Delft plates with images of nuclear power stations

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The Atomteller plates update the Dutch tradition of plates that feature windmills with more up-to-date power-generation -- nukes: "Monuments of error - hope of yesterday - folklore of tomorrow." €39 each, 20cm in diameter. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Weird 'artificial' quake was 'clearly' North Korea's fifth nuclear test

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance during a fire drill of ballistic rockets by Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force, in  undated KCNA photo released Sep. 6, 2016.

If the “man-made seismic event” reported along the North Korea/China border tonight by the USGS is confirmed to be a new nuclear test, America's next Commander-in-Chief will have complex new Pyongyang problems on their plate.

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Congressional red team discovers that it's (still) trivial to acquire all the materials for a dirty nuke

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In 2014, undercover Congressional investigators set out to test the countermeasures put in place to test the regulatory system that is supposed to detect and interdict terrorists who are assembling a dirty bomb -- countermeasures set in place after a red team found that it would be easy to do just that in 2007. They found that it was still very easy to beat all the detection systems. Read the rest

Obama touts nuclear arms reduction record, but he's failed to reduce US nukes stockpile

Just two BFFs discussing nuclear security at this week’s summit. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Obama is touting his record on reducing nuclear arms, but he's been a dismal failure at reducing the US's stockpile, writes Freedom of the Press Foundation's Trevor Timm at the Guardian today.

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Proposal: keep the nuclear launch codes in an innocent volunteer's chest-cavity

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In 1981, Harvard law professor Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, published a thought experiment in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: what if the codes to launch nuclear war were kept inside the chest-cavity of a young volunteer, and the President would have to hack them out of this young man's chest before he could commence armageddon? Read the rest

Marshall Islands, site of largest-ever U.S. nuclear weapons test, sues 9 superpowers including USA

Nuclear weapon test Bravo (yield 15 Megatons) on Bikini Atoll. The test was part of the Operation Castle. The Bravo event was an experimental thermonuclear device surface event.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands is suing the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China for failure to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Interactive tour of nuclear arsenals since WWII

Explore how many nukes there are in the world, and where they are, courtesy of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' interactive Nuclear Notebook -- a useful way to discover whether some friendly superpower has stashed nukes in your harbour. Read the rest

Crowdfunding a Nuclear Poker mega-hexa-yurt at Burning Man

Vinay Gupta, creator the Hexayurt, is selling decks of the Nuclear Poker card game to raise money for materials for the Nuclear Poker Hexayurt Quaddome at EMF Camp 2014. Read the rest

Where did all that quack-cure radium end up?

Glenn Fleishman writes, "A responsible dealer of the radioactive element radium, a substance once pushed widely as a quack cure, tried to keep the genie in the bottle. Theresa Everline explains that in the first half of the 20th century, Frank Hartman, known as the Radium Hound, kept track of accidents and incompetence in handling radium. His diaries reveal that radium lingers in forgotten places." Read the rest

Nun faces 30 years in prison for exposing security lapses in nuclear weapons program

Mike from Mother Jones sez, "Josh Harkinson writes about the upcoming sentencing of Megan Rice, an elderly nun and Plowshares activist who broke into the Y-12 enriched uranium facility with two fellow aging activists. The incident, which exposed glaring security flaws and was deeply embarrassing to the feds, could get the trio a maximum 30 years in federal prison. Harkinson writes:" Read the rest

Homeless recruited to decontaminate Fukishima; paid less than minimum wage

The publicly funded, $35B cleanup of radioactive soil around Fukishima is staffed by homeless men recruited from Tokyo Sendai subway stations. They are preferentially sent to the most radioactive zones, and work for less than minimum wage. Mobbed-up subcontractors confiscate as much as two thirds of their pay in "fees." Everyone involved in sourcing the labor for the cleanup denies responsibility for the illegal practices, blaming sub-subcontractors or cowboy recruiters. The president of one contractor, Aisogo Service, defended the practice of not scrutinizing the labor force or the conditions under which it worked, saying "If you started looking at every single person, the project wouldn't move forward. You wouldn't get a tenth of the people you need."

Workers are also recruited from publicly funded homeless shelters. One man worked for a month for a total payout of $10. After this fact was verified and made public, the man disappeared. Workers are charged exorbitant rates for lodgings and food, and are docked pay for being too ill to work. As a result, some workers are in debt to their employers, a debt that deepens the longer they stay employed.

The decontamination project is two to three years behind schedule. Read the rest

Comic-strip adaptation of On The Beach from 1957

Zack writes, "In 1957, Nevil Shute's classic anti-nuclear-war novel On The Beach was published -- and the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) put out a heavily-condensed adaptation with art by Ralph Lane that ran in 29 comic strips distributed to newspapers. All 29 strips are collected here -- I found these through a link in an eBay auction that is selling original art to 21 of the 29 strips."

This is one of those novels that brings me to tears no matter how many times I read it -- a powerful and moving piece of minatory fiction that really does the heavy lifting of science fiction with utter brilliance. The comic strip carries some of that freight (as does the 1959 classic film with Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck), but the novel really is the best version by far.

On The Beach (Thanks, Zack!) Read the rest

When America issued dogtags to kids to help identify their nuke-blasted corpses

Matt Novak hits some highlights from Joanne Brown's 1988 Journal of American History paper A is for Atom, B is for Bomb (paywalled link), which discusses the weird, grim stuff that America contemplated at the height of the cold war, and worried about how it would identify the charred corpses of children after a nuclear blast:

In February of 1952 the city of New York bought 2.5 million dog tags. By April of that year, just about every kid in the city from kindergarten to fourth grade had a tag with their name on it. Kids in many other cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Las Veagas and Philadelphia also got dog tags, allowing for easy identification should the unthinkable occur.

But educators weren't considering just dog tags to identify the scores of dead and injured children that would result if the cold war suddenly turned hot. They also considered tattoos.

That Time American School Kids Were Given Dog Tags Because Nukes Read the rest

Kickstarting a deep-sea documentary on the nuclear wrecks of the Bikini Atoll

Wreck diver and videographer Adrian Smith has launched a Kickstarter project to fund an expedition to document the forgotten wrecks sunken by the Bikini Atoll atomic explosion in 1946.

Description of a flight through a nuclear mushroom cloud

The BBC's Keith Moore tells the tragic story of Joe Pasquini, an RAF navigator who was ordered to fly a jet through the mushroom cloud rising from the 1958 Grapple Y nuclear test, the largest nuclear explosion ever created by the British (he also flew through the Grapple Z test). He has since survived seven bouts with cancer; his children have also had various cancers. They blame his exposure to nuclear radiation, but have been denied any benefits by the British government, which, unlike the US military, does not acknowledge that veterans of nuclear tests are at any elevated risk of cancer. Here's Pasquini's description of his flight through the heart of a mushroom cloud:

"It detonated at 8,000 feet. We had our eyes closed, but even with our eyes closed we could see the light through our eye lids. It took 49 seconds for the light to stop.

"As soon as that happened, we immediately turned back. Fortunately being in the navigating position, I had a little window and I watched the whole thing develop and spread and then start climbing.

"I think I saw the face of God for the first time. It was just incredible, it blew our minds away. These were things that had never been seen before, certainly not by English people."

When the mushroom cloud had passed over them, Pasquini looked up at the window above him and had another surprise - radioactive rain.

"It's the only time I've experienced rain at 46,000 feet," he says.

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How to survive an atomic bomb: insurance company ad, 1951

"Whatever your attitude toward use of the atomic bomb, you must live with the fact that it exists," commands this ad. About the self-protection steps it details, "The wise citizen of this atomic era will memorize them so thoroughly that their use would be almost instinctive."

A vintage Mutual of Omaha insurance company advertisement from 1951, lovingly scanned and shared in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by v.valenti.

So, I'll need to look into this further, but did Mutual of Omaha offer "surprise atomic attack" coverage at the time? The ad doesn't make that clear.

(Update: Cory blogged this back in 2010.) Read the rest

Fallout shelter necessities

From 1962, a sparkling set of electronics for your fallout shelter.

Equip your fallout shelter. Read the rest

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