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The End of the British nuclear deterrent?

I suspect the UK might lose its nuclear deterrent (and with it, its permanent seat on the UN Security Council) before 2020, thanks to Donald Trump. Here's why.

Background: The UK was the third country to test a nuclear weapon, in October 1952; it's one of the five recognized nuclear armed states under the non-proliferation treaty, and since the 1958 UK-USA Mutual Defense Agreement it has cooperated closely with the USA.

The stated goal of the British strategic nuclear deterrent since the mid-1950s has been to deter a Soviet nuclear strike on the UK (and, rather more murkily since 1991, a Russian attack). As such, the stated mission was to be able to wipe Moscow and surroundings off the map in the event that the UK was attacked and the USA declined to get involved in a strategic nuclear pissing match on behalf of its ally. (Whether or not this scenario makes any sense whatsoever is a moot point. Less controversially, the acknowledged strategic nuclear force is pointed to as an argument for the UK's continuing permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.) During the 1950s-1980s the Royal Air Force maintained a strategic bomber capability in the shape of the V-Force, while from the mid-1960s onwards the Royal Navy operated Polaris SSBNs, but air-delivered nuclear weapons were phased out from the early 1980s onwards, along with all tactical nuclear weapons.

Since the 1990s, the British nuclear deterrent capability has relied exclusively on the Trident program. The UK built and operates four Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (equivalent to but slightly smaller than the corresponding US Ohio Class SSBN), carrying UGM-133 Trident II ballistic missiles leased from a common pool with those of the US Navy, but with warheads built in the UK. As SLBMs can't easily be serviced inside the cramped launch tubes on board a submarine (unlike land-based ICBMs, which have rather more spacious accommodation), they are returned to the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic for regular maintenance and replacement; it is believed warheads are removed and reinstalled at HMNB Clyde on Faslane, 25 miles from Glasgow.

As the Vanguard-class submarines entered service in the early 1990s, they've been operating for 20 years already. The Atlantic ocean is a harsh environment, and nuclear submarines aren't immortal; the British government therefore committed in 2016 to procuring four new Dreadnought-class SSBNs, which are intended to carry updated Trident D-5 missiles and to enter service from 2028.

Here are two possible reasons why this won't happen.

Working hypothesis #1: Donald Trump is an agent of influence of Moscow. Less alarmingly: Putin's people have got blackmail material on the current President and this explains his willingness to pursue policies favourable to the Kremlin. Russian foreign policy is no longer ideologically dominated by communism, but focusses on narrow Russian interests as a regional hegemonic power and primary oil and gas exporter.

Clearly, it is not in Russia's geopolitical interest to allow a small, belligerent neighbor to point strategic nuclear missiles at Moscow. But this neighbor's nuclear capability has a single point of failure in the shape of the resupply arrangements under the 1958 UK-USA Agreement. Donald Trump has made no bones about his willingness to renegotiate existing treaties in the USA's favor, and has indicated that he wants to modernise and expand the US strategic nuclear capability. Existing nuclear weapons modernization programs make the first goal pointless (thanks, Obama!) but he might plausibly try to withdraw British access to Trident D-5 in order to justify commissioning four new US Navy SSBNs to carry the same missiles and warheads.

(Yes, this would break the "special relationship" between the USA and the UK for good—but remember, this is Donald Trump we're talking about: the original diplomatic bull in a china shop who decapitated the state department in his first month in office.)

Trump could present this as delivering on his promise to expand the US nuclear capability, while handing his buddy a gift-wrapped geopolitical easter egg.

Working hypothesis #2: Let us suppose that Donald Trump isn't a Russian agent of influence. He might still withdraw, or threaten, British access to Trident as a negotiation lever in search of a better trade deal with the UK, when Theresa May or her successor comes cap-in-hand to Washington DC in the wake of Brexit. It's a clear negative sum game for the British negotiating side—you can have a nuclear deterrent, or a slightly less unpalatable trade deal, but not both.

In this scenario, Trump wouldn't be following any geopolitical agenda; he'd just be using the British Trident renewal program as a handy stick to beat an opponent with, because Trump doesn't understand allies: he only understands supporters and enemies.

As for how fast the British Trident force might go away ...

Missiles don't have an indefinite shelf-life: they need regular servicing and maintenance. By abrogating the 1958 agreement, or banning Royal Navy warships from retrieving or delivering UGM-133s from the common stockpile at King's Bay, POTUS could rely on the currently-loaded missiles becoming unreliable or unsafe to launch within a relatively short period of time—enough for trade negotiations, perhaps, but too short to design and procure even a temporary replacement. It's unlikely that French M51 missiles) could be carried aboard Dreadnought-class SSBNs without major design changes to the submarines, even if they were a politically viable replacement (which, in the wake of Brexit, they might well not be).

Thoughts?

563 Comments

1:

Thought 1: In a "history repeating itself" sense, would it make more sense for the Russians to persuade DT to let the UK keep the deterrent, but to steadily increase the bill so that it "bankrupts" the UK?

I'm thinking here (a) of that argument that the West "won" the cold war by forcing the USSR to bankrupt itself, (b) that it's now an article of faith that the UK must have a nuclear deterrent, cost no object, and (c) no viable UK political opposition.

2:

Seeing as the main aim of Brexit is apparently to return to the roaring Fifities, presumably just as the UGM-133s become unavailable we'll have Blue Streak coming onstream to deliver Yellow Sun warheads?

(My rather more serious point being that I'm sure someone will suggest a homegrown alternative... let's start from the position that we're half a century off the boil there)

3:

The USA has a track record of simply ignoring aspects of agreements that it finds inconvenient and, mirabile dictu!, the UK then signs a new agreement that is more favourable to the USA. But I doubt that he would refuse such missiles as long as we have a Rethuglican-lite government (whether Conservative or New Labour) - he might well if we move to the left, say, as far as a Macmillan-era government.

4:

I don't think Trumpolini is going to last 4 years.

Therefore, the "problem" doesn't exist, or not in the form postulated, at least.

POTUS Pence would be much more concerned with building a "revolution in one state" than Trumpolini, & instituting a Handmaid's Tale USSA.

P.S. Hypothesis # 1 is much the more likely - to the point of almost-certainty.

5:

Trump piss away the 'special relationship' for a perceived trade relationship gain? Yeah, he'd do that in a heartbeat.

6:

Trident isn't that expensive. During a couple of peak construction years the D-class subs will eat up to 35% of the defense procurement budget, but they have a 25-30 year design life, so once you amortize the cost it's down to something like 5-10% of the defense budget (for a national strategic nuclear capability).

Replacing Trident with a "temporary fix"? I'm sure AWE still have blueprints for WE.177 on file, and could knock up something equivalent that could be delivered by Typhoon-II, Tornado, or F-35` using a surplus Trident RV and a PGM guidance package in a matter of weeks if it became an emergency (consider the speed with which RAF C-130 Hercules were refitted for inflight refueling during the Falklands War for an example of that: what would normally be a phased multi-year upgrade program happened in less than two months). Longer term, I believe ASCAP-M/Storm Shadow has a payload big enough to carry a physics package, and development of an indigenous stealthy cruise missile is practical, even if ramping up to a full independent SLBM design isn't in anything less than years (the UK, unlike France, doesn't build space launchers — just satellites).

7:

We have had 25 years' of deliberate elimination of most of our technological capability in cases where it competes with the USA. Note that it definitely was deliberate and concerted action, though that may not have been the intended outcome and probably wasn't a formal conspiracy - it was certainly a predicted and admitted one, though. Before we start, we would have to train a new generation of scientists and engineers, which would be especially difficult as 1/3-1/2 of the current ones (in related areas and others) are recent immigrants.

8:

I suspect that attempting to use one part of the defence industry as a short-term political stick is something that won't survive contact with grownups in the US Cabinet. There's just too much else at stake when you threaten cooperation (see: Five-Eyes intelligence; the 'take' is a cooperative affair, and the UK pulls its weight).

Interestingly, the only facility in Scotland listed on the leaked description of key strategic suppliers to the US, is based ten miles away in Midlothian - it's a family firm who specialise in underwater handling equipment (McTaggart Scott). They provide key handling equipment installed on every US submarine, not currently available within US industry.

Secondly, the next-generation missile submarine for both US and UK (the Ohio-class SSBN are also needing replaced) has a common missile compartment; they're trying to make it a repeatable building block of the plumbing and wiring design for a four-tube section of the missile compartment. The US and the British are currently committed to building it as a joint project; again, a case that when it comes to the submarine leg of the triad, the future isn't all a one-way use of US items within the UK.

The UK also supplies some key, awkward to replace, reasonably short shelf-life before spares and maintenance required, items within the US defence equipment - as another 'for instance', most of the US ejector seats come from Martin-Baker.

...I mean, in the worst case, the arrangements for Diego Garcia and Ascension suddenly come up for debate...

9:

Anything air launched isn't a deterrent, it's an invitation to a first strike on the air bases.

The question is: Would HMG be reckless enough to take that path just so that they could keep claiming to be a world power?

Of course they would.

10:

...I mean, in the worst case, the arrangements for Diego Garcia and Ascension suddenly come up for debate...

Indeed; but it has become apparent, with Trump, that one should always consider the worst possible case: and if Trump decided to de-facto annex Diego Garcia and Ascension (by denying landing rights to non-US vessels and aircraft, at gunpoint if necessary, and expelling non-US service personnel) how would the UK stop him?

I think the belief that there are "responsible adults" in Trump's cabinet who will talk sense into him is highly speculative and not supported by the evidence to date.

11:

Assuming that he's that stupid & petty ( & he is ) then, if this is before 2 years post At50 is NOT up, then Brexit would be immediately off the table.
That is how to drive us back into the EU so fast you wouldn't see it move.

12:

Not wanting to derail the conversation from the UK/US element, but that pre-supposes a continuing UK anyway.

With Ms May & co determined to charge on with a Hard Brexit, there is a very real prospect of Scotland voting for independence. Even if it doesn't (and it is getting increasingly hard to see a scenario where that doesn't happen without the sort of constitutional crisis that ends the "UK as we know it" anyway) keeping the UK nuclear deterrent at Faslane becomes politically dubious but there are few if any good alternative locations in the UK outwith Scotland.

Of course, if the US decides it's not letting the UK share it's nuclear deterrent, the UK could talk nicely with a near neighbour who also has its own nuclear systems. Without Brexit maybe some sort of deal could be done, for a "joint European deterrent" by UK & France, but with Brexit the chance of France agreeing to share with the UK are decidedly less.

So while Trump may be the immediate proximate cause of the UK nuclear deterrent ending, the underlying cause could be put down to Brexit.

13:

I had a couple discussion about Trump's personality, and people tend to point me to his 1987 book "The Art of the Deal" as a way to understand how Trump works.

And his negotiation skills are probably a parody of a carpet seller's. He's always going to go for a very bad and horrible offer, then get you to give a lot of concessions to avoid the bad.

Hypothesis #2 is a given. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by sheer... something.

14:

I understand why OGH tries to summarize and not get too far into the weeds of the intricate UK/USA nuclear/defense relationship.

Personally I think the most damaging thing Trump can do to UK's nuclear deterent is one of the things OGH left out: He could shut the door on the Stockpile Stewartship project.

While the fissile shells and possibly a few other components are "Made in UK", the currently deployed UK warheads are 100% US design, and UK is only privy to test results from their own test-shots.

Cut off, UK can either resume underground tests or rev up their own SS project, but neither is feasible in practice.

But in all likelihood the most dangerous enemy Trump faces is the weapons industry which holds DoE and DoD captive via their political marionets in Congress.

Spew racism and f**k up immigration policy ? Sure, no problem, but threathen the people wo consider 10% of the federal budget their private property and things could take a nasty turn.

Therefore the really interesting question is if UK truly pays for the services rendered, or if US taxpayers have been propping up UKs "independent" nuclear deterent for decades ?

15:

Well, stop the world. I agree with Greg. I think there's a >50% chance he won't be in office come the time all these things come to pass.

He's thrashing around like a lunatic, and he doesn't seem to realise that, unlike a business where he owns >50% of the shares and he's virtually untouchable, there are checks and balances on POTUS. "The People" that seem to love him, whatever proportion of America that is, really don't matter for another 3.5 years or so.

If there's evidence that he's a Russian puppet, the Secret Service won't shoot the FBI when they come to arrest him. (I think among the alphabet soup, that's the right protocol.)

I'm not sure what's going on with the various law suits about his sexual harassment, but I don't think they went away. If he pisses off the GOP (and he does) they could be grounds for impeachments and installing the much more "party line" Pence.

And if he does something really insane, not just bizarre and offensive to liberal thinkers like me, then there are ways to have him removed on medical grounds, and somehow just never brought back.

I've lost the link now, but when retired Republican judges are calling for Republican Presidents to be impeached after less than a month in office (as has happened) you have to wonder how long they'll last. I'm not given to praying, but I'm hoping it's less than a year.

16:

One added point- the UK certainly has the facilities to unload the missiles from a Trident submarine and store them ashore at RNAD Coulport. Coulport, not Faslane, is where warheads are loaded onto submarines- I have seen some sources claiming that missiles are removed from the submarine to have the warheads attached.

Britain did also maintain (and improve) the Polaris missiles itself for a while, after the US Navy had switched from Polaris to Poseidon. I wonder how long it would take to develop a similar capability for Trident.

17:

Therefore the really interesting question is if UK truly pays for the services rendered, or if US taxpayers have been propping up UKs "independent" nuclear deterent for decades ?

I find it more credible that the UK is basically subsidizing an annexe to the declared US strategic deterrent, by adding four more Trident boats to the USA's Ohio fleet. After all, are there any politically conceivable circumstances (prior to Trump) when the UK might have employed nuclear weapons without US cooperation? Or on a target not approved of by the USA?

18:

What percentage of the UK population wants to keep their Trident force?

19:

Another consideration is a successful independence referendum in Scotland requiring the relocation of the nuclear base to the UK. The base is 25 miles from Glasgow, the largest of Scotlands cities, and there is some resistance to it's proximity to the city as well as a dislike of nukes in general in the country.

Or there could possibly be a rental agreement where by the Scottish government charges an exorbitant sum to allow the nukes to stay. Faslane is an ideal location and finding and building another base would be expensive and time consuming. The US might not be too happy with that arrangement.

Have a look at @argyllandbute on twitter. They are actually using the subs to market the region and attract investment. Mental!

20:

"Diego Garcia and Ascension" More likely, telling the UK that it has to sign them over 'in return' for continuing even the limited two-way cooperation that we get and some small change, and the alternative is that he will annex them without compensation. If that happens, I bet that the UK government will describe how wonderful that deal is for the UK and the Free World.

21:

If we can build our own nukes can't we just buy some cruise missiles or suchlike and do without the American missiles and the very expensive submarines?

Or maybe we need a European nuclear umbrella....

22:

"UK truly pays for the services rendered" The correct question is whether the USA does, and the answer is a resounding "no", but you mustn't consider this aspect in isolation. The way that the UK government pays the USA is providing spy services on European (including UK) business, acting as the USA's fifth column in Europe, and giving USA companies a nearly free hand to extract money via and from the UK.

23:

Let me hazard a guess: if you ask them if they want to keep the expensive, obsolete Trident submarines most will be against it. If you ask them if they want Great Britain to scrap the nuclear deterrent and forfeit its 'little great power' status... they will be against it too!

24:

I think the belief that there are "responsible adults" in Trump's cabinet who will talk sense into him is highly speculative and not supported by the evidence to date.

I rather suspect that his Secretary of Defence would have a few choice words and more in the face of any such lunacy (the USMC apparently think he walks on water (see: Terminal Lance)...

if Trump decided to de-facto annex Diego Garcia and Ascension (by denying landing rights to non-US vessels and aircraft, at gunpoint if necessary, and expelling non-US service personnel) how would the UK stop him?

...announcing his decision to his cabinet would be grounds for declaring him obviously nuts and unfit to stay in post, IMHO.

Again, I believe the scenario to be utterly unlikely to the extent of nonsense on stilts. The various exchange programmes between UK and US are widespread and non-trivial; there are RAF pilots flying F-22, RAF crews in P-8, Americans commanding UK troops (I think the Paras have a US officer on exchange), and UK officers leading US troops (a guy from the year above me at school is now a Major-General, and Deputy Commander CENTCOM at one point). Another friend has just returned from a couple of years working in a USN facility in Virginia.

Taken at its narrowest, there are more US facilities and resources on UK soil than there are on a couple of specks in the ocean. RAF Lakenheath, for instance, and the 48th TFW...

25:

For nuclear weapons & systems the first one is the expensive one (See also: F-35), so I don't think UK adding four more to the pool shifts the cost equation as such.

However, it wouldn't be unlikely that USA forced UK to pay some of the development cost, possibly amortized over the lifetime to hide it from UK tax-payers.

Either way, heavy tipping is UKs best gamble.

As for UK being able to deploy nukes without US aproval, I'm sure UK has done everything they possibly and practically can, to make sure they can fire the weapons without US involvement.

However, nuclear weapons are finiky constructions and as far as I know, UK has never tested end-to-end the way US did.

It is not beyond the pale to imagine Pentagon has a memo ready for tranmission, on the presidents order, which tells UK "You should probably tighten bolts #114 to #118 to 16Nm rather than 6Nm to get design yield. Sorry about the typo." but I would expect UK to have found that out already.

As for cooperation with the french on nukes ? Wouldn't make any difference. There is no commonality between the UK an dFR physics packages, no common components or design elements. In theory UK and FR could build a common TFLOP computer to share and possibly share some fundamental material science data, but that would be it.

26:

We have had 25 years' of deliberate elimination of most of our technological capability in cases where it competes with the USA

Agreed. As far as I understand it, we retain the ability to produce, enrich and separate weapons-grade plutonium but we don't know in any detail how to design a modern warhead or delivery system. Essentially we'd be re-bootstrapping from, what, let's be generous, Yellow Sun/Red Snow?

So I wonder, if one were to design a nuclear weapons delivery system from scratch now, and for whatever reason ICBMs/SLBMs were off the table but the resources of a quite large military were there to rearrange as necessary, what interesting design concepts might arise or re-arise?

The obvious answer is some sort of physics package that a Tornado or future ground attack-capable Typhoon could drop but why limit ourselves to what's obvious?

I propose that our Concordes are pulled from museums, refitted with nuclear ramjets, stuffed full of high-grade nuclear waste, and deployed as a very British version of SLAM.

At least with modern automation capabilities we won't need to resurrect Project Pigeon.

27:

Reading that book may not be much help understanding the individual named on the cover: back when the orange one was just a "They wouldn't, would they ?" joke, I read this interesting article.

28:

Everything above the mating ring and within the fairing of a Trident missile is British-built and British-designed. The US does not give away nuclear-grade tech to anyone. It has in the past shared nuclear weapons with other nations such as Canada but ownership is something else.

Britain and the US have cooperated closely in developing nuclear weapons including allowing Britain to test weapons technology underground in the States (Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act means I won't mention much more than that) but all the sparkly bits currently in service are British.

If the worst comes to the worst we could always buy a bunch of Vega launchers from Italy/ESA and plant them in silos in Kent. An alternative would be to buy some Epsilon launchers from Japan for the same purpose. They're not ICBMs really, they're solid-state satellite launchers that just happen to be built to be launched very easily with almost zero notice by a small crew.

As for Britain's permanent seat on the Security Council that is not subject to being a nuclear weapons power but is inherited from the situation after WWII as one of the acknowledged winners of that conflict.

29:

I think you have to separate the verbiage from the actions. For example, Trump wurfled about before the inauguration about US China policy and took a call from the Taiwan president, much to everyone's horror. But since he's been in office, it's straight ahead with the same policy we've had for the last few years. Same with NATO: lots of noise, and the result so far has been a stern talking to by Mattis about the need for Europeans to spend more, which is something that American administrations have been doing since NATO was formed. Trump's policy actions so far have been run of the mill American; his words have been nutty.

As for losing the Security Council seat, it's not going to happen in the short-medium term. Britain (as can all permanent members) can veto any resolution to remove them as a permanent member.

30:

Right, though the actions of USA presidents have been fairly nutty for the last 15 years or so. The only plausible short-term way in which the UK would lose its seat is if the Union were dissolved (quite likely) and Trump felt that England shouldn't get the seat (possible but unlikely).

31:

However you ask the question, and even with the rise of an aggressive Russia, I'm anti, but I'm pretty sure you're right, it depends on how you ask the question.

Like so many things in British politics, there isn't rational debate on this, just a knee-jerk "We must keep the nuclear deterrent" and anyone that dares to say otherwise is instantly to be cast into the outer darkness.

While others on this list will disagree, and MAD might well have helped keep the peace between the main players directly, certainly not be proxy, since 1945 how much do the one or two Polaris/Tridents/whatevers we've had at see really contribute in the grand scheme of things compared to how much they cost? I'm inclined to the opinion of "not a measurable amount" and while the amortised cost of the capital spend is also fairly low, the staff costs and so on build up. If we didn't have Faslane, Tridents, crews for 4 subs and the servicing capacity for them and so on, what else could our armed services do with the money (assuming we keep spending it there to meet the 2% obligation for NATO)? I think we might have fought the wars of the last 20 years much better than we have, and be better prepared for the next 10 too.

32:

...as a negotiation lever in search of a better trade deal with the UK...

And here I was thinking that May's visit last month was to get a behind-the-scenes agreement in principle to a new NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement this time, Canada/UK/US). To be revealed at an appropriate time during the Brexit negotiations. Followed shortly after by a new three-country defense agreement, with the US saying "We're no longer interested in being part of a European alliance that includes all those little trip-wire countries close to Russia."

33:

If the UK were to split up, the question of its role as a permanent member of the UN security council is interesting. For the Russian Federation taking over the seat of the USSR, I see the following reference:


The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an original Member of the United Nations from 24 October 1945. In a letter dated 24 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin, the President of the Russian Federation, informed the Secretary-General that the membership of the Soviet Union in the Security Council and all other United Nations organs was being continued by the Russian Federation with the support of the 11 member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In the event of a complete UK split up, it would be an interesting political maneuver as to who would get to make a similar claim. In the absence of a UK split, the UK can't be removed unless it chose not to use its permanent veto power for some really odd reason.

34:

A couple of additional scenarios ...

A: Once POTUS has all of the 'foreign' nuke engineers and designers kicked out of the US, the UK could recruit them to design an even better missile system. (No idea what proportion of such folks currently work on sensitive US weapons, but likely it's pretty close to academia levels which is considerable.)

B: The UK asks its former colonies (aka Commonwealth countries - Canada, India, Pakistan, etc.) for help. Many of them have already demonstrated some level of expertise with nuclear tech.

Not sure, but assume that most of the folk mentioned in A and B scenarios probably don't like the Putin-Trump bromance so could be more amenable to such enlistment provided they don't have to work for another nutter (May).

35:

Your comment on alphabet-soup for US agenecies amused me ...A friend has just come back from the USSA.
He said, regarding driving ( Hire car) ... there's the local cops & Sheriff, there's the Highway Patrol, there are Federal Marshals & possibly the National Guard.
How the F*** you sort out responsibility chains-of-command & overlapping jurisdictions must be a real nightmare.

36:

I think the belief that there are "responsible adults" in Trump's cabinet who will talk sense into him is highly speculative and not supported by the evidence to date.

During the transition I assumed that Pence, Priebus and the Republican machine would take control, and that Trump, Bannon and the alt-Nazi hangers-on would be sent out on a permanent campaign/ holiday.

I was wrong. Bannon's extremism plainly holds sway. The caricature of Trump as a lazy rich boy is wrong. He's an ineffectual, chaotic, delusional manager, but he's there at all hours, obsessed with the getting and holding of power and respect.

But:

There are some interesting schisms opening up in team Trump. Yes, even the most sane and decent of them are very, very right wing, but there are clear groupings, becoming factions.

All the way with DJT: Bannon, Miller, Conway, Spicer, various junior ex-Breitbart types, trade crank Navarro, probably Sessions. No future if Trump falls, currently in the ascendancy.

The generals: With Flynn gone, the remaining ex-military types seem mostly sane and willing to speak truth to power. Not that it helped Colin Powell.

Ex-Goldmanites: Bannon aside, the economic team seem to be greed is good neo-liberals from central casting, with no time for populist trade war policies.

The cranks: Carson, De Vos. Not really players in any power struggle. Hopefully too clueless about Washington to get anything done, beyond making life miserable for LGBTI students.

The non-aligned: Priebus represents the Republican machine. Pence is presumably biding his time. I don't really understand Tillerson. Is he a salesman in the Von Ribbentrop mould, knowingly and cynically, dishonestly putting an acceptable face on the unacceptable? A competent, conservative policy maker and player mouthing what foreign countries want to hear in the sincere hope that he can turn that into actual policy? What are his loyalties re. Russia and Exxon? I have no clue.

Kushner and Ivanka are interesting- they seem to recognize that craziness doesn't serve their interests, which puts them at odds with Bannon.

For any policy question, the outcome will depend on the power struggle between these groups. (See, I am on-topic. Barely). Eg., Wilbur Ross is rumoured to have sidelined Navarro on trade.

Scenarios:

1. Palace coup. Trump is impeached or otherwise sidelined. "Normal" Republican crazies take over.

2(a). It dawns on Trump that delusional, weird, radical policies and incompetent implementation are making him look bad. Blames Bannon. Others curry favour. "Normal" Republican crazies take over.
2(b). It dawns on Trump that delusional, weird, radical policies and incompetent implementation are making him look bad. Blames Bannon. Sacks Bannon and Breitbart crowd. Hires new bunch of whacko sleazeballs to take over, because he doesn't know any better, and sane people won't tell him what he wants to hear.

3. Status Quo ad Absurdum. They all muddle along for 4 more years. Policy is decided by whoever best manipulates Trump on any given issue, and can get their shitbaggery past the Supreme court.

4. Trump becomes entirely entranced by Rasputin Bannon. Policy is henceforth drawn entirely from the pages of Breitbart and infowars.

Only 2(b) and 4 are seriously bad for friendly foreign countries. Foreign policy is little more than noises-off in American political theatre. Even for a domineering clown like Lord Dampnut there's little political advantage in monstering a country most Americans only know as the location of Buckingham Palace.

Re. Nukes, even Trump understands the benefit of keeping Airstrip 1 and its military servile and dependent rather than annoyed and independent- or can have it explained to him in simple language by any General who can refrain from rolling his eyes at the same time. Unless the Bannonites or Russia take control.

37:

Repurpouse HOTOL/Skylon as a nuke-delivery system?

38:

No idea what proportion of such folks currently work on sensitive US weapons,

Zero percent. The security clearance for even low-level jobs on American nukes requires American citizenship, preferably jus solis (i.e. American born), preferably multiple generations preceding.

I don't really understand the problem though -- Britain had and still has an Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (now renamed the Atomic Weapons Establishment) at Aldermaston, Berkshire for over sixty years. The actual manufacture, repair and refurbishment of nuclear weapons was carried out on a sister MoD site a few miles away from Aldermaston but it's now been brought in-house on the AWE site[1] hence the change of name. I don't know how the stupid idea we buy/rent/borrow nuclear weapons from the US started in this thread.

[1]Britain had a larger number of nuclear weapons in the past of different types. We now possess less than 200 functional warheads and the on-patrol British SSBN is thought to carry a less-than-maximum complement of missiles and warheads on any given voyage. This is probably the reason for the amalgamation of operations on a single site.

39:

I suspect that the "responsible adult" is Jeff Sessions. While he's a retrograde racist with all the right-wing nastiness right up front, Sessions is also the guy who can put a leash on Comey and the FBI (where counterintelligence is concerned) or let Comey off the leash if Trump really misbehaves. Meanwhile Comey is collecting impeachment material along with all the other intelligence chiefs.

So Trump is the president, but Sessions is holding the keys to the anti-Trump nukular vault.

Does that make any sense?

40:

Unfortunately, it looks as though 2b &/or 4 are the most likely.

You forgot the real horror-show, the one that scares me:

5:Some intermediate combination between 2a/b, 2b, 3 or/& 4 eventuates & the US starts to grind to a halt as the Dems & the environmentalists dig in to die in the last ditch.
What's the bast way of "Uniting the people behind you" ??
Hint, DT's talk of up-spending on the military.

The famous quote from Vyacheslav von Plehve just before (IIRC) the Russo-Japanese War: "What this country needs is a short, victorious war to stem the tide of revolution."


After which it really goes downhill.
Is even he stupid enough to start a shooting war with Persia?
And will we have the sense to stay out?

41:

Repurpouse HOTOL/Skylon as a nuke-delivery system?

Actually the SABRE engine does seem to make a lot of sense for a weapons delivery system if you don't have in-house rocketry expertise. What does the horizontal takeoff give us... the ability to launch from any airport, making launch detection much harder maybe?

42:

Agree with that analysis. Further, w/ regard to Host's (understandable) doubts about the existence of rational adults, I would point to all of the Trump=Russia leaks coming out. Those are really significant leaks that, should they continue, will soon reach Watergate levels of disclosures against a sitting president. And they have clearly infuriated DT with the new initiatives to have all of his staff's phones searched.

If DT looks to start breaking up major parts of the nuclear deterrent, look for the Russian flavored leaks to intensify, possibly to the point that evidence worthy of impeachment comes out (which James Comey will then have to-regretfully, sadly, but in the name of truth, justice, and the American Way-confirm).

Plus, this isn't a trade deal in the away most things that DT complains about are, and even if it was, it unquestionably benefits American workers. If UK subs use American missiles, it increases the demands for American missiles, and (somehow) money comes from the UK to the U.S. for said missiles. My guess is there are some pretty highly-skilled and well paid machinists around the Kings Bay area.

43:

and the on-patrol British SSBN is thought to carry a less-than-maximum complement of missiles and warheads on any given voyage.

US missiles on subs carry less than the max warheads possible due to treaty limits. I suspect the UK subs are a part of those treaties.

44:

US missiles on subs carry less than the max warheads possible due to treaty limits. I suspect the UK subs are a part of those treaties.

No. START and SALT are only between the US and the Soviet-Union-as-was, now the Russian Federation. Basically the Big Two possess 90% of all deployed nuclear weapons, all the rest are rounding errors (less than a thousand together, including Israel's unofficial arsenal). I suspect it's a cost-saving exercise given that (unconfirmed, the Government doesn't talk about such details officially) all of the British nukes are pointed at Moscow and environs and twenty 150-500kT nukes will bounce the rubble just as well as thirty even if the first few are needed to degrade any defensive ABM systems.

45:

Random Trump/Brexit observation:

I've been getting a lot of UK recruiter communications recently.

Getting a lot more from around the world, but the UK used to be quite rare and now is very common.

The general uptick is, of course: 'just in case you were thinking of fleeing...' But the UK also may have: 'wow, we really can't get anyone from the EU to accept a job anymore'.

46:

The US has less than 4000 deployable nukes. Less than 2000 in "active" service. If the UK has 200 that not a rounding error.

47:

Not convinced of that - bear in mind hydrogen is pretty bulky and difficult to store compared to solid fuels and requires significant prep time.

AFAIK Only Russia and perhaps N. Korea are regular users of liquid fueled missiles.

48:

The US has somewhat over 3000 nuclear weapons on launch platforms ready to go. They have another 2000 or so "spare parts" devices which are maintained but aren't ready for use within a short period and lack tested functional launch platforms. They could be put back in circulation in a short period (a few weeks) if the treaties stop working. The Russians have a declared 3000 or so ready-to-go warheads but their spares cupboard is probably a lot barer than the US. There's also some doubt about the actual service availability of their warheads and the launch platforms they ride to glory on. The Russians are planning to spend serious money on upgrading their launch capabilities with new land-based missiles as well as new SSBNs although there will be fewer of them resulting in, for example, two fleet boats on patrol at any given time with one in the Pacific and one in the northern Arctic.

Compared to the 8000 or so presumed functional nukes possessed by the Big Two the ready-to-use rest (Britain: less than 30, France: about 40, China: about 50, India/Pakistan: 50, Israel: 20 all estimated) is loose change down the side of the sofa. America and Russia can fire off about 6000 nukes in a spasm war, the rest maybe 200 or so in the six hours before everything goes black. All the rest of the warheads sitting in bunkers won't mean bupkis in such a situation.

49:

Skylon? Isn't that a hi-tech trebuchet? Kind of?

50:

Several things, folks.

1. Just yesterday, I started wondering what Murdoch has on Comey. Remember the big scandal five+ years ago, with News of the World going under, and bribery of Scotland Yard? They started an investigation here, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and it sort of fizzled out... and I think that was when Comey was appointed.
2. Another read, yesterday: in '08, Trumpolini was having trouble getting loans from American banks, his companies were so "debt soaked". He got investors from Russian banks....
3. The newly appt Nat Security Advisor seems sane.
4. Police are for a city. Sheriff is for a county, and runs jails. State Police are mostly highway patrol, but cover cross-municipality issues. The FBI is national investigation, with arrest powers. EXCEPT that the Secret Service, in addition to protecting the Presidentistry, also enforces things like counterfeiting.

The National Guard are something outside of all of that. They are what were thought of as "militia" in the Constitution (ignore the ammosexuals), and are responsible to the governor of the state, and called out for emergencies (floods, riots, etc), and are military. If the governor agrees, they can be called into the national military, as all those poor folks did when Dumbshit and Darth Cheney invaded Iraq, and needed more troops. Mostly, they're weekend warriors, in uniform a few weeks a year, and so many days a month, in return for things like tuition benefits.

Is that any clearer?

mark

51:

If the UK has 200 deployable nuclear weapons, that's just a plain error. In practice, it's about 80.

52:

Small correction on police, specifically county-level. The United States is a big place, with each state doing things a little differently. Sometimes, there's differences from county to county. In mine, there's County Police, who are not far removed from City Police except that the population they cover is a bit less dense.

Until I looked it up just now, I was under the impression that sheriff was just the job title for the head of the county police. Apparently the actual job is limited to serving court orders and providing assistance to the County Police.

I certainly see cruisers marked County and State regularly, whilst seeing one marked Sheriff is unusual.

53:

Re: 'But the UK also may have: 'wow, we really can't get anyone from the EU to accept a job anymore'.'

Who funds EU post-docs doing research in the UK ... an EU-grant agency or the hiring UK uni? Also, what if any living allowances are attached to such grants? Also relative standard/cost of living in the UK vs. EU? Then there's the effective tax rate, medical coverage.

If Trump cuts NIH funding, there will probably be more US post docs looking for jobs elsewhere. Obama tried (unsuccessfully) to bring in a minimum salary (approx. $47K per annum US*) for post docs - not sure how this compares to UK and EU rates.

* This looks not too bad except if you're from a country with universal healthcare and all of a sudden you realize that a considerable portion of your pay will now have to go toward compulsory private health insurance. You hope/pray that you'll never need this insurance because the coverage you get would not cover anything serious not to mention that if you ever did use it, you'd probably never get re-hired there.

54:

If push comes to shove Britain can fire about twenty or so warheads from the single on-station SSBN it maintains at all times. If it so happens there are two boats in operation during a patrol changeover that might double to forty launchable warheads. There are a number of functional spare warheads in case a deployed warhead gets downchecked and more in the refurbishment pipeline getting worked on.

The government publicly stated in 2010 we had not more than 160 deployable warheads in total. Independent analysts have suggested as few as 144.

We do have quite large stocks of weapons-grade plutonium (estimates say about 80 tonnes or so) from decommissioned weapons of various types; during the Cold War we actually had a lot more nuclear weapons, as many as 500 or so at one time.

55:

To repurpose something you first have to have built it. Skylon is currently some impressive results from a heat exchanger on a test stand, it's not a vehicle. Even Reaction Engines don't think it will be flying during the Trump presidency.

56:

The US has somewhat ...

Your numbers don't line up with this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_and_the_United_States#Current_status
or
https://fas.org/blogs/security/2015/10/newstart2015-2/

And what I've read elsewhere indicates both Russia and the US have less than 2000 each on deployed status. At this time. Your numbers seem to be 50% to 100% too high.

57:

In short, yes.

There is an age-old question of deterrence that asks whether any US President will be willing to trade off (say) New York for London or Paris.

If you're a risk-taking or delusional type sitting in Moscow, it's tempting to suggest that you tell the US President that nothing will be coming in their direction - unless they (say) interfere with Russia's right to self-defence against Fascist operations directed from European capitals. Then, you threaten London and Paris that if they don't roll over, it's instant sunshine time.

We talk about the impact of the Great Patriotic War on the thinking of the politicians and Generals of the USSR and Russia; but remember that the generation that determined the requirement for an independent UK nuclear deterrent, had seen the mainland UK attacked by rocket and bomb in both world wars, with tens of thousands of civilian dead and cities laid waste. Likewise, those in France had seen occupation by a foreign power.

They also knew that nuclear weapons would turn this from "laid waste" to "utterly destroyed"; those in the USA should remember that the UK's infrastructure is incredibly dense by comparison; you cannot hit any strategic target in the UK with a strategic weapon, without hitting a nearby city. We can't put our deterrent in the effectively unpopulated areas of Siberia or North Dakota - even a single strike would overwhelm the UK's medical infrastructure.

Those committing the UK, France (and Israel, for that matter) to nuclear independence had also seen what happens when their strategic interests diverged from US strategic interests - see the Suez Crisis.

Having more than one nuclear-armed state in NATO reduces the chance that any aggressor will assume that they can guarantee the outcome of any confrontation; it arguably makes deterrence stronger, not weaker.

58:

"Who funds EU post-docs doing research in the UK ... an EU-grant agency or the hiring UK uni?"

Rarely the latter. Sometimes the former, sometimes an organisation like the Welcome Institute and sometimes a contract from a government or commercial agency.

59:

UK should talk with Israel, I'm sure they can sell some Jericho III missiles...

60:

Hypothesis 3: What seem to be signs of encroaching dementia turn out to be real, and Trump doesn't really have any considered agenda beyond pushing stuff off his desk as fast as he can to leave more time for Twitter. In the interest of increasing the profitability of the military industrial complex and growing employment by 0.001%, so he can brag about his miraculous effects for the economy, he legalizes sales of all strategic weapons to "allies" and the U.K. continues to buy its equipment from the U.S. at going (i.e., heavily inflated) prices.

Corollary: Trump tries, but fails, to get Russia and other "friendlies" included in the list of "allies"; instead, Saudi Arabia buys the tech and sells it, sub rosa, to anyone who can afford the cost and promises not to tell where they bought the tech. When this is discovered, everyone agrees it was "just boys being boys", there are embarrassed chuckles all around, and nothing really changes.

61:

Charlie Stross #17: After all, are there any politically conceivable circumstances (prior to Trump) when the UK might have employed nuclear weapons without US cooperation?

Apparently Margaret Thatcher threatened to use nuclear weapons on Buenos Aires, enough to get François Mitterrand to give codes to disable the French Exocet missiles used by the Argentines. (This happened while the US was still officially neutral on the issue.) That may have been unlikely - the political fallout would have been devastating - but a Polaris submarine was sent to the area.

62:

Who funds EU post-docs doing research in the UK ... an EU-grant agency or the hiring UK uni? Also, what if any living allowances are attached to such grants?

Yes and maybe some. In the case of my employer, a Cambridge College, we run an annual Research Fellowship competition that takes on one Arts and one Science/Engineering researcher for a 3 year stint. That is paid for from College funds. Others are being funded (for now) by EU research projects, some by UK research grants, etc... To further complicate things many projects have multiple funding sources, researchers are also encouraged to teach, they may have other College or University jobs and so on. One of our Maths Fellows for the past few years has been in receipt of a grant from a fund specifically set up to enable beneficiaries to not have to look for extra funding and odd jobs and concentrate on their research.

A non-trivial chunk of any researchers time, EU, home or other, is spent chasing funding for their current or next project, and a project leader may spend a majority of their time looking for money to fund their team.

Living allowances are rarely specific, but we have a number of flats and sets (bedroom plus large living room/study/teaching room) available with rents well below the normal commercials rates for Cambridge. Those may well also come with an extra job, as a lot of them are mingled with student accommodation so welfare or warden duties can be involved.

63:

A couple of subtleties around the UK's nuclear deterrent that haven't been mentioned so far...

Firstly, the substrategic capability (that used to be achieved by WE.177) is now apparently mounted on Trident. Risky, because it's difficult to discriminate between "ballistic missile carrying strategic weapon" and "ballistic missile carrying theatre weapon".

Secondly, the UK doesn't use a Permissive Action Link system; decapitation strikes aren't going to stop retaliation. Basically, the Captains of the CASD duty boat have the authority to fire, as defined in the Prime Minister's letter (written on entering office, locked in the duty bomber's safe, and destroyed without reading on leaving office). Launch takes the cooperation of pretty much the whole crew, so it's not exactly Strangelove territory - but it does make the system more resilient in the face of a decapitation strike.

Thirdly, the UK SSBN fleet are actually very efficient. One boat on patrol, one preparing, one recovering, and one in refit. Apparently, the USN are envious of the 100% availability rates for the deterrent over the last fifty years, from a fleet of four; the claims by some that "cutting the fleet to three" is a suitable idea is apparently... not plausible.

Putting nukes on cruise missiles is a stopgap - again, for efficiency reasons. Air defence systems are good and improving; the Russian S-400 family was designed with cruise-missile capability in mind. In order to have a credible deterrent (generally defined as "make Moscow glow in the dark"), you would need to fire more missiles, from more aircraft, have more aircraft on duty 24/7/365 or at Quick Reaction Alert (Youtube link for a 1965 Pathe film), and run the risk that any leap in technology would make your opponent believe that they could defeat any counter-strike - destroying the deterrence value.

Think about it - keeping 40 weapons at permanent readiness to launch, requires how many aircraft to launch them? Which means how many other aircraft to be rotated through that level of readiness? How many crews? How many ground crew, security staff, airfields, dispersal sites... the SSBN fleet is really rather efficient by comparison.

64:

Myth, I believe.

Firstly, Mitterrand was more than willing to assist the UK in any way possible, from the very start. Secondly, the strategic threat to mainland Argentina wasn't implied by Polaris, but made clear by the appearance of Vulcans over Port Stanley.

An excellent book on the subject is "Exocet Falklands" by Ewen Southby-Tailyour.

65:

I believe the use of a "conventional" non-nuclear payload delivered by Trident on a major naval airbase in Argentina was given consideration but it was not practical for a lot of engineering reasons, never mind the political repercussions both in-theatre and globally. Britain carried out no attacks on Argentinian soil although it probably inserted a bunch of Hooligans and/or Boaties into the mainland to carry out reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering.

66:

That's the subject of the book - fascinating stuff, and the most detailed and plausible discussion of SF operations in the Falklands War that I've seen. Note that it's not uncritical of the planning and conduct of same.

See also HMS Onyx and 51 Sqn RAF...

http://rnsubs.co.uk/dits-bits/articles/service/falklands.html

http://www.spyflight.co.uk/chile.htm

67:

I believe the use of a "conventional" non-nuclear payload delivered by Trident on a major naval airbase in Argentina was given consideration

(a) Polaris (Trident didn't arrive in service for another decade), and (b) the CEP of Polaris/Chevaline was w-a-y too wide to make a credible threat with non-nuclear warheads (1800 feet, vs. 400-500 feet for Trident D-5). The KE of an incoming near-orbital velocity RV is approximately 10x the chemical energy of its equivalent mass in TNT, so a 200kg RV is equivalent to a 2000kg explosive charge; it'll make a horrible mess out of a city block or two but it won't wreck an airfield unless it gets lucky.

Trident D-5 can plausibly carry deliver guided non-nuclear warheads, especially if the CEP from that circa-2001 CND tract has been surpassed since then (as is highly likely), but it'd be an extremely stupid act of brinksmanship to use a strategic delivery system in a tactical/battlefield role. UGM-133 has a minimum range — it's a multi-stage solid-fuel rocket: it burns until it runs out of fuel, so the only way to minimize its range is to fire it straight up near vertically, rather than at a close-to-45-degree angle — which means there's extra time for the Russians/Chinese/whoever to pick it up on radar and panic; you might get away with a steep trajectory/short range attack in the South Atlantic, but anywhere north of the equator is going to escalate Real Quick.

(UGM-133 has a maximum range of 7500km; Polaris A3 had an upper limit of 4700km.)

68:

It was astonishingly naive for previous British Prime Ministers to rely on the good faith of the US in perpetuity when we chose to adopt Polaris and then Trident. It gave a country with which we have had long historical rivalries huge power over our foreign and military policy.

If Britain wished to remain a nuclear power it should have ensured all elements of the programme were manufactured inside the UK. No other nuclear power has chosen to outsource parts of its deterrent to another country.

Right now, it would be worth the MoD at least beginning to examine the costs of developing a new missile, perhaps something like a Tomahawk, which could carry a nuclear warhead and which could be launched from one of our attack submarines.

Or we just admit that Britain's swagger is nothing more than a bluff and we give up the nuclear weapons in favour of a more realistic defence policy.

69:

For Host, and all the wonks: Why are you all sure that there's not an insurance policy over this?

It doesn't have to be big, perhaps only 5-10 MIRV launchables, but...

There's plenty of other countries that are non-USA, non-RU, non-China who might have provided that option perhaps, er, about the time prior to the Falklands where it looked like America would side against the UK / Argentina stuff.

Just asking.

70:

Ok, and Host might ban me for this, but:

Any decent strategy (which, despite all your faults, the UK is rather good at) would include a Trident that's off-the-records entirely, running with non-US warheads.

Trident run with 8 warheads, allegedly but can tube a lot more. In this case, it would be sensible to double that number then keep it for just this scenario...

Not saying that's the case, but logic would dictate that's exactly what you'd do if you were following Cold War Game Theory Logic.


Aww. So getting a spank for this one.

71:

Why not?

Classic keeping-of-secrets theory. Alternate launcher implies staff, physical infrastructure, training, yadda yadda.... None of which would be easy to hide.

If it existed, somebody would have mentioned something to a mate over a pint, and someone else would have dug around a bit or a bit more, and someone else would have had an expose in The Sun, or whatnot.

72:

*missiles, not warheads. Not techy / wonks / scientist or knowledgeable. Just read the tea-leaves and stuff I shouldn't.

Since Nixon, you can be 100% sure the UK gov has a plan for the whole "CASE NIGHTMARE: STRANGELOVE" thing. It's probably out there if you looked hard enough.

*nose wiggle*


But I'd like to hear why that wouldn't be real.

73:

That story holds no water if you know about Bletchley Park.

It's insanely easy to hide such things if you have the right location, the right staff and you happen to own the local pub, the village and also staff the local Post Office with your own.


*nose wiggle*

74:

>
That story holds no water if you know about Bletchley Park.

Yeahbut....

During WWII, there was a great patriotic effort to not upset the War Effort - "Loose Lips Sink Ships". And all that. Also the efforts of the security apparat (don't remember which MI#, as I am not UK).

By the middle 70s, with Watergate in the air and Greenpeace mucking about - you couldn't have kept a secret that big for more than milliseconds.

75:

No, I'd say it only holds water if you're a conspiracy loon, i.e. don't actually understand how the world works (but are utterly convinced that you do).

Zircon came out; Chevaline came out; MIKADO, PLUM DUFF, and KETTLEDRUM came out; CLARET came out, as did STORM and Stakeknife.

But you insist that in these days when you can watch the convoys drive along the Glen Fruin road, that there's an entire shadow launcher system? That's strictly for the nutty brigade.

76:

Any decent strategy (which, despite all your faults, the UK is rather good at) would include a Trident that's off-the-records entirely, running with non-US warheads.

OK I'll engage.

Just how would the UK acquire such a thing. It would have to be made by the US. I CAN see the US hiding a few but that would require a LOT of people to keep quiet and a lot of forged paperwork.

Trident run with 8 warheads, allegedly but can tube a lot more.

What is this allegedly? They are spec'd and built for 14 warheads. Treaties keep them deployed with only 5.

77:

Zircon came out; Chevaline came out...

Exactly. It's quite reasonable that the disaster planning goes right down into "we can put a warhead into a trawler and sail it to Russia" territory, but the idea that there's a whole aerospace design and build operation somewhere, and no-one has noticed it?

If nothing else, how would they know that it works? The world is quite short of places to test ICBMs without having to explain yourself. Which is part of the reason for the popularity of easy-to-operate solid state satellite launchers. But the UK doesn't have one of those.

78:

Take it as a hypothetical:

What would it take, 1979-2001 to source and modify a Trident to a new launcher system that used Non-US / RU missiles.

Ignore all the secrecy bullshit, the UK has Islands in the pacific that you can tool up and supply if you're wiling to spend enough of the Queen's Bounty.

Question: How viable would it be to source a MIRV + launcher in that time-frame?

It would have to be made by the US

MIRVs are not proprietary US tech.


~

It's a question to answer Host's question and presuming that there's, oooh, about 50+ years of thought on this.


No, really: this is actually going somewhere.

79:

"are there any politically conceivable circumstances (prior to Trump) when the UK might have employed nuclear weapons without US cooperation"

That's in the 25-30 years starting from the current instant, is it not?

Are there definitely none, I think is the better question. And one for the Eschaton.

80:

The Federation of American Scientists has the best publicly available estimates of nuclear forces, listing Russia at 1950 deployed warheads, USA at 1590, and UK at 120.

Let's not forget, nukes are not a difficult technology. 1940s tech gets you atom bombs, 1950s tech gets you hydrogen bombs, and 1960s tech gets you miniaturised warheads.

North Korea can manage to make workable nukes and possibly miniaturised, fusion-boosted warheads. The UK has three times the population, a hundred times the wealth, a fifty year head start, no sanctions, and a a shit load more Nobel Prize-winning physicists. If we want to build them, we can build them

81:

No, I'd say it only holds water if you're a conspiracy loon, i.e. don't actually understand how the world works (but are utterly convinced that you do).

I can tell you with 100% certainty the first question that was asked in certain circles was: "What if the USA becomes an enemy".

Your reactions, and those in this thread that presuppose and show an absolute lack of knowledge of "Realpolitik". That's ok, you're .mil wonks.

Treat it as a Game if you need to:

But, the Real Question is: What would the UK do to ensure it had a 100% untouchable nuclear option (submarine) in the case that Host describes?

Hint: if you can imagine it, it's already Real.

/enough


82:

Your reactions, and those in this thread that presuppose and show an absolute lack of knowledge of "Realpolitik". That's ok, you're .mil wonks.

No, we just grok the world better than you.

It's OK - you're young, you're hyperactive, possibly manic, and you're utterly convinced that you know more and better and think faster than the rest of us.

No, it isn't 'real because we can imagine it' - however much you hint, allude to secret and superior knowledge, wiggle your nose, or hint that the rest of us just don't get it.

Just accept that for once, you might be wrong, and others might actually know more than you about a subject - and understand the context better than you do. There's nothing bad about that, accepting the possibility that you're wrong is a sign of maturity.

83:

...where "workable" is defined as "sniffer planes may get to pick up possible isotopic markers of fast fission", and any more definite conclusion depends on the rather unsafe assumption that Mr Pudgy Pigface is telling the truth.

Apart from that, I entirely agree.

84:

We made sure that we could, so unless you assume that the necessary effort and stock of political goodwill was expended out of pure ideology, it seems to me that a sufficient number of sufficiently involved people thought that such circumstances indeed could exist.

85:

I think the insurance policy is something more like, "If the U.S. won't give us supplies, we have tons and tons of U and Pu which we have carefully stored, and under the worst-case scenario we can cobble something together before our Tridents go bad."

"P.S. We have exact and continually updated plans about how to do this, even if we're cut off from all the other countries we normally do business with. Unfortunately, we're rather afraid that whatever we cobbled together would create an uncivilized level of fallout and result in very ugly, long-lasting consequences for the target of our primitive, newly-built arsenal."

"P.P.S. Do you feel lucky, punk? Do ya?"

86:

There are better ways, and we're pretty good at it. The reactions of those disagreeing with your proposition are part of how it works, and they don't even realise it. Neat, eh?

(Big laugh about the Pacific island. Not in any kind of disparaging way, but because I was amused by the convergence with my own mental processes in a rather different context.)

87:

The links from the OP are interesting.

If you were an American planner gaming out the scenario where the UK is an adversary, could you for sure rule out an independent survivable deterrent, UK missiles, e.g. careful clones of Trident, that was hinted at by intercepts, but never confirmed by the US intelligence agencies? (Assume that it's possible to build such a Trident clone without full testing.)

88:

For those questioning the UK's willingness to plan independently of the US, keep in mind it wasn't too long ago (Okay, it might have been around a century ago...) that US long term naval planning was dominated by the prospect of going to war with the UK. If they haven't long been planning on how to survive a major confrontation without the US backing them, they should not keep their posts.

Anyhow, the issue on the table is launchers, not payloads.

How hard is it to land-launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile? Wikipedia claims that the Trident 2 has an operational range of >12,000 km, while Google Earth claims a line from London to Moscow is 2,500km.

Or another option is buying solid fueled launchers from other parties. According to Wikipedia, both Israel and Japan have active solid-fueled rocket programs.

89:

Agh. They in the first paragraph => British nuclear planners. I forgot to replace a pointer with the actual value when I deleted the original.

90:

Windows XP for Submarines?

91:

How hard is it to land-launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile?

Very. And that's after pouring multiple trucks of money and time at it.

Now if you're willing to surface and don't care much about the sub after the launch, well that's different.

92:

What if you simply built launchers, sans submarine, under the requisite amount of water? (Or is that the "truckloads of money?")

93:

I suspect that pushing a missile up from below the water then lighting it up and having it go in the direction desired would take a few $$ or pounds. The first Trident shot failed due to water getting into the engine from the plume created when it was pushed out of the water.

You have to have it water tight or close to it, push it above the water, drop off any coverings that you don't want for flight, extend anything needed for aerodynamics, keep it vertical, light the engine, and stay vertical and above the water until you are moving up.

Sounds simple to me. :)

94:

One thing about county sheriffs is that they're usually elected officials. Even in large cities where the city and county is coterminus and the city police chief exercises law enforcement jurisdiction, there tends to still be at least a figurehead elected sheriff whose duties involve something like superintendent of jails.

That is why really extreme right wing 'sovereign citizens' recognize sheriffs as the only legitimate law enforcement officers, since they're popularly elected. How they square that with elected state attorneys general, I don't know. They certainly have no particular respect for elected prosecutors.

95:

In other words, truckloads of money.

96:

Hiding some things isn't particularly extraordinary. Planning it might be - overt attempts to shut people up or hide an installation creates a backlash. Unless there's something really obviously weird, most people will pass off things. New office park? Know anybody working on it? No? Damn contracters coming in from outside. Standoffish pricks.

Sometimes it's just stuff that goes unexamined.
I grew up reasonably close to a few missile silos. The maintenance crews used to stop in to my local diner for lunch. They had interesting, potentially national security threatening stories to tell about the shit they dealt with on a daily basis. At one point during the 80s, I and anybody else who dropped by the Load n' Chute cafe probably harbored enough valuable intelligence to interest the KGB. Except of course nobody was interested.

97:

LOTS of unsubstantiated rumours about that.
I suspect that it may have been "monstering" - see also re-purposed Avro Vulcan bombers ....
Meanwhile, doing something really sensible, as opposed to the fuckwit "exclusion zone", by stating that any Argentine Navy ship was a legitimate target, no matter where it was, was not used.

98:

Minor typo in that last link, Charlie - you've got the ) outside the quotes. (Still works; Wikipedia has a redirect in place. But it does look a little peculiar.)

99:

The Argentine Excoets were demonstrably not disabled during the Falkands War. HMS Glamorgan was damaged by a land-launched Exocet on 12th June 1982.

100:

Small projects with a few people are easy to hide. However, the many-named one is suggesting that an entire and massive logistics chain, an entire training environment, and a deployable capability could be designed, built, maintained, and trained in such a way as to remain invisible on a small, densely-populated, island.

Sometimes it's just stuff that goes unexamined.

Been there, done that. My final project for a Defence contractor was a technically-challenging research task. They managed to squeeze our (small) team into a couple of offices in corners of the site, and we built it using the spare-parts bin and pre-production gear from an old project, and a tweaked piece of gear from the current project. Ten or so people, exactly one deliverable and somewhat fragile (but successful) system, and it was still an eight-figure sum over two years.

I was talking to colleagues I'd worked with for half a decade, and they didn't know where I was in the building, or what I was doing - security by obscurity was rather effective.

The reason I react strongly when someone suggests "ah, but the UK could have built a secret launch system and no-one would know, nudge, nudge, wink, wink" is that there are several orders of magnitude between bodging together a single radar for a short trials programme, and providing a deployable system with (presumably) fifty or so operational weapons, in service for over twenty years.

For instance: who's going to make the terminal guidance system? If it's a terrain-following radar, that's a serious piece of kit. Who does the second-line and third-line maintenance? What about the navigation system? The UK had exactly one credible INS manufacturer at the time (they sponsored me through University, and I interned there each summer), on a single site. Even if you do reuse existing designs, how exactly do you magic up an extra fifty systems, plus spares, without anyone noticing, when the total buy for the UK was only a hundred systems in the first place? Don't even start on the trials programme, the necessary initial and continuation training for all the crews, for all those years, all of them exercising the firing chain... (the UK took an interesting approach to reversionary VLF communications; rather than TACAMO aircraft trailing a long antenna, it had two TA Royal Signals units who flew balloons...)

Think of it this way - the UK Defence Industry built Nimrod AEW, and then twenty years later built Nimrod MRA.4 - of course it could knock together a credible and secret duplicate nuclear launch capability that would work when needed...

101:

The reason that Exocets were not used effectively was that the Argentine Navy would not cooperate with the Argentine air force - if they had, the UK planners were estimating up to 50% losses among the task force. And Greg is right in #97 - I kept waiting for the announcement that the UK had told Argentina that any military vessel further than 12 miles offshore would be deemed to be hostile. If that had been done, the Belgrano incident would have passed without any political fallout.

102:

Actually: "Any military vessel - anchor up or down, anywhere"
( Have a nice day! / Hasta la vista! )
Still an entirely legitimate target, since the Argentine Junta had committed an act of undeclared war.

103:

Meanwhile, doing something really sensible, as opposed to the fuckwit "exclusion zone", by stating that any Argentine Navy ship was a legitimate target, no matter where it was, was not used.

Errr... rubbish.

You might want to look more closely at the fate of the Argentinian Navy - forced into port and limited to coastal operations after the sinking of the Belgrano. You might also note the fate of all the Argentinian logistic chain - all of its ships supplying their forces on the Falklands were sunk or damaged beyond use.

Those actions against the boring, old, cargo ships (rather than sinking destroyers and frigates) meant that the Argentinian army had lots of food sat in warehouses in Stanley, but didn't have the fuel to drive it out to its forward locations; nor the fuel to drive its armoured vehicles around; nor the fuel to conduct serious flying programmes with its close-support aircraft and helicopters.

In other words, the Royal Navy pinned the main Argentinian force in and around Port Stanley, unable to conduct mobile operations, and slowly shivering and freezing because they couldn't even resupply their forward lines properly. The Paras and Royal Marines (and Foot Guards, and Gurkhas) were able to approach on foot, prepare, attack largely without interference, and defeat each major position individually.

You may think that the UK was "not doing anything sensible", but that's the difference between studying tactics, and studying strategy...

104:

Firstly, we know that the USA was actively hostile to the UK from the end of World War II until we became too unimportant to bother with, and for all I know still may be, though the weapons were primarily economic and diplomatic/political/legal/technical. And we know that it had (and probably still has) contingency plans for military action against us, up to and including invasion and occupation. So? That's realpolitik. Live with it.

But it has damn-all to do with nuclear weapons, because we are FAR weaker against even Russia than the USSR was against the USA in 1962. They are a plausible deterrent against France and Israel, possibly India and Pakistan, dubiously against China, but against no other nuclear-armed country. Obviously they won't deter delusional maniacs (North Korea), so let's consider what would happen if the USA or Russia dropped a nuke on us.
We could NOT respond in kind and try to respond diplomatically, such as getting more powerful countries to support us.

We could surrender.

We could NOT respond in kind and try to respond conventionally and diplomatically, such as getting more powerful countries to support us.

We could respond in kind, so let's consider the endgame. We could destroy a fair amount of Russia's population/industry/etc., or some of the USA's - but both could recover, the latter fairly quickly. Whereupon either could eliminate the UK as a viable country, killing almost all (95+%) of the population. Note that's not just from direct strikes, but from the consequences of having ALL of our infrastructure destroyed and the remaining population being forced into near-uninhabitable terrain.

105:

Which wouldn't have worked if the Argentines had been competent; at the time, I thought of what I would do if I were them, and it was precisely what they didn't do. Note that I am not talking tactics or even strategy, but logistics (and, to a small extent, diplomacy).

106:

They are a plausible deterrent against France and Israel, possibly India and Pakistan, dubiously against China, but against no other nuclear-armed country

Not sure about that.

Remember, the UK is small; any nuclear strike against the UK has probably just given a death sentence to 90% of the population, and very probably the killed the families and friends of those crewing the CASD.

If the retaliation is seen as being against the command and control of the attacking country, you have vengeance against those who ordered the attacks; their bunkers are smoking holes in the ground.

If the retaliation is "sow the wind, reap the whirlwind" and against the attacking nation as a whole, then being able to murder the civilian populations of (say) the fifteen biggest cities, with some groundbursts so as to render them uninhabitable for a generation? Yeah, I'd say that's a deterrent against anyone, USA or Russia included.

This is why targeting is such a closely-held secret. If you understand it, you can see your opponent's "hand".

107:

You are assuming that they start off by a large-scale nuclear strike, which is grossly implausible - why on earth would they? I was referring to the scenario of using a few, smallish nuclear weapons to take out the UK's hardened military infrastructure. The UK would be insane to respond, for the reasons I gave.

108:

Note that I am not talking tactics or even strategy, but logistics (and, to a small extent, diplomacy).

Oh, I agree. Note that the diplomatic risk comes from the UK (first world power, nuclear armed, NATO) being seen as conducting a disproportionate response.

So long as the UK carries out visible negotiations, and commits the minimum level of (publically observed) violence, and is perceived as being scrupulous in its actions (clearly defined exclusion zone, etc, etc) it can demonstrate to the world that it is merely reoccupying what is UK sovereign territory. It isn't bullying, or behaving unreasonably, just demanding that the Argentinians leave the islands, right now. Or else.

Remember, this was all being done off-the-cuff; it wasn't perfect, but it achieved the aim (namely, that the UN condemn Argentina; and that the UK be seen as the reaonable and aggrieved party, not the unreasonable aggressor). *Now* we know that the diplomatic solution wasn't going to happen; *then*, we didn't.

109:

Yes. The diplomatic aspect of what I sketched out was to force the UK into a position where a near-essential military response would be seen by many countries as disproportionate. Whether that would have worked, I can't say - anyway, it wasn't tried.

110:

What "hardened military infrastructure" targets are you thinking of? The MoD citadel was in central London, and PJHQ is just outside in Northwood. Faslane is close to Glasgow. The Navy is based in and around cities. Aldershot is hardly remote. Try for Pitreavie, and you'll have to destroy Dunfermline. Try for Crombie or Grangemouth, and you'll hit Edinburgh / Livingston.

Remember, nukes are not guaranteed to operate, so you have to task two weapons to each target. Nukes are not guaranteed to hit exactly where they're aimed, so you make up for worse CEP by bigger / more warheads. Soviet kit was pretty agricultural, so we're only using "precise" in relative terms/

The UK doesn't have much in the way of hardened military infrastructure. What there was, was in / close to cities. Strike the infrastructure, and you kill tens to hundreds of thousands of civilians instantly, and in a fairly short time afterwards you'll have killed millions.

That may be "small scale" by Soviet/Russian standards, but it's pretty much the destruction of the UK by ours.

111:

Just for history's sake: Both Ukraine and Belarus were U.N. members from 1945 on. That probably made a bit easier for them to accept Russia as the only possible heir to the USSR seat at the Security Council... not that there was any other plausible solution, of course.

@28 Nojay: 'As for Britain's permanent seat on the Security Council that is not subject to being a nuclear weapons power but is inherited from the situation after WWII as one of the acknowledged winners of that conflict'

You tell that to Taiwan a.k.a. the Republic of China, which occupied a seat at the Security Council until 1971. As they say, when there is a will there's a way.

112:

Oh come on... It looks already like Russian government is starting to understand that The Orange One is not our friend and they're starting to backpedal on all that (quite sickening) praise that was heaped on Trump. I don't believe he's an agent of Putin (and blackmailing Trump does not look feasible for me – what can they do, prove that The Combover is a lecherous narcissist?). It would be funny if it wasn't so sad – various government officials reminding everyone that it would be stupid to expect miracles from Trump. And they'll be in search of a new scapegoat soon as Russian economy is "getting better and growing" (translated from the Newspeak of our government it means "shrinking and stagnating") so as soon as Trump does something appalling he'll be branded "as bad as Obama" and accused of everything that is wrong in Russia (if Trump's gaffe benefits Putin, Putin will be praised for being wise leader).

As for the possibility of Trump blocking all that Trident business... now this looks like a possibility. Far as I can remember, quite a few people in the UK protested his visit and he's really good at nursing a grudge (and really bad at that "allies" stuff – I gather bullies seldom are able to grasp the idea).

113:

I am aware of that, and it's irrelevant if you actually think it through; also, the context was NOT the USSR, but the Russia or USA of today. Let's say that a first nuclear strike destroys 10% of the UK. Let's be grossly 'optimistic' and say that our response would destroy 20% of the enemy's population. THEIR response would then destroy us totally, and we could not retaliate forther. If our leaders retained any sanity, they would put up with the 10%.

Let's consider Russia as the enemy; it might consider an attack if we blockade it inside the Black Sea or Baltic. Such a first strike might well be aimed at our nuclear weapons (except for the submarine at sea), naval ports, our aircraft carrier and our main bomber bases. Yeah, carnage, but recoverable from, which would NOT be the case if we responded.

114:

What, Russia kills six million British (minimum), and we just roll over and surrender? I can't see that, somehow.

Particularly as the "we've only killed 10% of your population" is not a verifiable fact - all the Prime Minister (or successor) might know is that the nukes have landed and roughly where. There are no guarantees that it's going to stop, no guarantees that the carnage is even survivable.

So: how do you deal with a Government that has just murdered millions of your citizens, without warning. Is it rational? Can it be negotiated with, or trusted? Or must it be destroyed?

115:

AFAIK Only Russia and perhaps N. Korea are regular users of liquid fueled missiles.

Was going to reply that the move to solid-fueled ICBMs was underway but no, we do continue to develop liquid-fueled ICBMs as well. They say there's a potential for developing those into launch vehicles, but nitrogen tetroxide/UDMH propellant?.. Wasn't all that Angara project an attempt to move away from that?..

116:

India also has liquid-fuelled nuclear missiles. Their two satellite launch vehicles are based on their IRBM/ICBM technology hence the rather dogs-breakfast engineering involved -- the GSLV (geosync-capable) has a solid first stage core with liquid-fuelled N2O2/UDMH strap-ons, a N2O2/UDMH second stage and the third stage has a home-grown LOX/LH2 motor. The PSLV (for polar satellites) is even worse with a solid-fuelled first stage plus solid strap-ons, the second stage is liquid-fuelled N2O2/UDMH, the third stage is another solid-fuelled motor and the fourth stage is another liquid fuelled motor but burning monomethyl hydrazine and not UDMH for some reason.

It all works though.

117:

What if you simply built launchers, sans submarine, under the requisite amount of water? (Or is that the "truckloads of money?")

By Goddess, this is precious! Just today there was a reply from Kremlin to the report in a Russian tabloid about "Russian underwater ICBM installations near the US coast". Which according to Putin's spokesman would break some international treaties.

But it seems to me that it's easier to convert SLBM for silo launch (at least with Russian silo-launched launch method is quite similar)...

118:

Core point is though that none of them use Liquid Hydrogen (or LO2 for that matter) that Sabre is designed for. How big would a sabre powered missile need to be? Im guessing bigger than alternative fuel designs....

119:

Just for history's sake: Both Ukraine and Belarus were U.N. members from 1945 on. That probably made a bit easier for them to accept Russia as the only possible heir to the USSR seat at the Security Council... not that there was any other plausible solution, of course.

... And the fact that Russia has agreed to inherit the debt incurred by USSR and the Tsars may have helped a bit in negotiations with those republics...

120:

I'm fairly certain that land launching a SLBM is very straightforward, just needing a sturdy enough launch vessel to provide a similar gas ejection system to get it off the ground. At that point the missile behaves exactly as it does at sea.

The trickier part would be ensuring that the correct guidance and control information was supplied to the missile prior to launch, though I imagine a lot of that can be hardcoded, and nowadays probably emulated successfully by a raspberry pi.

121:

Don't introduce straw men. The point is that we DO NOT HAVE the capability to destroy the enemy, let alone defeat them. The MOST we could do is to hurt them, possibly badly, and cause the UK to be eliminated as a population and country. And 'eliminated' is not metaphorical. It would be insane to follow that path, irrespective of the damage already done to us. Surrendering is the best strategy if the alternative is total destruction.

122:

The first test launches of the original Polaris missiles were done on land, to qualify the missile and the launch cell it would be launched from. I'm not certain but I expect the same thing happened with the first Trident missiles too.

123:

Only problem with that is extended periods of hostility/enmity tend to cloud the ability of leaders to discern the best strategy. Now you would hope that the spectre of total annihilation would clear those clouds but I wouldn't bet on it.

124:

...burning monomethyl hydrazine and not UDMH for some reason...

Well, according to the information found in Encyclopedia Astronautica, MMH is denser and gives better performance. Looks like the stuff is used mostly in the US rocket engines (and on Arianne 5)... Maybe they were able to buy the technology on the cheap? At least they don't use F2/O2 propellant combination (yet?)...

125:

Given that Russia's total military spend is almost the same as ours ... why is everybody behaving as if they are some USSR-type bogeyman?
Agreed, Putin is, "locally" ( i.e. touching Russia's borders ) a dangerous threat, but further than one country away?
Not so much, usually.
Also their military spend must be hurting them, given their economy is noticeably smaller than ours.

126:

Sorry, I don't mean to be stupid, but I'm assuming that a Trident launcher is designed to work under some depth of water, even if it's only a couple inches, so it strikes me that an effort to use the Trident launchers without a submarine might include some unanticipated challenges; thus if you don't have a submarine you put them underwater so you don't get any surprises.

127:

Trident does have a (classified) minimum range, but it's not reached by increasing the time of flight by flying higher than the maximum range path. The known method of shortening the range is by depressing the trajectory. It's going just as fast, but follows a shorter, and therefore less time consuming path. The approximate burn time of a Trident II isn't classified (it'd be hard to keep secret anyway, because test shots would show it, and you can't hide those) and is about 3 minutes. And from that, you can estimate how long you have before you run out of low drag regime to do your debussing of the warhead. Likely the minimum range is below 2000 km (based on open source calculations) with a time of flight of 7 minutes.

Also, Trident II's maximum range is enough to reach Russia from stateside boomer bases (approximately 11000 km). This was a design choice in order to allow boomers at pierside to continue to provide deterrence (11000km from King's Bay). This assumes reduced loading, but that's a reasonable assumption, especially with START/SALT in effect. All that requires is to have officers capable of ordering launch on the boomer in enough time to launch the missiles before the inevitable destruction of the base (because it was likely already on the target list before then).

128:

What would it take, 1979-2001 to source and modify a Trident to a new launcher system that used Non-US / RU missiles.

Short answer? Billions of pounds and thousands (tens of thousands) of workers.

The submarine and the warheads aren't a problem. Trident SSBN tubes have been modded to carry a six-pack of Tomahawks before now (google on SSGN for details), and you could launch a smaller-bore rocket from inside a Trident tube using some sort of sabot arrangement. UGM-133 is a big beast, much larger than, say, Polaris, so if you're willing to accept a downgrade in throw-weight (number of warheads) and/or range, you can give yourself plenty of room to work in. The launch control room would need ripping out and rebuilding, but that's not insuperable.

The real problem is that you're talking about developing a multi-stage SLBM from scratch. It took the USA about 3-4 years to develop and field Polaris A3 in the 1950s, on a near-moonshot budget, but that was then and Polaris was discontinued because it was technically obsolescent in the face of 1980s Soviet ABM technology. It's not easy to hide missile programs, and what you're asking for here is effectively a small storable satellite launcher. Emphasis on "storable". Building something relatively simple, like SpaceX's original Falcon 1, is doable on a shoe-string budget in single-digit years, but even then, they had some launch failures before they achieved orbit. More to the point, F-1 was an experimental test bed. Liquid fueled (RP-1 and LOX) which isn't feasible aboard a submarine, payload about equivalent to a single warhead, and they were each more or less hand-built. There's a reason SpaceX switched to the much larger, mass-produced-subassemblies Falcon-9 as soon as they could. And SpaceX could hire folks from the US rocketry industry. The UK doesn't really have any launcher engineers because, lacking a launcher program, they all end up working elsewhere.

129:

I was referring to the scenario of using a few, smallish nuclear weapons to take out the UK's hardened military infrastructure.

The trouble is, the UK is so small that even "small" nukes are going to cause civilian fatalities on a massive scale. If you're going after hardened control/command bunkers then by definition you're going to drop a nuke on Whitehall, in central London, and it's going to have to be big enough to fuck up reinforced concrete walls two metres thick buried a hundred metres below ground — so we're talking multi-hundred kilotons. Want to take out Faslane (the Trident base), where there's at least one Trident sub in dock and potentially able to fire its missiles? Congratulations: the fallout plume is going to blanket Glasgow, and you just nuked two or more naval reactors and 20+ warheads so there's going to be a lot of fallout.

And so on. Basically, our hardened military infrastructure is, by US standards, inner-suburbs stuff: you can't take it out cleanly without the odd megadeath here or there.

130:

Presumably because they have the biggest portion of the USSR's remaining military strength available to them?

Good chart at the end of this BBC article. Scarily look at whose #3 in the chart.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39108194

131:

Don't introduce straw men. The point is that we DO NOT HAVE the capability to destroy the enemy, let alone defeat them. The MOST we could do is to hurt them, possibly badly, and cause the UK to be eliminated as a population and country.

What straw man?

The at-sea deterrent patrol can fire sixteen missiles. Some of those missiles will be sub-strategic, others will be MIRV.

How does "having every major city in your country destroyed" not count as defeat? Whether the British Isles are now a gently-glowing glass car park, or a cratered and irradiated mess, is pretty much irrelevant to the attacker. Any nuclear strike on the UK above a couple of theatre weapons is pretty much game over for all concerned - we're going to die, it's just a question of whether its instantly, quickly and painfully, or slowly and painfully.

If the CASD is fired against a nation, rather than its military, that nation is going to suffer a defeat. Its industry will be destroyed, its workers killed, its medical infrastructure overwhelmed, its leadership vapourised. Destroying a country doesn't require "Cartago Delenda Est" and no two stones atop one another.

I'm quite open to the possibility that the Letter of Last Resort has at times said "Look, don't bother. Sail to Halifax/Sydney, find a nice beach, make Canada/Australia great again". I'm just pointing out is that the CASD is far from ineffectual.

132:

I'm thinking more than a couple of cities nuked.. that country is no longer a viable entity. the panic, casualties, infrastructure problems, disease.. the UK..? utterly hosed. but even such as the usa.. say 10 cities gone. that's not one country any more. as soon as you fired the missiles you know your country is gone, theres no point not launching the lot. its a handgrenade duel in a squash court

133:
As for losing the Security Council seat, it's not going to happen in the short-medium term. Britain (as can all permanent members) can veto any resolution to remove them as a permanent member.
I must remember to tell that to the Republic of China.
134:

Agreed the "secret duplicate missile programme" thing is pretty unlikely. What's much more likely, I think, is that the UK long ago put some of their clever backroom boffins to work on reverse engineering all that American technology the UK strategic deterrent relies on - not with a view to duplicating it, but to making sure they know exactly which little tweaks here and there are required to make it work reliably on UK orders even if Washington isn't in a cooperative mood.

135:
Repurpouse HOTOL/Skylon as a nuke-delivery system?
1. It doesn't exist.

2. The whole point of it is to make a reusable expensive vehicle to reduce fuel costs. Better to use expensive fuel in a cheap vehicle if you're going to have it go boom! at the end.

3. It doesn't exist.

136:

Sorry, I don't mean to be stupid, but I'm assuming that a Trident launcher is designed to work under some depth of water, even if it's only a couple inches, so it strikes me that an effort to use the Trident launchers without a submarine might include some unanticipated challenges; thus if you don't have a submarine you put them underwater so you don't get any surprises.

Well, the reason for the underwater launch is concealment of the launching platform. Otherwise it's pretty similar to the silo launch of, say, USSR/Russian R-36 (a.k.a. Satan): The missile is ejected from the launch tube/silo and then ignites first stage motors and goes about it's business. Tridents are ejected with steam generated by explosive charge evaporating the water, R-36 is pushed out by piston driven by combustion of pyrotechnic charge. The point is, launching the SLBM from land-based installation would be easier than doing it from the submerged sub.

And one more similarity between R-36 and SLBMs: R-36 silos were designet to be rapidly reloaded. What it was going to achieve in the event of an all-out nuclear exchange is a mystery for me... at least submarines require the removal of missiles for service/replacement.

137:

Also their military spend must be hurting them, given their economy is noticeably smaller than ours.

Not so fast... you've failed to account for different priorities. There's a Russian joke that goes like this:
Father comes home and his 5-year old son runs to greet him.
F: "Damn it, they doubled the price of vodka!"
S: "So daddy, you'll be drinking less now?"
F: "No, oh sweet son of mine, it's you who'll be eating less now!"

So... pensions/roads/medicine/education funding is reduced, propaganda blares about that godless Europe and terrible terrorists and military funding is increased. New subs/tanks/ships are produced (with cost overruns and delays) and a lot of money is stolen and placed in offshore accounts. Rinse, repeat...

138:

As in Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Last Command"?

139:

[HOTOL/Skylon] ...doesn't exist.

Greg's responding to my deliberately silly proposal to cobble together an indigenous weapons delivery system out of what the UK has in the back of the cupboard. Reality is a secondary concern.

140:

This whole thread reminds me of de Gaulle's statement on the French nuclear programme:

Dans dix ans, nous aurons de quoi tuer 80 millions de Russes. Eh bien je crois qu'on n'attaque pas volontiers des gens qui ont de quoi tuer 80 millions de Russes, même si on a soi-même de quoi tuer 800 millions de Français, à supposer qu'il y eût 800 millions de Français.

-"In ten years, we will have the means to kill 80 million Russians. I believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who have the means to kill 80 million Russians, even if one has oneself the means to kill 800 million French people- that is, if there were 800 million French people"

141:

Launchers & storage ... Why not use existing marine oil rig drilling platforms. Plenty of those dotting various oceans and roomy enough to store necessary parts. Also, crews tend to be smallish and regularly rotated - so always personnel and supplies moving to and fro. Power supply is also not an issue for running the rig if outfitted with tidal/wind/solar power plus extra large long-life batteries.

As for keeping things secret - quite a few USAF bases have managed to do so while testing new designs usually coincident with a spate of UFO sightings.

Alternatively, not necessary to make something secret if you can make it so-o-o bo-o-oring but necessary, i.e., toilet paper - cost per soldier, per campaign, best way of maintaining ample stock, etc. that people will go out of their way to not talk to you. Of course the presenter/manager should also come across as extremely boring and obsessed (like Pratchett's pin collectors).

Another alternative is to pre-screen everyone admitted to work on that project by giving them a psych/personality test that specifically measures items such as authoritarianism, psych/socioopathy, etc. Assuming that the total number in the military stays around 1.5 million and targeting for the 99th percentile super-authoritarian type, you could probably fill all the key personnel spots for even a 1,000-person project.

Funding: There are certain military budget items that (historically) are never discussed in detail, therefore, apart from some inter-departmental squabbles/turf wars, not impossible to fund a 'secret' long-term expensive project.

142:

Assuming that the total number in the military stays around 1.5 million

You do realise you're out by an order of magnitude? We're talking about a UK military, whose total trained strength is just about 140,000 across all three services?

143:

UK science funding ... today's news item ... interesting!


http://www.nature.com/news/the-most-powerful-man-in-uk-science-on-his-new-role-1.21441?WT.ec_id=NEWSDAILY-20170301

Excerpt:

'Mark Walport is preparing to take on the most powerful job in UK science. From 2018, he will be the first head of a new central funding organization called UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which will oversee more than £6 billion (US$7.4 billion) of research funding per year.

The UKRI will unite the activities of nine existing research-funding agencies, including the UK’s seven research councils. But the move has been criticized since it was first recommended in a 2015 report by Paul Nurse, head of the Francis Crick Institute in London. Some British scientists worry about the potential disruption involved in creating one overarching funder, and concerns about the autonomy of the bodies that the UKRI will oversee.'

144:

Oops - was using US & Russian values.

So, the cut-off criteria for the UK will be a bit looser, say the 90th percentile. Still feasible.

145:

On the other hand it's capable of generating its own oxidant in flight, so, if you operate it in airbreathing mode you've got room for a whole lot more fuel within the same airframe.

Hypersonic cruise missile anybody?

146:

Hypersonic cruise missile anybody?
Why is the Silbervogel so out of fashion?

147:
Good chart at the end of this BBC article. Scarily look at whose #3 in the chart.
While I'm not an expert, or even a close observer in the field really, I follow the news closely enough I'm not really surprised. Saudi Arabia keep cropping up as a supporter of other regimes and paramilitary actors across the Middle East. That costs money.

They're also, according to most observers except the last three UK governments, buying military hardware to suppress internal dissidents. That probably doesn't cost so much though, although it's enough that May et al will turn a blind eye to keep the money rolling in, allegedly.

148:

As for keeping things secret - quite a few USAF bases have managed to do so while testing new designs usually coincident with a spate of UFO sightings.

Have you ever been in the barren western US? It is vast and incredibly empty. Nothing like driving for an hour at 70mph and seeing 1 or 2 other cars. And that was on a newly paved highway headed to a major tourist attraction.

And people building engines and such are mostly in the dark and 1000 or more miles away from the actual use area.

149:

Launchers & storage ... Why not use existing marine oil rig drilling platforms.

Because the whole point of a CASD is that you can't take it out with a pre-emptive strike because you don't know where it is; it's stealthy, lurking somewhere in a volume of ocean about the size of Europe.

Oil rigs, surface warships, ground-based TELARs, ground-based silos, and bombers sitting at dispersal strips are all subject to the risk of being located and bushwhacked with a first strike. Which is why the UK no longer uses any of those as a deterrent platform.

150:

Needs liquid hydrogen and liquid helium — neither of which are easy to store, so it needs prepping before launch.

Needs a runway/track to launch from, along with cryogenic fueling stations at one end.

So, it's vulnerable to a first strike. Especially as any credible deterrent requires more than one delivery vehicle and more than one warhead.

151:

I will note that there are some recent proposals to use reactor neutrino emissions to pin down the rough location of submarines; this could put a huge and inconvenient spike in the ability of current-generation SSBNs to remain invisible. But the point is, it hasn't happened yet.

The reason all the serious nuclear weapons powers use SSBNs to hold their second strike capability — the deterrent of last resort — is because they're the original (1950s) stealth technology.

152:

Right. Nobody is denying that. Let's say that a 'surgical' strike kills 6-7 million (10% of the UK population, though a lot more of the Scottish one), and reduces the life expectancy of the rest. That would be very bad indeed, but would not necessarily mean the end of the UK - evidence from Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that. What I am saying is insane is to respond in such a way that the response to that would kill 95+% of the UK. There definitely are some saber-rattlers who would be prepared to sacrifice the whole UK population, just as long as they can take a similar number of enemy with them, but would YOU regard them as sane?

153:

Was thinking about the sheer number of these oil rigs plus all of the new arrays of tidal/wind power being built off-shore which suggests that it might be possible to hide within a crowd. Scotland is well-positioned for this.

154:

This is what always confused me about nuclear war narratives in the age of MAD - what are the limited war options? Presumably a first strike that only, say, decapitates the government can only be a deliberate choice to precede a ground invasion? Otherwise one would simply dial up the full glass carpark scenario.

155:

What I am saying is insane is to respond in such a way that the response to that would kill 95+% of the UK.

Let me play devil's advocate:

The attacker has just demonstrated that they're willing to commit a massacre with genocide-level casualties against you. What guarantee is there that it stops after just 6-7 million, that they won't do it again? Failing to respond concedes that the tactic — mass murder of your civilians — works, and it encourages the perpetrator to believe that it's a cost-free strategy.

Respond in kind, with half the surviving nukes, and you hurt them badly and make it clear that if they strike again they will incur further retaliation. The logic of deterrence continues to hold true and the probability of that hypothetical extermination response is thereby diminished.

Also, don't underestimate the demand for revenge after a strike that kills 10% of the population and probably leaves another 10% dying, injured, or homeless. It's not at all clear that anyone will be functioning rationally in the wake of such an attack and making decisions about the future that discount short-term gratification (revenge) in favour of long-term success (survival).

156:

There is no guarantee that they won't continue, but your second paragraph assumes more parity than is reasonable. A planned first strike would leave us with 8 missiles and 40 warheads in one submarine - even without any counter-missile losses, half of that isn't a huge number against countries the size of the USA or Russia in all-out warfare. And remember that your initial retaliation will trigger the mentality you mention in the last paragraph. Yes, IN THEORY, the logic of deterrence works but, in practice?

Your last paragraph is unfortunately true :-( Even in this thread, with the scenario purely hypothetical, several people favour revenge over survival.

157:

It's not just suppressing dissidents - they also want to wipe all Shiism (and several other variants of Islam) out of existence.

158:

Yes, but I'm being silly 'cause I don't want to get in trouble.

Ok, here's a question: how much would a super-secret shared project cost where, say, the UK provided intel/upgrades and the Chinese provided those 16 JL-2 (CSS-NX-14)s in exchange?

I don't know, hide it under something innocuous that would require a lot of nuclear experts spending time in conferences, that type of thing.

The Chinese company involved in the £18bn project plans to submit a design for a nuclear power station in Essex within weeks. China General Nuclear agreed to take a 33% stake in Hinkley Point C in Somerset, alongside the French energy group EDF, in return for leading the project at Bradwell, Essex.

China plans central role in UK nuclear industry after Hinkley Point approval Guardian, Sept 2016

Does China have an effective sea-based nuclear deterrent? CSIS - has handy charts and basic level explanations for people like me

JL-2 (CSS-NX-14) Global Security.org

~

It's ok, I'm the batty one mentioning secret Bond Bases in the Bermudas, spider bots.

159:

proposals to use reactor neutrino emissions to pin down the rough location of submarines

I fear that one response to that would be the release of subsurface floating nuclear waste capsules. Which might be why no-one is talking about tracking things that way.

I do vaguely recall radiation detectors being used in narrow seaways to detect submarines passing through, because short range, non-directional detection is fairly straightforward.

160:

I linked to a pdf once that outlined exactly how they proposed to do it ;)

Of course: I'm not seriously suggesting secret bases nor am I suggesting the 5 EyE agreements have broken down. Someone has to have Gamed this out though: If President USA = Wingbat Crazy Apocalypse or if USA simply ceases to exist (Yellowstone etc), then... probably St. Malo, 1998, shared French response?

I mean: I'm trusting all the serious minds in the room to have contingency plans, surely?

161:

Re: 'Respond in kind, ...'

The deterrent isn't just one nation firing back; it's (potentially) all of the other nations firing back. I'm guessing that if any other major power ever detected a nuke going off, the moment they identified the source/origin, they'd launch some of their missiles as well. So the first-to-fire nation has to also ask: who else (apart from my target) would want to destroy me?

162:

I always found it hard to take the neutrino detector vs mobile reactor suggestions seriously, as detectors have good reasons to be huge and less than sensitive.

On the other hand: We must not allow a mineshaft gap!

163:

Note: M51 + St. Malo 1998.

Interesting stuff you can find, Host being sneaky, we feel. On many lists, we are.

It'd be interesting for actual scientists / wonks to contrast / compare the M51 to the JL-2 in terms of, er.. compatibility questions and refits.

Harder / Easier?

From a lay-person's view, they're just "big cigars", so?

Now I'm learning things: Astrium - Cassidian - Airbus Defence and Space.

Wow, you really like hiding things.

So on a list right now.


p.s.

I find it really really odd that everyone has super-secret launchers that aren't compatible. It's like a totally weird reality that oddly mirrors willies. You can tell it's man driven design.

164:

Nuclear weapons Russia is under the control of the UK since its inception. UK holds a symbolic number of missiles at for formal membership in the nuclear club.

165:

Thank you
Exactly the point ...
In other words, even at that stage, deterrence still works .....
Also, the genocidal first-striker has just told the rest of the planet that they need exterminating, before they do it again .....

166:

Lets, suppose it's Russia
Goodbye Moscow, St Petersburg, whatever Stalingrad is called this week, & the other next 10 or 15 largest cities.
And Russia is going to be significantly-functioning after this?

167:

Indeed, I agree.

Greg: there's a white paper circa 2013 revolving around the differences in US / UK / Fr nuclear deterrence policy: there's a fairly major difference in the Fr response "Final Warning" (not a direct translation) - the US has a couple of extra ones, i.e. deterrence projection to Japan and allies etc.

It's a fun read; easy to get hold of, it's on the French mil sites. Only 90 pages, and if you read it, you get a free non-Russian troll reward package ;)


p.s.

Troll is makin funny joke:

Putin as Gollum Safe, img, it's... what it says it is.

Don't panic, it's the Livejournal Ru version.

The really funny bit is the Google+ page that doesn't er have any content. This is incredibly funny meta-trolling.

Or this: https://prophet.is/usercp.html?member=215


And so on.

168:

That wouldn't help since radioactive decay doesn't produce lots of neutrinos the way a functioning nuclear reactor does. On the other hand neutrino detectors aren't very good and there's no new physics that suggests a method of making them a lot more sensitive and directional since the important deal with neutrinos is that they pass through everything very easily.

Radiation doesn't penetrate water very well to begin with and any radiation from a sub's reactor has to fight its way through the compartment walls and bulkheads then through a steel pressure hull before it even reaches the water. There are possibilities with detecting very small thermal transients in water to determine a sub's position -- a nuclear sub running at full power is emitting about 40 to 50MW of heat, possibly more, but the detectors would have to be close to the sub to spot its thermal signature. Magnetic fields are another possibility but other than sound there is little that works over a large range underwater and subs have been tuned to be very quiet over the past few generations, the proverbial "hole in the water". Acoustic tiles mean even active sonar is not as effective as it used to be.

169:

He said, regarding driving ( Hire car) ... there's the local cops & Sheriff, there's the Highway Patrol, there are Federal Marshals & possibly the National Guard.

In normal circumstances and as they interact with the driving public, the first three are pretty much the same and the last two are not a factor. Near the borders you see Border Patrol (CBP) vehicles and the rare ad-hoc traffic check.

170:

Yep, I think you're all insane at this point. You detect submarines via ELF. I mean.. er... everyone developed those fuck off ELF stations for a reason.

THE EMERGING ERA IN UNDERSEA WARFARE CSBA, Jan 2015 - PDF

I mean, this is the public stuff. You're all batshit insane with neutrinos etc.

ELF has been able to detect (with matching intel over port data / displacement & data projection modelling) this stuff for 10+ years now.


Did I miss a season of the Goonies or something? Or am I really in an alternate dimension?

~

At which point, my "super secret island in the Pacific" comes into focus.

171:

Beating a near-dead horse here, but ...

Recently saw a headline along the lines of: soon nations can economically source their nuclear materials from the ocean.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/limitless-nuclear-fuel-could-be-found-in-the-oceans_uk_58ab0b87e4b045cd34c38fdc

This means:
a) you'll need some pretty elaborate 'extraction' set-ups on or near the oceans;
b) any nation with a coast will be able to process nuclear materials (therefore stockpile nukes, therefore may as well store these nukes there for service/maintenance/replenishment); and
c) re-purposing marine oil rigs could make both ecological and economic sense.

172:

This reads like a sales brochure/sales pitch.

173:

Deary deary me... Uranium is dirt-cheap and readily available in many places on the planet to the point where known high-grade reserves aren't being exploited because of the glut on the market.

I've heard it said there's enough uranium in a square kilometre of soil a metre deep to make a nuclear weapon, that is 10-15kg of U-235 separated out from a couple of tonnes of uranium metal. Coal power station waste runs to about 2000 parts per million of uranium and the Chinese are looking at exploiting such waste to fuel their LWR reactors in the future since they have a LOT of coal station waste, as in billions of tonnes of the stuff.

Extraction of uranium from seawater has been previously demonstrated by the Japanese (who don't have any exploitable native sources of the element within their own borders) but they can buy as much yellowcake as they want on the world market for about a quarter the price of extracting it from the Kuroshio (the Black Current that runs up the SE coast of Honshu). Cheaper extraction of uranium from seawater, even if it could be commercially implemented wouldn't improve the uptake of nuclear power in the world since opposition to it is driven by irrational fear and conflation with nuclear weapons.

174:

Yes, thatsthejoke.jpg

There are some serious sharks lingering around who can post fake .ru troll stuff who weren't amused by certain things seen. Or, they're just the usual Trump trolls or Host meta-2 trolling (hint: they're not).

So they get a cookie: the cookie being the PR manifesto used to convince dumb politos to spend more on their programs. Er, not their programs, the US ones. They're not Americans. Aliens, Area 51!

Er, right?

ELF is still used for submarine detection however.

This shit is basic.


But yes: naughty mentions of M51 and the China connection. WoooEeeerrrr missus.


Wer a gud cat, SLeeda.

Wer really baty.

Totes not trippin their bells for shits n giggles.

175:

Yep, I think you're all insane at this point. You detect submarines via ELF... ELF has been able to detect (with matching intel over port data / displacement & data projection modelling) this stuff for 10+ years now.

I'm impressed. All this, and you're an expert in Anti-Submarine Warfare too...

Unless, of course, you're just guessing and making confident assertions based on little or no evidence, in a subject area where the sum of your knowledge has been gained via google over the past 48 hours. Again.

176:

Unless, of course, you're just guessing and making confident assertions based on little or no evidence, in a subject area where the sum of your knowledge has been gained via google over the past 48 hours. Again.

Or, Marfen, we're not actually doing that at all.

Yur a gud boy, Marlin, but your inability to spot what's actually being discussed is only slightly less silly than my ability to spout bullshit. Which, as you rightly point out, is fairly huuuuge.

~

Since you're an expert: please explain why the huge ELF stations built by all major power blocks (USA, Russia, China and a few more) were not about submarines but were actually about their benign concern for the dolphins and whales they all deafened.

Oh, wait. ELF stations are 100% used to detect submarines. That's why everyone built them.


If you're scared of telling the truth, you're a slave.

If you can't even discuss known, public stuff without bullshit, you're a liar.


Simple choice there, Murfin.

177:

Project Sanguine

1968.

I mean, grow the fuck up already.

178:

QKD.

ZEVS.

http://www.vlf.it/zevs/zevs.htm

We've done this post before, in more depth, with better references and finer tuning. If we've done it before, and you're reduced to posting FUD, that means you're scared. Hint: no-one cares anymore.

Literally fascism, and no-one cares: so grow up, get a pair and start planning for Reality to change.


Oh, and hilarious: we trawled your data, nice usage of the .swe mil sites we posted to you.

You're fucking welcome: no thank-yous or acknowledgement, but nice to see you learnt from the sources.

179:

Oh, and Marfin: Our ability to track bullshit is amazing. We smell it a mile away. Blood-hounds are our servants (not actual hounds); we're the Other Kind (We're the Wild Hunt). We can literally detect sad sorry Tory MPs who are taking cash from Saud from just their twitter accounts within minutes, let alone those sorry assed tax haven accounts.

Host is nice: we don't track users. But there's a fucking mile of stench coming off a lot of you that is riling up allll the predators. Pro-tip: we're protecting you.

There are better ways, and we're pretty good at it. The reactions of those disagreeing with your proposition are part of how it works, and they don't even realise it. Neat, eh?

No, we're here to tell you that you're dangerously exposed and glow like fucking brilliant lures to us. Here's the example: Example

You fuckers are in Danger.

Pro-tip: Fascism is coming to town. We're not the Fascists. Would we allow Fascism to happen if there wasn't an alternative plan? Answer: the glow / smell / trace is used to denote those who are likely to turn. It smells like a fucking slaughter house to us in here, and that's not a good fucking survival technique.


Or, Myruflin, you don't get what's going on. Hint: fucking Fascism.

*looks at Clown outfit*

Hmm.

It's a fucking shame your lot proved so fucking bad at reality Games.

180:

The first test launches of the original Polaris missiles were done on land, to qualify the missile and the launch cell it would be launched from... I'm not certain but I expect the same thing happened with the first Trident missiles too.

Yes, and, IIRC, the Soviets did the same with their SLBMs from the Nenoksa test site. Also, during the great MX Basing War, the US Navy put forth the notion of using on-land Tridents instead. That did not go down well with the USAF.

181:

Oh, wait. ELF stations are 100% used to detect submarines. That's why everyone built them.

It depends on whether you're talking about ELF/VLF radio signals (the ones that require fairly huge antenna arrays) because those are very definitely used for communications with submerged vessels, and have absolutely zero detection capability.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skelton_Transmitting_Station
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthorn_Radio_Station#VLF_transmitter

Or, if you're talking about ELF sound signals in water (LF sonar is <1kHz) then I assume it's also about communications. After all, below 30Hz and you aren't going to get much of a reflected signal off the the target, because it's shorter than a wavelength. Lower frequencies give you better range, but worse resolution - just like in radar systems.

There's a big difference between "something is used in Anti-Submarine Warfare" and "oh noes, all our subs is detected" as you asserted.

If you can't even discuss known, public stuff without bullshit, you're a liar.

? Careful when you start to fling around the insults. You got caught bullshitting / making confident assertions about stuff that you really don't understand, and got called on it. It's not the first time, it won't be the last.

182:

? Careful when you start to fling around the insults. You got caught bullshitting / making confident assertions about stuff that you really don't understand, and got called on it. It's not the first time, it won't be the last.

And you got caught using .swe mil docs in a professional setting that we 100% linked you into (hmm.. France, Nato, remember? Not exactly a stretch to then read the rest then start using them for presentations, eh?) and you're still insulting us.

Like, really?


Hint: When we bullshit, we put LARGE FLAGS on it and *nose wiggles*.

You, on the other hand, apparently try to burn your sources then profit off them in a professional setting.


Hint: One is a little bit less ethical than the other. (Oh, and don't push this: if you're stupid enough to use .pdfs / slides without stipping metadata, you just got made).

:D

183:

And of course nations have allies, some of which also have nukes. I suspect the U.S would nuke someone who nuked the U.K., because otherwise who would count us as dependable allies no matter how good the relationship seemed?

184:

You're conflating ELF (very long wavelength radio) with sonar (acoustic detection).

ELF is used to transmit instructions to submarines — requires a receiving antenna multiple kilometers long trailing behind the sub, bit rate in single-digit bits per minute, transmitter power in megawatts. Imaging capability: in your dreams.

Sonar dates back to WW1 and can be used to actively detect subs ... but active sonar has a range inversely proportional to the fourth power of the emission strength, and subs are designed to absorb sound (acoustic tiles) rather than reflect it. Passive sonar (listening for emissions) is more efficient, but subs are also designed not to emit.

Clear?

Building an ELF radar array is theoretically possible but the resolution would be measured in kilometers (i.e. barely useful at all) and the power requirements prohibitive (i.e. gigawatts).

185:

This is because Godzilla sleeps beneath the waves until Japan needs him again.

186:

At one point during the 80s, I and anybody else who dropped by the Load n' Chute cafe probably harbored enough valuable intelligence to interest the KGB. Except of course nobody was interested.

... at KGB, that is. As this sort of info falls firmly within GRU province (and they likely knew everything they needed. Namely, the coordinates. Not that US intelligence was in the dark about Soviet silo... MAD is a disturbingly appropriate acronym...

187:

Except that you didn't actually read the articles... Not impressed. Reputation for omniscience greatly diminished.

188:

As for losing the Security Council seat, it's not going to happen in the short-medium term. Britain (as can all permanent members) can veto any resolution to remove them as a permanent member.
I must remember to tell that to the Republic of China.

Before you do that, let me know when the descendants of the Czar of all the Russias reclaims Moscow; notify me when the Bourbons take back the French throne; let me know when the Stuarts re-ascend the British throne; give me a call when the Democrats win a majority at any level of government of the United States,

and I'll help all of them with the UN.

In this specific case, if the government of Taiwan can make the call live from Beijing, I'll take your comment seriously. 'Til then: No.

189:

I will note that there are some recent proposals to use reactor neutrino emissions to pin down the rough location of submarines...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those neutrino detectors huge? And while NOvA looks like something more... erm... "portable", there's that pesky background noise... So it does not look like we'll be able to pinpoint the sub's location by the neutrino emissions in the near future...

190:

Lets, suppose it's Russia
Goodbye Moscow, St Petersburg, whatever Stalingrad is called this week, & the other next 10 or 15 largest cities.
And Russia is going to be significantly-functioning after this?

I'd say that's the wrong question. The right one would be: Would Russia still be able to retaliate? And the answer would be: Yes, we would. The silos are not in Moscow or Volgograd (that's what they call Stalingrad since Khruschev) and the silos are built to withstand quite a punishment, "a nuclear explosion directly on top" kind, and contingency plans just for this kind of attack were in place for a long time. They call it MAD for a reason...

191:

a) haha That got a real laugh out of me.
b) I'm not picturing a Godzilla-Cthulhu crossover of some sort.

192:

The rats are coming into view, aren't they. (Big smile.)

Anyone who wants to practice serious fascism in the Hitler/Tojo/Mussolini style might consider something important. World War II could just as easily be described as "The Universal War of Everyone Against Nazis." We had a Conservative, a Liberal, and theCommunist all leading their nations to kill Nazis over and over and over again. We recruited Asians to kill Nazis. We recruited Muslims to kill Nazis. We recruited people from Algiers, Kenya and India to kill Nazis. We recruited Blacks, Jews,* and American Indians to kill Nazis. Millions of people from every race, country and religion got together and killed Nazis, then we nuked the Asian Nazis, and after that we put the worst Nazis on trial and we executed the fuck out of the goddamn Nazis.

And we'll do it again if we have to.

* The Jewish gangsters in the U.S. beat the living shit out of the goddamn Nazis! (I'm sure my great-great uncle Abba Da Gonif would have participated, but he got offed in 1932 as collateral damage when Abie Loeb got hit.)

193:

I once imagined a rather weird future in which Toho got bored with Ghidorah and Mothra and had Godzilla administer a whipping to Cthulhu, Yog Sothoth, Hastur, etc., which in my strange future really annoyed the people who worship the Lovecraftian dieties... with some rather ugly consequences.

Anyway, I'd watch the hell out of those movies. (My brain is pretty strange, I think Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster is the best of all the Big G's movies.)

194:

This is the public world antineutrino map, one should imagine the mil imagery is several years ahead - https://www.nga.mil/MediaRoom/PressReleases/Pages/Antineutrino.aspx

195:

I see: Now, you're in the shit-can too, because she has been pointed out to be WRONG.
And insulted, you too.
And then claims it's a "joke" &/or claims mystic other knowledge concealed (not) in the bullshit.
Have fun

196:

1. Just yesterday, I started wondering what Murdoch has on Comey. Remember the big scandal five+ years ago, with News of the World going under, and bribery of Scotland Yard? They started an investigation here, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and it sort of fizzled out... and I think that was when Comey was appointed.

Yeah, though I wonder whether the correct question may be 'What does Comey have on Murdoch'. In any case, watching the Murdoch empire flail around trying to figure out how to respond to Trump is very entertaining.

Dr. Frankenstein, meet your monster. . . and the villagers with their pitchforks and flaming torches.

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/13/515043661/wall-street-journal-editor-defends-trump-coverage-at-staff-meeting

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/knives-are-out-steve-bannon-wall-street-journal-slams-trump-advisor-scalding

197:

So which is it? There's more Uranium easily available than we know what to do with. And, if that's gone, there's more Uranium in the sea than we know what to do with and we can easily get at it with this new technique. Or, we've hit peak Uranium, and we can't afford to extract enough to make any difference to the Paris RCPs. And anyway, the EROEI is too low to make it worthwhile. Which means "Declining uranium production will make it impossible to obtain a significant increase in electrical power from nuclear plants in the coming decades." http://energyskeptic.com/2017/peak-uranium-from-ugo-bardis-extracted/

198:

You know the Donald really likes having his name on things. If the UK cannot get the latest Trident missiles, don't look at it as a military problem. You just need to make a deal. Your new Trump D-5 missiles will be every bit as good as Tridents, but with superior branding. They will be totally worth the extra cost. They will be great.

199:

It feels a bit strange to be re-capitulating the arguments for and against the philosophy of MAD in 2017. The establishment and CND seem to have been doing that for 70 odd years now. I'm sure there's good reasons why it's completely impossible for the UK to unilaterally disarm just now what with Brexit and all. But just imagine for a moment that the UK did actually do this. And then spent the peace dividend of not spending all that money on Trident by using half to fix the NHS and giving the other half as a no-strings-attached Christmas bonus to every man woman and child in the UK. Do you think a Corbyn-Labour win in the next election might actually do this? Oh, look, a floating pig!

200:

Actually, not true. Or at least, not completely. The fission reaction produces no neutrinos; what does produce neutrinos in a fission reactor is radioactive breakdown (specifically beta decay) in the fission products. Of course, there are a lot of those, which is why a working fission reactor produces neutrinos.

Interestingly, it follows that a freshly refuelled fission reactor creates many fewer neutrinos than one needing a refuelling.

Using floating capsules full of beta-decaying isotopes would work as a decoy, but there would have to be an awful lot of material in them - thus extremely dangerous to handle and even worse if the capsule was damaged, as is likely if it's a decoy. Also, to really work properly it would have to match the isotopic composition of the nasty stuff in a reactor; but this is quite easy, just use reactor waste in your decoy.

Of course, fusion reactors do produce neutrinos - but there aren't any of those yet, at least none useful for power production.

201:

Uranium is currently cheap to produce -- at the moment profitable mines sell yellowcake (U3O8, the minehead product) on the world market at $25 per lb (it's a US market hence the weird mass unit), or about $55 per kilo. That kilo of yellowcake, after processing, enrichment, fabrication into fuel elements and consumption once-through in a light-water nuclear reactor produces about $500 worth of electricity at commercial rates if the back-of-the-envelope calculation I did a while ago is accurate.

Uranium is produced in many places around the world, in some cases in dedicated mining operations such as Cigar Lake in Canada and elsewhere it's an adjunct product in places like the giant copper mine in Olympic Dam in Australia. In addition new mining and extraction processes such as in-situ leaching are being used where appropriate (a new plant to carry out this kind of uranium recovery has just been licenced in Wyoming). I don't know the cost benefits of this process but drilling and injection is going to be significantly cheaper than driving tunnels for hard-rock extraction. The material returns are likely to be less though, and the yellowcake spot price has dropped significantly since the operators applied for a licence to drill and leach back in 2012.

The methods of extraction of uranium metal from seawater are more expensive than mining and leaching current ore bodies; the original Japanese experiments reported an estimated cost of about $300 per kilo if it went commercial. This press release with new technology ion-exchange mats suggests the price might fall to $100 per kilo, still twice as expensive as mining.

There are tens of millions of tonnes of spent fuel available for reprocessing in the future if mined uranium becomes scarce or a lot more expensive and it's all on the surface and ready to hand, but reprocessing costs more than once-through right now. Some work is being done on new cheaper methods of reprocessing spent fuel but again there's no commercial demand for it at the moment so what we've got is PUREX and similar, based on cost-no-object nuclear weapons material production processes.

If, and it is as yet unproven, seawater extraction does become cheaper and can be commercially scaled up then there will be no appreciable shortage of uranium fuel in the next millenium even given a massive scale-up of power plant production to meet demand. Even Germany will have run out of lignite by then and will have to go back to nuclear power.

202:

For a start, the EnergySkeptic article is assuming that all reactors only use freshly mined Uranium forever. Any moderately sane programme will be reprocessing fuel rods which drops the consumption by an order of magnitude or two. It's also a bit wooly on the actual reasons that fast breeders and plutonium burners never took off.

203:

Make it tens of millennia, using currently economically viable techniques. There is a huge amount of less rich ore - say, $100 rather than $25 - in addition to more efficient use (reprocessing, fast breeders), as Vulch says. And then there's thorium as well. Fuel supply is not the issue.

204:

Aand about all those nuclear deterrents... Looks like The Orange One (or his... erm... advisors) would like to play chicken with Kim family of the DPRK...
The original WSJ article is behind the paywall, but here is the info on that...

205:

I'm assuming a massive increase in fission nuclear power takeup once most of the available fracked and conventional gas sources have been exhausted and coal-burning has been relegated to minor third world powers and Germany. CO2 levels in the atmosphere will have hit 500ppm by that time and even the most fervent gas-burning renewables fans will be willing to do the right thing and accept nuclear power. That increase in new nuclear plants will require a lot more uranium production per annum which will eat into the reserves a bit faster.

We generally have a good handle on how to build Gen 4 nuclear reactors which have a much higher burn-up rate i.e. they produce a lot more more electricity per tonne of uranium consumed but at the moment uranium is cheap and light-water reactors are proven technology so the future benefits of the Gen 4 reactors aren't applicable today.

206:

The Kim Jongs are irrelevant, and their country is, too. But China would NOT be happy for the USA to turn North Korea into a USA puppet state, or even a more dysfunctional one.

207:

Easy solution to Trump threatening UK Trident. One of the new Dreadnaught Class Subs gets the assigned the name HMS Trumpeter (currently assigned to a P2000 patrol vessel but historically used for an Escort Carrier).
RN outrage contained by quietly leaking the fact that the Orange One will be well out of office when the sub is commissioned. Could even rename one of the prexisting SSN Trafalgar classes in a pinch.

208:

Dammit beaten to the punchline!

209:

> MAD in 2017

Gsponer thinks advances may have rendered MAD moot - fourth-gen nukes are 'clean' and much more usable. "Bunker buster" for example

https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0510071#

210:

And then spent the peace dividend of not spending all that money on Trident by using half to fix the NHS and giving the other half as a no-strings-attached Christmas bonus to every man woman and child in the UK

Sounds virtuous, but largely ineffectual. At a guess, you'd get one or two large hospitals, and every further £10B you save will get you four quid a head each (40 years, 60 million people) - working shown below...

Remember that the costs of Trident include the build costs, and all associated infrastructure, maintenance, and crewing over the entire lifetime of the fleet. It sounds like a huge number, but when you compare it to (say) the lifetime of a hospital, it isn't such a huge expense. Here's a set of spreadsheets from NHS Scotland:
http://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Finance/Costbook/

It looks like the running costs across Scotland are £5.1B per year, for 25k beds (£200k per bed, per year); and a construction cost of about £0.2M - $0.5M per bed. Assuming a 40-year hospital life, that's £8.5M per bed. Taking the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as an example (900 beds; construction cost of about £200M) that's a lifetime running cost of £8B, give or take. Balfour Beatty are claimed to make £1.5B over the next 30 years (it's a PFI) so add a £1B for equipment, materials, and maintenance. Call it £10B per large hospital, on the same basis.

So; you save cash on building four big submarines - but you'd need to keep Barrow-in-Furness building submarines to avoid losing the key skills (or to avoid destroying the local economy), so you'd probably want to build different submarines in their place. Not much saving there, either; an Astute-class appears to cost £1.6B each, while Dreadnought is planned to cost £16B for four. Call it £8B saving right there, spread over forty years.

A lot of the savings would have to come from sacking all the sailors - but as the RN is undermanned, those sundodgers freed from SSBN would instantly be grabbed by the rest of the (expanded) SSN fleet or the surface warfare types. This also applies to all the Z berths and submarine-specific facilities. So, not much of that cost is likely to reappear as a saving; Faslane will still operate, and still need several hundred civilians to be employed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-scotland-32236184

Somewhere between the CND estimate of the cost of Trident, and the MoD estimate, there's a realistic level of savings to be had; assuming that every penny can be clawed back from the most inflated cost estimate, you're looking at five new hospitals and £20 per head. Assuming that MoD is about right, but that they're going to build other submarines in place of Successor, you're looking at one new hospital and maybe £3 per head.

In other words, it's not going to fix the NHS...

211:

I think you are missing the point... and quite spectacularly so, I must say.

The point John Hughes is making (and I made some posts before him) is that back in 1971 Taiwan/ROC wasn't allowed to veto the resolution that installed the Popular Republic of China in the Security Council! The Popular Republic diplomatics were recognized as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations" and Taiwan was, in essence, expelled from the United Nations. So much for vetoes!

212:

Another argument just occurred to me, that uses India and Pakistan as a worked-cost example.

Wars are expensive. Really expensive. They make peacetime submarine operations look pathetically cheap by comparison - the NAO reckons that the UK spent £8B on six years of operations in Iraq, and £25B on a decade in Afghanistan. Less than 10,000 soldiers involved in each for any length of time, and only a few weeks of large-scale high-intensity warfare.

Pakistan and India fought three wars (full-on tank battles, invasions, bombing raids) in a couple of decades - and stopped as soon as India had nuclear weapons. Since Pakistan gained nuclear weapons, they haven't restarted (vicious little skirmish in Kashmir 1999 aside). Forty years without armoured warfare, achieved through deterrence...

It's fair to say that the UK deterrent is much cheaper than a land war in Europe. The question is whether the deterrent is working, or whether all those years of peace were just a coincidence because reasonable people made sensible decisions in a spirit of happy and enlightened cooperation...

...after all, no politician has ever looked for a short victorious war to prop up national spirit and distract from domestic failures, have they?

213:

I will note that there are some recent proposals to use reactor neutrino emissions to pin down the rough location of submarines

Speaking as a neutrino physicist, I don't know of anything "recent". There is a current proposal—I'm not on it, but I have colleagues who are—to conduct a feasibility study on using neutrino detectors to spot clandestine nuclear reactors (WATCHMAN), but that is concerned principally with enforcing non-proliferation treaties: it expects its neutrino sources to stay in one place, if you don't mind. The WATCHMAN proposal says, "At the kiloton scale, the detector would be capable of excluding the existence of an operating 10 MWt reactor with high confidence in a ∼25 kilometer radius." Submarine nuclear reactors seem to be typically 100–200 MWt, so a kiloton detector would see them out to ~100 km or so. The proposed Hyper-Kamiokande is megatonne scale, so would get that up to a few thousand kilometres if it has the same detection efficiency as WATCHMAN (not a given!).

The non-portability of neutrino detectors is not an issue: you don't know where the submarines are a priori, so what you want is an array large enough to detect such a reactor anywhere in the world (that paper dates from 2003: it's not "recent", but it is by one of the founders of the neutrino telescope field). He's talking gigatons, and says, "The array discussed here would certainly also be able to detect nuclear submarines and ships out to substantial range, if they are running at reasonable power levels". But, importantly, "the signals might be used to roughly track the submarine, but not with great precision, nor in real time. The tracking accuracy should not be enough to cause worry to military planners concerned with destabilizing exposure of submarines to attack." In other words, neutrinos could in principle tell you that a submarine exists (which you already knew), but not where it is (at least, not accurately enough to shoot at it).

The detection reaction, inverse beta decay (ν̅e + p → e+ + n) is not directional: you get the direction by triangulation from multiple detectors.

214:

> It's insanely easy to hide such things if you have the right location, the right staff

;) reminded of a mention i saw somewhere of cia counting tons of materiel into and out of various plants to see if it was all accounted for, and the maskirovka activities designed to muddy the waters
;) vegan mates in uk universities, years back, declaring disinterest in most available funded research projects due to military involvment
;) how to track where went those awfully bright kids with 1sts in maths/physics over the years..
;) every new defence system overcomes the obsolescence of it's predecessor, as soon as the defeat is learnt of (we're up to: 'smart skins' throwing holograms, DEWs, quantum radar, air and sea drone swarms, robo-tanks laden with guns [reportedly tested good in aleppo] )
;) technology research well-funded where it has 'dual-use', so e.g. mil advances part-driven by open research (the costs go astronomical to merely expensive) (in fields from smartphones to jet-engines to distributed software stacks)
;) control of scientific academic publishing : qui bono ? Maxwell ? https://www.wintersonnenwende.com/scriptorium/english/archives/articles/patents.html

215:

I see the gulf between evangelists and opponents of nuclear power is as wide as ever. And note that the cornucopian solutions (Gen4, Fast Breeders, Thorium, etc) are not as far away as fusion but commercial reality still looks to be 30 years out.

216:

Not quite sure why you've quoted me in replying to a comment from Martin, but you've misinterpreted my comment by assuming that I was using "we" in the same sense that you use it of yourself only "on the other side", as it were. I wasn't: I was using it to mean "people from the same national group as myself", ie. the UK. I thought it would be pretty obvious from context that it could not refer to either a larger grouping (ie. one that would include not-the-UK, since that wouldn't make sense) or a smaller one (since that would place irrelevant emphasis on the distinction between "me", Pigeon, and "them", the people who do secret and spooky things with nukes). I was basically agreeing with you, and also expressing amusement at the demonstration in others' replies of one of the obfuscation factors in operation.

217:

No cornucopia is needed to fuel a complete generation of light-water reactors operating for about a century or so, the best working estimate for the operational lifespan of new-build units (i.e. anything built since about 2005). Even if we pull our heads out of our arses and actually start to roll out light-water reactors like jelly babies while shooting anyone who releases fossil carbon into the atmosphere in the form of CO2 there's more than enough recoverable uranium around to feed that need even without processing a lot of seawater.

Gen 4 fast reactors work, a couple of examples are in operation today. Fast breeders work but they're expensive to run. Thorium breeders, sorry I'm not that delusional (Thorium has been proven as a fuel but only as an adjunct to uranium-235 and maybe a smidgeon of plutonium). Their problem is they're not needed today while minehead yellowcake is $55 per kilo. China and Russia have vague plans to fuel Gen 4 reactors with lightly-processed spent LWR fuel sometime in the 2030s or so but they're not at the point of pouring concrete and bending metal (and spending money) on the project and until that actually happens it's not real.

218:
The point John Hughes is making (and I made some posts before him) is that back in 2018 England wasn't allowed to veto the resolution that installed Scotland in the Security Council! The Edinburgh diplomats were recognized as "the only legitimate representative of the former UK to the United Nations" and England was, in essence, expelled from the United Nations. So much for vetoes!
219:

"We generally have a good handle on how to build Gen 4 nuclear reactors which have a much higher burn-up rate i.e. they produce a lot more more electricity per tonne of uranium consumed but at the moment uranium is cheap and light-water reactors are proven technology so the future benefits of the Gen 4 reactors aren't applicable today."

They certainly are applicable, and your previous paragraph hints at one reason why: installing systems designed around the assumption of uranium being cheap in preparation for a future where uranium will be expensive is quite obviously idiotic.

And "uranium is cheap" isn't even a good reason in the first place because it is entirely based on fiction. Let us assume for the sake of simplicity that the source of uranium is seawater, and that the supply is "inexhaustible" in the sense that its long-term availability is a far more dependable prediction than the survival of the human race for a comparable time. The effort of obtaining uranium is constant, determined by such immutable factors as its abundance in seawater and the minimum entropy conversion required to separate it. The effort of constructing a particular reactor design is also constant: so much concrete, so much steel, so much lead, etc. etc., arranged in a particular configuration. It makes no difference at all what made-up numbers called "cost" are attached to getting concrete, steel, lead, and people to put it together, to how much effort is involved.

Building the most efficient system possible is the only way to go about it that makes any sense. The effort of learning how to do it has to be expended at some point no matter what, and the sooner it is done the less effort is wasted on building and operating systems that are not maximally efficient. Obsession with "cost" does not minimise effort; instead it increases it, because the people going on about "cost" are not the ones who have to expend the effort and don't care about the ones who do. (And are also quite likely to have some utterly bent "justification" for their position which argues that wasted effort is actually a good thing because of blah blah more silly reasons based on imaginary stuff that people make up in preference to actually dealing with reality.)

220:

Yes. Politicians like nuclear weapons because they are much cheaper than an effective modern military and because it gives them a bigger willy to wave. What's not to like?

221:

The point who is making?

I think you used the wrong window.

222:

Would the detection accuracy be enough that one could narrow down a search area sufficiently to go and find the sub using more conventional means?

223:

I'm afraid you have - just maybe - missed the joke.

224:

The overall effort might be the same regardless of "cost" but cost reflects the relative scarcity of the inputs and by extension the other uses they could be put to which seems like a relevant factor?

225:

My excuse is that I don't have a filter on this browser so I was leaning a bit hard on the page down key :)

226:

Thorium doesn't need anyone to be "delusional"; it works. Certainly an initial charge of 235U and/or 239Pu is needed to start the system off, but once it's going you're well set: the 233U it produces is a better breeder fuel than either 235U or 239Pu, because it produces more spare neutrons per fission event: you don't have to mess around setting up the conditions for fast fission in order to smash extra neutrons out of the exploding nucleus; "ordinary" slow fission will do. (Yes, fast breeders also work, but they are inherently a much more awkward proposition than slow reactors because the conditions for fast fission involve things like a much higher power density, dodgy coolant materials, etc.) And thorium cycles ought also to appeal to the non-proliferation wonks because nukes are still basically hand-made and the hard radiation from impurities in the 233U produced by the cycle puts the kybosh on that.

227:

Would the detection accuracy be enough that one could narrow down a search area sufficiently to go and find the sub using more conventional means?

I think the short answer to that is "no": Learned talks about resolutions of a few tens of kilometres, and I wouldn't want to be asked to find one submarine in an area of about 1000 square kilometres! Also, note the point about the tracking not being real time—so you know where the sub was, not where it is now. This strikes me as distinctly unhelpful. On a more positive note, this paper does date from 2003, and our analysis techniques (and computer power) have got better, so the not-real-time problem might have gone away. The resolution, on the other hand, is a function of statistics (as I said, you have to triangulate based on comparing fluxes measured by different detectors), and that just depends on the fiducial mass of your detectors, so estimates made in 2003 are still good.

228:

Well, it could be done, but to quote from "Hunt for Red October", "You've dropped so many sonobouys into the Denmark Strait that I could walk dry shod from Greenland to Iceland!"

229:

Yeah - I see how "It was somewhere within a 100 clicks of here, some time ago, probably" would be less than helpful.

Thanks

230:

Until and unless someone develops an adequately directional neutrino detector. I shan't hold my breath.

231:

Ah.
"A short Victorious War" Like I quoted ....

Um

232:

My late ex (not to be confused with anyone else) was in the US Navy in the first half of the eighties, and wound up in whatevertheacronymis for the Atlantic theater - she used to say it was the place pictured in Hunt for Red October (which she also told me they all laughed at), and told me they had no trouble tracking Soviet subs. One could run quiet... but they *heard* a very noisy samovar, for real.

Sound carries a long way underwater.

mark

233:

Re: link

Okay, so this map shows only landmasses lighting up. Is this an artist's conception thing or real because it suggests that these particles are not viewable/measurable if in water? (I'm not a scientist, so please respond in non-tech language if possible.)


Excerpt:

'More than 99 percent of all terrestrial antineutrinos come from within the Earth, with the remainder coming from nuclear reactors. The detection of antineutrinos from nuclear reactors continues to provide insights into their oscillatory behavior and potential future applications for nuclear nonproliferation.'

234:

And with the current news that Sessions lied, and had contact with the Russians (note that I heard a bit ago that he's claiming that it was in his job in charge of a Senatorial committee... but the paper tracked down the *other* one or two dozen members of the committee, and *they* didn't have private meetings), the question now becomes, "did *any* members of the Trump campaign *not* have contact with the Russians? An intern, maybe?"

mark

235:

Until and unless someone develops an adequately directional neutrino detector. I shan't hold my breath.

There are perfectly fine directional neutrino detectors—just not for this energy range. Fission neutrinos have energies around 3 MeV or thereabouts (see here for more than you want to know), and the dominant process at this energy is inverse beta decay, which simply is not directional: the direction of the positron is essentially uncorrelated with the direction of the incoming neutrino (actually it's very slightly more likely to go backwards than forwards, but with low statistics there is no way you would ever see that). Elastic scattering, where the neutrino bounces off a nucleus and the nucleus recoils, is directional, but you'd have to detect the direction of the minuscule nuclear recoil—good luck with that. For neutrinos, neutrino-electron elastic scattering is directional (the electron recoil tells you the neutrino direction), but unfortunately nuclear reactors produce antineutrinos, and elastic scattering is much less likely with antineutrinos (because of the lack of a W exchange diagram, but you don't want the gory details).

So, in short, you are right not to hold your breath. But it's not really the detectors' fault.

236:

The neutrino array might not tell you where a single sub is at any given time ... but it's still useful information.

Boomers may carry missiles with a range measured in thousands of miles, but they generally patrol within set areas of ocean that are carefully mapped out for the task; deep enough there' s no chance of running into a seamount, no nearby coastlines, easy to get to from their home harbors without too much risk of being picked up and tailed by an enemy boat, and so on.

These patrol zones are small enough that occasionally SSBNs bump heads, and they're used over a period of years or decades. If you can map out their extent by looking for neutrino emissions from the submarines, then that massively narrows down the area you have to search exhaustively by other means.

237:

I'm trying to visualize this neutrino thing based on what the Wikipedia excerpt below says, so:

Could looking for faster (than surroundings) changes in mix of particles (flavors) specifically point to this, as in: 'Hey!, there's too much 'flux' here than there ought to be ... must be a nuclear-powered sub spitting out neutrinos.'?

Wikipedia:

'Neutrinos oscillate between different flavors in flight. For example, an electron neutrino produced in a beta decay reaction may interact in a distant detector as a muon or tau neutrino. This oscillation occurs because the three mass state components of the produced flavor travel at slightly different speeds, so that their quantum mechanical wave packets develop relative phase shifts that change how they combine to produce a varying superposition of three flavors.[7][8]'

238:

the 233U it produces is a better breeder fuel than either 235U or 239Pu, because it produces more spare neutrons per fission event

Excerpted from the IAEA website and tidied up a bit:

----------------------------------------------
Average number of neutrons emitted per fission

Nuclide------Total-neutron Yield

92-U-233-----2.4968 ± 0.0035

92-U-235-----2.4355 ± 0.0023

94-Pu-239----2.8836 ± 0.0047
----------------------------------------------

So U-233 is about 2.5% more profligate than U-235 but noticeably less than Pu-239. A problem with using thorium as a fuel is that it requires breeding to work at all whereas uranium-fuelled light-water reactors can run a lossier neutron economy at lower energy densities and temperatures and still earn a living.

Some work is being done to test techniques to, ahem, "convert" thorium (LFTR fans don't like the word "breed" for some reason) for use as an adjunct fuel in pebble-bed reactors and regular light-water-moderated reactors but there's no economic demand for it since there's plenty of cheap easy-to-use uranium around now and into the foreseeable future. Maybe in a millenium or two...

A big reason for developing fast-spectrum reactors like the BN-800 grid-scale unit is to test out spent-fuel use strategies and processes, the so-called "waste eater" reactor concept but at the moment the concentration of effort for the BN-800 team is in the engineering of novel fuel elements for long-term operation and better economy. Fast-spectrum reactors aren't really breeders per se, they don't produce Pu for use in other light-water reactors although they generally have a breeding ratio of greater than 1.

239:

Both/all sides already have a good idea of the patrol areas of the other people's boomers but it tends to be a box about a thousand kilometres on a side and a a few hundred metres deep and that's a lot of water to get lost in. I suspect that both/all sides have passive sonar tracking devices liberally sprinkled on the seabed in those boxes hoping to catch the signature of a passing sub but generally new-build nuclear subs are getting to be very quiet with electric drive and acoustic tiles on the hulls and the next generation of boomers will use the same construction techniques as their more aggressive siblings to become "holes in the water" in a similar manner.

240:

I did say "adequately". The statistical analysis of the accuracy, dependent on the directionality and forground/background ratio, is pretty straightforward (at least for you and me), but it imposes a theoretical limit. Just like the determination of a step location in a time series of (essentially Poisson) events. You clearly know the numbers; I don't, but know they must exist.

241:

Jaw jaw is better than war war. Except, in this case, I suspect that it's more more! Money, of course. Still, it's a hell of a lot better than the previous administration's refusal to talk.

242:

As a non-scientist, find it amusing that the most meaningful and useful particle in the quest for energy is the neutron which itself has no charge.

Might be a lesson here for politicians: don't ignore the no-nuke nations. Or: Just because someone doesn't make a lot of noise, doesn't mean they're harmless or irrelevant. (Switzerland and Panama pop to mind.)

243:

new mining and extraction processes such as in-situ leaching are being used where appropriate... drilling and injection is going to be significantly cheaper than driving tunnels for hard-rock extraction.

Sadly has many of the same problems as with fracking, with the extra problem that you're injecting things that are explicitly designed to render heavy metals water soluble. In other words, whatever aquifers are involved will probably never be usable again as water supplies (on human timescales). This makes in-situ leaching very high risk, since our ability to map aquifers is still very vague and approximate. Which takes us back to "maybe in China, probably in Russia, impossible in a democracy" territory.

I'm with John Quiggin on nuclear power - I wish it was useful for civilian electricity, but sadly it isn't (he looks primarily at economics). If you use the Beyond Zero Emissions criteria of "commercial off the shelf" and ignore timescales, the Westinghouse AP1000 is almost the only possible choice of reactor. But sadly, using that criteria even first world plantation biomass or concentrated solar power with molten salt storage is cheaper.

If you include time to build there's no comparison, in the best case we might get an AP1000 from idea to feeding the grid in 20 years. CPS+salt is 5-10 years, biomass is 2-5 excluding plantation growth time. By 20 years into it you'll probably be into the second major refurb of your CSP plants because the new technology is so much more efficient that the refurb is unavoidable... assuming PV+battery hasn't made the plants uneconomic. One reason civilian nukes are so hard to fund is that the price curve for PV+battery makes a 50 year gamble on electricity prices seem stupid.

244:

Sorry, my loose terminology - it's not just the total neutron yield per fission event that matters, but also the fraction of neutrons absorbed by fissile nuclei without actually causing fission (ratio of capture cross section to fission cross section). This is (from memory) about 1 in 5 for 235U, about 1 in 4 for 239Pu, and something better than 1 in 10 for 233U. So one neutron in gives you 1.9something out for 235U, 2.3ish out for 233U, and 2.1something for 239Pu. Knock off the one neutron you need to continue the chain reaction and 235U gives you 0.9something spare neutrons (so you can't breed more than you eat), 233U about 1.3 spare (so you can), and 239Pu 1.1something spare (so you can, but not so easily).

(That's for thermal neutrons; with fast neutrons all three isotopes give more than 1 spare neutron and it is 239Pu that gives the most, which makes it good for bombs. Partly because of changes in the capture/fission ratio with incident neutron energy, and partly because high enough energy neutrons can knock more out.)

245:

Leaching isn't fracking and isn't being considered for rock strata that are part of aquifers. It's more straight up-and-down drilling into uranium-rich strata at significant depths.

If you're worried about aquifers worry about all the ones that already have thousands of capped-off oil and gas drill holes punched through them into the fossil-carbon-brearing strata underneath. The drill pipes are abandoned and not receiving any sort of maintenance.

Time to build a 1GWe nuclear reactor from first concrete to grid connection in China is about 6 years or so. The Korean-built AP-1400 reactors in the UAE look to be up and running in even less time -- Barakh 1 started construction in July 2012 and is expected to start up in May this year, about five years total.

Vogtle and Summer's AP-1000 builds in the US have stretched their schedule to grid connection by a couple of years but there don't appear to be any show-stoppers after the year-long delay caused by the ASME sticking their oar in.

God knows what's been going wrong with the Areva EPR builds around the world though, nobody seems to be talking.

246:

The USN refers to them as "boomers", I understand that the RN refers to them as "bombers"....

As you say, there was a minor bump between HMS Vanguard and the French submarine Triomphant - leading to an agreement between the UK and France regarding deconfliction of patrol areas. Previous bumps have AIUI involved SSN (e.g. HMS Warspite hit a Soviet SSN, HMS Sceptre hit a Soviet SSBN); or SSBN colliding with the SSN attempting to tail it (USS James Madison, USS Baton Rouge); this AFAIK was the first SSBN bumping into SSBN, the first collision between allies, and an indication that at low speeds, the SSBN really is very very hard to hear.

Once the SSBN is out past the choke points, it's largely undetectable with current passive means. This is why there's a big effort every time an SSBN departs Faslane on patrol; the route out has to be sanitised, to make sure that no foreign SSN is hiding and waiting for a chance to tail the SSBN to its patrol area. Apparently, the loss from service of the Nimrod MR.2 meant that the duty frigates and their ASW helicopters get worked a lot harder - the RAF is very happy that they're getting the P-8.

There are some fascinating books that talk about the Cold War submarine operations; most notably "Blind Man's Bluff".

247:

προφῆτις (it's a pun and a problem).

The .ru links were pointed.

I hit (by accident) a document that had an extremely detailed break-down of the entire UK side of the Airbus Defense and Space companies (since I was looking at just what a M51 was and where all the linked production chains went). By detailed, I mean it had locations, pictures, staff bios and so on with what appeared to be operation data. And was ~100+ pages long. And unlike the pdf posted (which is essentially a marketing tool) this one was a little more workmanlike. Red arrows and insert dates and frequency data type of non-marketing.

I also happened to still be logged onto Host's blog at the time.

ELF = Elves = Panic mode. ELF = submarine detection = wrong. Reading that document = wrong detection.

@ Martin - the "Marfen" is this joke - "WerateDogs[tm] they're good dogs Brent". Full Explanation. I know I was spouting bullshit: I know you know more about this side than me. We're fully aware that all if not most here know a lot lot more about Nuclear Wessels than us. I was squeaking for a reason.

But the stuff you can find with an inquiring Mind is fairly scary. The stuff that is left open to searches is even scarier (or perhaps, left there for the right Goldilocks and blundering in to sniff the honey is embarrassing to all concerned).

Unlike those looking for Area 51 (it really does make sense: Gary McKinnon), I've no desire for Host to get into trouble.


/goes dark

p.s.

The Prophetis stuff is a little bit more complicated than that, but hey. Think EuroVision Entries.

248:

Perhaps - but we saw the iconic picture of Thatcher in the commander's hatch of a tank, not the bridge of an SSBN...

You could argue that the CASD is a cost-effective part of a rounded defence policy. Yes, the UK is gapping certain capabilities "at risk" (e.g. the Challenger 2 is obsolescent, the Warrior Mid-Life upgrade kept moving to the right, FRES is a bad joke that cost nearly a billion for exactly no vehicles, Air Defence is somewhat lacking); but then we chose as a nation to waste £30B on fighting over a decade of land wars in Asia.

If Putin stays out of the Baltic states, and withdraws his troops from the Donbass, then the current policy will be working (I think we all know that he's "got away with" the invasion and occupation of Crimea). If he doesn't, then we screwed up, and it's the Sudetenland all over again.

249:

But the stuff you can find with an inquiring Mind is fairly scary. The stuff that is left open to searches is even scarier (or perhaps, left there for the right Goldilocks and blundering in to sniff the honey is embarrassing to all concerned).

Not really. It's out there, so that investors can understand it. None of the things I've ever linked has been classified; from the sound of it, you've been looking at a detailed document that just follows commercial information - trawl through a Company's shareholder reports, and you'll find similar levels of detail.

The only Swedish report I've linked was unclassified, as part of their commitment to openness; NATO or US reports I've linked to are unclassified as part of their commitment to sharing knowledge. Where classified sessions happen, you'll just see them redacted from the unclassified version of the Research Group journal (I'm going on experience of the NATO Radar conferences here).

You can even trawl LinkedIn to see who's working on what project. Throw in the project name, see who's willing to declare what they're working on. It doesn't cause a problem, not really. OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) is powerful stuff, but I truly think you're jumping at shadows of your own mind's making. I mean, really, who cares about you or I? You're not a threat to anything, and the three-letter agencies have their hands full worrying about genuinely dangerous types. Seriously, they could care less about us.

250:

Leaching isn't fracking and isn't being considered for rock strata that are part of aquifers.

Except in Australia, where the Beverly mine actually used an aquifer for the leachate injection according to the mining company who did it. Would you agree that you're simply wrong to claim otherwise?

Government/mining report: http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/11182/mj13_beverley.pdf

I quote from that report: ISL is essentially a process of pumping and circulating groundwater. At Beverley it will involve reducing the pH of the groundwater to ~2, circulating it through the ore-zone aquifer and adding oxidants, allowing the uranium to dissolve. The pregnant groundwater will be treated at the surface to recover the uranium, then recirculated through the aquifer to continue the process.

Note the repeated use of "in the aquifer" in the pro-mining report of the operation.

It was also trialled at Honeymoon in the Great Artesian Basin (South Australia). The trial was terminated because it didn't work.

Report, page 91 on is the actual experience: http://users.monash.edu.au/~gmudd/files/1998-07-InSituLeach-UMining.pdf

251:

Or: Just because someone doesn't make a lot of noise, doesn't mean they're harmless or irrelevant. (Switzerland and Panama pop to mind.)

We just got back from three weeks in Panama, mostly around Panama City. Very impressive, modulo traffic and residual stuff from the past, and appears to be going places. The word "Singapore" came to mind.

However, there's a Trump Tower downtown. Sad!

252:

I think you are missing the point... and quite spectacularly so, I must say.

Such a cliché rhetorical response: "You just don't understand my point! How shallow of you!"

No, I understood the point and the slightly whiffy (such BO!) British aristocrat in their club kind of way it was made, I just pointed out the ridiculousness of asserting that someone would occupy London in the same way that they occupied Beijing.

You have two choices now:

1. Argue that someone is going to take over London and thus imitate the China experience,

2. Argue that the UN will find Scotland convincing as a permanent Security Council member when the English army is massing on the border.

Which would you like to try and argue is plausible? And do put down the sherry while you arguing it, won't you?

253:

"you're arguing it"

Sigh. You can hold onto the sherry. Take a bath, though.

255:

"ore-zone aquifer" -- that's a strata of permeable rock, usually something like sandstone sandwiched between two impermeable rock layers, rich in uranium salts and a billion years of radioactive decay products and what the leaching operation is intended to extract. It's not anything like suitable for drinking. The original water supply for the leach injection may well come out of an aquifer but as the report says they constantly circulate and process the leach fluid after it's been acidified (Ph of about 2). Some leach operations use strong alkaline solutions depending on the underlying geology.

About the only real pollution I'd worry about would be the release of trapped radon gas during the process since there's bugger all that can be done with it, same as with the much larger radon releases from the giant coal mines dotting the Australian countryside and powering the economy.

256:

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/honeymoon-uranium-mine-leak

Even the miners were forced to admit that the "pollution to worry about" is the above-ground spills and leaks, plus the stuff they later detected in drinking water nearby.

257:

See also
( Drilling / fracking / oil etc in desirable areas.etc ... )

258:

Right, so there are aquifers used for in-situ leach mining, contrary to your assertion. If you could show an example of hard-rock leach mining, even as a trial, I'd be impressed.

As I understand it the whole point is that it works in permeable rocks, they pump liquids in, those soak through the rock, then they draw some of that liquid back out hopefully with useful minerals dissolved in it. They also hope that the hole they drill to do that does cause leaks between aquifers and that none of the rock-dissolving chemicals create new leaks into aquifers they don't want them to. There's a great deal of hoping and not a lot of ability to fix any damage.

At least on the surface the contamination can be seen, but when you have to wait years for the contamination to seep through and make someone's drinking water unsafe the idea that a long-gone mining company will remediate it is laughable. We had enough problems with Orica/ICI contaminating Botany groundwater right in the middle of Sydney then playing games with first admitting the problem, then paying for the cleanup. And these were middle-class white people in the middle of a major city! The problems faced by poor black people in remote areas are significantly worse - how do you fund a lawsuit when there's only 50 people and their major assets have already been stolen?

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/publications/botanygtp0513.pdf

So yeah, much better to use seawater, or just dig a dirty great hole in the middle of a world heritage area (note: actual Ranger mine site is excised from Kakadu WHA). At least when people have to go down the hole they can look for problems and there's already access to fix them, hopefully.

259:

Martin.

I do hope you realize the irony you're deploying, I really do ('cause otherwise, too funny). *Opens up another Mercer Health Risk Analysis for fun*. (I mean: if people aren't getting the jokes, then why do them at the same time as actually using them for reference and making a real point? That's the depressing thing).

p.s.

Having animals screeching outside my window is annoying. How's about we do something about that? Or have your lot totally lost any control over... raccoons? [Note: Martin is in the UK, this isn't a USA racist joke, and even if you used a comparable animal (fox? badger?) no UK animals I know of have specific racial epithets tied to them. So fuck off Langley].

260:

Regularly woken by foxes being noisy in my garden ....

261:
One could run quiet... but they *heard* a very noisy samovar, for real.
An important design feature of the Triomphant class SNLEs is the silenced bread-kneading machine which allows the production of fresh baguettes without much noise.

This is not a joke -- morale is important on submarines.

262:

This is not a joke -- morale is important on submarines.

Yep, can confirm. Have toured more than one retired museum-sub and was impressed by the USN's commitment to ensuring that all crew members regularly get a tub of freshly-made ice cream while on patrol in the middle of the Pacific.

(Google google USS Blueback — turns out she was the last diesel-electric sub in the US navy.)

263:

Okay, so this map shows only landmasses lighting up. Is this an artist's conception thing or real because it suggests that these particles are not viewable/measurable if in water?

Neither of the above. If you look at the paper (should be open access), specifically Table 1 thereof, you will see that U, Th and K are much more concentrated in continental crust than they are in oceanic crust or mantle. So the continents are a stronger geoneutrino source than the oceans.

As regard neutrino oscillations (@237), they don't help: actually, they make things worse. At this energy, only electron antineutrinos (and electron neutrinos) are readily detectable (unless, like SNO, you happen to have a kiloton or so of D2O), so oscillations—which cause neutrinos produced as electron-type to interact as some other type—just reduce your detectable flux.

264:

"If he doesn't, then we screwed up, and it's the Sudetenland all over again." You are a slavering warmonger, aren't you? Almost everything you imply can be shown to be false and some of it the opposite of the truth, using Western news sources alone. You have just triggered Godwin's Rule, so I shall not stop here.

265:

No
Wrong
Unfortunately, Putin has & gets to keep the Crimea & the Tatars get screwed-over. Given. No conflict.
Putin stays out of Donbass & ( most of the ) Ukraine & at the very least stabilises - even though Putin is putting largeish numbers of troops into other people's territory - this is normally called an invasion & a war of aggression, but, never mind?
OTOH, if Putin engineers a Gleiwitz over, most likely Estonia, then as stated by Martin, we are all in deep shit ... unless, it's made clear that the game is not worth the candle - this is called: "Deterrence" & it does not have to be nuclear or MAD, either.

Having enough armed forces, so as to be able to ask "Are you feeling lucky, punk?" goes a long way to AVOIDING wars.

266:

I am baffled. Who occupied Peking in 1971? If you are referring to the government which had had control since 1949, it isn't really THAT different from the way that Parliament (i.e. not the Sovereign) has had control in the UK since a couple of centuries back.

I agree that the UN would be unlikely to acceed to Scotland taking over the UK's Security Council position, but that's NOT the only way that the UK could be excluded. While none of them are likely, the unlikely is common in politics when the status quo falls apart.

Aside: in #264, I attempted to change "not continue" to "stop here" and got it wrong. If that's not obvious ....

267:

I know that it's not quite 300 yet, but this isn't completely off-thread. There are early reports that indicate that Northern Ireland may be about to turn from a dormant problem to an active one. There has been a significant change in the registered electorate, the turnout is high (one source says higher in nationalist areas), there is significant dissatisfaction among unionists with the DUP, and a significant rise in alternative parties.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-38652276
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/mar/03/northern-ireland-assembly-poll-election-turnout-highest-decade
https://twitter.com/EuropeElects/status/837339945362681857
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/

The most likely result is direct rule, but a Sinn Fein / UUP government is possible. In either case, the fragile truce is likely to be shattered. We shall then see whether my gloomy predictions from 1998 were largely right. God help Ireland.

And, if the UK loses both Scotland and Northern Ireland, that assuredly would affect both the nuclear missile issues and the UN security council seat.

268:

You are a slavering warmonger, aren't you?

Having just made multiple posts supporting deterrence, and indicating that deterrence is far preferable to war, I fail to see how I'm a "slavering warmonger"? Believe me when I say that I would prefer anything to war, and that my dearest hope is that my sons will be the first of my line in (at least) five generations that won't serve in the Armed Forces.

Whereas you, by insisting that Putin is behaving entirely reasonably and understandably from his own perspective; declaring that his (continuing) armed invasion and occupation of lands in Georgia and Ukraine are solely intended to secure the safety of Russia and protect ethnic Russians; and insisting that we should avoid any action that might be perceived as provocation...

...are doing a very good impression of Neville Chamberlain.

269:

FWIW, the newest U.S. ICBM design fielded (LGM-118 Peacekeeper, AKA MX https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGM-118_Peacekeeper ) used a gas generator for cold launch from silos. This allows for relatively rapid, say a couple of days, reuse of the silo. Previous U.S. ICBMs, i.e. Minuteman and Titan, were hot launch and required extensive (months) of refurbishment between launches. Remember, Minuteman was/is early 1960s technology and Titan was 1950s tech. There's no inherent reason Trident couldn't be launched from land; it's just optimized for a underwater launch environment.

Not to be too harsh, but I'm not sure what, from a strictly British point of view, is gained by having a nuclear deterrent OR a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. One could argue that Mr. Putin would be less interested in Britain sans its nukes. If you're focused on internal British concerns, having less global responsibilities should mean having more resources to spend on internal priorities.

Note that this is a rhetorical position. The U.S. and the UK have been the closest of allies for at least the last 75 years or so, regardless of what Elderly Cynic thinks. The reason Five Eyes exists is to facilitate the exchange of intelligence between the most closely allied English speaking countries, born out of our shared experiences in WWII. The UK strategic deterrent adds diversity and weight to the U.S. and French deterrents in making NATO a significant obstacle to Russian (re-)expansionism.

270:

Please do not join Martin in misrepresenting me.

I have never denied the closeness; my point was we are in what is, bluntly, an abusive partnership. The ways in which the USA has used its power to against our interests, legally, economically and technically are well-documented, though most of the documents are not easily locatable. As I have said, I have personal knowledge of a few. What I really don't understand is why the UK has so willingly grovelled under such treatment, and gone back begging for more. Yes, it is really a case of the le vice anglais at a governmental level :-(

And, yes, all that is a significant deterrent to Russian (re-)expansionism. One might reasonably ask what was so important to Russia to rebuild and use its forces, after a couple of decades of cutting them and their use back. One could also reasonably ask what Russia should do to deter NATO's expansionism.

271:

Sigh...

If we are going to play like this, following to the letter the rules of the Marquess of 4Chanberry, what you have done is building a tall, strong, beautiful strawman, you know? Sad!

Once again: When the other four permanent members wanted Chiang's Chinese out of the Security Council and Mao's Chinese in, their theoretical power to veto the measure didn't protect their status. They were conveniently defined as 'not the REAL China' and expelled after holding the seat 26 years, from 1945 to 1971.. 22 of them after Mao occupied mainland China.

In other words, Taiwan didn't lose its seat because Mao occupied Beijing, if anything that made its vote more reliable in the context of the early Cold War, but because the West (US, UK, FR) was openly courting Mao and the USSR wasn't willing to support Taiwan against China.

IF (if) the moment comes when the other four members want London out, no matter if the reason is Scotland and Ulster seceding, a Plantagenet pretender in Buckingham Palace, or plainly that they like country X better... well, I would start thinking of better defences that vetoing the proposal and/or claiming 'But we really are the one true United Kingdom!' because should the moment come, that won't do.

P.S. 'a British aristocrat in their club'? 'their'? I say! Since when did this club start admitting ladies, old boy? :)

272:

Also, in my humble opinion the relation between the Security Council and nuclear weapons is a myth.

At the start only America had them. France and Britain were members for long before acquiring them. Taiwan never had them. China had them for roughly 10 years without being a member. And India and Pakistan have openly acquired them and no one wants to give them a permanent seat and veto power.

273:

Wow - we have very different perspectives on the UK - U.S. relationship. Please expand on these "abuses".

Why was it important to for Russia to rebuild and use its forces? To be blunt, Russia is on a relatively near-term death spiral as a significant regional, far less global, power. They are shrinking in population (-.06 percent in 2016), fueling their economy on a basic resource extraction model, and making do with the leftover remnants of the Soviet industrial base. They have huge inequities in income distribution, entrenched corruption and cronyism, and international sanctions that are draining their hard currency reserves.

What they do have is a still somewhat competent military and experience in intimidation. By creating excuses for Russian interventionism, they excuse the implicit expansion of Russian influence. By pursuing these adventures, Russia reinforces domestic nationalistic support, deflects internal criticism, and gains an opportunity to extend Russian influence in its "near abroad".

One could argue that NATO was overambitious in expansion to the East, but the goal was to protect those newly independent countries from being coerced back into the Russian sphere - as is being pursued in Ukraine and Georgia. Show me a non-Russian influenced source that affirms that the people in Abkhasia, South Ossetia, Crimea or the Donbass were suffering from discrimination from their non-Russian neighbors.

274:

One could also reasonably ask what Russia should do to deter NATO's expansionism.

That's an interesting one - the use of "expansionism" to describe an expanded NATO membership.

Russian "not expansionism, just being reasonable" - taking the Crimea by force. Encouraging, directing, and arming factions in the Donbass. Invading and holding parts of Georgia. Interfering with the democratic process in other countries.

NATO "expansionism" - allowing countries to join the organisation, of their own free will. Including Russia, who signed the original NATO Partnership for Peace framework document in 1994.

275:

Double sigh...

My strawman has a heart, actually.

If Chiang's government had held mainland China, the situation you describe never would have come up, so yes, it did come down to Mao owning Beijing. And even then, it took 22 years for it to happen, which is why I specified "short-medium term" in my original comment.

IF (if) the moment comes when the other four members want London out,

Well, sure, but that's not a useful insight, any more than saying that the Earth might get hit by a meteor and thus Britain would lose its security council seat. Er, yes?

Is there a plausible scenario in the "short-medium term" where all four other permanent members decide that England *isn't* the real Britain and give their seat to someone else? In a world where the United States sees itself facing a resurgent Russia and a near-peer China, it thinks that permanently burning its relationship with its closest ally is a good thing?

P.S. 'a British aristocrat in their club'? 'their'? I say! Since when did this club start admitting ladies, old boy? :)

Since Lady Thatcher, actually, and with the same amount of fustiness.

276:

I am baffled

Yes, I know.

277:

Let's talk about relative economic strength. Here's some data from the World Bank on GDP for 2015:
Gross domestic product 2015
(millions of US Dollars)
Economy Ranking
1 United States 18,036,648
2 China 11,007,721
3 Japan 4,383,076
4 Germany 3,363,447
5 United Kingdom 2,858,003
6 France 2,418,836
7 India 2,095,398
8 Italy 1,821,497
9 Brazil 1,774,725
10 Canada 1,550,537
11 Korea, Rep. 1,377,873
12 Australia 1,339,141
13 Russian Federation 1,331,208
14 Spain 1,199,057
15 Mexico 1,143,793
16 Indonesia 861,934
17 Netherlands 750,284
18 Turkey 717,880
19 Switzerland 670,790
20 Saudi Arabia 646,002

So the UK (pre-Brexit) is still the world's 5th largest economy. Russia ranks 13th, between Australia and Spain, at less than half of the UK's economy.

278:

I and others have described the abuses before. They include nuclear and IT technology sharing (where we got far less than had been agreed), the extradition arrangements, UK companies being prevented from competing with UK subsidiaries of USA companies, patent arrangements (including leaking UK applications to USA companies), the TTIP and more. I have first- and second-hand knowledge of several of those, including the UK government's involvement.

279:

Still vague, and assertions. Published references are welcome.

280:

Those figures are for countries, not governments. If California, Texas, and New York were included, Russia would drop to 16th. California would be sixth, just ahead of France. Texas would be just ahead of Canada, and New York just behind it.

I don't have the figures for England without the rest of the UK, but I suspect that England would also be ahead of Russia.

281:

And yet Russia is punching amazingly above its weight by that metric.
Their armed forces are larger than ours & we are agonising over whether we can afford what we've got.
[ Stupid IMHO, since a well-prepared defence force isa good guarantee against someone taking a pop at you - see also Falklands War. ]
SO, how is Russia affording all this & why is everyone frightened of them, if they are, fundamentally, that weak?

Or is it "simply" Putin riding the Bear?

282:

Since 1837 actually ....
Or certainly since 6/2/1952.

283:

Re: Nature article and other info about neutrinos

Thanks! Have started reading the article and expect this to take much longer to 'read' than usual for the word count since I need to look up most of the tech terms. Have also discovered some videos (DrPhysicsA) that appear to be intro-level lectures on particle physics. Not complaining ... very interesting diversion.

Thanks again!


284:

To find an enemy sub, a commander should first get drunk. (Stats joke)

285:

Re: US Protectionism - yes, it exists

For example, here's a recent article from a well-known US business news journal:

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-07-01/u-s-protectionism-kills-jobs-and-competitiveness


As well, Canadian posters here might want to mention what the Canadian experience has been to-date. I'm only familiar with the decades old softwood lumber trade court case, but there probably are other commodities where US protectionism occurred. Also of interest is that even when the US lost the softwood lumber court case, it took the US f-o-r-e-v-e-r to pay up ... if it has yet.

A few years back I posted a comment that the US while requiring other nations to sign various armament (incl. nukes) limiting treaties, it does not itself sign them. This info is searchable on the UN web site as well as on the CIA World Fact Book site. Specific example: Iran was required (by the US mostly)to sign a UN nuclear limitation treaty/pact, but the US did not deign to sign. Very much a do-as-I-say,-not-as-I-do relationship.


Currently the biggest fear about US protectionism is that since other economies are catching up, the US will no longer be able to play according to its own rules or whims but will need to play nicely with its trade partners. This may be rather difficult to learn to do esp. with the current POTUS. (Same argument applies to UK and any nations it might have ticked off in the past: what goes around, comes around.)


Re: Why UK [May] is sucking up to the US ...

Winner effect, big - no make that HUGE - time! As you may recall, the winning needn't be real or against an equal let alone superior adversary, it only has to be perceived.

286:

Esp. if his/her name is Brown ... good grief, this is old!

287:

Re: 'SO, how is Russia affording all this & why is everyone frightened of them, if they are, fundamentally, that weak?'

For the same reason most nations are afraid of NK ... this country has demonstrated that it will sacrifice the welfare of its citizens to win in any testosterone-driven contest. And war is the epitome of this type of contest.

Back to affordability ... Keep in mind that Russia's middle-aged to older males are conveniently suiciding or dying of alcohol-related causes in far greater proportions than pretty well any other 'developed' country. This means far fewer non-productive citizens (retirees) collecting pension benefits/checks and needing healthcare.

Thanks to its crappy demographic profile, the only sure way Russia can grow its population is via conquest since, unlike the rest of Europe or even NA (US/CDA), there are no line-ups of refugees waiting at its borders/embassies, hoping to get in.

288:

This has been going on since 1982. Four suits, each launched by a US lumber trade group, with the legal win ultimately going to Canada each time. In each instance Canada had to pay substantial higher-than-agreed-to duties even before the courts ruled and Canada could ask for these excess duties to be returned to them. (Assume that the US Gov't held that money ... an alternative to borrowing via TBs?)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada%E2%80%93United_States_softwood_lumber_dispute

289:

What I really don't understand is why the UK has so willingly grovelled under such treatment, and gone back begging for more.

Easy. Because it enables the UK (read: England) to continue to play a role, even if just a supporting one, in global hegemony despite the decline and fall of the British Empire.

Read up on the relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. It's all right there.

290:

Since 1837 actually ....
Or certainly since 6/2/1952.

Sorry, snark should carry the implied *

*Accuracy alway limited by snottiness.

291:

While it's only anecdata, I have to partly agree with Elderly_Cynic. Politics is significant. The US Defence industry is protectionist; this is hardly a surprise, because all countries do it. It's just that the sheer size (and hence value) of US defence contracts creates an unequal outcome.

- Look at the recent selection of a KC-135 replacement; the competition was rerun several times until it came up with the right answer (i.e. Boeing, not Airbus - and after several years, they've nearly got a working KC-46).

- There was a 1980 memorandum of understanding surrounding AAM development; the Europeans agreed to buy the new medium-range AAM developed by the US, and the US agreed in turn to buy a new short-range AAM developed in Europe. The US (having now got rid of the competing products to AMRAAM) then decided not to buy the ASRAAM, to stick with AIM-9 development.

The UK is no innocent in this. This vulnerability of defence contracts to vote/job-winning political interference is evidenced a UK Labour government choosing the General Dynamics radio family (in place of the Racal entry) for the BOWMAN radio system - ;) perhaps ;) because the Racal design facility and factory was in a Conservative consitutency in Basingstoke, while GD promised to create several hundred new jobs by putting their assembly line in Wales that was home to one Labour Defence minister (and ex-Whip), and to buy the batteries from AEA Technologies out of Dounreay (again coincidentally, with a seat on the board for a Labour PUS at MoD). Meanwhile, the RN got two aircraft carriers on the condition that they were assembled in the Labour Prime Minister's constituency.

The BOWMAN contract resulted in the British Army being given badly-designed, overpriced radios that took years to be reworked up to "vaguely acceptable"; while the carriers ended up costing a billion pounds more than they should have - but the politicians got their votes.

292:

Also of interest is that even when the US lost the softwood lumber court case, it took the US f-o-r-e-v-e-r to pay up ... if it has yet.

As far as I know, not collected yet.

Interesting legal arguments. According to the US lawyers, lower Canadian taxes constituted an unfair trade subsidy. Meanwhile, in another case from the eastern side of the continent, no American taxes constituted good business practice.

The US won both cases before the same trade tribunal.

Still bugs me. My brother's lumber company went broke and he lost everything.

293:

Actually, it's not true.

In 2015, Russia had 11.6 million immigrants. In absolute terms, they were 3rd behind the US and Germany. My understanding is that the fact that this represents 7.7% of the country's population, which is a respectable percentage for Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_by_immigrant_population

As for where they're getting their immigrants from, Central Asia has about 68 million people (excluding Afghanistan). This compares to 146 million Russians (at current borders)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Asia

I realize that Kazakhstan functions as a destination instead of a source these days.

Add to this the fact that Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, and Azeribaijan are still poorer than Russia.

It would also be interesting to see if there has been a net migration of ethnic Russians from former Soviet Republics to Russia within the past 5 years? I don't want to assume anything, and I don't want to wade through alt-right sites to find reliable numbers.

294:


Isn't the simplest way money? You can't afford the new VA-class.

And Trump's made it clear he
won't help allies financially.

295:

Re: ' 7.7% of the country's population, which is a respectable percentage for Europe.'

Nope ... it's about half the percentage of the rest of Europe.

From the Wikipedia link you provided, here are the top-10 European countries with the highest immigration rates (number of immigrants as a percent of total population):

 Monaco 64.2
 Isle of Man 52
 Luxembourg 43.3
 Liechtenstein 33.1
 Gibraltar 33
 Switzerland 28.9
 Kazakhstan 21.1
 Croatia 17.6
 Estonia 16.4
 Ireland 15.9

And the next top-10:
 San Marino 15.4
 Austria 15.2
 Sweden 14.3
 Spain 14
 Norway 13.8
 Latvia 13.8
 Belgium 12.9
 Belarus 11.6
 Ukraine 11.4
 United Kingdom 11.3

RUSSIA is 32nd on a list of 52 countries at 7.7%.

The bottom 10 countries are:
 Uzbekistan 4.4
 Georgia 4.4
 Turkmenistan 4.3
 Czech Republic 4
 Azerbaijan 3.4
 Tajikistan 3.4
 Slovakia 3.3
 Poland 0.9
 Romania 0.9
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 0.6

Croatia numbers are probably higher than they might be because of refugee crisis while Kazakstan is actively pursuing more open trade including recently relaxed visa requirements.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/26/croatia-slovenia-limits-refugee-numbers-europe-greece

http://www.relocatemagazine.com/news/immigration-kazakhstan-new-years-immigration-reforms-bring-mixed-impact

296:

Which takes us back to "maybe in China, probably in Russia, impossible in a democracy" territory.

Allow me to introduce you to the Crow Butte in situ leaching mine in outstate Nebraska, USA. Operating since 1991 and looking to expand.

297:

Over here it's cockatoos and kookaburras or the aptly named noisy miners. You occasionally get noisy koalas (their growling is a very otherworldly sound), but it's mostly birds.

298:

> I am baffled
> Yes, I know.

On another topic, I am planning to build a soundproof music room under the house this year. I want to ensure the air-flow is adequate and comfortable year-round, which means I need to learn how to design air ducting with acoustic baffling. Most soundproof studios have that noticeable pressure differential, and it would be sort of cool to avoid that. But I wonder whether even a very highly baffled duct can be truly silent. I want to be able to make very loud noises in there with minimal leakage.

299:

Nothing can be "truly silent" but you may want to consider looking into either "Earth-air heat exchangers" or about modern research into "Wide-Area Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation"

300:

Study the design of containerised generators - the things that sit on the back of a truck to provide temporary power to things. Find a place that services them or hires them out, and give someone who works there a beer to let you come in and have a look round one they've got all the covers off (the covers being the interesting bit, of course).

The soundproofing on those things is pretty miraculous; compare one to a 50s/60s diesel-electric locomotive with the hammer down, which is essentially the same thing with pretty much no effort at noise reduction at all. The generator (if it's a good one) puts out a quiet and inoffensive drone, whereas the locomotive is in can't-hear-yourself-think territory.

It's a significantly harder problem than yours, because it involves soundproofing big ducts - the amount of airflow required for cooling is huge compared to what you'll need for ventilation. Also the whole thing has to fit within a particular constrained back-of-the-truck-sized envelope, and most of the space is already full of engine, so the attenuation has to be achieved over a very small distance. And the soundproofing itself acts as thermal insulation so the requirement for cooling air is increased - you have to cool the whole thing, not just the radiator, or it'll cook all its ancillaries.

It's all done passively, using shapes and material properties, so putting something together on the same principles is basically a matter of "carpentry". Some of the materials used are "exotic" in domestic terms - things like squidgy lossy rubber, either as sheet or as foam, with a viciously strong adhesive backing - but are commonplace stuff for industrial users (like generator makers). And as a bonus, if you have record turntables in there, the sheet stuff can be applied to platters, covers and chassis to reduce microphony (which is so great a source of corruption that it requires no special equipment at all to demonstrate it, but is inexplicably completely ignored by the green-pen-on-CDs loonies).

(Silencing the engine's exhaust is done by a separate sub-assembly within the enclosure, which can handle the high temperatures. But again, this can be made remarkably effective - compare pretty well any car in good repair with the same car with a hole in its exhaust.)

301:

You're getting too wound up by CD. She googles extensively and talks shit. Everyone knows this by now. Take her input for what worth you want to ascribe to it, and chill. Not that I'm standing up for her bullshit, but your shouty routine about it is getting nearly as tedious as she is.

302:

Take her input for what worth you want to ascribe to it, and chill.

Personally I've always treated it as a dadaist tone poem.

303:

But what does Commander Brown do if the enemy is not led by one of the Markov family members? It might even be necessary to look beyond what General Gauss advises, to Weibull or Cauchy.

304:

It doesn't matter what strategy the enemy adopts - the strategy of General Monte-Carlo always works. Possibly inefficiently, but it almost always (in the technical sense) works eventually.

305:

Should anyone actually wish to consider testing submarine detection technology, these may be useful...

306:

The strategy of General Monte-Carlo always works.

With or without the spiritual guidance of the Reverend Bayes?

307:

R you serious or provocatively SASsy? How soon society forgets the consequences of monomaniacs ignoring complex reality: compare the SEMinal contributions of our species' many unnamed (because they were too ordinary) tribal predecessors versus the dismal failure of those elites pre-selected to walk the Hungarian path in search of society's quick buck or cheapest way out of a problem.

[That's about it from my QuantMeth course ... ]

308:

Yes. The strategy of General Monte-Carlo works, whether you are a follower of the Reverend Mr Bayes, the heretical Dr Fisher, or neither!

309:

Omnia paribus for eternity, and evolution goes out the window.

310:

"Free trade" is a bit of a myth. Great idea in principle if you don't care what happens to domestic industries that will be crushed by bigger foreign competitors, but in practice, the country with the bigger and nastier lawyers tends to win, at least in the short term. In fact, unlike most of us, the lawyers make out like bandits (and I choose my word judiciously *ahem*):
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/14/canada-sued-investor-state-dispute-ccpa_n_6471460.html

Often, the smaller or weaker country suffers when it tries to protect its citizens:
https://www.pressprogress.ca/5_times_canada_got_sued_under_nafta_for_trying_to_protect_its_environment

[Caveat: Been a long while since I studied the following issue in forestry school, so some details likely have changed and obviously, I'm simplifying quite a bit...] The softwood lumber dispute between Canada is more nuanced than many folks acknowledge. It has two key components: the fact that Canada and the U.S. have different systems for managing natural resources, and outright protectionism.

First, the system: In the U.S., trees are mostly privately owned and are sold at auction, so prices can be high as a result of competitive bidding (Economics 101). In Canada, trees are mostly government-owned and harvested by the same companies that process them into saleable goods. The government licenses forest areas for harvesting on the principle that supporting the industry supports taxpayers from the license fees ("stumpage") paid on public goods that would otherwise serve no useful purpose* while also increasing employment. Because Canada's population is heavily concentrated within 100 miles of the U.S. border, the huge area occupied by the rest of the country is overgrown with forests, so huge supply compared with the demand, putting downward pressure on prices (more Economics 101).

* If you're an economist. If you're not, forests have enormous non-economic value. I'm a forest biologist, not an economist, so...

Second, protectionism: Prices are inherently lower in Canada than in the U.S. due to bidding and a lower ratio of resource area to resource exploiters (again, Economics 101). But the U.S. argument had some validity. They, along with many Canadian critics of the forest industry, believed that the government licensed the trees at far less than the cost of replacing them (a cost, incidentally, largely borne by the government), thereby giving the industry an unfair subsidy. The goal of the U.S. lawsuits was to force the license fee high enough that it covered the costs -- and ideally, so high that the inherently more efficient Canadian system could no longer compete with the more market-based U.S. system.

As I noted, a simplified explanation of a very complex system, but that gives you the gist of it.

311:

From one of the above links, good summary of Canada-US NAFTA relations:

'According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, about 40% of legal challenges to government policy that have been filed under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 have been against environmental policies. Most recently, Ontario was sued by Texas-based company Mesa Power Group, LLC over its Green Energy Act.

As Canada's debate over the TPP -and its investor-state dispute rules and tribunals- heat up, Canadians should keep this history in mind.'

312:

A more plausible scenario is Scotland leaves the UK after Brexit. The Scots government then boots the UK nuclear fleet out of Scotland. No one in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland (assuming they stay in the UK) wants nuclear weapons in their backyard. End of British nuclear deterrent.

313:

Yep, can confirm. Have toured more than one retired museum-sub and was impressed by the USN's commitment to ensuring that all crew members regularly get a tub of freshly-made ice cream while on patrol in the middle of the Pacific. [snip] ... google USS Blueback — turns out she was the last diesel-electric sub in the US navy.

I'll second this and suggest anyone visiting Portland, Oregon drop in on the Blueback in its retirement as a museum; my uncle is one of the docents there.

By pure luck I was walking across one of Portland's many bridges in time to see tugs carefully guiding the Blueback to its current home. It's not every day you see a submarine passing through a city center...

314:

Does the USAF keep nuclear weapons at its bases in the UK?

If the rump UK had to reposition its nuclear forces south of the Scottish border, would it consider basing them outside England? My suspicion is not. So, I'd be looking at Portsmouth or Devonport.

315:

You're getting too wound up by CD. She googles extensively and talks shit. Everyone knows this by now. Take her input for what worth you want to ascribe to it, and chill. Not that I'm standing up for her bullshit, but your shouty routine about it is getting nearly as tedious as she is.

Actually, it's a bit different to that.

CTRL+F "NEUTRON" "ERW"

Yep, no-one in this thread actually knows what G.Bush did.


Hint: massive acceleration of the N-ERW platform, that kinda makes this all silly talk.

Literally Dinosaurs.

316:

M.A.D. is kinda defunct once the [redacted] N-ERW come online.

Literally Tactical Nukes = Best Option.


Google or not. We do know some shit.

317:

"Shouty"??
I am trying to get a handle on if there is any meaning at all in there & if so, what it is.
However, in a spirit of helpfulness, I suggest you read This post & I really do hope it helps.

318:

As usual - produce some real evidence.
Otherwise, do you know ... I think you are bullshitting?

319:

I've toured the Akashio which is located in the car park of the Japanese Maritime Defence Forces museum in Kure, south of Hiroshima. It's a 1980s teardrop hull diesel/electric sub, since replaced by acoustic-tile slab-sided modern subs. Remarkably for a Japanese museum it's free entry for visitors.

They used one of the biggest floating cranes in the world to lift it into place since it weighs over 2000 tonnes.

320:

M.A.D. is kinda defunct once the [redacted] N-ERW come online.

Only if it works.

My understanding of the state of the US national nuclear labs — Los Alamos and Livermore — is that, in weapons development terms, they're geriatric bureaucracies. Because of the comprehensive test ban treaty they haven't tested any actual nukes since 1996. Yes, they've got gadgets like the NIF that allow them to probe fusion reactions in theory (the NIF isn't a practical fusion reactor design any more than AWE's VIPER is a practical fission reactor design) but basically they're running on mathematical models ... models drawn up by a generation of scientists and engineers who are retired/dead of old age.

A 20-something who worked on the Manhattan Project would have hit their forties during the nuclear glory days of the early 1960s, and by the 1980s would have been pushing retirement. The people currently making decisions/drawing up plans are likely project managers in the 40-60 age range, which means they joined the labs circa 1975-1995; as US nuclear weapons development pretty much went on ice after the mid-1980s, they have no career experience of anything other than legacy project maintenance or paper designs that will never be built ... along with their secrecy, this has led to loss of institutional knowledge, as exemplified by the panic over FOGBANK.

I'm not convinced that the USA can design a new weapon at this point — not without renouncing the CTBT and conducting enough tests to work out what "unknown unknowns" they may have forgotten since the 1980s and which never made it into the blueprints/reports.

Meanwhile, if you want to bust a target, for the past decade JDAMs have been good enough that during the Iraq war the RAF were asking which window pane in a given building to put the 1000kg bomb through — and in many cases they were dropping bomb casings full of cement rather than explosives, because if you want to kill a guy in one room of an apartment building it's considered bad form to kill the family next door (but a faceful of concrete traveling at 1000km/h will really spoil your day).

321:

Another diesel-electric sub on display is the HMCS Ojibwa, currently on display in the metropolis of Port Burwell, Ontario. It saw service from 1968-1998.

322:

Of course the US keeps nuclear weapons at its bases in the UK.

Hence all the protests at Greenham Common.

(Also, if you ever visit any of the disused bomber bases (Upper Heyford, Bentwaters) you may notice the slight difference in the security arrangements for various bomb stores: the one with the multiple perimeter fences, guard tower, powered gates and forest of floodlights with backup generators inside the inner fence is the one that held the nuclear weapons. The actual magazine buildings are also rather more hardened than the conventional side.)

323:

The BOWMAN project to replace the 1970s vintage CLANSMAN Combat Net Radio was a rolling disaster for a variety of reasons. The original specifications were changed repeatedly over the life of the project, and the intended multiple sources (Racal, Plessey, Redifon, Marconi, MEL, Cossor, etc.) ended up being reduced by mergers and takeovers until there was effectively only RACAL left (taken over by the French (THALES). Development timescales and costs were repeatedly overrun due to multiple design requirement changes, and the whole thing was eventually swept under the carpet and the contract awarded to the Americans. Their kit had its own problems: short battery life, the vehicle mounted kit broke Land Rovers due to its weight, and the Army were decidely unhappy (but had to accept what they were given). I'm sure the usual political favours were included in the re-awarding of the contract (along with keeping the Bowman name to try and pretend it was still A UK designed project).

324:

I'm not sure the US still has nuclear weapons held in airbases on British soil. The ground-launched cruise missiles based at Greenham Common and one other base (?) are long gone, what would be left is free-fall tactical weapons if any and the requirement for them to be held there has been seriously degraded by the breakup of the Soviet Union back in the 90s. I may be wrong in this though.

After the most recent START agreements the US reworked their sub-strategic nuclear weapons doctrine quite substantially, removing tactical weapons from aircraft carriers etc. and homing most or all of the existing stocks held in Europe. They could forward-deploy stocks of tacnukes to existing secure facilities on bases in Britain, Germany etc. quite quickly though if push came to shove.

325:

It's fairly unlikely as the US only has a fighter wing left in the U.K., plus a few non-combat squadrons such as tankers and search and rescue and most of those are leaving. There might be something ultra black lurking but nothing public.

Whilst the weapons themselves are compact and probably easy to hide - the security required around them isn't,

RAF Fairford is maintained in order to host visiting Strategic Bombers with 24hrs notice and still gets semi regular visits from B1's B2's and B52's. There's also a few ways of bringing nukes as cargo.

I'd say it's unlikely at the moment,

326:

RAF Fairford is maintained in order to host visiting Strategic Bombers with 24hrs notice

I'd expect them to bring a packed lunch rather than getting forward-deployed without their B61 bento boxes and stocking up at Fairford. Reloads are another matter but practically speaking any penetration of Rodina airspace with nukes is, if not a one-way mission per se, a one-time event as any sort of strategic nuclear exchange will be over by the time any survivors touch down back in Fairford so doing it twice is unlikely.

327:

Agreed but there are far more uses for Fairford than that, Carpet Bombing the Tanned enemy du jour springs to mind, or more strategically sabre rattling.

328:

the vehicle mounted kit broke Land Rovers due to its weight
You WHAT?
Seriously?

329:

Oddly enough when missions to bounce the sand happen they tend to be flown from airbases in Missesota in thirty-hour round trips rather than cycling planes from more convenient locations. It may be a political thing to appease native populations of the American Empire that host bases like Fairford or it may just be a precursor to Atari-bombing after the B-52s receive their drone-piloting upgrade and the pilots stay at home all the time, not just most of it.

330:

Don't know specific details, but I'd guess "broken" implies accelerated wear on wheel bearings, suspension, tires and clutch plates from the weight of the gear, not actually breaking in two, as has happened to the occasional unibody vehicle exposed to midwestern U.S, road salt.

331:

Missesota? There are B-2s based west of Sedalia, Missouri.

332:

Slip of the keyboard but Minnesota and Missisippi have bomber fields, IIRC so I can pretend it was a convenient conflation for flyover-country states that host Federal-dollar welfare projects.

333:

I think the most interesting part of the FOGBANK example is that modern manufacturing processes can be too good - they had to deliberately maintain impurities in the process to get the desired result ... whatever it was.

334:

That reminds me of the difficulties Japanese motorcycle manufacturers found in selling transverse-crank V-twin bikes in the US - all the effort they had put into making them not like a tractor turned out to be counterproductive, since American customers were used to Harleys and a tractor is what they wanted. I believe it took them a while to get their heads round this because the cognitive dissonance involved in deliberately making an engine badly was quite painful for them.

335:

Also, nuclear submarines are complicated. It's not like you'll find the plans in a Welsh charity shop.

336:

Even if we pull our heads out of our arses and actually start to roll out light-water reactors like jelly babies while shooting anyone who releases fossil carbon into the atmosphere in the form of CO2 there's more than enough recoverable uranium around to feed that need even without processing a lot of seawater.

Been keeping up with current events?

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=toshiba+nuclear

337:

I'm not convinced that the USA can design a new weapon at this point — not without renouncing the CTBT and conducting enough tests to work out what "unknown unknowns" they may have forgotten since the 1980s and which never made it into the blueprints/reports.

Saw a talk on C-SPAN[1] a few months back by someone who had written a book on the US nuclear bomb history after WWII. A big point was the demobilization of the Manhattan project was so swift the US had a lot of trouble making new bombs. Work that had been done by PhDs in labs they had built up was turned over to machinists. But the paper work was in many cases lab notes that weren't really a "how to" but more of a memory jog for the PhD's who had figured things out.

Took about 5 years to get things into more of a production mode.

[1] C-SPAN[2] (1,2, and 3) have all kinds of interesting shows on weekends and during the week when Congress is not in session. Especially C-SPAN3. But their weekend Book TV marathons seem to give up the most interesting tidbits. Just be warned that published start and stop times are really estimated within about a 10 minutes window.

[2] C-SPAN are 3 (mostly cable only) channels setup and funded by the cable companies in the US to full fill some "public good" requirements and to keep Congress somewhat off their backs. I have no idea what the access to their content is outside of the US. When Congress IS in session they provide live coverage of the sessions.

338:

Now for something more light-hearted: Count Dracula might be an nth-gen molecular robot!

http://robotics.sciencemag.org/content/2/4/eaal3735

Micrometer-sized molecular robot changes its shape in response to signal molecules

Excerpt:

'We constructed an amoeba-like molecular robot that can express continuous shape change in response to specific signal molecules. The robot is composed of a body, an actuator, and an actuator-controlling device (clutch). The body is a vesicle made from a lipid bilayer, and the actuator consists of proteins, kinesin, and microtubules. We made the clutch using designed DNA molecules. It transmits the force generated by the motor to the membrane, in response to a signal molecule composed of another sequence-designed DNA with chemical modifications. When the clutch was engaged, the robot exhibited continuous shape change. After the robot was illuminated with light to trigger the release of the signal molecule, the clutch was disengaged, and consequently, the shape-changing behavior was successfully terminated.'

Which explains how the Count could turn into a bat or to ashes at dawn. I'm assuming that multitudes of these molecules could be programmed to merge to form one 'being'.

Reality is getting weirder. (Wonder what inspired this line of research.)

339:

Not quite...

BOWMAN was a complete disaster in project management terms, for many of the reasons that Chris relates. Racal had a working system that was in service with several militaries, and a secure radio that was used in Northern Ireland to the satisfaction of the Army - but there weren't any Welsh votes to be won by selecting it.

It wasn't helped by the Project Team refusing to listen to one of their primary users (namely, the infantry) and producing a section-level manpack radio that was several times heavier than the PRC349 that it replaced, and involved a cabling setup that was insane when considered against the needs of an infantry soldier. Apparently, Director Infantry took a soldier, the proposed radio setup, and remonstrated very loudly with the IPT to absolutely no avail. The decision had been made, and was now politically impossible to change...

The batteries were another nightmare - presumably intended as a job-security scheme for Dounreay et al, it was awarded to AEA Technology, who had exactly zero experience of milspec comms gear. They produced a design where the battery life indicator sat on the mating surface of the battery; i.e. you had to remove the battery to see how much charge remained. AIUI, the design was prone to "deep discharge", in which the battery was wrecked permanently if allowed to run flat. Eventually, every single manpack radio battery had to be replaced with something built competently by another firm. Still, it got Lewis Moonie MP a seat on the board within a year of leaving office as a PUS at MoD.

The "too heavy for a Landrover" isn't quite the whole story - I suspect that it meant that the entire vehicle kit, plus all of the digitisation gear that was promised to provide networked comms, rugged workstations, chargers, large-capacity batteries et al, ate too much of the remaining load margin on the (effectively civilian-spec) land rovers that still made up much of the vehicle fleet. This wasn't an issue AIUI for the "Wolf" conversions that were entering service, and had uprated suspensions and a bigger engine.

340:

You got my hopes up that open season had been declared on fossil carbon burners, no tag limit but no...

Toshiba is in the financial shit with its light-water reactor projects, the ABWR in particular which is a shame as technically it's a good design with some room for expansion and MkII versions down the line that can put out a lot more power, up to 1800MW per unit (or twelve large wind farms to give it a real-world comparison). Sadly it's not getting new orders although one of the consortia bidding to build reactors in the UK has it on their short list. We'd be a lot better getting a lot of reactors that are similar though instead of the Liquorice Allsorts rollout currently proposed.

If you meant to point out the Toshiba 4S small modular reactor (SMR), well there's a problem that no-one has bought one, no-one is planning to buy one, Toshiba don't have permission to build one anywhere, it hasn't received a Construction and Operating Licence (COL in the US) or passed the British General Design Assessment (GDA) process or... lots of things, really that have to be achieved before one of them generates any electricity at all. Great Powerpoint slides, no concrete and metal involved yet. A couple of other SMR designs are making some progress but still no actual contruction underway now or in the near future.

In other news the Chinese will be bringing five 1GW light-water reactors into commercial production this year and starting to build another eight while completing the planning, licencing, financing etc. for the next eight to start building next year. The Russians have finally qualified their first-built VVER-1200 and it is now grid-connected as a commercial entity after tests while they push on building more of them and selling them hard for export.

341:

The 'broken Land Rover' problem was apparently axle/suspension failures due to the weight of the applique vehicle kit (24 volts worth of lead-acid batteries just for the radio, all the mounting hardware to put the infantry backpack set in as a driver for the vehicle RF amplifier, etc.) The U.S. kit was designed for Humvees and similarly larger vehicles. Off-road use proved a little too much for the poor Landy.

Then again, uk.mil has previous in this area: the 101FC was designed and built especially for the RA to tow the 105mm Light Gun - because a 109 with the gun crew and/or the ammunition load was well in excess of its design limits.

(Later on, the production line was set back up to refurbish the remaining FC101 fleet, because there was no sensible replacement available - apparently Rover were a bit cagey about how much this cost, and what (if any) profit they made on the overhaul exercise, "it was felt necessary to keep the military happy rather than actually make money on the deal" according to some reports.)

After the Artillery stopped using them (towed artillery being somewhat suicidal due to changed conditions), a lot of them were re-bodied as ambulances and radio vehicles, etc.)

Amusing tale: My father was working at Solihull when the '1 ton' was being developed, and overheard discussions by the sales team about how they could advertise the load capacity at the launch. He suggested "What about a '1 Ton
weight' in the back' and this was seized upon with great joy. It then remained to produce the said 'weight', which he built from wood (plywood for the truncated pyramid body - sized to fit the load bed - a big block of hand-carved wood for the ring attachment, and the ring itself made from flexible exhaust pipe). Sprayed black and with the '1 Ton' in white, they had it suspended from the workshop crane (and coned off) when the Sales team came to see how they were getting on.

He got a lot of oddball jobs at Rover.

342:

I'd really like to meet some of those people. "Oh sorry we're stuck with it, even though it won't ever work" is not a rational argument. What motivates them? Did they ever understand that going into a war with sub-standard kit would mean losing it very quickly? Do they somehow expect their car to keep running even though they've put the wrong wheels on it? Did their PPE degrees not cover the difference between fantasy and reality, and Father Ted wasn't around to teach them?

343:

The US military experienced a surprisingly large number of fatalities during the recent Short Victorious War in Iraq due to their squaddies fitting their Humvees with hillbilly armour in an attempt to survive IED attacks. The result was a lightweight high-mobility offroad vehicle that had an unfortunate habit of rolling over on a slope due to the extra weight raising the centre of mass as well as suspension failures and tyre failures at speed, brake failures, inability to stop before hitting stuff etc.

Eventually they did the Right Thing and copied the old apartheid regime Serf Efrican designs for MRAP-style hostile policing vehicles straight out of SoWeTo and gave up on the "liberator" schtick.

344:

A big point was the demobilization of the Manhattan project was so swift the US had a lot of trouble making new bombs.

Required reading: Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser. Reading it will cause a lot of "WTF" and is frightening.

345:

Do you have any idea how much the current cost estimations for decommissioning power reactors are? Let me help you: More than the construction.
And nobody has solved the long-term storage of nuclear waste yet.

346:

No, you don't want to meet any of those people. The Military are (rightly) subservient to the civil government, but the problem is that the current (and quite a considerable amount of previous governments) have no concept of the real world, and operate on the simple rule of: "Get elected, feet under the table, nose down in the trough and stay there.

I suspect that the only way I'd want to encounter certain .uk politicians is if I wa given the job of carefully placing their heads on spikes on London Bridge - but there would be far too much local (to London) competition for that to become a reality.

347:

After the Artillery stopped using them (towed artillery being somewhat suicidal due to changed conditions)

Nope. Towed artillery is still extremely useful, for the simple reason that if you can tow it, you can undersling it (and a Landrover, and some ammunition) beneath a helicopter. You can't do that with SP Arty.

The only artillery taken ashore in the Falklands by the UK was the 105mm Light Gun - successful enough that even the Americans bought it. It's still in use, as a rather well-engineered piece of kit, and had nearly twice the range of the old OTO-Melara 105mm Pack Howitzer that filled my brief experience of field artillery.

Those 1t Landrovers kept on being prime movers for the 105 for quite some time, before being replaced (I think) by Pinzgauers.

348:

WW1 saw the introduction of (hand-built) wireless sets for static warfare.
WW2 saw the switch to mobile warfare and massive changes in technology.
Post-WW2 the cavalry (RAC) knew what they really wanted for communications and specified the "New Range".
The rest of the Army noticed thiswas a really Good Thing and expanded it (as "Larkspur") for their own use.

Time passed, advances in technology rendered t obsolete/insecure.

"Clansman" was advanced a the replacement, and worked very well indeed, because it was still driven by the end-user requirements.

Then it all went to shit.

Policy changes by government stuffed the UK electronics industry.

Having the requirements set by committee (few of which have any idea of the requirements of te end-user, but "Ooh, Shiny") led to a cost-plus contract with random changes and re-specification of requirements. (Leading to endless delays and spiralling costs.) There's some interesting stuff in Hansard.

Racal's "Yeoman" kit would have done the job. There were alternative suppliers (Plessey, MEL, Marconi, Redifon) to provide multiple manufacturers if required, but it dragged on so long that Marconi went bust (partly due to shifting into the telecom business, spending vast amounts to get fibreoptics working for BT, then having BT buy Chinese (which didn't actually
work...) - more 'it's cheaper' from the beancounters versus "but the Marconi stuff actually works as intended" which has only one result).

Then the politicians kept the project name but bought American.

Shades of the EM-2.

Marconi went bust, Racal got swallowed up by THALES, I'm not sure what happened to Plessey, but I don't think they exist any more. Ultra and Cossor are still around, as are (possibly) Redifon. MEL, BCC and S.G Brown were absorbed by Racal (who got eaten by THALES).

The result is that we're buying-in stuff that we used to make ourselves (to our own requirements) ans having to bodge it to fit.

349:

You really don't want to know what "Rhino" was...

...oh, all right. The local insurgency took to using roadside bombs, eventually with self-forging projectiles, using infra-red triggers. AIUI, Rhino was a US attempt (likewise, shade-tree engineering) to put a heat source on a pole in front of the HMMWV, to trigger such devices early.

There's a reason that you see a small forest of antennae on top of vehicles deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan; some of it is ECM.

350:

Do you have any idea how much the current cost estimations for decommissioning power reactors are?

Yes, for a single 500MW-1GW power reactor it's about 400-500 million dollars US. I understand bullshitters and Chicken Littles claim otherwise but they're bullshitters and Chicken Littles, not folks who are actually decommissioning reactors. The price is about the same regardless of the process, either prompt disassembly after shutdown with special handling of slightly radioactive pieces like the reactor vessel or Safestor, leaving the sparkly bits to cool down for sixty to eighty years or so before demolition with no significant radiological exposure.

And nobody has solved the long-term storage of nuclear waste yet.

Nuclear waste just sits there doing nothing much. Nobody has solved the long-term storage of fossil carbon waste yet and it's DEFINITELY not just sitting there, and every year another 15 billion tonnes of the crap gets dumped into the air, the rivers, oceans, human lungs etc. Next year another fifteen billion tonnes. The year after that...

351:

Ok, agreed. The ERW was partly a joke: Bush gets loads of kudos for cancelling the Reagan era projects, but without anyone giving details. (The Senate Research stuff is somewhat useful on this - but there's some huge gaps. Suspect that ERW's were agreed to become "non-public" because the spectre of them being used and the potential normalization of ERW usage) c.f Lord Gilbert Suggests Dropping A Neutron Bomb On Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Huffpost, Nov 2012 - he was trolling, but...

The larger point is this: The film Threads and various Rabies scares (GREP - mentioned long ago, left like a virus in the permafrost to be reawakened, it really was the pre-Zombie fear shaping conscious stuff used) actually had an effect on the 'National Psych'. With the VX North Korea stuff, you're actually seeing a total disregard for the entire 'shock and awe' of these weapons.

Precisely because, as you accurately state, everyone got used to the B&W precision hits on target pr0n, or, from the other side, the Wikileaks 'Collateral Murder'. And, before it was bought out, Liveleaks had genuine combat footage from around the world. [And, trust me: Videodrome etc? The joke is that it was all true, but it wasn't secret].

When you have major Newspapers printing about the "huge hidden secret bases" in Afghanistan penciled in like Bond lairs, something will break.

Blame 20+ years of Zombie films etc - it's not that people aren't threatened / worried, it's that it's now a strange mix of desensitization and resigned knowledge that these existential threats no longer works (that, hey, shit happens - OOOH, Japan joke reference, Shikata ga nai - used because, you know, those two nukes used).

~

We're in a post-shock age.

Well, some of us are (that's everyone under 40 paying attention).


Now there's the point and the Ian Banks I loved: Definition of Modern Wealth - Innocence and the ability to be shocked by whatever egregious horror the world inflicts on you.

Eloi and Morlocks.

*FUCKING BOUND IN BLOOD*


@349

Choice: heat source on a pole that works, or magic black box that doesn't? (C.f. "Bomb Detectors" in Iraq). I'd trust the botch job, if you know what I mean.

352:

In fact, you can pretty much determine wealth these days by "distance from trauma". (Mental, Physical, Environmental, Stress, Geopolitical and so on). That's a very interesting thing, if you look to the American 1950's. (The UK had Ken Loach, so always respected that being dirt poor meant suffering like a badger being baited by the terriers).

Wealth as protection from trauma, so less wealth = more damaged - probably a more nuanced and effective zone than I've ever seen used by the media.

That's really what it's all about.


p.s.

They then use Harvard MBAs to breed sociopaths, meaning they don't understand it themselves.

There's a word for a Society that only allows the most privileged to be trauma-free. I'll let you work out what it is (and, of course: this is all true).

353:

And nobody has solved the long-term storage of nuclear waste yet.

In the US there are non trivial sized political groups who will never accept any long term "solution" no matter what the merits. Because they have figured out that if they keep this issue open it will help them achieve their primary goal, no nuclear power whatsoever.

So you get requirements asked for like storage 1 mile down in seals tunnels must be guaranteed to last 100,000 years and keep out people that entire time.

354:

But hey, look at what the US tried to do and still hasn't got working right. And has been ongoing since 1997.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Tactical_Radio_System

I personally think it would be cheaper to replace some of the specialty radios used by various services than building a bridge to all of them.

355:

Tap a few people: Reagan ERW research was very active and had some serious funding. The fact that it took until Bush (15-20 years later?) to cancel?

Yeah, it got done: they just got smart about the cover up - in Manhattan times it was all about loyalty to country and so on. Now you just bung them a nice fat $$ MIC C-position and bug the shit out of all their communications [True].

Testing?

You don't really need to test that kind of weapon post computer modelling, barring the engineering side (you're showing your Age, old man of the zeitgeist). The last Tzar bomb had a lead injector, so by that stage everyone knew that it all worked as intended. Oh, look: those videos of Nukes in the Sky and people smoking cigars come into focus: you no longer need to do any of that.


Cynical?

No, realistic.

NRWs are live. Ru has them, but in a weird way (more interested in EMP effects).

356:

Oh, and for non-wonks.

Host just pulled an awesome move with FOGBANK.

Both ironic (about, you know, On the QT) and true - M3 operative.


~

*Bows*

Truly Awesome.

357:

In fact, you can pretty much determine wealth these days by "distance from trauma".
Related, I once dark-jokingly defined a similar metric for Class in the USA; -Ln(Estimated probability of becoming destitute at least once in the next 5 years).
The already destitute would be level 0, extremely poor would be level 1 (37%), etc.
A UBI would fix that a bit, though a UBI could itself be broken by toxic politics or collapse of civilization or similar.

358:

"And nobody has solved the long-term storage of nuclear waste yet."

Oh, they have. The problem they haven't solved is how to get people to stop moaning about it.

359:

Thorium doesn't need anyone to be "delusional"; it works.

Yes but someone here a year or few ago who works in the area said the problem was that it was trivial to divert part of the fuel cycle for weapons use and very hard to detect such.

360:

"In fact, you can pretty much determine wealth these days by "distance from trauma".....Wealth as protection from trauma..."

I'd prefer to replace the second "wealth" with some other word, to emphasise that the first "wealth" requires a more broad and literal interpretation than the common narrow financial one. Maybe "loadedness" would serve, being probably both better known and more free from ambiguity than other possible coinages.

Loadedness can bring protection from trauma, but it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition - factors such as environment (both physical and social) are also significant. "Distance from trauma" is a better metric for true wealth.

Another that I like is what percentage of your time do you spend doing things because you want to rather than because you have to. They overlap a fair bit, of course. I guess "mental freedom" is probably the overarching theme.

361:

I suppose that's technically true, but only in a very narrow sense and it doesn't tell the whole story. Yes, it can easily produce chemically pure uranium, and the amount needed for a few bombs compared to the amount of a reactor load means it would be easy enough to "lose" it in wastage and measurement errors.

But it does not produce isotopically pure uranium; as well as the intended produce 233U, there is inevitably some 232U produced in side reactions. And this is nasty shit; it has a short half-life, the half-lives of its decay products are very much shorter, and they kick out an amount of gamma radiation which is highly inconvenient. It irradiates people working on the bombs and it damages electronic and chemical-explosive components. The level increases over time as the 232U decays and the decay products build up.

Boggo reactor-fuel 233U can be expected to contain about 0.1% or more 232U. At this level you can't handle the stuff at all, even in a glove box, even when it's fresh. To be considered "weapons-grade", 233U must contain less than 5ppm 232U. Even at that level the decay-product activity accumulates to a level that makes servicing the assembly a major problem.

You can't achieve that kind of purity by isotope separation (and in any case building a separation plant would be a dead giveaway); you can certainly tune the parameters of the system and the cycle to produce either low or high levels of 232U, but as you might imagine getting it down to 5ppm is a lot of effort compared to just leaving it to its own devices - effort that would be conspicuous. It would be easy to demonstrate good faith by building a system that is clearly incapable of achieving low contamination because any attempt at altering it afterwards would be obvious.

362:

"The last Tzar bomb had a lead injector"

Uh?

It had a lead tamper for the final stage, instead of a 238U one which would have roughly doubled the yield. Reasons for doing it that way include: as tested it was a reasonably clean device (in relation to its size - it still produced some double-digit percentage of the total fallout from all nuke tests ever) whereas the full-on version would have been indescribably filthy; it would have made such a big bang that it'd have taken the plane with it - it nearly did anyway, and caused plenty of other damage; there was no conceivable military application for so large a bomb, then or ever, and the test was not science but wanking; and there would have been very little scientific value to be got out of it anyway, because one of the very few things about nuke design that you can be pretty bloody sure about with back-of-the-envelope calculations is what happens to a fissionable tamper on a fusion stage.

It was also something of a dinosaur design from a modern perspective. Development since then has gone in the opposite direction - fairly boring yields, but from smaller, lighter, more compact bombs; and more exotic ideas like nuclear shaped charges, which are basically an adaptation of the technique used for setting off fusion stages to produce a directed blast. This phase has had to rely heavily on simulations which have only been checked against reality as far as you can get without achieving criticality. How well off you are beyond that point depends on exactly what your design is trying to achieve: for some properties the data from real tests is available, but for ideas that people have had since real tests stopped the data can only come from necessarily small-scale lab experiments.

A neutron bomb and an EMP weapon are very different things. A neutron bomb is dirty, relatively small, and goes off at a relatively low altitude. The basic idea is to sacrifice explosive efficiency for neutron production, but it's still a jolly good bang for all that. Its main advantage is that neutrons will easily go through tank armour, kill the crew, and make the tank itself too radioactive to use, so the idea had some popularity in response to the bogey of thousands of Soviet tanks rolling across Germany; on the other hand, it was found that if used correctly ordinary nukes would do just as well but with less collateral damage, and the bogey was more shadow than substance anyway. It's pretty much one of those ideas that look good at first sight but turn out to be crap when you work through it properly.

An EMP weapon works better the higher and bigger it is. The idea is to produce an intense, asymmetrical pulse of gamma rays in the rarefied layers of the upper atmosphere, creating charge separation which causes a large circulating current that gives rise to the desired EMP. (You can do it at lower altitudes but it doesn't work nearly so well.) Its usefulness in the modern world is obvious, and I sometimes feel I'd like to set one off just for the crack.

363:

...and British Thomson-Houston, once part of Marconi via AEI and GEC, is now a bloke in Hinckley making electronic ignition units for motorcycles.

364:

There's a word for a Society that only allows the most privileged to be trauma-free.
Really?
Do tell.

Not "Feudal", given the fate of some Kings in that period, so ???
"Gilded Age"?
As Trumpolini is trying to return to - assuming he lasts - his latest insanity over "Obama spied on me" has got the security & justice services/depts up in arms.
Can this actually go on, or are we to expect POTUS "Valiant-for-Truth (TM)" Pence quite soon?

366:

OK Something weird happened there ... I had only just singed-in posted # 344
Tried to reply to # 363 & got told that my session had expired.
You what?

OK replying to 363 about BTH:
This: BTH Type 1 also called class 15

367:

All U.S. strategic bombers are under the command of 8th Air Force headquartered at Barksdale AFB, LA. 8th AF and its parent combatant command, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), headquartered at Offutt AFB, NE have a STRONG preference for operating out of their home bases, even when conducting missions literally on the other side of the planet. You get to simplify maintenance schemes, conduct training for your strategic strike missions, and you get to brag about a 30 hour mission.

On the other hand you use a metric buttload of fuel, and put more hours in the airframe going to and fro. For these reasons, and for the political message, USSTRATCOM conducts Bomber Assurance and Deterrence (BAAD) deployment missions in Europe and the Pacific (see https://fas.org/blogs/security/2016/09/nuclear-bomber-operations/ and https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/b-52s-deploy-to-spain-for-nato-military-exercise ) for press reporting.

I am not allowed to discuss U.S. or NATO tactical nuke capabilities in Europe without getting into WAY too much trouble.

368:

You are both talking nonsense. Nobody has solved the problem of disposal, but the reason is that it has been treated as a political problem, not an engineering one. I agree that it's almost certainly a SOLUBLE problem. Inter alia, any adequate solution needs a radical redesign of reactors, fuel handling and disposal strategies. For example, plutonium is Bad News, irrespective of radioactivity, and most of the fission byproducts aren't, despite some of them being bioactive.

369:

Unfortunately, the UK situation is much nastier than simple bureaucratic and political incompetence, or even pork-barrelling. I really DO mean that Whitehall has taken (and is taking?) positive action to prefer USA companies and prevent UK ones competing against them. Examples of which I have certain knowledge include:

Taking over 6 weeks to provide export licences for UK companies, but doing so for UK subsidiaries of USA ones in under 2 weeks; guess which meets the tender deadline? In two cases I know of, the UK company finally gave up and sold out to a larger USA, and the problem immediately disappeared. I think that I know the excuse for this one.

Tenders from only USA companies being considered for government contracts, despite qualified UK companies tendering (or trying to!) In one case, there was a public excuse, roughly "It's too much effort to check the financial viability of new companies, so we go with what we know." So the contract went to a USA company that had been damned by Parliament for delivering broken 'solutions' and overcharging.

Political aspects of this include the TTIP, where it was the UK attempting to push it unmodified through the EU, despite the serious harm it would do to the UK. And, of course, the effectively one-sided extradition laws. When there was an outcry over the previous ones on those grounds, the solution was to rewrite them to be even worse, but with some rather better thought-out obfuscation.

Note that I am not damning the USA here, but the UK bureaucrats and politicians. Exactly what one calls it, I don't know, but a significant number of those have links or (on retirement) take up links with the USA companies that have been favoured.

370:

#338, Sfreader:

Which explains how the Count could turn into a bat or to ashes at dawn. I'm assuming that multitudes of these molecules could be programmed to merge to form one 'being'.

Reality is getting weirder. (Wonder what inspired this line of research.)

I'm guessing you've not read/heard of "The Swarm" (by Frank Schätzing). At the risk of spoiling things, there's a naturally evolved amoeba in that which is capable of forming a superorganism when required. Apparently some chunks of the story were lifted from the papers of Thomas Orthmann, a marine biologist.

And that's without even looking at the classic work of J. Cameron et al, 1991...

371:

Exactly what one calls it, I don't know, but a significant number of those have links or (on retirement) take up links with the USA companies that have been favoured.

I'd call it "corruption".

373:

Plausible, but I'm not 100% convinced by it. Certainly I can see one of Trump's random 3am tweets exploding messily in his face, for some value of "explode" that goes all the way up to starting a regional war; but unlike the Kaiser, there's a constitutional mechanism for removing the US President if he becomes an obvious liability to his own government.

Obviously the threshold for removing Trump is sky-high right now, because the Republican base will have the scalps of any Republican Congressman who votes for impeachment during the next primaries.

But I'm guessing that if Trump loses his shine with the base, or if he becomes an existential threat to the Republicans in Congress (for levels of "personal survival" against "can win the nomination in the next primary"), a not-insignificant number will queue up to stab him in the back.

374:

To expand (for Greg): about 70-80% of Congressional seats are rock-solid for one party or another.

So if you can get the Repub nomination in a strong Repub seat, you're in (and the same applies in the somewhat-smaller number of solid Democrat seats).

However, you don't get to run for Congress until you've won a primary election where registered party members get to vote for their candidate. And the Republican primaries are currently dominated by Tea Partiers and neo-Nazi infiltrators. So you can't become a Republican candidate unless you satisfy the loyalty tests of the extreme right, even though these people are basically irrelevant to the main election outcome and the business of lawmaking. Moderate Republican candidates have gradually been hounded out by hard-right insurgents who scoop the nominations — which is why the party as a whole has drifted so far to the right over the past 30 years.

Because of the staggered four year election cycle, the next time seats in Congress and Senate are up for grabs is in November 2018. Primaries are in January (or February?). So no Republican Congressman facing re-election will dare vote to impeach Trump before they've got their 2018 candidacy in the bag — which means I'm betting on him not being impeached until after February 2018 unless things go well beyond Watergate levels of bad and all the way into "you declared war on WHO and they nuked WHAT?!?" territory.

375:

about 70-80% of Congressional seats are rock-solid for one party or another.
Just like here, in other words ... excepting Scotland of late & I suspect NornIron - the corruption there has re-surfaced with a vengeance & I don't think the voters are going to stand for it for much longer ( I hope )

Impeachment.
Depends on what he does ...
However, I was thinking of him being "quietly" ( for very loud values of quietly ) removed, well before then - the latest insanity over "Obama bugged me" is a case in point/ straw in the wind

376:

Cheaper, yes - but you wouldn't get the functionality benefits.

Even on exercise, there's a huge leap in operating speed with the leap from unencrypted to encrypted voice communications. There's another huge leap to be had with stuff like Blue Force Tracker (albeit the long-handled screwdriver brigade will make people hate it). Yet another with the whole cognitive radio stuff.

As a for instance for those unfamiliar, the 5kg VHF radio I carried, let me talk on our Company frequency; my signaller carried a radio that let me talk on the Battlegroup frequency (the next level up in the hierarchy). Any information that involved a grid reference needed those six digits to be encrypted (there was a handy few-time pad setup that we used), which took a minute per grid reference. If there were helicopters in the area, I couldn't talk to them - I had to request them from the Battlegroup HQ, because they had the rearlink to Brigade HQ (yet another level up in the hierarchy), who had the air planning cell and the UHF kit to talk to the aircraft; and when/if [1] they arrived, assuming they went to the correct grid reference [2], it was hand-signals only until they had landed (because we didn't have the UHF radio kit).

Fortunately, things have now changed...

[1] Never underestimate the ability of a helicopter task to be diverted (leaving you to start walking) by the risk of "rainspots on the paintwork over their third diversionary airfiend", or the impending Happy Hour at the bar. Gits.

[2] Never underestimate the ability of a several-million-pound helicopter flown by a pair of million-pound-plus-training-cost pilots, to drop you off in a field a kilometer away from the grid reference you handed them.

377:

Why is plutonium Bad News while mercury from coal-burning is Business As Usual? (Substitute nitrous oxides, particulates, dioxins, heavy metals, radon etc. for mercury as desired).

Plutonium isn't particularly toxic compared to, say, beryllium (14,000 tonnes of which gets burnt in power stations around the world each and every year) but it's scary because people have been running around saying it's really really REALLY bad and evil and... for a long time.

We have worked examples of large-scale plutonium exposure in the US mid-West from above-ground nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and elsewhere. About five tonnes of weapons-grade Pu was vapourised and deposited over several thousand square kilometres of farmland and inhabited areas over a period of about 20 years or so. That's a lot of plutonium uptake in plants and animals resulting in nothing much, not even rising out of the statistical noise in epidemiological terms.

To quell the unreasoning panics, nuclear materials like plutonium are kept under very tight control but it's never enough for the Chicken Littles who want more and more restrictions on these materials and then claim that nuclear power is too expensive because of the costs of further stricter but pointless sequestration.

378:

I have read lately several books on the Great War, and I found the comparison disturbingly accurate. The narcissism, the theatricality, the infantilism, the pathological lies, the military fetishism, etc. It's terribly easy to see Trump giving a blank check to a modern Austria-Hungary in a moment of romantic exaltation...

379:

S Korea?
Unlikely,as that would probably be a true UN effort, assuming DPRK lose their marbles entirely.
Actually, what scares me is that it might be reversed.
We, the UK might be The Dual Monarchy dragged along behind Trumpolinio's chariot wheels.

But, your implied question still stands - where is it most likely that such an outbreak would occur?

380:

Also, Ludwig II of Bavaria teaches that there was a mechanism to remove a monarch in case of need. Ad hoc and sloppy it may been been but it existed (and I don't mean murder; Ludwig was declared insane and deposed... actually I have always wondered: why bother declaring the King insane and depose him if you plan to murder him?)

381:

Once he's no longer king, it's not regicide?

382:

I think that's right. The "depose first, then dispose of" route has been used several times in the history of the various British monarchies, and was pretty much standard practice in the Byzantine empire if I recall correctly. It's probably a hangover from the times when the monarch was believed to be under special divine protection.

383:

Northern Ireland: the DUP has been returned as the largest party in Stormont, albeit with a reduced majority because of the cash for gas scandal.

Scotland: the SNP is now 12 years in power in Hollyrood and is the largest party there by a long way. As Labour is in meltdown, the only real rival on the horizon is the Tories, which would not be an improvement. As for "corruption", maybe you know something I (as a local) don't, but I doubt it — and I've got nothing, at least compared to the privatization and trash-the-NHS mania down south.

384:

By "Corruption" I was referring to NI only, of course.
The corruption in Scotland is very reminiscent of that at Westminster, that engendered by unrestrained power & not a lot to do with money & is not the subject of this sub-discussion (!)
The "Ash for Cash" scandal is a nasty echo of the corruption ( Over & above crapping on Catholics ) that marred NI in the run-up to the Troubles. And we all know about how bent the finances were in Dublin at that time, too ......
Although the DUP has held on, I wonder how long this will last.

385:

"Primaries are in January (or February?)"

The primaries for most, if not all, Congressional races (Senate and House) are in the late spring or summer. Usually April through August, depending on which state you are in. These days primary races are often longer than the general election race.

386:

By "Corruption" I was referring to NI only, of course.
Well, that's Charlie and myself both seem to have read #375 as accusing Scots politicians of being corrupt.

As to para 2, I'm not familiar with this as a use of the term corruption.

387:

Even if all you care about is radioactive pollution, coal plants are dumping tons (literally) of U and Th and other unstable heavy metals into the air daily. The concentration isn't that high, but enough mass is burned that low concentration doesn't matter.

Fun little side effect is that if your fission plant is downwind of a coal plant, you can't use the outside radiation alarms because they will be tripping constantly. If someone wanted to be sneaky they would pass legislation to harmonize radioactive emissions across all power generation. It'd either force a complete close down of coal plants or relax the limits for nukes that they could essentially just toss the waste at the end of the decade.

388:

Do not underestimate the number of NI voters who would happily vote in Cthulhu itself if it promised to keep "themmuns" in their place and the Union safe.

The DUP pissed half a billion (500 million, 500,000,000) pounds of public money away in the cash-for-ash debacle, and still returned a majority. There are already rumblings that Arlene Foster (current leader) will be (quite deservedly) subtly but firmly pushed under the bus in the next few weeks in order to ensure that the power sharing institutions don't collapse, and assuming that this is pulled off without looking like giving in to Nationalist demands, expect the DUP to rebound in the next election and claw back at least some seats from other parties. (If they don't pull off the trick of sacrificing Mrs Foster to both the satisfaction of their opponents and their base, well, then things are likely to become "interesting".)

389:

re: The Swarm by Frank Schätzing

Thanks! Just looked it up ... will add to to-buy/read pile. That's one helluva lot of copies sold!

Goodreads review snippet: 'The apocalyptic ... gripping, scientifically realistic, and utterly imaginative thriller. With 1.5 million copies sold in Germany ... compelling story, vivid characters, and eerie locales ...'


390:

There are procedures for removing an incapable monarch.
Of course, once they're removed they become a pretender to the throne; there's procedures for dealing with those, too...

391:

I was quite surprised that the more moderate Unionists didn't get a significantly increased vote + "Alliance" + SDLP.
I was made aware of NI corruption, quite by accident when the then NI crooks decided approx 1967/8 that the nice Mr Marples had a good idea for a money-siphon & tried to do the same to NI rail. They succeeded in closing all of the GNRI line from Portadown to Londonderry ( Leaving it open to Armagh / Omagh would have been sensible) & planned handing the rump to CIE.
A very distant acquaintance was an Englishman put in charge of NI rail & he raised an awful stink.
They booted him out, but the other lines were saved.
Quite an eye-opener that was ... hence my repeating theme that corruption, N & S had a large part to play in the explosion that happened in 1970 ish ....
It seems that people have not learnt

392:

Yes, you fake up a spurious reason, based on hypocritical "Public Morality", create a fake Dukedom for him, & tell him to stay out of the country.
You also make sure that the members of the Establishment all get to see the real reasons he was got rid of & he becomes an empty, powerless shadow-man.

393:

Re: '... [GOP] currently dominated by Tea Partiers and neo-Nazi infiltrators...'

Guess none of the moderate Republicans can figure out how to change this, by say, getting more non-extremists to register as Republicans?


In the UK, seems there can be a social and professional cost to joining a political party which helps explain why only about 1% of eligible voters are registered with any official party. At the same time though apparently even a toddler can officially join a political party in the UK. In fact, you don't even need to be a UK resident/citizen to join a political party in the UK. IOW, you can have a massive impact in shaping the UK gov't (by choosing who stands for election) without having the same level of qualification needed to cast a vote in an official election. This looks nuts, folks ... unless I'm missing a key bit of info.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/jun/13/party-politics-cost-getting-involved-pitfalls

394:

Here's how the proliferation of cheaper movie making technology is changing Hollywood's business model

http://www.businessinsider.com/logan-screenwriter-scott-frank-hollywood-changing-2017-3

395:

Two things: first, there's a column in today's WaPo suggesting that Trumpolini's tweets about wiretapping (which he got from Breitbart & some guy named Michael Levin) were *deliberately* outrageous, to distract the media and the public from Session's recusal, and the discussion of his lying under oath.

On the other hand, Comey, who is obviously a partisan, just turned on him over those tweets; at least, he'll see it that way.

The other... CHARLIE! I finally realized that you're one of the writers for the simulation we've all been translated to last fall, but *please*, less low comedy. I mean, I see the end game coming, where Trumpolini melts down *again* (as I read he did last week when Sessions recused himself), and Pence pouncing and invoking the 25th Amendment, and the Orange Doodie racing back from Mar-el-Lago, and fighting him, and the whole thing being heard before the House... and *all* the laundry aired, which will result in Secure Red* States going Democrat in '18....

* GHU'S CURSE** They are NOT FUCKING RED. If I use the Russian Revolution for colors, White would be perfect, and descriptive, as well.

** May there be nothing left to drink but bheer, and you loose your taste for bheer.

mark

396:

Looked up Apax Partners Group because wanted to check who owned/controlled The Guardian before giving in/stopping pop-up requests for donations/subscription. You know: The Guardian seems fairly good as far as news sources go, so maybe time to get a subscription. But the Wikipedia article made me reconsider because of its list of recent Apax Partner acquisitions, complaints filed against them, all the while without providing any specific info on who/what they are exactly.

Maybe you can find something interesting and factual.

Wikipedia excerpt:

British United Shoe machinery (2000)

'The circumstances surrounding the demerger, transfer of assets and subsequent collapse of the British United Shoe Machinery in 2000 led to questions about Apax's behaviour being raised in Parliament by MPs of both main parties. After calls for an enquiry into the loss of hundreds of pensions were refused, Dr Ros Altmann, the pensions expert and, as of 2015, UK Pensions minister described it "one of the worst cases ..I have seen ..the actions of the former owners - Apax have been immoral." The late Dr Ashok Kumar said, "I think these people needed flogging" ..these are greedy, selfish, capitalists who live on the backs of others.'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apax_Partners#Criticisms_.26_alleged_predatory_practices

397:

Guess none of the moderate Republicans can figure out how to change this, by say, getting more non-extremists to register as Republicans?

Most registered R's (and D's) are not extremists. But primaries tend to be where only the truly committed come out. So you get the middle of the road folks on both sides wondering why the choices in the general election, well, suck.

Historically until the 80s and 90s primaries were a choice between mostly similar people in both major parties. Things got polarized over those decades and now many primaries are between folks father apart than the general elections used to be.

And adding fuel to the fire, outside money (D and R) will now swoop in and pour 10 times the $$ to fund "true believers" if it looks like they can win. Races where people used to raise $5K or $10K now require $50K or $500K.

As to numbers, I'm not close to the chart I have just now so this is from memory but over a 4 year span in NC there were 2000 or so new D's, 4000 or so new R's, and 20,000 or so new independents registered. Those kinds of numbers do not bode well for moderation going forward. (I may be off in the numbers but the independents were about 10 times the number for either major party.)

398:

I doubt that cash-for-ash as the main reason - Brexit and related economic issues were probably as important - but, otherwise, I agree. As I read it, the votes for unionists were still 10-12% higher than for nationalists, though it came very, very close to being 'interesting' this time ....

Greg Tingey: I thought that the UUP might have made a little headway against the DUP, not because of any moderation (which is not a vote-winner), but because of cash-for-ash. But I was wrong.

399:

You seem to be spreading FUD there. You should look a bit closer at who owns the Guardian Media Group.

400:

No intention of FUD, just not having much luck parsing their relationship. Consider the piece below where APAX and The Guardian both purchased and sold shares in the same outfit at the same time. A financial lockstep with a company that has been called out in Parliament is not reassuring.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/feb/09/guardian-and-apax-share-80m-from-ascential-flotation

401:

Well, the Guardian has been declining for decades now. Also every media outlet in the UK has dodgy connections to dodgy people, and being called out in parliament kind of means something, kind of doesn't, insofar as the dodgiest stuff isn't actually called out. If it is public that way it usually isn't much. It's just how british capitalism works, i.e. badly.

Also having a working relationship isn't the same as being owned or controlled by, your statement is flat out wrong there.

Finally, can you be more specific in your insinuations?

402:

Re: '... but the independents were about 10 times the number for either major party.)'

Results of 2016 NC votes shows that 'independents' got less than 5% of the vote. So, why the disconnect between your info and what actually happened? A discrepancy this large is more than some simple statistical or rounding error.


Candidate Popular vote Percentage
Donald Trump 2,362,631 49.83%
Hillary Clinton 2,189,316 46.17%
Gary Johnson 130,126 2.74%
Write-in 47,386 1.00%
Jill Stein (write-in) 12,105 0.26%
Total 4,741,564 100.00%


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election_in_North_Carolina,_2016#Results_4

403:

Re: 'Finally, can you be more specific in your insinuations?'

Two items:

1. This is a request for information - not an insinuation.
2. The reason for this request is because what little I've found is unclear to me.

To repeat: I want to know what the working relationship is between The Guardian and APAX.

404:

Party registrations and votes in elections are no where near lockstep.

Most new registered voters don't want to identify with either party. They vote for the least worst candidate in their mind. Which is why we in NC and other area that seem fairly split get to see nothing but negative before elections.

406:

Money money money. The upper echelons of the various flavours of british elite network with one another, including across party lines. The Guardian media group has basically lost most of the spirit it had when it was begun, and become another tool of capitalism, as it were. Still produces some decent articles, but if you want info re. how they could be swinging elections, influencing the public, that's a bit deeper than most can provide. Us old folk recall how the Observer (The sunday version of hte guardian) came out in favour of the Iraq war. Or there's the repeated observations in private eye about the guardian using unpaid interns all the time, rather than actually paying them as a cursory glance at it's history would suggest it would.

407:

Ah, Mensch. The right winger with not a lot of nouse who decided being an MP was too much hard work and decamped to the USA where pastures were greener. Whose work is she doing here?

408:

Thanks for the info ...

Had assumed that since NC is one of the 28 states that allows registered voters to indicate a party preference when registering to vote, that this was because most voters in that state would also want to register their party preference.

409:

Louise Mensch is special.

Hint: she got a reputation pretty rapidly for allegedly being unable to open her mouth without sticking her foot in it. I never fact-checked one of her statements without finding it to be wrong: after a while I simply gave up and assumed that whatever she said, the opposite was true.

She did better writing chick lit than as an MP.

410:

It seems we agree on the ultimate correct response.

411:

Okay - thanks! So, which UK newspaper/media would folk here recommend for a foreigner who'd like balanced well-researched news with a UK perspective?

While I enjoy BBC documentaries, their website is ... meh.

412:

Last post for today: 3D printed home only took 24 hrs.

'The 38 sq.-metre (409 sq.-ft.) home's walls were printed with concrete. ...
The home cost US $10,134 to build.'

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/03/06/3d-printed-home_n_15191350.html

413:

@393.

The key bit you are missing is that members of the local U.K. party have far less say over the selection of candidates than they do in the US.
http://www.britpolitics.co.uk/a-level-uk-political-party-parliamentary-candidates

There is nothing really like a primary over here.

For the last 20 years or so the candidate selection was pretty rigidly controlled by the parties central teams to the point where it was quite usual to parachute in out of region candidates who had no knowledge of the local area.

This has probably accounted for much of the beige democracy in the U.K. over the last 20 years, unfortunately that created the conditions for UKIP, Corbyn (the first populist leader to upset the applecart?) and then Brexit.

414:

Guardian, Independent (online only), Financial Times

415:

3D printed home only took 24 hrs.

Better: http://apis-cor.com/en/about/news/first-house

I love the way their little portable unit meant printing a circular house, presumably with a radius equal to the arm length. That said, the finish on those walls is better than I expected and that's always been an issue with concrete printers. Sadly no details of the reinforcing technology, I assume it's embedded fibre (surely even Russia has quake regulations, especially at 3 storeys)

The key line is "things were added later". There's a whole lot of stuff that would have been interesting to add while the printer was running, since I assume it doesn't print the cross-linking bars between inner and outer walls (but hopefully places them), wiring and plumbing, or for that matter the shower cabinet. Putting wiring and plumbing into wet cement walls during printing would be fun - I wonder if all that was in the slab... and did they pour that prior to "construction"?

I think they were let down a bit by the embodied energy cost and recycleability. Relying on mineral-polymer composites and EPS/EPR mixes means that it's probably going to have to be incinerated or landfilled when it dies. Since it's one piece renovations will be tricky.

416:

FWIW on houses I'm more convinced by structural panel and prefab designs as many of those are designed for ease of repair/renovation. These days the idea that a house will last even 50 years is a bit passe, although I do think the 5-10 year lifespan stuff has gone a bit far and people are starting to get grumpy. So building on the basis that in 20 years time someone will want to add a second storey or at the very least another bedroom seems like a good idea. Assuming that people will just knock the house down and start again seems silly.

I foresee a market for "overprinting" 3D printed buildings, where the machine grinds off the surface finish and adds a new layer of structure against the old one. Either as a repair to failing old structure, or prior to embiggening the house.

417:

Now that you mention it, South Korea is very clearly a possibility (and Israel a lesser one). But I was thinking of Russia. If a Shiite terrorist did a suspiciously convenient Gavrilo Prinzip, it's too easy to see Trump giving a blank check to move against Syria and Iran. If they were Ukrainian or Bosnian Muslim terrorists, a blank check to 'reorganize' Eastern Europe...

Regarding Ludwig II, what I mean is I favor the suicide theory. I don't discard murder but I think it makes little sense: If you are going to murder the King, why bother deposing him before? It's just an added complication. Conversely, once deposed, why bother murdering him? Also, if it were a murder the new government would have been behind it, so they wouldn't have needed to murder one of the doctors they themselves had chosen to watch over him.

418:

I think you're missing some points here:-

1) In the UK you can NOT register on the voters' role as a supporter or member of $party. The only choice you can make is whether or not your name appears on the "abstracted role" (effectively a mailing list which the relevant Returning Officer can sell to companies wishing to carry out mail shots).
2) Following on from (1), only those people who care enough to:-
a) Spend their own money on joining $party.
b) Spend their own time on fundraising and active campaigning (eg delivering leaflets, appearing at public events, doorstepping voters...) for $party.
c) Possibly appear at Polling Places and/or Counts as an agent for $party.
choose to "join" a party.
3) Doing (1) and (2) in support of party1 will make no difference as to whether or not you receive campaign materials for and are possibly doorstepped by party2.

419:

These days the idea that a house will last even 50 years is a bit passe, although I do think the 5-10 year lifespan stuff has gone a bit far

Try selling that in the UK!

The average British home is 75 years old; my flat is due to get a bicentennial birthday party within the next decade (we're a little vague on precisely when in the early 1820s it was actually built, although the street was gridded out in the 1750s).

Frankly, I'm more convinced by the swarm-driven construction model in Bruce Sterling's "Distraction" than by the idea of 3D-printing prefab houses out of concrete. "Hi! I am a bundle of six bricks! I belong in the third tier of the south wall! Pick me up and carry me four feet to your left then put me on the ground next to the squeeze-bulb of pre-mixed mortar and unwrap me ..."

420:

Absolutely; all the houses I've lived in except 1 are still extant, and ages roughly as follows:-
1) "Wally close" in Pollockshields; probably 1880s
2) 1930s semi-detached in Dumbarton
3) 1914 detached villa in Dumbarton
4) 1912 semi in Dumbarton
5) Now demolished late 1970s mid-terrace in $current location. The house was fine, but surplus to local requirements.
6) Late 1970s mid-terrace in $current location. Still structurally sound. (5) is now parking for (6).

So that's 5/6 still exist, and 3 of them over 100 years old at this time. One of the other 3 is probably ~80 years old, and the other one that still exists is about 40.

421:

I note too just how small it is - a mere 38 square metres. Obviously intended for the British market, I can't imagine our US or Australian comrades wanting anything that small.

More seriously, this is a PoC: I suspect larger places will be done using multiple sequences. Do upper floors offset from lower, and you might get something that would feature on Grand Designs.

422:

And you need to remind 'Muricans that that is the "New Town" .....
(!)
As opposed to the "Old Town" - with a founded - when was "Edin" ( As in Burgh / Dun ) - approx 650 CE, so there's been a fort/castle there since then & Holyrood was founded in the 12thC & rebuilt in the early 17th ....

423:

I love Grand Designs :
"We want something different and challenging and modern"
"Here, have 2 offset cubes, that'll be 3/4 million quid please. "

424:

I've always struggled cognitively with custom in many areas of the US of building houses to last 20 years then starting again although I believe its generally confined to areas where full timber construction is the norm. Guess its a product of still having bountiful forests and having enough space not to create huge swathes of fire risks.

For our cousin's across the pond - in the UK the main reason for knocking a house down is either building a bigger McMansion on the existing plot or a developer cramming 2 or more new houses with postage stamp gardens onto the exsting plot. Sometimes its age/neglect related for the original house but not a prerequisite.

425:

And the way Kevin Macleod McCloud is so quietly resigned as yet another project blows its budget, blows its emergency budget and then blows some more.

(I do lust after some of those properties, but short of blowing all our savings on a really good bank robbery kit, they're out of our league.)

426:

Ditto. Our house is 87 years old, and I have lived in ones that are several centuries old. A significant proportion of the kitchen, workshop and garden tools I use are over 50 years old, and a few are over 100!

427:

People knock houses down? Does not compute ... though I will conceded that my parents bought and gutted and refitted a property back in the 60s. However, originally only part of that was living quarters.

One of the things you might encounter wandering around Hong Kong Island is the sight of a building site on a steep slope where they've taken down a decent size house and are putting up a 40 floor block on the same footprint.

428:

There are a fair few Grand Designs that seem to be all about big glass-fronted concrete boxes like they're building an office block rather than a home. I'm sure they're lovely to be in, if only because once you're inside there's no risk of the house ruining your view.

I feel like a bit of an anachronism, but I just have this nagging feeling that a house should have stone masonry, and the designers shouldn't be so in thrall to fashion that it'll look like a ghastly eyesore in a few short years.

I seem to have ended up in a 70s mid terrace though. Still, at least it isn't a new build...

429:

I can't watch Grand Designs without thinking of the Mitchell & Webb "Cellists" sketch these days...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaaHGAB8yTY

430:

That's a very good point - apart from better insulation/energy usage the standard of new builds in the UK and Ireland (especially pre-slump Ireland) leaves a lot to be desired.

431:

Don't get me wrong, I actually really like Grand Designs, and some of the spaces look like they would be lovely to be in. I still shudder at the thought of heating some of those volumes.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that Mr McCloud is secretly impregnating lots of the women house-owners in the series: "we return a year later to find Mildred Twiffle-Wizzle nursing her new-born in their luxury home"

432:

Victorian end of terrace here; ~120 years old. And as the whole terrace has discovered, built to be extended at the back and have loft conversions added. But that was then. What about the vast number of new build estates with their semis and detached "executive" 4 bedroom homes (with barely room to get a double bed in any of them) built in the last 30 years. I kind of doubt they're going to last another 50. Even in the 50s, houses and buildings were built to last and there's nothing new about unscrupulous property developers. Those lovely Victorian terraces in the little market town were also built piecemeal by sharks who cut corners and used the lowest bidder. But it does feel like something changed in the 60s. Everybody could have a new (non-slum) home and afford it. The only problem was it was built by Barratt and furnished by MFI.

433:

To repeat: I want to know what the working relationship is between The Guardian and APAX.

The working relationship (from my fallible memory of my brief period as a GMG employee) is that a consortium of GMG and APAX called Eden Bidco co-owns Ascential, which is the remains of EMAP's B2B publishing group. This has been open knowledge since 2008, and I'm surprised you didn't come across it sooner in your research.

The Guardian is fully funded by the Scott Trust and GMG's outside holdings such as Ascential pay into the Scott Trust but that doesn't confer any sort of editorial control or line. The whole point of the Scott Trust is to confer editorial independence.

434:

I don't watch GD (well other than the ubiquitous trailers and the odd last few minutes overrun) and that was totally spot-on characterisation!

435:

And while we're on about houses, I confess to being very lucky - we bought a 3bed semi 18 years ago. A couple of years back the lady next-door pssed away, and we got the opportunity to buy other side, and knock through, so we now have a nice 6-bed detached with garage in a comfortable suburb in W Yorks, for less owing than either one of the semis would get at current rates.

436:

Damn, too quick to submit. House is about 1918, brick (bloody *hard* brick at that). Was a bugger to redecorate other side, she'd been smoking 30-40 a day for 60 years, and had not decorated since c.1970-1980. All white paint was mid-brown.

437:

Yes: my house is quite new (around 20 years old), but one of my colleagues lives in a house in Castleton (in the Peak District) whose core is mediaeval. He had a party there to welcome a new group member who's originally from America: "As far as I can tell, my house is about 300 years older than your country!"

438:

I saw this commented in another forum and someone quickly pointed out that a circular room will make fitting any kind of non-custom made furniture a real pain: lots of wasted space, and this will be even worse considering that the room are not very large to begin with.

439:

My wife and I each owned a small hundred-year-old flat in Edinburgh; we moved to a newly-built house at the turn of the century. Detached house of 1800 sq.ft. and a big garden (because, rugrats), decently spaced from its neighbours, and just outside the city boundary (because similar/smaller houses within Edinburgh proved unaffordable). Brick outer shell, concrete block inner shell; on a concrete raft to reduce the risk of subsidence (the Lothians are riddled with several centuries of shallow, medium, and deep coal mining), it should last a fair few decades more.

On the bright side, the walls are square and flat, and the floors are level. In my flat in the Old Town, the floor sloped such that there was a three-inch drop across the width of the kitchen; and a one-inch bulge in the wall across same; which made for an interesting time as I tried to fit a kitchen worktop.

My regret is that we didn't know enough (or pay our deposit quickly enough) to specify a CAT5 cable run within the new house. Modern construction techniques are a sod when it comes to fixing plasterboard (drywall) using spot and dab against the inner wall, there isn't a nice vertical batten line to drop the cable down :(

440:

I have two circular rooms. So circular that if you stand in the very centre there's a "dead spot" where your own voice will echo back into your ears and sound really freaky!

Wasted space is a non-issue. These rooms are 18 feet in diameter (hey, Georgian construction, never mind Victorian!) so as long as you stick to furniture units less than about a metre wide the gap behind them, in the middle of the unit, is less than 10cm deep. You just don't notice it. The only real problem is big pieces like the sofas, and it's handy to have some space between them and the window bays behind anyway (the window casements also date to an 1820s design and can get a little drafty when there's a cold wind blowing and the shutters are open).

441:

My regret is that we didn't know enough (or pay our deposit quickly enough) to specify a CAT5 cable run within the new house.

You'd probably want to rip Cat5 out now and pull fresh Cat5e or Cat6 cable now so you've saved yourself some time, effort and cash. (Cat5e at the minimum, Cat6 is better but a bit trickier). I helped my old boss rewire his home with Cat5e where the data cabling still in place included 9600 baud twisted-pair serial RS-422, 10base2 50ohm coaxial and Cat3 Ethernet.

White plastic cable ducting that adheres to walls or can be attached by screws will work for most cabling needs if you want it tidy and protected from junior demolition specialists but a single cable can usually be run along skirting boards or in attic spaces and tacked down using a stapler or with nail hooks.

442:

The original post was about British nuclear deterrent, so even if we are past way #300 I suppose this might be of interest: Germany debates having their own atomic bomb (The Economist).

443:

Interesting and also mildly scary.

444:

1893 just-detached, built of a piece with the 4 pairs of semis of similar construction.
Foundations suffering ( London Clay + fucking LBWF building works 4-5 years back. )
Two rooms currently more-or-less out of use, but a lovely house in a quiet road really convenient for everything ( 6-7 minutes to the station, less than 10 minutes to the M-way in the other direction - good local shops - surprising amount of green-space & 3 GBG pubs within 10 minutes walk, maximum - oh & the microbrewery! )

445:

You'd probably want to rip Cat5 out now and pull fresh Cat5e or Cat6 cable now so you've saved yourself some time, effort and cash. (Cat5e at the minimum, Cat6 is better but a bit trickier).

Cat5e only matters compared to Cat5 if your runs are over 80 or 90 meters. And while Cat6 is gives you 10gig Ethernet at 100 meters, so what? You can get 10gig if you cut that length down to 1/2 of that. Just how big is the edge case where anyone needs more than 50 meters in a dwelling? In a 3500+ sf US McMansion you really will not have more than 30 meters, if that. Unless it's built as a ranch. But who would do that?

If you have Cat5 you might want new connectors. If building new there's no need for Cat6 in new homes unless you have lots of money for all kinds of edge case upgrades.

446:

Yup. I've just been through replacing my patch cabling between NAS box(es), router, desktop, and sundry sound-system and home-automation links from Cat5e up to Cat7, so as to gain a bit more of the Gigabit Ethernet's bandwidth...

Pulling through twenty or thirty meters of the stuff (ground floor up to attic, across attic, down to ground floor) that would have been tacked in place along the way? Would have been deep joy. So now, I just look at the fibs that the manufacturers tell about the Wifi bandwidth available from my hub / access points [1]

[1] We added an extension, and in order to meet the new insulation specs, the builder used foil-backed insulation blocks between concrete block inner and brick outer skin. This was enough to screw up wifi reception and require an additional access point...

447:

I note too just how small it is - a mere 38 square metres. Obviously intended for the British market, I can't imagine our US or Australian comrades wanting anything that small.

Mostly that's right, but there's currently a modest small-house fad in at least some parts of the US. A friend is looking to build a 500 ft^2 house outside Boerne.

http://texashillcountry.com/small-new-big-texas-hill-country-tiny-houses-taking-market-storm/

448:

Any country with a nuclear power program has the basic ability to create a nuclear weapons program. Wikipedia lists 31 countries with nuclear power plants ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_by_country ), including the declared nuclear powers (U.S., Russia, China, UK, France, India, Pakistan); oddly, Israel, long suspected of having nuclear weapons, is not listed as having an active power plant.

While Germany does have the expertise to create a weapons program, they are currently in the process of decommissioning all their fission power plants. It would seem more than a little contradictory to start a weapons program when you've decided nuclear power is too dangerous.

I'd suspect the Republic of Korea to be the most likely country to cross the nuclear weapons threshold next, given their neighbor. Ukraine might also be tempted, and certainly has the reactor base and expertise to do so.

449:

Of course, all of those countries have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_the_Non-Proliferation_of_Nuclear_Weapons ) except India, Israel, Pakistan, and South Sudan. Somehow I'm not too concerned about South Sudan's proliferation potential.

450:

I take umbrage at this. It may, perhaps, be less socialist - I just don't think I read the Manchester Guardian when my father bought it when I was a kid - but I've been reading it every morning online for better than a dozen years, and have turned a good number of people (including a superannuated (my age) outlaw biker in easterh Ohio on to it ). It's got some of the best and intelligent writing I can find. It actually does *news*, as opposed to the US infotainment industry....

I consider it the best way for me to find out what's actually happening in the world.

Oh, and then there's Marinna Hyde. I emailed her about 8-9 years ago, after nearly falling out of my chair laughing, and told her that if I were on her side of the Pond (and younger), I'd have sent her a mash note. She was amused, and appreciated my note.

mark

451:

Please, stop, I've turned green with envy.

When I was a kid, a friend and his family lived in a former mansion that had been turned into apts. Stone. About three stories.

Late sixties? No later than '72, they tore it down and replaced it with these itty-bitty "senior residences" (think motel cabins), premade slum to fall apart in 20 years.

If I were still in Philly, I'd have another late-Victorian. Instead, I'm in the DC 'burbs, and yes, this is two or three years running that the area is on par with San Francisco and Manhattan in prices. Other than the immobile home my late wife had when I moved in with her, in TX, in the mid-eighties, my current house is the *smallest* I've ever had my name on, a bloody split level, with a half-basement (and the agony of trying to build a model train layout in that...). It was built in '57, I think. On a slab. *bleah*

I can go on, but you get my pain. This was what I could afford, and I'm making a good living, here near retirement.

"Real estate as investment property" makes me want to slaughter real estate agents.

mark

452:

I'd suspect the Republic of Korea to be the most likely country to cross the nuclear weapons threshold next,

Japan.

At any point in time Japan is probably only 3-6 months away from demonstrating a viable modern ICBM capability with H-bombs on top, and 6-24 months from deployment. Make that 2-6 years if they want to go the SSBN route along French/British lines.

Political obstacles are what stop this happening; only country ever to have been nuked, Fukushima cooties on top, constitutional ban on militarism, US nuclear umbrella, etc. But if the US umbrella goes away, the terms in the equation will change really quickly, and if there's still a diplomatic problem with China or NK, they've got the technologies they need already.

453:

The interesting thing is that Japan chose to develop and maintain a solid-fuel satellite launcher capability (as well as a submarine-building capability).

Apart from the reactors, the fuel, and the scientists, I suspect that those are the two long-lead items in your "let's have CASD capability-in-reserve" wishlist.

If you notice the recently-developing strategic linkages between UK and Japan (the Kawasaki P-1 was the other credible contender for the UK MPA replacement, in place of the Boeing P-8), you've got a potential for alternative alliances... :) after all, it's not as if the Maritime Self-Defence Force and the RN haven't got previous :)

454:

Thanks - will check them out!

455:

As per Bloomberg - this partnership (Eden Bidco) does not have any names of executives recorded. This is what I mean: zero details as to who-all (which humans) are involved. I like The Guardian, and I get that this is a private company, but ...

http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=216269171

And, here's the info on what their business does: again, zero info. And this particular company version came into being Nov 21 2016.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10489703

Have however seen a few headlines with CEO names but these go back to 2008 - no idea who's running the place now. Several senior partners left after being unable to meet their 2008 financial targets as per below story.

https://www.ft.com/content/f8486812-da99-11e2-a237-00144feab7de


I think that you will agree that the sources I'm using above are credible. And that the stories these sources typically run are usually also more detailed. So, to me, it seems that the only time this outfit [EB, Apax, etc.] is in the news is when they submit a non-informational/PR-spun news bit to the media or when they've been severely called out on the carpet. Well, they run media, so have also figured out how to hide from media.

456:

For daily news, the BBC

For weekly news and depth reportage, The Economist.

For a fortnightly understanding of why the news is reported the way it is... Private Eye.

457:

The wrong houses get knocked down- interesting old ones or listed buildings, not actual modern rubbish.

The 3D printed house linked to above looks great, perfect for adding an extension to your house at first, but if properly done could lead to some interesting normal houses being made. Okay, walls based on circles aren't everyone't cup of tea, but I'm sure other shapes are possible. At 10K dollars I'm sure that would end up in the UK considerably cheaper than the current 100k pounds or more for a smallish normal build house.

458:

Re: Modern construction

In a previous house once had to get some rewiring done and that experience ($, time and inconvenience) left me wondering why electrical wiring isn't more accessible. It can be discrete and esthetic just by having the wire run through a decorative and easy-to-open bit of molding similar to the larger/taller/higher current styles most renovators and decorators now favor.

The bit I like best about the 3-D printed house story is that this suggests how it might be far easier to build housing on Mars, Moon, etc. Okay, first you'd need to build some type of inflatable dome and heat it up because the current printer works only above -5 degrees. But once you have such a dome, you then just let the 3-D builder run and your habitat is in near move-in condition. (And if you can modify the 3-D printer to use other materials, esp. macerated bamboo goop, it could also extrude/build comfortable flooring, paneling, trim, cabinetry, furniture, rugs, plus your towels and linens and even indoor clothing. )

Also, because this uses concrete - which I'd always thought was a pretty fussy material because it sets fairly fast - this also suggests that there may be other building materials options that this device/method could be adapted for. The next time the Mars Rover takes some soil samples, hope that NASA checks for signs of how easily this soil can be manipulated, crushed, combined with various adhesives/glues and potentially extruded.

Then there's also the idea of how much fun it might be to design a house using this technique. Geometry majors will probably be in high demand as home renovators/builders try to figure out how much structure needs to be made to maximize floor/living space at lowest cost of materials and equipment run time/energy. For on-Earth Western/Developed World real-home applications, I think that this technique could be easily paired with various veneers to get whatever look the local community building code prefers, i.e., aluminum or shaker siding, brick veneer, stone, stucco, glass, etc.

Anyways - glad that so many of you enjoyed the article, and also glad that there's (finally) a useful real-life application that ordinary consumers would appreciate and thereby help drive adoption of this technology.

(From family experience: using current construction methods and materials, a garage of the same size costs at least three times as the price mentioned in this article.)


459:

Oh, quite; it was from that aspect of their activities that I recognised the logo on the wall when I met the bloke :)

460:

"Those lovely Victorian terraces in the little market town were also built piecemeal by sharks who cut corners and used the lowest bidder."

Yes, and it amazes me sometimes that they have lasted as well as they have, having lived in one briefly and performed plumbing and similar operations on a few others. Once you get under the skin everything is kind of soft and bits come off in your hand. The one my sister moved into was like that, and had at least one room in which the joists were located only by gravity and held upright only by having the floorboards nailed to them. I'm glad she moved out after only a few years because the end wall (it was at the end of the terrace) was so convex that I couldn't see how the thrust line could possibly still be in the middle third, or indeed inside the wall at all. But it still hasn't fallen down yet.

The modern equivalents... yes they do give the impression of being made of cardboard, and some bits of them actually are, but generally the worst thing you find when you get under the skin of them is old copies of The Sun; they don't seem to be suffering from important things that are supposed to be attached to something not being or structural materials metamorphosing into stale digestive biscuit, at least not yet.

461:

The modern equivalents... yes they do give the impression of being made of cardboard, and some bits of them actually are

Yup. Unless you actually look at what's being built as new houses it's easy to be completely iggorent of it. I suggest a tourist trip to one of the new estates. Or you could read some of the coverage of new social housing and the way it appears to be built to kill the occupants. Which I suppose does solve the problem of poor people needing housing, in a way.

What annoys me is that this is driven largely by building industry inertia. "always done it this way" grates on me when you blatantly *haven't* always done it that way you pillock, look at the older houses in the area, they are not built this way.

The joy of Grand Designs is that you get to see the alternatives, because Kev is genuinely passionate about housing and wants to show everyone that it can be done well and cheaply, you don't have to just accept whatever crap the local brick-pounder sharts out.

462:

In Oz we have the same problems and the same solutions. People are actually building with better technology, but sadly few of them and too many fall for "cheaper and not as good, but looks similar" products. Structural insulated panels (SIPS) are a simple example. Made of high quality cement board, steel or timber and ideally filled with PIR or ecofoam rather than polystyrene, they're brilliant. You can go 2-3 storeys just using the panels for structure, two people can carry a 6m long panel, the outside skin of the house can go up in a couple of days and if you want to repair something any panel can be taken off with minimal hassle.

But... use cheap cement board, with gaps in the insulation between panels and joints designed by morons and things get ugly quickly. Obviously the leaky joints and gaps in the insulation are a problem for the life of the house. But the cement board cracks or crumbles, you discover that you can't remove just one panel, then that disturbing anything causing further damage to the surrounding cement board, and pretty soon you're replacing the whole outside of the house. And the "structural" part of SIPS can bite you there if that's the only structure your house has.

I have friends who built a magic house out of nice timber SIPS from NZ and it's lovely. A couple of houses up the road were inspired by that, but they cut the cost almost in half by using self-imported chinese MgO/EPS panels. The owners did not learn from some panels disintegrating during installation, and both houses had to be put out of their misery within 5 years of construction. One had enough interior structure to be re-clad, but the owners didn't have enough money to do it properly so now it's just another poorly built timber framed house clad in timber and vinyl.

Australia is full of houses like those. They use the same buzzwords as proper houses, but they're cheap fake imitations of the real thing. And they perform like a cardboard cutout. And just like jobs, the good ones are occupied by people who don't want to move, so the market is overwhelmingly dominated by shitty ones. Guess who's trying to buy a house at the moment...

463:

Funnily enough I was thinking much the same myself the other night. Having been nuked once already currently acts as a strong reason to stay out of the game, but it could also change to acting as a powerful motivation to make bloody sure they don't get nuked again if North Korea keeps ejaculating test missiles in their general direction, and a perception develops that China and the US aren't doing a good enough job of keeping NK under control. And nukes are mainly about materials engineering and precision manufacturing, which are right up Japan's street.

SK on the other hand have had to live with NK being able to flatten Seoul with conventional artillery without crossing the border for a very long time now, and - quite apart from anything else - a conventional response plan is a more credible deterrent than a nuclear one; no worries about being the one to escalate a conventional conflict into a nuclear one, or pissing off the US. (And for both Ks there is the point that nuking the country right next door is kind of daft.)

It's possible that a Japanese nuclear capability might be no bad thing; with NK's habit of needling other powers to see how much it can get away with, and going a little bit further next time when it does get away with it, seeing that they've provoked Japan into getting nukes - and I agree, they'd get them really fast - might just be what's needed to get them to calm down a bit and wind their neck in. (On the other hand, if they don't calm down...)

464:

Exactly, I can see a lot of fun and interesting houses coming from this sort of technology. Do you know about cob houses? You can do various different structures and shapes with cob that work better than with breezeblock.

The other trick is getting the insulation right, but since you can print cavities and control where they are, that shouldn't be a problem.


Moz - it isn't just social housing that is badly built. My step-sister and her husband have moved into a new build expensive house, and even when it was being built he had to step in and say "no, you've done that wrong, do it again", because the building company was that bad. Fortunately he is a surveyor, so has the knowledge, but not everyone does.

465:

""Real estate as investment property" makes me want to slaughter real estate agents."

Yup, me too. Houses are for living in, you geflivacious spordling ekroverts.

I may be picturing it wrong, but it seems to me that a split level house would be ace for building a model railway in. I'd have it going all over the place, and do something like building a model of the Settle and Carlisle route with correct scale on the z-axis.

466:

"(the window casements also date to an 1820s design and can get a little drafty when there's a cold wind blowing and the shutters are open)."

I had that problem once (and no shutters). Out came the gaffer tape, and away went the draughts :)

467:

Speaking of North Korea.

The thing that I found the most interesting about the sabotage the US has been doing since 2014 is

a. The fact that they admitted their missile defense doesn't work
b. How little it actually slowed them down. Perhaps 2 years?

So now that North Korea actually is likely to get an ICBM to go along with their nukes, how do you guys think their impact within the global community will change?

Do you think this may get a large number of countries to basically resume trade with N. Korea under LBJ's tent philosophy?

468:

Re: Cob houses

Have only seen cob houses referred to briefly in a BBC historical doc series, so have no personal real-life familiarity with this type of construction. But from the bits I've seen, seems that cob houses would need much more skill to get right vs. using a pre-programmed 3-D printer that measures as it prints/lays down. (My DIY skills are very limited. I try to learn enough about a task/project to hire the right professional.)


Re: SIPs

Last summer was reading up on solar/renewable energy and environmentally friendly construction and noticed SIP mentioned often as a preferred pre-fab material. When a relative had a pre-fab cottage built the biggest challenge was sourcing local trades who would follow the home manufacturer's instructions exactly. Think that the 3-D house printer sector could end up either displacing or integrating with the pre-fab sector before it challenged the regular and much larger suburban home building industry.

469:

You can do various different structures and shapes with cob that work better than with breezeblock

Great-grandparents had a cob cottage in their house, friends of the family had one in their house. Something of a pain to maintain over the medium term (century-ish timescales), tend to fall down if neglected. But can be made from local materials in many cases, and can be made comfortable but the skill required to do that is significant, even with modern materials. That main thing is to control the degree to which the house is thermally linked to the ground, and with traditional techniques that's very hard. These days you just use an insulated concrete slab and move on. It's also useful to coat the outside with an insulator, traditionally by putting lots of dung in the render but these days shredded polystyrene is more often used. Then render and paint to keep water out.

For a shorter-term build strawbale is excellent, and as far out hippy weirdo techniques go it's both popular and council-acceptable.

470:

the biggest challenge was sourcing local trades who would follow the home manufacturer's instructions exactly

This is a problem with any "new" idea in that industry. I alluded to that above. I have architect and (construction) project manager friends who complain about this pretty much constantly. The grunt labour types are not the worst, it's the skilled end of the semi-skilled trades apparently. They have a tendency to grab the new product and use it the same way as the old ones - interior window films applied to the outside of windows, smart lighting controllers put into power point circuits (they work, but you have to turn power point circuits off to work on the lighting), and so on. On top of the usual stupid "plans upside down" type errors where internal walls are built in the wrong place.

This is one reason why Bondor won't sell me their "architectural" SIPS, I'm not an approved builder. But none of their approved builders are willing to even consider a job as small as mine. So the choice between timber-over-EPS and steel-over-PIR is made for me. I'd rather have timber over PIR but that's not an option (I'd need to import them from Europe and get them certified at my expense).

471:

Also, the "put comms wires in decorative trim" idea is actually used here, at least on a small scale. We have phone wires running inside some of our baseboards but only for short distances (possibly from previous owners moving the phone jack). I've seen the trim between wall and floor with a slot routed into the back giving a cavity ~15mm deep and 20-40mm high to put cables in. I suspect the cavity wasn't put there for that purpose, but it could be used as such. Corners would be the issue I think, the minimum bend radius on cat5 is bigger than the gap allowed by that baseboard. You might need posts on inside corners and to cut into the edge of c=outside ones. Or just bend the cable and hope :)

I've also seen a picture rail made of aluminium that was designed to be plumbed in as a radiator (with cold water because I live in Australia).

472:

Nah - just use more dimensions :)

Instead of bending the cable sharply from the X direction to the Y, bend it gently to the Z direction and from there gently to the Y. Enlarge the cavity in the back of the board slightly where it comes to the corner to provide a bit more vertical space.

473:

Residential construction in the USA usually involves load-bearing wood, so there's the issue over time of things that eat wood like rot and termites.
Having said that, some houses in the eastern US at least have wooden structure a few hundred years old. Neighbor when I was growing up had a house with wooden parts that were 250+ years old. (My house was a only 80 years old.)
One interesting part was finding antique infrastructure, like cisterns, or buried 100 year old glass garbage. ("Hazardous waste" if shoeless. Still have a few old patent medicine bottles; let's not gut the USA FDA please and go back to those days! )

For Greg or anyone interested, 72 pages(!). Slogging through it because of personal interest.
Formalizing Neurath’s Ship: Approximate Algorithms for Online Causal Learning (8 Dec 2016)
A powerful class of approximations that focuses on the sequential absorption of successive inputs is captured by the Neurath’s ship metaphor in philosophy of science, where theory change is cast as a stochastic and gradual process shaped as much by people’s limited willingness to abandon their current theory when considering alternatives as by the ground truth they hope to approach.


474:

Ah, but if you do have an 1893 house with suspended floors, provided you are competent, replacing the electrics=al cabling is easy.
After all, there's this space between the upstairs floor-&-ceiling & ditto the space under the ground floorboards.
Essential when your 1906-period wiring dies & needs replacing.
Fun times were had ....

475:

The other side of the coin is that material isn't a substitute for design. You see so many of these plywood boxes being built, re-sold (almost immediately) then sprouting external airconditioning compressors on every wall.

Similarly there is no inherent reason for straw-bale to be "short term".

476:

This is amazingly thoughtful advice and thank you. The underlying principles do seem to be relatively straightforward (even if some of the materials are a little exotic outside of the relevant industry) but studying existing commercial designs is a great suggestion.

477:

material isn't a substitute for design

Well, no. To return momentarily to the original topic, the gap between thwacking lumps of enriched uranium together and a modern MIRV warhead is significant :) Likewise, there are well-designed double brick houses that are a lot nicer to live in than ours because they were properly designed.

But it's much easier to build a comfortable house if you start with decent materials. Also, just because you *can* make a full size house of of Lego is no reason to do so. Well, not more than once anyway :)

Similarly there is no inherent reason for straw-bale to be "short term".

In Charlie's "my house is 300 years old" context, straw bale is not a suitable material. It's just too new and experimental. Also, vulnerable to too many things to be expected to last. Vibration from a nearby road will eventually destroy it, all sorts of animals eat it, various mildews and fungi will grow in it even if it's kept dry and dark, etc.

http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/the-oldest-known-strawbale-house-in-europe/ suggests that the idea is only a century old. Maybe you're right... we just have to wait another couple of hundred years to find out.

It's why I'm a bit skeptical of CLT and other "manufactured timber" products, for example, they rely on recently invented adhesives that should apparently last 50+ years but no-one has performed the experiment. Look at older chipboard for an example of how that can go horribly wrong (formaldehyde as a preservative turned out to be a bad idea, structural failure after 20-30 years is also very common). But at least it was cheap.

478:

I was also thinking of datacentres, prompted by looking at a house recently that used bits of one for their music room. They took the raised floor, but also used extra floor tiles from that raised floor to cover the walls and roof. They were mounted on DIY rubber buffers with the dimpled underside facing into the room. They're synthetic stone of some sort so probably largely provide mass. But over the top the owner had put normal fire-resistant acoustic foam tiles, and said that the extra mass helped a great deal with low frequencies. Having the dimples facing in seemed to work better when he performed the experiment (owner is fairly technical so I expect the test was more than "I listened a bit", but it wasn't the focus of my visit).

I suspect in a basement you could use acoustic-lined ducts and just substitute length for design to some degree. I have been in an audiophile cave that did that and it seemed effective - even quite loud playing of the 1812 overture was inaudible outside the room. Albeit that was in a city, so background noise was quite loud and wide-band.

479:

I suspect in a basement you could use acoustic-lined ducts and just substitute length for design to some degree.

Yes - via google I've noted a few designs where the builder has just taken flexible ducting and made several s-bends with it inside a box otherwise stuffed with insulation foam. What I see is a box with a series of chambers, the apertures between them staggered, possibly with the intake and outtake channels interleaved (which would mean these apertures would actually be short ducts), all lined with acoustic foam. This would mean an anechoic pathway with several stages where the cross sectional area changes dramatically. Not tunable as such, but I guess I'll want to understand how to scale the chambers to ensure the full spectrum is covered - probably not with any great precision. I see that some car muffler designs have some kind of phase shifting vanes that provide quasi-active cancellation, but I assume that requires tuning to specific engine frequencies.

My airflow treatment would be built into a small passage between the area I'm using for the studio and a large enclosed crawl space, which will be a cool/warm air reservoir or passive heat exchange zone. The intake would start from there with some sort of dust extractor. The outtake ducting would run up to the roof cavity and to a dedicated chimney so that to at least some extent the airflow wouldn't depend on power.

480:

Well... if you were Kim Jong Un and you wanted to nuke, say, San Francisco just because you are the villain of this movie and you are supposed to, I think you wouldn't invest years, resources and prestige building ICBMs but get the thing into a container, sail to California in a freighter and detonate it at arrival; no need to risk even trying to get it through US customs. Much faster, much surer, much cheaper, much more deniable.

Given that, I mean NK has built them first of all because the regime is paranoid, i.e. they sincerely believe invasion is always imminent, second because nukes mean independence from China (maybe, just maybe, there is a link between his brother's murder and his ICBM test, a message to Beijing), and third for show and propaganda, you know, 'Wow, ICBMs, we really are a Great Power, Long Live the Brilliant Comrade!!!'.

But using nukes for blackmail to get back the trade you lost mainly because you built nukes... I don't think that makes a lot of sense. That would also mean a very high risk of Japan and South Korea building their own nukes, forming an 'Entente Cordiale' and/or moving closer to Washington, all of them Very Bad Things(TM). And anyway: would you get so much 'tribute' as resources did you spend in your nuclear program? I doubt it.

481:

Has anyone mentioned "Cob" as a building material here, yet?

Been in use for a couple of thousand years, certainly.
Lasts for ever - provided you keep the water off the top, & that it doesn't puddle around the footings.

482:

You're thinking as a rational actor, thinking of "the good of the nation". You should go out and talk to a real sociopath, it will change how you think ;)

If you're the kind of person raised in a sociopathic environment, willing to murder siblings to retain power, willing to watch the nation starve to retain power, willing (with a straight face) to be the only overfed person in a nation of the underfed?

Your assumption of "cost" is "does my head end up on a spike?". That's all. And that makes the Samson option a very real possibility - the people at the very top don't care about anything except their own narrow, personal, benefit.