions

Part III

Back to Part I, Part II

With Special Thanks to Dr. Stephen A. Becker and Dr. David W. Dorn


The AEC fired four more heavy element tests in the spring of 1966: DURYEA (April 14 1966, 70 kT, LRLL), CYCLAMEN (May 5 1966, 12 kT, LASL), KANKAKEE (June 15 1966, 20 to 200 kT, LRLL), and VULCAN (June 25 1966, 25 kT, LRLL).[GURC][Be2] DURYEA was a failure, but I haven't been able to find out anything else about it. The other shots left more concrete records.

Partial List of US Scientific Nuclear Tests

I'm posting this as a separate post, prior to posting Part 3 of The Philosopher's Bomb, because there's a very common misconception about how many nuclear shots the Plowshare program fired off.   Most lists of Plowshare tests do not include most of these tests, because they were officially sponsored by the AEC's Division of Military Applications as military tests, and the incorporated experiment was only an add-on.   Nonetheless, if we ignore them - which almost all histories of the Plowshare program do - we're missing an important part of the story.

Friday, February 13, 2015

War in the Atomic Age?

So, last week I snagged a rather entertaining little item through interlibrary loan.

 Figure 1: War in the Atomic Age? Cover
(Public Domain)