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"Nuclear Archaeology" Inspires Replica of Hiroshima's Little Boy 298

Posted by timothy
from the sobering-and-more dept.
James Cho writes "Through a decade of painstaking reverse engineering, trucker John Coster-Mullen built the first accurate replica of the Hiroshima bomb. His work yielded a new history of the first nukes, 'Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man,' with historian Robert Norris saying, 'Nothing else in the Manhattan Project literature comes close.' Philip Morrison, one of the physicists who helped invent the bomb, deemed it 'a remarkable job.'"
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"Nuclear Archaeology" Inspires Replica of Hiroshima's Little Boy

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  • Re:How soon until... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:35PM (#26600211) Homepage Journal

    According to Amazon, his book was published in 2002. If they were going to lock him up, they've had plenty of time to do so already.

    Of course, it's a good thing for him his name is John Coster-Mullen instead of, oh, say, Ahmed al-Rashad. You can pretty much guarantee that in the latter case, even if all the other circumstances were exactly the same, he'd have been disappeared a long time ago.

  • Pictures? Plans? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:52PM (#26600869) Homepage Journal

    Its got some abstract image and a story.. But where is the actual scientific meat?

    Oh, thats right, knowledge is forbidden in this country.

  • Re:Not so big a deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:54PM (#26600907)

    Well a cylinder and rod sound like a really poor design. You want a quick transition to super-criticality, not a slow linear slide. Much more likely they were a conical target and a mating projectile.

      Maybe this guy is trying to disinform certain rogue scientists?

  • Re:How soon until... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PacoCheezdom (615361) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:18PM (#26601129)
    Well, it's a little steeper than a fine, but I still think it's pretty funny that there's a state law for this:

    11418. (a) (1) Any person, without lawful authority, who possesses, develops, manufactures, produces, transfers, acquires, or retains any weapon of mass destruction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 8, or 12 years.

    (California Penal Code)
  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:21PM (#26601149)

    No terrorist orginaization would want to create such wasteful bombs, so the information he is publishing is not very dangerous at all.

    You seriously think that a terrorist organization would NOT take any sort of nuclear weapon?

    You don't understand terrorism. All you need to create terror and cause chaos and evacuations is a bomb that is just dirty enough to make a geiger counter click somewhat above background rate in front of a TV camera. Heck a granite countertop would probably do (they are quite radioactive). Although potassium based salt substitute (also quite radioactive) is scarier looking. One "real bomb" might destroy a city. But ten thousand hand grenades detonated in the ten thousand largest cities all going clicky clicky on camera is way more effective at generating terror.

    The proof that there is no real terrorist threat, and the whole terrorist threat thing is the equivalent of government conspiracy theory daydreams, is that something this simple and easy has never happened despite ex-communist countries being awash in rad-waste free for the pickings, small IEDs are not apparently too hard to find either, add a roll of duct tape, and instant celebrity.

    It doesn't matter if you actually destroy the city or not, all you need to do is make the residents act like it's another Katrina (except its even scarier because its "nuclear") and you've won. Prodding the sheep won't be too hard, with the media's help.

    That is why a terrorist organization (assuming such a thing even exists) would never be so "wasteful" as to make a traditional a-bomb, when they could make ten thousand dirty hand grenades using the same stuff.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:35PM (#26601783) Homepage Journal

    If I did have a nuclear bomb, I would not have a problem.

    Some other folks would have a problem.

    This was precisely America's attitude about nuclear weapons for more than thirty years after Trinity.

    Turns out they were wrong. There was no way to say England yes, France no, India yes, Pakistan no, Israel yes, Iran no.

    The Atomic Bomb created the sense in American leaders that our overwhelming advantage in power created an American hegemony.

    Like the Jurassic Park geneticist believing his "sterile" dinos would not spread, Truman and subsequent presidents believed in the myth of "control" that would keep the genie in the bottle. Worse, they thought they could be the "decider" of who gets to rub the lamp and who doesn't.

    Me, I just hope Fallout 3 doesn't turn out to be predictive. I've run out of Rad-Away.

  • Re:How soon until... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Monday January 26, 2009 @09:02AM (#26606265) Journal

    I'm inclined toward accounts based on the premise that America and Russia had an agreement (what blend of official/unofficial I can't recall) that Russia would pressure the Japanese from the Kamchatka peninsula and that territorial control in the post-war world would be to some degree be established by how much territory in the region of Japan the Russians had managed to occupy at the point in time of formal Japanese surrender.

    Well I don't know how much of the agreement covered territory but there was an "official" agreement at Yalta for the Soviet Union to enter the war against Japan 90 days after the end of hostilities in Europe.

    To fully appreciate the political situation, you need to realize that the Americans were reading Purple. Purple never got as much press as Enigma because it was considered somewhat unsporting to crack a diplomatic code.

    The Pacific War in general has never gotten as much press as the European War. Purple was actually broken before the war. There's a mostly historically accurate representation of this in the movie 'Tora Tora Tora'

    You can figure out an awful lot about who collaborated on a nuclear bomb by the residue signature it leaves behind. If everyone out there is working from exactly the same blue print, some of that capability falls apart.

    IANANP (I am not a nuclear physicist) but my understanding is that the signature doesn't really have much to do with the design of the bomb itself. Rather it has to do with the reactor(s) that produced the fissile material used in the bomb. If you built fat man using American plutonium and built it again using Russian plutonium the signature would still be different.

    Japan had long understood that the American military economy was humming along at a fever pitch, and was pretty much impossible to mess with short of capturing Hawaii.

    Capturing Hawaii wouldn't have been enough either. It would have extended the war by another year or so but it wouldn't have altered the outcome. It's a moot point in any case as the Japanese didn't have the resources to capture Hawaii or the logistical resources to hold onto it if they did. What's more impressive is the fact that we devoted the overwhelming majority of our resources (upwards of 85% according to some estimates) to the European theater. We literally beat the Japanese with one hand and two feet tied behind our back. Makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking going to war with the United States. The disparity in economic resources was that large.

  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:59PM (#26608799)

    Get it straight.

    The US government does not confirm or deny comments on classified technology. Nuclear weapons are classified. So if you write a book that is full of crap on nuclear bombs, all of the experts will general work for (or have worked for) the government and will not be able to comment on it.

    Thus, people who are not in "the know" will read the book and say "Gee, this is really great stuff, very accurate." Meanwhile those who actually work on these weapons and who have security clearances will buy the book, read the book, laugh about the errors with each other... and not talk about it to the general public.

    It's easy to be a self-proclaimed expert when all the real experts can't comment and you can't actually demonstrate that your technology works.

    And finally, you really think making a bomb is easy if you have the fuel? Do you have personal experience here? Keep in mind you don't get a lot of testing opportunities with these things, and diagnosing what is going on during the explosion is also quite involved. There's a big difference between assembling your nuclear material to generate some nuclear yield and actually generating significant nuclear yield.

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