Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Study Details Catastrophic Impact Of Nuclear Attack On US Cities

Wonder how much we paid for this "science of the obvious" effort?

Make no mistake; the nuclear threat to our cities--particularly from terrorists--is very real. But I would think that 60+ years of nuclear experience would give us sufficient data to analyze the problem--and its effects on our medical system--without commissioning a new (and likely, expensive) study from the University of Georgia.

Heck, some of the simulation technology described in the news release is hardly new. I once participated in a war game with representatives from a number of government agencies, including the Department of Energy. One of the DOE guys had a laptop with a really neat program (at least, by late 1990s standards). If you wanted to calculate the effects of a nuclear blast, just pick your detonation point, altitude (air or ground burst) and yield; the computer would do the rest, showing areas that would be completely flattened by the explosion, and those that would suffer lesser damage, along with fallout patterns.

The findings of the Georgia study are sobering, but hardly surprising. A nuclear blast in a major metropolitan area would produce horrific casualties, and overwhelm our medical facilities. I'm not convinced we needed a new study to tell us that.

Hat tip: Seneca the Younger at YARGB. Also, one of Seneca's readers suggests buying (or downloading) a copy of the government's guide for surviving a nuclear war. I heartily concur; it's the definitive reference on the subject. Unfortunately, most Americans have never heard of it, and our government--never shy about working towards contradictory goals--has never encouraged personal preparation, despite the years of effort and research that Cresson Kearny devoted to the survival guide.


Angevin13 said...

"One of the DOE guys had a laptop with a really neat program...."

So, did you use the program on a few cities? Do tell...

Spook86 said...

No, the DOE guys were picky about passing their laptop (and program) around--tbey insisted on running the sims. However, they did let us provide some inputs, which was great for an intel guy. I had them do a few runs, using the Russian 50-megaton weapon (mounted on one of their early ICBMs) and our own 10-megaton warhead, carried on our Titan II ICBMs. I forget the cities that were used--in fact, it may have been a "generic" metropolitan area, but the blast, fire and damage radii from those weapons was impressive (we used an airburst at an altitude of 3,000 ft).

Obviously, the accuracy of nuclear weapons has improved greatly since the early 1960s; these days, it's hard to find a megaton weapon, even on an ICBM or SLBM (Trident D-5 is an exception). With the superior accuracy of ICBMs and tactical weapons, you don't need a megaton bang to assure destruction of high-value targets. However, if you're looking to destroy population centers, big weapons are still preferable. In fact, for many years, the U.S. and Russian SLBM boats were designed for just that--delivering a "bolt out of the blue" to paralyze strategic leadership (in early strikes), and decimate cities in counter-force attacks. However, with improvements in guidance, today's SLBMs are virtually as accurate as land-based weapons.

Howard said...

It's the "Grants" game, always played very well by university types who are expert at stealing tax payer money through this system. It is so lucrative that there is an entire cottage industry devoted to writing grant requests; many work on straight commission. The Grants system, all of it, is a tax dodge; a license to steal; and a scam.

True story: ten or so years ago two of my friends were driving across the desert and ran out of gas. While waiting for the AAA they amused themselves by rousting lizzards and chasing them. Then they noticed that some lizzards ran to the middle of the highway and some ran for the sand. As a joke, one of them applied for a government grant in order to study which kinds of lizzards did what and why. He got a grant (a small one of $10K, but that's a lot for a college student). So he went out to the desert a few times, wrote his report and sent it in. Guess what? He gets a letter back notifying him that his grant had been extended for another year. This went on for four years. That's the Grants biz.

Spook86 said...

Howard--I've heard similar tales from academia; it's amazing what passes for "research" and "scholarship" these days. I know of one guy who was awarded an Eh.D by a state university, based on an 85-page dissertation on seat belt useage on school buses, based on minimal research.

Heck, my former commander in ROTC had an interest in obtaining his doctorate in education (the guy liked collecting useless degrees) and he applied at LSU. He drove to Baton Rouge for an interview with the Department Chair, and the prof let it slip that a $10,000 donation to the school would guarantee his acceptance to the program--and approval of his dissertation (my boss turned down the offer).

And sadly, the grant chasing/phony research/junk scholarship game is equally apparent in the "hard" sciences. Look at the global warming debate. You'd better believe that pursuit of big grant money is behind much of the alarmism. No problem, no money--it's that simple.

Angevin13 said...

Howard: So, what was the result of the lizard research?