Profiles In Courage

by Fredrick Olender

The world just ain't what it used to be. We used to have such bare knuckled meat-eating whiskey drinking war fighters. We spent a GDP fortune building a Gadget and we USED it. New toy in the tool box and we analyzed it systematically.

The BREN Tower for example, a 1500 foot spire out in the desert, same height as the aerial blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We systematically hoisted up and down an unshielded suitably sized operating reactor, emitting lots of healthy radiation. Japanese type houses were built near the base of the tower and were bombarded with various intensities of radiation. Cannot have too accurate an understanding of where peak lethality occurs.

Then the tower was moved a mile or two down the track to play a pivotal role in Operation HENRE. Gotta know the yield of high energy neutrons needed to penetrate fleets of heavily armored vehicles coming at you, to kill the occupants without doing excessive damage to material. The neutron bomb. See CIVIL EFFECTS TEST OPERATIONS, US AEC.

Of course, there is always the cobalt bomb. Build an arsenal of little fission bombs blanketed with plentiful Co 59 that transmutes to Co 60 during explosion, and you can wipe out all life on earth pretty well, once said Szilard. The half life of Co 60 is about 6 yrs, so if civilians go to ground in shelters, no way will they have food stuffs for 5 or so half lives - a generation.

But the all time gutsy gamble was airlofting a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb into the Van Allen belt to see what it does. Honolulu got to see Aurora Borealis more brilliant than ever seen since man walked the earth. So let us see. A billion years to create a protective screen around earth to shield life from solar radiation and we see if we can jiggle it. Poker players in Vegas.

Yee Haw.

Project Starfish. Later in 1962, the USSR undertook similar planetary experiments, creating three new radiation belts. Poker players in Moscow, too.

The electron fluxes in the lower Van Allen Belt have changed markedly since the 1962 high altitude nuclear explosions by the US and USSR, never returning to their former state. According to American scientists, it could take many hundreds of years for the Van Allen Belts to re-stabilize at their normal levels.

But oh yeah. The Tower. Sorry, I'm old and tend to ramble off the point at times.

It came down a month or so ago. 345 tons of steel come tumbling down, demolished like an old unloved casino. End of an era.

I wonder if any of the old troopers in the cancer hospice on Flamingo Road, backside of the casinos, got to hear about it.

There were a fair number of soldiers who got to hide in shallow trenches in close visual sight of a blast tower with a tac nuc at the top of it.


Well, face away from it dummy.

And shut your eyes.

Yep. Bare knuckled war fighters.

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