These know-your-chemical-weapon posters were produced by the Medical Training Replacement Center at Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas as training materials for soldiers being sent to fight in WWII. They're a weird mix of cheerfulness and atrocity:
Four WWII Posters That Taught Soldiers to Identify Chemical Weapons by Smell
Of the four chemicals mentioned here—phosgene, lewisite, mustard gas, and chlorpicrin—three were used in World War I. (Lewisite was produced beginning in 1918, but the war ended before it could be used.) Phosgene, which irritates the lungs and mucus membranes and causes a person to choke to death, caused the largest number of deaths among people killed by chemical weapons in the First World War. (Elsewhere on Slate: A firsthand account of what it felt like to be hit by mustard gas.)
The smells that these posters warn soldiers-in-training to be wary of are the everyday scents of home: flypaper, musty hay, green corn, geraniums, garlic. The choice of analogies seems particularly appropriate for soldiers raised on farms—a population that would become increasingly small in every war to follow.
(Images: National Museum of Health and Medicine)
In case you were wondering. (Also: tasers play merry hell with digital video cameras, it seems)
The power of suggestion, your own expectations, and even your emotions can cause your body to move without you actively telling it to. This weird phenomenon is called the ideomotor effect
. It's what makes ouija boards work and it's the mechanism behind $60,000 bomb-detecting devices that an American company was recently caught selling to the Iraqi government
. Needless to say, the devices did not actually detect bombs. — Maggie
Daniel sez, "Ugo Serrano is the greatest living armorer, really. A man who camps at the Pennsic war in a 15th Century Italian villa (hat he built/designed that also flat-packs for storage and transportation). The props he makes for the movie/television industry are a who's who of geekdom from Firefly to Riddick to the Haunted Mansion through Zorro. A man whose art helped begin the entire steampunk movement, yet he's almost unknown outside of the SCA, where his themed parties are as legendary as his tent. If you catch him at the right time, he'll give you a pilgrimage badge that he cast in pewter by hand, just for taking the tour.
Update: In the comments, Chris Gilman sez, "I would like to correct the above artical. Ugo is a talented guy and love him dearly, but I built and own the Italian house and if you catch me at the right time, I will give you a pilgrimage badge, made by Robert MacPherson, who in my opinion is the greatest living armourer."
Erin Lee Carr
produced this VICE Motherboard documentary on Cody R Wilson
of Defense Distributed
(DD), who "figured out how to print a semi-automatic rifle from the comfort of his own home" and is now spreading the gospel of "wiki weapons." Yes, they even have a manifesto
Wilson, who recently pitched his ideas at SXSW, is sharing the HOWTO online and encouraging others to join him.
Read the rest
Baker was a 23-kiloton nuclear weapon that was detonated underwater at Bikini Atoll in 1946. The goal was to see what would happen to Navy boats if they were in the region where a nuclear bomb went off. The boats you see in this photo were unmanned, but there were sailors relatively close by, taking these shots. There's evidence that they weren't properly protected against fallout, and later used contaminated water to drink and bathe in. (Also, as a fictional side effect, Bikini Atoll nuclear tests like Baker might have been responsible for the creation of Spongebob Squarepants.)
My Modern Met has compiled several photographs and video that give you an up-close, mind-boggling view of the explosion — including the massive column of water that shot into the mushroom cloud and the 2-mile-high tidal wave that followed.
The Atlantic has a fascinating photo gallery about the DIY Weapons of the Syrian Rebels. Homebrew explosives are the norm, as are catapults (Reuters photo above) and tele-operated machine guns controlled with scavenged video game controllers.
Master blacksmith Tony Swatton of Sword & Stone is Hollywood's favorite weapons maker. Here he is forging Jaime Lannister's sword for "Games of Thrones."
David Kravets: "A petition demanding the President Barack Obama administration build a Death Star like the one in Star Wars reached 25,000-plus signatures Thursday, a threshold requiring the government to respond whether it will build the fictional weapon
capable of annihilating planets with its super laser." [Wired] — Rob
Defense Distributed, a group that is developing free designs for weapons made on 3D printers, tested out a firearm that has a plastic lower receiver made on a 3D printer. It successfully fired six rounds before splitting.
HaveBlue claimed in July to have fired his printed gun hundreds of times, which doesn't seem impossible given the quality of the printing. The part printed by the group is called the lower receiver, which is where a round is received from the magazine. Pictures show it to be very well made, and it appears to fit exactly to the other parts in the gun kit they used.
But the pressure of the recoil appears to have been too much for the "buffer ring," which separates the stock from the upper receiver. After firing just six shots, the gun split in two. It's a serious setback, especially considering they were firing a lower-caliber cartridge than the gun would normally shoot.
3D printed gun fires 6 shots - then falls apart (Thanks, Lew!)
Previously: Defense Distributed
A number of journalists I know believe the Obama administration is the most secretive administration yet.
When I read news like this, I am inclined to believe them: the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is going after our pals at Danger Room, over a 5-year-old leak about a weapon that was never built.
"Federal agents are also chasing a leaker who gave Danger Room a document asking for a futuristic laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire from nine miles away."
Russia's nuclear missile bunkers reportedly come standard-issue with a sledgehammer whose designated purpose is smashing open the safe containing the launch-codes, should the combination not work:
The sledgehammer's existence first came to light in 1980, when a group of inspecting officers from the General Staff visiting Strategic Missile Forces headquarters asked General Georgy Novikov what he would do if he received a missile launch order but the safe containing the launch codes failed to open.
Novikov said he would “knock off the safe’s lock with the sledgehammer” he kept nearby, the spokesman said.
Russian Missile Forces Have ‘Safe Busting’ Sledgehammer
(via Super Punch)
The Uzi Tactical Defender Pen goes beyond the usual "if it's stabby and matte black, it's tactical" realm, adding in a DNA-Catcher (a snaggy bit), a hidden handcuff key, a glass-breaker, and a writes-upside-down-and-underwater cartridge. It's not even black.
Are you expecting the unexpected? Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected? Either way, the Uzi Tactical Pen turns a mere pen into a life saving tool. The DNA Catcher on the crown of the pen is very sharp and can be used to deliver a very nasty jab to an attacker, causing extreme pain and giving you a sample of their DNA to use when you go to the police. Not expecting to get attacked? The crown also doubles as a glass breaker if you ever get trapped in your vehicle... If things get really bad, you can always rely on the hidden handcuff key inside the top of this pen. This badass writing utensil is made of high-grade aircraft aluminum and writes upside down or under water. If you can find a situation where you use all of this pen's features and live to tell the tale, we probably owe you some sort of prize.
Uzi Tactical Defender Pen
(via Red Ferret)
An unnamed brand of smoke grenade includes "Don't be a dick with our products" in its instructions. Apparently this is Canadian (judging from the bilingual instructions).
Smoke grenade instructions.. (imgur.com) (via Lowering the Bar)
Homeland Security Equipment is one of those blandly-named and blandly-designed sites that contains unexpected delights, such as the wicked Yes Tool, a demolition axe made entirely of copper. It even has the de riguer bottle opener, so you can drink the flat, sun-skunked beer of the apocalypse. [Thanks, Tim!] Previously: The Annihilator