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Old 8th March 2019, 12:49 PM   #121
theprestige
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Except I don't know what fourth estate is. And I don't know what deep state is.

I really do avoid following politics. I very rarely talk about politics and when I do I am deficient in all kinds of knowledge of that realm.

ETA: I clicked the link and learned what fourth estate is.
Ah. Sorry.

The "deep state" is the idea that the apparatus of government has within it unelected functionaries and bureaucrats who make sure to run the country properly, regardless of who is in elected office, and regardless of whatever systems of transparency and oversight and accountability are supposedly in place.

Some on the right allege that this "deep state" is mostly progressives, and they are unconstitutionally and illegally working to undermine Trump's administration. Most on the left profess to find this idea ridiculous and conspiracy-theoretical, and dismiss it outright.

On the other hand some on the left (here, at least), seem to believe that something like a deep state does exist, and holds the actual command authority for the nuclear arsenal.

So we end up with a weird situation where the position of some on the left seems to be "there's no such thing as a deep state cockblocking the President, but if there was I'd approve (and I hope to god it really does exist)."

Anyway, the general idea is that in addition to the actual institutions of government we've chosen and know about, there are other institutions that also have a hand in governing us, that we may not have chosen and perhaps even know nothing about. This talk of a hypothetical Secret Service failsafe on the nuclear command authority is essentially an argument by appeal to the deep state. Which doesn't exist. Or does it?

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Old 8th March 2019, 01:03 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Accurate low-yield nukes are a thing. Not every atomic bomb is a monstrous airburst city-killer.

They're still big as explosions go, but the kind of widespread devastation you're probably imagining from decades of Hollywood apocalypses isn't required anymore.
Well, for the surgical blast, the type of explosive is secondary. But do you really imagine that we know exactly where the North Korean elite is, and do you think they are not hiding behind lots of innocent people?

Quote:
Please don't do the dickish thing here. I'm trying to be realistic. If all you have in response is snark, what's the point of continuing the conversation? Just recognize that you're triggered, and have nothing useful to contribute, and bow out. If you won't, I will.
You are telling me this? Oh, well.

... The realistic thing here is that we can blast every important part of NK, if we will. But the collateral damage will be high. Probably higher than anybody is prepared to pay for.

Hans
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Old 8th March 2019, 01:04 PM   #123
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Well if deep state is good then I want it and don't care if they are secret and don't care about whatever party they are.

When I was talking about a Secret Service guy killing a button pusher I didn't mean that he was organized with a deep state secret thing. I meant that this man takes it upon himself, without prior instruction, to shoot the President dead if he goes cuckoo and reaches for the button.

A good guy with a gun who wasn't told how to be good - he just does it. Bang bang!
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Old 9th March 2019, 08:41 AM   #124
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It doesn't really work like that. The president would give orders but doesn't actually launch anything. I have a hard time believing that the subordinate commanders who would give the orders to the people who would launch missiles would obey when the US was not under attack or at war with another nuclear armed state. Military members at all ranks get regular training on the Law of Armed Conflict and commanders have lawyers on their staffs to advise them on these matters. An unprovoked nuclear attack would be a rather glaring example of an unlawful order.
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Old 9th March 2019, 09:46 AM   #125
William Parcher
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
It doesn't really work like that. The president would give orders but doesn't actually launch anything. I have a hard time believing that the subordinate commanders who would give the orders to the people who would launch missiles would obey when the US was not under attack or at war with another nuclear armed state. Military members at all ranks get regular training on the Law of Armed Conflict and commanders have lawyers on their staffs to advise them on these matters. An unprovoked nuclear attack would be a rather glaring example of an unlawful order.
There is true disagreement in this thread. Others here have said that a President can very much give this order and that it will be obeyed.

They are saying that a President can order an unprovoked first strike and that it will happen if he orders it.
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Old 9th March 2019, 09:47 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
It doesn't really work like that. The president would give orders but doesn't actually launch anything. I have a hard time believing that the subordinate commanders who would give the orders to the people who would launch missiles would obey when the US was not under attack or at war with another nuclear armed state. Military members at all ranks get regular training on the Law of Armed Conflict and commanders have lawyers on their staffs to advise them on these matters. An unprovoked nuclear attack would be a rather glaring example of an unlawful order.

Once again: The entire system is designed for an immediate response in the face of imminent attack. Subordinate commanders receiving orders would assume that the higher-ups have information that they don't have themselves. They would authenticate the order and execute it. The U.S. and the Soviet Union came within minutes of launching missiles after computer and radar malfunctions created the illusion of an attack out of the blue. The default position is "Launch now!," not "Wait, I wanna have a meeting about this!" After a period of tension with North Korea, Iran, China or anybody else, a launch order would not be a surprise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ar_close_calls
http://mentalfloss.com/article/25685...ls-nuclear-age

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Old 9th March 2019, 10:36 AM   #127
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Trump is just aching to use his catch phrases in this context.

Trump to missiles: "YOU'RE FIRED!"
Trump to Kim: "BUH-BYE!"
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Old 9th March 2019, 01:57 PM   #128
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Once again: The entire system is designed for an immediate response in the face of imminent attack. Subordinate commanders receiving orders would assume that the higher-ups have information that they don't have themselves. They would authenticate the order and execute it. The U.S. and the Soviet Union came within minutes of launching missiles after computer and radar malfunctions created the illusion of an attack out of the blue. The default position is "Launch now!," not "Wait, I wanna have a meeting about this!" After a period of tension with North Korea, Iran, China or anybody else, a launch order would not be a surprise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ar_close_calls
http://mentalfloss.com/article/25685...ls-nuclear-age

Y'all workin yourself into a nuclear frenzy again? I have an idea - go fishing. Take a break. Look outside. It's beautiful. I'm going to.
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Old 9th March 2019, 04:20 PM   #129
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
There is true disagreement in this thread. Others here have said that a President can very much give this order and that it will be obeyed.

They are saying that a President can order an unprovoked first strike and that it will happen if he orders it.

I'm sure none of us knows for sure.

And that's by design.

In 1979 I took an elective undergraduate course in nuclear strategy. It was a mix of technical material, history, political science, and the theories (game theory, psychology, even philosophy) of deterrence. One of the instructors got appointed to Reagan's cabinet while the course was going on. So, they were in a position to know their stuff. But they probably didn't know everything, and they probably didn't teach exactly what they knew to a bunch of undergraduates.

For instance, they taught that strategic missiles do not have a "recall signal" or "abort" or "self-destruct" button. They either get launched or not; there's no second-chance option. The reason is fairly clear: the existence of such a signal would put deterrence in jeopardy, if an enemy found out (or even it they mistakenly thought they'd found out) the abort signal. So, if that question had been on the final exam, that's the answer I'd have written down and it would have been graded correctly. But is that actually true? Probably. Maybe. Are there safeguards in the Presidential emergency deployment system? If so, they'd be the highest secret, or perhaps subject to changes (sometimes there are, sometimes there aren't). Uncertainty about such things is part of the game.
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Old 9th March 2019, 06:43 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
I'm sure none of us knows for sure.

And that's by design.
I think it's more due to lack of precedent. This is one of the questions I'll happily leave the world not having heard the answer to.
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Old 10th March 2019, 08:06 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Once again: The entire system is designed for an immediate response in the face of imminent attack. Subordinate commanders receiving orders would assume that the higher-ups have information that they don't have themselves. They would authenticate the order and execute it. The U.S. and the Soviet Union came within minutes of launching missiles after computer and radar malfunctions created the illusion of an attack out of the blue. The default position is "Launch now!," not "Wait, I wanna have a meeting about this!" After a period of tension with North Korea, Iran, China or anybody else, a launch order would not be a surprise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ar_close_calls
http://mentalfloss.com/article/25685...ls-nuclear-age
The LCF commanders might assume that but do you really think the STRATCOM commander and the SECDEF would assume THIS president had more information than them?
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Old 10th March 2019, 08:38 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by mgidm86 View Post
Y'all workin yourself into a nuclear frenzy again? I have an idea - go fishing fission. Take a break. Look outside. It's beautiful. I'm going to.

FTFY
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Old 10th March 2019, 12:35 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
The LCF commanders might assume that but do you really think the STRATCOM commander and the SECDEF would assume THIS president had more information than them?
Do the launch orders pass through those officials?
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Old 10th March 2019, 02:32 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Do the launch orders pass through those officials?
Not the Secretary of Defense. Launch orders would pass directly to commanders.

Reposting, again:
Quote:
The secretary of defense has no legal position in the nuclear chain of command, and any attempts by a secretary of defense to prevent the president from exercising the authority to use nuclear weapons would be undemocratic and illegal. With or without Mattis, the president has unchecked and complete authority to launch nuclear weapons based on his sole discretion.
......
Under standard procedure, an attempt would be made to contact key national security officials, but in some real-world and exercise scenarios, it has proven impossible to tie them into a quickly convened emergency teleconference. Should he wish, the president could exclude all of them, and even bypass the primary designated adviser — the four-star general in charge of U.S. strategic forces — by ordering a low-ranking on-duty emergency operations officer at the Pentagon or elsewhere to transmit a launch order directly to the executing commanders of strategic U.S. submarines, silo-based missiles and bombers.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlo...=.f70ab4555b7c

Yeah, it's easy to say "Somebody would probably do something." But that's not part of any law, policy or procedure.
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Old 10th March 2019, 11:31 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Yeah, it's easy to say "Somebody would probably do something." But that's not part of any law, policy or procedure.
I don't think anybody is saying it IS part of any law, policy or procedure. And I have no doubt that everything runs VERY quickly because it needs to, and once the nukes are airborne there's no handbrakes.

I just note that part of the procedure is a confirmation step right at the front. I suspect this is where someone in the West Wing hastily answers the bat-phone from ICBM HQ and says: "Sorry, sorry, ignore that. Stand down, no confirm. The big buffoon left the button on the couch and sat on it again."
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Old 11th March 2019, 01:31 AM   #136
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Er... were that true, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been rebuilt so quickly. I've been there, they were rebuilt very quickly. No, radiation from nuclear weapons goes away pretty quickly.

It depends ...

Quote:
Weeks after Hiroshima felt the unforgiving force of nuclear fission, nature compounded the city’s misery. Makurazaki, an unusually powerful typhoon, swept through the city on 17 September, flooding large areas and ruining many of the temporary hospitals set up on the outskirts. “The only good thing that came of it was that it washed a lot of the residual radiation into the sea,” says Tanaka. “After the typhoon, radiation levels fell considerably.”
(Guardian, April 18, 2016)
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Old 11th March 2019, 03:18 AM   #137
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
I can imagine there are "layers" but the process would still be damn quick from PUSH to LAUNCH. My expectation is that when Trump says he wants to nuke Kim for whatever reason, the football will be traveling in another golf cart and he will be thinking about hamberders instead before they get it to him. Meanwhile, in a real nuclear situation, steely-eyed missile men will be doing the real decision-making. Better that way.
Not at all they are highly selected to avoid decision making tendencies. One got kicked out of the army for even questioning if there was anything to prevent the president from launching nukes for poor reasons.

Everyone involved has always said that if the president ordered it, it would be carried out. The claims of any kind of check are made by people who have never been intimately involved with the process.

https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/nukes
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Old 11th March 2019, 03:21 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
It doesn't really work like that. The president would give orders but doesn't actually launch anything. I have a hard time believing that the subordinate commanders who would give the orders to the people who would launch missiles would obey when the US was not under attack or at war with another nuclear armed state. Military members at all ranks get regular training on the Law of Armed Conflict and commanders have lawyers on their staffs to advise them on these matters. An unprovoked nuclear attack would be a rather glaring example of an unlawful order.
Your belief is at odds with everyone who has ever served in that capacity. Why shouldn't we trust the people who have held those jobs in the past about how it would work, instead of basing this on your refusal to believe?
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Old 11th March 2019, 03:23 AM   #139
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
The LCF commanders might assume that but do you really think the STRATCOM commander and the SECDEF would assume THIS president had more information than them?
But they don't have the power to prevent the order. At most they could resign in protest.
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Old 11th March 2019, 03:25 AM   #140
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Originally Posted by Norman Alexander View Post
I don't think anybody is saying it IS part of any law, policy or procedure. And I have no doubt that everything runs VERY quickly because it needs to, and once the nukes are airborne there's no handbrakes.

I just note that part of the procedure is a confirmation step right at the front. I suspect this is where someone in the West Wing hastily answers the bat-phone from ICBM HQ and says: "Sorry, sorry, ignore that. Stand down, no confirm. The big buffoon left the button on the couch and sat on it again."
That is why it is not actually a button but a set of codes to verify that the order is legitimate, but that is the only check, to prevent crank callers from firing off the missiles.
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Old 11th March 2019, 04:55 AM   #141
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
It depends ...
We're still not taking years, either way.
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:15 AM   #142
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No, we aren't:

Quote:
Eventually, by the mid-1950s the two cities returned to the same size they were in August 1945.
What about radiation? Surprisingly, radiation damage in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were only short-term, unlike the more recent nuclear reactor disasters that took place in Chernobyl, Ukraine and Fukushima, Japan.
What could be the possible reasons for this? Firstly, the bombs were exploded in the air to achieve maximum damage due to huge shock waves, so the products of the explosion were mainly pushed up into the atomic mushroom cloud. Secondly, the amount of radioactive material loaded onto the bombs was relatively small - seventy kilograms of uranium on the "Little Boy" and seven kilograms of plutonium on the "Fat Man". By comparison, nuclear reactors contain several tons of radioactive material.
Recovery time from a nuclear disaster (DavidsonInstitute, Sep. 15, 2016)
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:18 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
No, we aren't:
Dann, that's actually supporting my point. We're talking about nuclear weapons, not reactors. Those are two different technologies, and while failed reactors can be dangerous for years, bombs will not leave the area ractioactive for comparable amounts of time.

Second, the quote you provide seems to indicate that the writer is also confused by this, which is surprising.
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:25 AM   #144
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They could, though. Instead of engineering all of the material to go critical at once, you could add a secondary payload that would be deliberately dispersed as fallout to salt the earth.
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:27 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
They could, though. Instead of engineering all of the material to go critical at once, you could add a secondary payload that would be deliberately dispersed as fallout to salt the earth.
Sure, you could build them that way, but we generally don't, so you can expect that if war broke out tomorrow, no one would go out of their way to make the Earth unlivable more than it would be following a nuclear winter.
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:38 AM   #146
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Which would still be pretty unlivable, so best we avoid it altogether, yeah?
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Old 11th March 2019, 05:40 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
Which would still be pretty unlivable, so best we avoid it altogether, yeah?
Yeah, avoiding extinction sounds good to me.
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Old 11th March 2019, 08:04 AM   #148
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How many detonations, of what total yield, would it take to trigger nuclear winter?

In 1961-1962, the US and the USSR detonated a combined 340 megatons above ground.

Detonating a handful of devices in North Korea probably wouldn't create any more risk than detonating them in southern Nevada.
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Old 11th March 2019, 08:07 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
How many detonations, of what total yield, would it take to trigger nuclear winter?

In 1961-1962, the US and the USSR detonated a combined 340 megatons above ground.
Yeah but not all at once.
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Old 11th March 2019, 08:24 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Yeah but not all at once.
The largest single detonation was the experimental Tsar Bomba, at 50 megatons.

The mainstay of the US arsenal is the W-76, which has a yield of 100 kilotons. The US is currently developing a modern variant, the W-76-2. It will have a yield of 5-7 kilotons.
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Old 11th March 2019, 08:50 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The largest single detonation was the experimental Tsar Bomba, at 50 megatons.

The mainstay of the US arsenal is the W-76, which has a yield of 100 kilotons. The US is currently developing a modern variant, the W-76-2. It will have a yield of 5-7 kilotons.
Yes, so?
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Old 11th March 2019, 09:18 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Yes, so?
So 350 megatons in less than two years isn't enough to put us at risk of nuclear winter. 50 megatons all at once isn't enough. What about 500 W-76s at once, for a total of 50 megatons, a kind of dispersed Tsar Bomba?

The eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 is estimated at about 200 megatons - 4 Tsar Bombas. And that came with a monster plume of debris. But no apocalyptic winter.

The question was, how many detonations, and how much total yield, to bring on nuclear winter. And the answer seems to be, a lot more than anyone is probably ever going to use. Even if the US and Russia decided to go full retard on each other, the direct annihilation of most of the industrial infrastructure in the northern hemisphere would claim far more lives and cause far more suffering than the shift in weather patterns.

I'm not sure how we got from using a few low-yield nukes on high value targets in North Korea, to worries about nuclear winter, but hopefully this puts the sidebar to rest.

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Old 11th March 2019, 09:21 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
So 350 megatons in less than two years isn't enough to put us at risk of nuclear winter. 50 megatons all at once isn't enough. What about 500 W-76s at once, for a total of 50 megatons, a kind of dispersed Tsar Bomba?
I'll be honest, I don't know what the threshold would be. I think the idea's always been that most or all of the US/Soviet stockpiles would be used at once. How much tons that represented at the peak of the cold war is unknown to me.

Quote:
The eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 is estimated at about 200 kilotons - 4 Tsar Bombas. And that came with a monster plume of debris. But no apocalyptic winter.
*megatons.

No, but it did have an impact on global climate. It's not hard to imagine a much larger volcanic explosion, say 1 gigaton, having quite the results. Hell, Tambora, which was larger than Krakatoa but not enormously so resulted in the "year without a summer". It was around the size I mentioned. Blow that up by 10 again and you have your winter.

Quote:
The question was, how many detonations, and how much total yield, to bring on nuclear winter. And the answer seems to be, a lot more than anyone is probably ever going to use. Even if the US and Russia decided to go full retard on each other, the direct annihilation of most of the industrial infrastructure in the northern hemisphere would claim far more lives and cause far more suffering than the shift in weather patterns.
Maybe but we're talking about long-term effects on possible recovery.
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Old 11th March 2019, 09:27 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
How many detonations, of what total yield, would it take to trigger nuclear winter?
Well, it would sure solve that Global Warming problem, wouldn't it?
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Old 11th March 2019, 09:33 AM   #155
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
Well, it would sure solve that Global Warming problem, wouldn't it?
That cannot be known until/unless theprestige's question is answered.
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Old 11th March 2019, 09:48 AM   #156
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
They could, though. Instead of engineering all of the material to go critical at once, you could add a secondary payload that would be deliberately dispersed as fallout to salt the earth.
You are describing a cobalt bomb. Mentioned as a cautionary note by Leo Szilard in 1950. A conventional atomic warhead could be cased in cobalt. The gamma from the fission reaction converts common Co-59 to radioactive Co-60.
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Old 11th March 2019, 09:48 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
That cannot be known until/unless theprestige's question is answered.
Probably not even then. But this is starting to drift pretty far off topic. While there are many good reasons not to drop even a few kilotons of nuclear weapons on North Korea, it seems clear that nuclear winter and similar risks aren't really on the list.
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Old 11th March 2019, 10:48 AM   #158
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I see a lot of information about the procedures behind launching nuclear weapons. Personally I doubt very much if we really know them.
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Old 11th March 2019, 11:05 AM   #159
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Originally Posted by Parsman View Post
To be fair, much as I dislike Trump and much as I think he must have some sort of mental derangement I am far less scared of a possible nuclear conflict than I was during the cold war. The UK government sent out "Protect and Survive" booklets that told us the way to survive was take a door off its hinges, paint it white and place it across the bottom of your stairs. Seriously.
When I was a schoolkid in the US, we were taught that hiding under our desks would save us. The joke that went around schools at the time was, "In case of nuclear attack, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."
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Old 11th March 2019, 11:18 AM   #160
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Originally Posted by CORed View Post
When I was a schoolkid in the US, we were taught that hiding under our desks would save us. The joke that went around schools at the time was, "In case of nuclear attack, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."
Yep. I remember that, too.
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