Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Megan Garber writes that for the past six years, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson has been compiling a database of every single bomb the US military has dropped since World War I. Robertson combs through records of deployed ordnance and has so far discovered around 1,000 original raid reports from World War I, all of them entered by hand, scanned 10,000 pages of bombing records from World War II, and scoured more than a million records from Vietnam. The result: a compilation that, at the click of a mouse and a few keystrokes, reveals for the first time the sheer magnitude of destruction inflicted by the US and its allies from the air in the last century. The effort, which began as a hobby and has since become Robertson's full-time job, has been assigned a military acronym befitting its epic goal: THOR, Theater History of Operations Reports. Government experts and private researchers say the data could have far-reaching implications and it is already aiding efforts to spot unexploded bombs, like the 456,365 cluster bombs dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, that still endanger civilians and to search for the missing aircraft and their crews of past wars. “I was in Vietnam last week looking at old sites and talking with Vietnamese officials on how we can expedite this work,” says Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan, deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. “It will really help us to be able to refine what we know about where the strikes were made, where we might find unexploded ordnance, so we can focus our efforts there.” Robertson says he anticipates THOR will be released publicly on the Internet but doesn’t know exactly when. When it is released, the more recent years – currently from 1991’s Desert Storm to today – still will be classified and therefore not searchable by the public."
Nearly every complex solution to a programming problem that I
have looked at carefully has turned out to be wrong.
-- Brent Welch