For all our talk on "the future now," there is one future we'd prefer to delay for the next five billion years, and that's the inevitability of our planet's destruction. Mankind's speculated on the end of the world for thousands of years, but it wasn't until recent centuries that people began attaching scientific possibilities to doomsday scenarios, instead of blaming the gods for our demise.
A large Cold War supply of helium-3 has begun to rapidly run out, due to heavy demand from U.S. scientists who need the gas for neutron detectors and cryogenic experiments. Almost 60,000 liters of helium-3 were used in 2007 and 2008, compared to just 10,000 liters used annually about 10 years ago. A House subcommittee has been convened to search for a solution this week, New Scientist reports.
After months of deliberation and 150 meetings, the Obama Administration finally released its new guidelines for nuclear weapons policy. In a sharp break from previous administrations, Obama's Nuclear Posture Review released today dictates the U.S. halt development of any new nuclear weapons and cease to consider nuclear retaliation against non-nuclear nations, even in response to a biological or chemical attack.
Pop quiz. An asteroid the size of Manhattan is hurtling towards Earth, its impact is sure to result in mass extinction and the destruction of humanity as we know it. What do you do?
The traditional answers would be "blow it up". But new research from Los Alamos National Lab and the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows that if the asteroid isn't moving fast enough, or if the nuke isn't big enough, the asteroid will pull itself back together, T-1000-style, within a matter of hours.
In labs around the world, scientists are working to expand our understanding of the weird, the unexpected, and the potentially dangerous. Their aim is true, yet, many of these boundary-pushing projects carry serious potential for things to go wrong. Horribly wrong.
Good news everyone! Armageddon has been postponed by another 60 seconds.
This morning, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock back to six minutes before midnight. The clock is a symbolic timepiece that measures the threat of human extinction due to man-made causes, and recent international action on global warming, combined with cooperation between Russia and the US on nuclear weapon reduction, provided the incentive for the scientists to roll it back a minute.
Lehman Brothers is no more, but it still has one unusual asset
By Doug CantorPosted 04.16.2009 at 3:24 pm 6 Comments
It turns out that when Lehman Brothers went belly-up last fall, it was left with a lot more than just irate investors and billions of dollars in debt. One of the bank's remaining assets is a sizable supply of yellowcake—the type of uranium that is enriched for use in nuclear reactors and weapons.
U.S. nuclear warheads might have been technological marvels a half-century ago, but today they're akin to a fleet of '57 Chevys — at least according to those who say the U.S. arsenal is begging to be traded in for a new model called reliable replacement warheads, or RRW.
For the last half-century, the U.S. has maintained its 5,400-warhead arsenal by replacing degraded plastic and rubber parts. But the most important part of the warhead — its explosive radioactive core — naturally decays over time and has not been replaced.
The warheads will remain dependable for at least 82 more years, or until the year 2091, according to a 2006 report by JASON, an independent scientific advisory group for the U.S. government. At that point, the warheads’ decayed cores could leave the U.S. with an impotent nuclear arsenal. "The concern is, can we keep the nuclear arsenal safe, reliable and effective for as long as we’ll need nuclear forces?" says John R. Harvey, a physicist in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
How much destruction would a nuclear bomb cause if dropped on or near your hometown? Two online calculators do the math
By Spencer RobinsPosted 06.30.2005 at 11:00 am 0 Comments
The Federation of American Scientists has created two tools to estimate the destructive impact of a nuclear “bunker buster” bomb. The blast-effects calculator illustrates the immediate destruction that occurs in the moments following a detonation. Specify bomb yield and location, and the calculator produces a blast diagram superimposed over a satellite image of the selected city. Use the fallout calculator to trace the four-day radiation pattern that results from the initial blast.