by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
check out one of the most amazingly stupid pieces of design on the last century. behold the ATOMIC AIRPLANE!!! the military/industrial complex (aka weapons designers) really thought that atomic everything was the future of all mankind. scientists, those guys you saw in all those giant bug movies (white lab coats and birth-control glasses, you know the ones…) REALLY thought they were going to save all mankind form it’s darker instincts by supplying us all with unlimited wonder and magic – most of it in the form of atomic this, atomic that. there was atomic energy, atomic motels, atomic hand cleaners, atomic cars, etc. etc. – and (of course) atomic airplanes. the military spent billions on this idea. in fact, they funded from the first test at trinity site all the way up into the 1980′s. tens of thousands of the finest minds worked on it. this was an industry in itself.
the big thrill of this idea was that the military (on only OUR team, of course) would have the advantage of having a spy/bomber nuclear ramjet (depicted above, clipped from an old life magazine of the 50′s) aloft for unlimited periods of time. the generals used to joke that their time spent in the air was only restricted by the enlistment calendars of the crew (hardy har har). with these atomic wonders up there, we would all be safe from attack from the rest of the world – and they would (again, of course) bow down to our absolute planetary control. then we would be free to install drive-in movies (complete with tv dinners) around the globe (or something like that). BIG PROFITS!
note the long long long nose on the jet design. all the different designs (every branch of the military sank billions into THEIR design version of the atomic plane, hoping they’d get to be in charge of it) were really really long and pointy like this. the reason was that because of the enormous weight that LEAD SHIELDING needed to protect against radiation would be so heavy that the plane wouldn’t get off the ground. so, they had to dispense with it. in fact, an enormous amount of time and money was spend on the effort to find other lighter forms of shielding. so, the crew had to be placed as far away from the reactors as possible (so they don’t die immediately. later? that was ok.) the planes killed the crew!
this peculiar radiation problem created all sorts of other dilemmas, too. like, how do you actually repair these things? replaceable pit crews? and they even had to build runways as far away from population centers as possible, because the radiation would prove dangerous. think of the expense it took to run these things, in both money and lives and environmental costs! it was totally crazy. but, that only encouraged all these scientists and design geniuses to work even harder (and spend even more money).
if you think our vastly overrated military/industrial complex is some sort of model of brilliance and efficiency and moral righteousness, keep in mind the atomic airplane. they went so far as to test drive these suckers (minus reactors, i hope). they built and tested all sorts of this atomic crap out at area 51 (go read the book recently published about the known history of area 51. it’s a stunner) them brilliant ‘giant bug’ nuclear scientists felt so strongly about this atomic shit (they were in love – in LUST) that they pulled out all stops. the DOE (department of energy) built up so much bad karma during those years that everybody involved with it should be tried for crimes against humanity. if you do your research, you will completely agree with me.
here’s one little example of what kind of insane crap went on in the name of atomic research: out in one remote region of area 51, scientists built a test reactor, whose sole purpose was to test the limits of safety. the reasoning was that until one presented a ‘worse case scenario’, the designers wouldn’t know how to properly design engineering to prevent what COULD happen (typically vapid academics). so, the ‘scientific’ solution? let one actually melt down and SEE WHAT HAPPENS! so, they DID!!! they let one run dry of coolant out there in the middle of nowhere and just let ‘er rip. what they got is something we all know all about from three-mile island, chernobyl and now japan – the first nuclear reactor meltdown and explosion. you’ll never read obout in the history books, though. top secret, ya know!
there are area out there at area 51 that are deadly to enter, but few as deadly as this test area. over 50 years later and people STILL can’t go in there. the debris is still strewn around the surface (some it miles away from the reactor sight, projectile vomited out by the explosion). it all just sits there, releasing massive radiation and it will as long as there are people on this planet. when the reactor blew, it sent up a huge “dirty bomb” cloud into the atmosphere that quickly spread around the globe. it still does, no way to stop it. this is just ONE such site out there in the desert. there are MANY similar problem areas. in fact, the scientists were afraid that one of thier tests would actually destroy the ozone layer (and they knew that meant destroying the entire world!! but, they tested it anyway.) “eyes only!”
even a crazy mess like that didn’t slow this “atomic airplane” project down. one day a senator finally piped up and asked the billion- dollar question, “so, what happens if one crashes?” dead silence. “uhhhhh….. they won’t crash….” after that exchange, the project became a running joke. yet it still received black budget funding for decades more. amazing but true. in fact, it may STILL be getting funding for all we know.
this sort of blind faith is the problem with religions like this. it constantly gets in the way of common sense. the atomic CAR received decades of design and funding, too – all from the commercial auto industry, no less. for years, the ‘dream cars’ at auto shows would simply have no motor in them, but an empty space under the hood labeled, “re
ed for atomic reactor.” it wasn’t some clever little joke, they were serious. i actually read an article in an old nuclear industry trade magazine about suggested clean-up measures in case of an automobile accident (“meltdown at first and main…”) these design idiots actually carried their thinking that far (and more, apparently).
25 years back i read an article in a science magazine about the worst radiation leak in history. it involved an old xray machine that got sent to the dump (in mexico). scrap dealers snagged it, tore it apart (allowing cesium and strontium “bb’s” to dribble out.) since it was made out of non-ferrous metal (not magnetic) the electro-magnet at the scrap yard just knocked it around and it sprinkled these radioactive beads everywhere. the scrap metal was melted down and formed into everyday items like table legs. eventually a whole nearby town started dying, but nobody seemed to care about the poor people who gathered scrap metal for a living…
eventually a load of tables with the radioactive metal legs was delivered to los alamos (the main atomic research lab). when the radiation detectors alarmed, everybody was shocked that a truck ENTERING (rather than LEAVING) the base set the alarms off. imagine their surprise when they opened the truck and found it full of commissary tables! it seems that radioactive (seriously radioactive) household items were shipped all over the country and they had to quickly (and very very quietly) retrieve them all before it was too late. it was then traced back to that mexican scrap heap and the nearby dying village. everything got “cleaned up”, people were paid off for their dead and the whole thing swept under a rug. the last photo of the article showed that original radioactive scrap heap with a big wire cyclone fence around it with many signs saying, “danger! radioactive! keep out”. there was a section in the fence that had been cut open by the locals. so, they could still go get metal scrap to sell.
in eastern washington state, the hanford reach (and off-limits ‘preserve’) is an area where they developed plutonium for the manhattan project. the waste was dumped into big metal underground tanks and physically dug holes in the ground. 60 years later, we have rotting solid waste and leaking tanks with radioactive ‘plumes’ so big that they are reaching the columbia river. nobody really knows how to clean it up. they’re worried about radioactive salmon runs. there are already problems with radioactive ants and sagebrush and mice and rabbits and even MOOSE wandering off the reservation.
out here on the north west coast, we’re starting to get radioactive tsunami debris from japan that floated all the way over on those powerful currents. the government has sent out a flyer instructing us on how to handle it.
makes you want to run out and buy a gieger counter doesn’t it? oh wait, you can’t. every try? it’s really hard to even find. almost like they don’t WANT US TO HAVE THEM IN OUR HOMES…..
the biggest problem with power is that idiocy ends up controlling that power far more often that wisdom. then there is the problem of evil. you listening down there, dr. teller?
here’s a cool ‘giant bug’ story for you – i read a little article about brand new plants they were finding out on the hanford reach (the restricted radioactive reserve) that had never been found before. one new plant (a little blue-flowered ground cover) grew in a single patch 10 feet wide and one mile long – and nowhere else on earth. hmmm….