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Soaring, Cryptography, and Nuclear Weapons

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the we-can-get-there-from-here dept.

Encryption 303

Martin Hellman sends in a pointer to his essay that uses analogies from cryptography and the sport of soaring in an attempt to draw people in to thinking about the risks of nuclear weapons. Quoting: "... I did a preliminary risk analysis which indicates that relying on nuclear weapons for our security is thousands of times more dangerous than having a nuclear power plant built next to your home." Hellman is best known as co-inventor (with Diffie and Merkle) of public key cryptography, and has worked for over twenty-five years to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons. He is also a glider pilot with over 2,600 logged hours. Hellman adds, "Readers needing a break can go to some photos of the Sierra Nevada mountains taken from my glider."

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Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458733)

...who's takeaway from the article is that we need to build more nuclear plants?

Must have been a stack overflow somewhere. /BOFH reference

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458945)

...who's takeaway from the article is that we need to build more nuclear plants?

America does need to build more nuclear plants.
The rest of the world is because it is safe and clean.

Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island, need you name more?

Yes, you do.

Even reasonable environmentalists [npr.org] are considering nuclear.

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

repvik (96666) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459197)

And the reasonable environmentalists might be right. Technology might possibly have developed over the last 20+ years.
We're afraid of technology that had flaws in its infancy. Maybe humanity has learned, and possibly improved technology since then?

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459289)

It's even worse than technology that had flaws in its infancy. Chernobyl is the only serious civilian power-generation reactor accident. And Chernobyl had a tremendously bad design that never would have been approved in the West, even in the period when everything nuclear was considered to be good, and what killed it was a horribly conceived experiment run by idiots that never would have been allowed in the West, again not even during that optimistic period.

It's great to take lessons from Chernobyl, but it's wrong to take away the lesson that nuclear power is dangerous.

Re:Am I the only one... (-1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459441)

Uh, it really is dangerous. That's why nuclear power plants are considered terrorist targets.

While you are correct that Chernobyl was a bad design and an ill-conceived experiment started the disaster, do you recall what caused Three Mile Island or what the consequences might have been had the hydrogen bubble ignited?

And the bigger problem is the cost and various issues with properly sequestering the waste. Using nuclear power is basically like borrowing to run the country - we get the immediate benefit and our children have to pay the price.

Any idea how much it will cost to pay just for the guards to monitor a waste site for 100,000 years or so? I don't think that is factored into the cost of electricity from a nuclear plant, is it?

Re:Am I the only one... (5, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459739)

My understanding is that the ridiculously thick containment structure around the TMI reactor (the lack of which is one of Chernobyl's unforgivable flaws) would have saved the day anyway. And things have improved since then, my point was merely that it wasn't bad even to begin with.

Waste becomes much less of a problem if you reprocess the fuel. We don't do that in the US because our nuclear policy is completely idiotic. But there's no rational reason not to do it.

The general public seems to think that coal power is pretty acceptable, even though its toxic waste, vastly more than is ever produced by any nuclear plant, goes straight into the air and the population's lungs. But somehow the prospect of burying a miniscule amount of nuclear waste is considered to be vastly worse than breathing in vaporized mercury around the clock. It boggles the mind.

Re:Am I the only one... (5, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459755)

Uh, it really is dangerous. That's why nuclear power plants are considered terrorist targets.

That's funny, nuclear plants don't even make my list. On my list are things like planes, train stations, embassies and other government buildings, cafes, malls, and busses.

While you are correct that Chernobyl was a bad design and an ill-conceived experiment started the disaster, do you recall what caused Three Mile Island or what the consequences might have been had the hydrogen bubble ignited?

Do you recall that TMI happened BEFORE Chernobyl, and sparked a quite thorough redesign of reactors to make them safer, and GenIV reactors, if we ever get around to building them, would be safer yet?

And the bigger problem is the cost and various issues with properly sequestering the waste. Using nuclear power is basically like borrowing to run the country - we get the immediate benefit and our children have to pay the price.

First, the stuff is safer than coal - a lot of the pollution from coal actually ends up in the environment. Besides that, I(and many other nuclear proponents) figure we'll be going after that high level waste in less than a hundred years to use it as fuel again. Other options include breeder reactors and reprocessing using modern methods to reduce the amount of waste, and the lifespan of the waste, substantially.

Any idea how much it will cost to pay just for the guards to monitor a waste site for 100,000 years or so? I don't think that is factored into the cost of electricity from a nuclear plant, is it?

How long until the Mercury released by Coal plants exits out of the environment? How long until the CO2 is sequestered again?

And yes - it is factored in. The federal government told the nuclear power plant operators: You WILL pay us $X per megawatt/hour produced. We WILL dispose of the waste. There's lawsuits going on about that one.

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25460419)

Uh, it really is dangerous. That's why nuclear power plants are considered terrorist targets.

That's funny, nuclear plants don't even make my list . On my list are things like planes, train stations, embassies and other government buildings, cafes, malls, and busses.

TERRORIST!!!!! MOD-UP and alert the feds!!!!

Re:Am I the only one... (2, Interesting)

repvik (96666) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459857)

Chernobyl was bad design. What makes you think Three Mile wasn't shitty design?
Three mile happened 29 years ago, and would NEVER have happened with todays reactors.

Regarding waste. Should we wait until there is a complete solution to this problem, or bet on it being solved in the semi-near future? I consider the gains worth the "risk" of having to keep the waste locked up worth thousands of coal-plants. Especially since coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste.
Do we guard the coal ash? Don't our children pay a higher price for the ginormous amounts of coal burnt every single day?

I ain't saying that we should drop wind/solar/thermal/wave/hydro power. But I think nuclear is a pretty good step in a better direction, especially since only hydroelectric power can adjust quickly to grid needs, but hydro isn't available everywhere. (Fortunately, I live in Norway where we have *no* coal plants but plenty of hydro)

Does it really sound that bad, compared to the *existing* alternatives?

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459953)

Will you stop spreading FUD?

Uh, it really is dangerous.

So is burning coal, operating a steel plant, manufacturing dangerous chemicals, and driving a race car. Yet we do all those things on a regular basis!

That's why nuclear power plants are considered terrorist targets.

That's why there are 3 columns of stealth troopers protecting each plant from invasion by the Slitheen.

Or in other words, [Citation Needed].

do you recall what caused Three Mile Island or what the consequences might have been had the hydrogen bubble ignited?

Um... it DID ignite. Several times. Ignition of hydrogen in the reactor core only complicated a difficult situation. However, the reactor operated more or less as intended in that situation and the risk to the surrounding area was minimal. Certainly not anywhere near Chernobyl levels. (Chernobyl ran into a lack of shielding against a boiler explosion. So all those materials were spread around surrounding areas rather than being contained by three feet of concrete.)

And the bigger problem is the cost and various issues with properly sequestering the waste. Using nuclear power is basically like borrowing to run the country - we get the immediate benefit and our children have to pay the price.

That's a terrible analogy. Nuclear power is just fine. Most of the hot stuff is gone within days to months. That's why reactors can be serviced and/or dismantled within a few months to a few years of being shut down. If anything, we're leaving our kids a nasty power crisis and dirty air because we refuse to build more nuclear plants!

Any idea how much it will cost to pay just for the guards to monitor a waste site for 100,000 years or so?

I am being completely serious here. Any materials that last that long are more than safe enough. Heck, anything with a nuclear lifetime that long is safer than the Potassium stored in your body*.

Think about it. Radiation is a process whereby mass is converted into energetic particles. Thus the mass itself is the fuel for the radioactivity. The more radiation produced, the faster the mass is converted into that radiation. In result, the mass will burn itself out in a short period of time. Materials with 10,000 year lifespans convert their mass to radiation so slowly that you can count each particle as it is produced. Compared to cosmic radiation, that's a zero risk.

Furthermore, there are different types of radiation. A great deal of radiation (e.g. alpha and beta) can't even penetrate the dead layer of cells on our skin!

In effect, the situation with nuclear radiation has been overblown. Read up on radioactivity if you want to understand the true dangers of working with the material. Once you understand things better, you may start demanding that your local coal plant be replaced with a nuclear plant! (Did you know that coal plants disperse more radioactive material into the environment than any other power-producing technology?)

* In a human body of 70 kg mass, about 4,400 nuclei of 40K decay per second.

/wastes/fuel reserves/s (1, Interesting)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460293)

Uh, it really is dangerous. That's why nuclear power plants are considered terrorist targets.

Be suspicious of any chain of reasoning based on taking what Homeland Security et al think as true. These people are fear mongers, and use artificially created fear to control the masses. For some reason their otherwise incoherent policies always seem to align on one point: they increase the profits of big oil.

While you are correct that Chernobyl was a bad design and an ill-conceived experiment started the disaster, do you recall what caused Three Mile Island or what the consequences might have been had the hydrogen bubble ignited?

Oh come on. The hydrogen did ignite [ncwarn.org] and nothing significant happened. The "bubble" was what was left over after all the hydrogen that could have burned already had. The public and the environment suffered no injury, and the whole thing was blown way out of proportion.

And the bigger problem is the cost and various issues with properly sequestering the waste.

It's only a problem because we have been hornswaggled into thinking of it as "waste" instead of thinking of it as "fuel reserves." If you want to suppress any technology try this simple trick:

  • Convince people that some intermediate product of the system is "waste"
  • Convince them that the only thing they can do with it is store it
  • Point out the logical consequences of these absurd assumptions.

For example, if you could convince people that they could only use 10% of the gas they put in their cars and had to save the other 90% forever, what would happen to the auto industry?

Incidentally, the whole "longer half-life == more dangerous" talking point is stupid. Saying that something has an enormously long half-life is just another way of saying that it is relatively stable. It's the things with the short half-lives you need to worry about. The tungsten in your lightbulbs, for instance, has a half-life of around 1,000,000,000,000,000 years. Buy the backwards logic of the anti-nuke people, it should be terrifying stuff, much more dangerous than uranium with a half-life of only 100,000 to 1,000,000,000 years, right? -- MarkusQ

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459319)

I don't think the issue with waste has been resolved regardless of how safe the plants themselves may or may not be.

Does it really make sense to have to guard and watch over nuclear waste for thousands of years because we as a society couldn't be bothered to minimize our energy use?

There is no doubt that nuclear energy creates far lower carbon loading than burning fossil fuels. But why aren't we investing wholesale into wind farms, photovoltaics, and other renewable sources instead of just chanting the dril, drill, drill mantra and advocating for more nuclear power plants?

Nuclear only makes sense to help act as a stopgap measure until we can drastically increase our efficiency and use of renewable sources.

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459481)

Does it really make sense to have to guard and watch over nuclear waste for thousands of years because we as a society couldn't be bothered to minimize our energy use?

Not really. That's why we SHOULD be reprocessing that stuff and burning it in reactors. Yet the powers that be feel reprocessing increases the risk of nameless Bad Guys(TM) getting their hands on fissionable materials. Never mind that the Uranium slugs used in regular reactors are far more useful to Bad Guys(TM) than reprocessed Plutonium. (If you have limited resources, a gun-type bomb is infinitely easier to create than an implosion device.)

The thing is, the nuclear waste issue has been incredibly overblown by environmentalists and government alike. We have solutions. It's just a matter of getting this regulatory ship realigned to meet the modern world.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459987)

Is that you Monty?

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460003)

Reprocessing also increases the amount of waste there is to dispose of.

Are you even aware that the uranium used in reactors isn't bomb grade?

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460239)

Reprocessing also increases the amount of waste there is to dispose of.

Complete and utter nonsense caused by a misreading of early safety reports. Allow me to inject some real information:

Rather, waste management [from reprocessing] is made very much easier. The decree that Yucca Mountain must isolate the waste for more than 10,000 years is due primarily to the presence of long-lived transuranic elements. Appropriate reprocessing will allow those troublemakers to be consumed in fast reactors, leaving only the real waste--the fission products--to be disposed of, and their radioactive toxicity fall below that of the original uranium ore after less than 500 years. Effective waste management becomes a slam dunk.

Are you even aware that the uranium used in reactors isn't bomb grade?

Are you aware that reprocessed Plutonium isn't bomb grade?*

Both would require significant reprocessing to be made into weapons. If you must do it, it's much easier to reprocess Uranium. At least then you'll be ready to build your bomb. With Plutonium, you're not even half-way there.

* http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/2006/april/article2.html [aps.org]

Re:Am I the only one... (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459489)

You only need to watch over the waste for "thousands of years" if you don't reprocess it.
Wind farms and solar both are limited by the fact that you can not throttle them. I am all for them but until you develop a clean, long lasting, and cheap battery that has about 1000 times the current energy density of current batteries solar and wind will only meet a small percentage of our power needs.
Nuclear plants are a stop gap. If managed correctly it is a 100 to 200 year stop gap. By then we better have fusion down pat.
Also I do wonder about the environmental impact of extracting many thousands of mega watts out of the wind system. It may be nothing but then I remember when hydroelectric dams where totally "clean".

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25459551)

Does it really make sense to have to guard and watch over nuclear waste for thousands of years because we as a society couldn't be bothered to minimize our energy use?

Only as much sense as not using a fast reactor or a breeder reactor to burn the remaining 99% of the fuel because some terrorist might wade into the running reactor in the midst of the fuel cycle in order to extract just the right plutonium atoms and make a bomb before it's all used up.

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25459691)

Nuclear only makes sense to help act as a stopgap measure until we can drastically increase our efficiency and use of renewable sources.

I think you have that exactly backwards.

"Renewable" resources are not in reality renewable- they get their energy from the Sun, which is a massive Fusion reaction.

So solar/wind/hydro/etc. are just a stopgap measure while we develop our nuclear technology, since that is the only truly 'renewable' source of energy. Oh, and nuclear energy is not 'lower' carbon loading, it is a non-carbon energy source.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459975)

Do I really need to be so pedantic as to explain how long the sun will continue to burn and supply the various renewable processes?

And it is news to me that the entire amount of energy used in mining, extracting, and enriching uranium is nuclear. Do we have nuclear-powered mining trucks now?

I see why you posted anonymously.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460025)

So, lets turn the earth into a sun...

I like the way you think.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

Kugala (1083127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460039)

No, Nuclear is only a stopgap til we discover the next power generation technology. Just like Coal and Oil are stopgaps til Nuclear, and Wood is a stopgap til Coal and Oil.

The power problem will NEVER be solved. If you don't keep finding a new power supply, you run out, and then you're stuck.

'Renewable' power is a fixed supply, and it's all solar. Wind, Hydro, Solar...same source. Also the source that feeds us, and drives our weather. There's a hard limit to it, same as any other supply. You don't want to run up against a fixed power limit any more than you want to run out of fuel for a given technology.

Re:Am I the only one... (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459839)

...I did a preliminary risk analysis which indicates that relying on nuclear weapons for our security is thousands of times more dangerous than having a nuclear power plant built next to your home.

The problem with this quote is that these days a freeway/airport is probably thousands of times more dangerous than having a nuclear power plant build next to your home.

Public-key crypto (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458759)

Hellman is best known as co-inventor (with Diffie and Merkle) of public key cryptography

FWIW, the British secret service discovered public-cryptography several years before. Hellman et al just introduced it to the public. See Schneier's Applied Cryptography [amazon.com] .

Re:Public-key crypto (3, Informative)

Apathist (741707) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458919)

Sure, but they saw fit not to share it with us plebs... and most likely still would not have. These guys are the reason why modern, publicly available crypto exists.

Re:Public-key crypto (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25459151)

It is possible for inventions to be made independently, as they were in this case. However, I do think "Hellman is best known as co-inventor (with Diffie and Merkle) of public key cryptography" is vastly misleading: "Hellman is best known as co-inventor (with Diffie, Merkle, Cocks, Ellis and Williamson) of public key cryptography" is more accurate.

Re:Public-key crypto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25459985)

Perhaps, but I discovered public key cryptography in 1956 in our home's basement . My mother didn't allow me to publish the result then. Anyway, this clearly shows that the British secret service is not the original inventor of public key cryptography---they just introduced it to the British intelligence community.

Re:Public-key crypto (0, Flamebait)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460143)

Yup, that's the problem with the brits.

They also discovered the better chunk of computational theory but hey, instead of making it a decent science and fostering that kind of development, they chose to kill the father of computing (after him playing an uttermost important part in winning the second world war for Occident), Alan Turing... because he was gay.

Then there is the other side of the repressive balance: without the brit culture being the ultra-tight metaphorical asshole its always been, would we have had the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Sex Pistols, Monty Python, Sacha Baron Cohen???

We will never know: i, for one, both thank and despise each trait separately.

Thermonuclear War (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458807)

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

Re:Thermonuclear War (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458961)

After all, we don't want to start a nuclear war unless we really have to.
- Col Lionel Mandrake

He's a fool. (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458845)

The thing is, if you all don't have nuclear weapons, and I covertly do, I win.

Re:He's a fool. (2, Funny)

mikeee (137160) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458927)

1. Get everyone to agree that nuclear weapons are bad.
2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:He's a fool. (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459145)

2. ???

Never knew those were supposed to be ASCII mushroom clouds!

Re:He's a fool. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459135)

Maybe, assuming you had to use them to win a fight, and you'd better have a good reason. If you're the only one with nukes then there is the possibility of other countries not liking that and arranging preemptive airstrikes or commando raids to destroy your launch infrastructure.

Also depends on what you have. Say, hypothetically, you're in charge of an Iran-like banana republic and the US had no nukes but you had two nukes, then you take out New York and Los Angeles with the nuclear strikes. The US' forces retaliation would still kick your country's ass into the ground with vitriol to spare. If your population revolts against the US then they will not be treated nearly as fairly as that of post-invasion Iraq.

Nukes and drug tests are for deterrence, not to go after what they're targetting.

It's a big problem... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459501)

Also depends on what you have. Say, hypothetically, you're in charge of an Iran-like banana republic and the US had no nukes but you had two nukes then you take out New York and Los Angeles with the nuclear strikes

Well, yes, but the problem is that a good sized h-bomb that takes out NY and LA takes with it a good chunk of the northeastern USA and southern california. Take a took at a map of

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bravo_fallout2.png [wikipedia.org]

That's a fallout plume of 1000 rads out to a range of over 100 miles. Now have a looksie at

http://www.outbreakid.com/radiation.htm [outbreakid.com]

Put two and two together, and you'll see that even a single a large thermonuclear explosion could be a civilization ending event for the northeastern USA. There won't be retaliation, because, there can't be... when you've just wiped out the economy of the USA, and the manpower, the conventional forces would grind to a halt.

And we haven't even begun to discuss EMP effects from a single blast in space.

Re:He's a fool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25459631)

Also ask this: How many nuclear weapons have accidentally gone off? Now, how many nuclear reactors have had serious problems? The fact is, you are thousands of times safer living right next to a nuke weapons storage facility than you are living right next to a nuclear reactor, regardless of what his calculations show. All this means is that his calculations are missing something, somewhere.

what the hell do you win? (5, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459693)

The whole point of nuclear weapons is to overtly have them; if your possession of them is truly "covert," you don't win a damn thing. Even Israel's nuclear program was an open secret for years because it allowed them to gain the effects of deterrence without openly proclaiming that they had a nuclear arsenal. But nobody seriously believed they didn't have one.

Re:He's a fool. (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459859)

Ok, give every nation 10 nuclear weapons, to be deployed against any nation, ally or enemy, that launches nukes first. Suddenly, using nukes leads not just to the country being attacked retaliating, but also to 1600 nuclear missiles flying at you from litterally every corner of the globe.

The problem with MAD is that it is only a halfway solution. It might just be possible for the US or the Soviet union to remove enough of the others nuclear arsenal that a victory is possible without massive civilian casualties on either side, or at least the attacking side. To ensure peace you need to remove the possibility of victory completely. Either by removing the missiles themselves (which, as you imply, is impossible to verify) or by ensuring that any country that launches nuclear missiles is utterly devastated by an undefensible attack.

Illin with the panicillin? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25458855)

Is she illin with the panicillin?
Is she reelin in the panicillin?
Is it feelin with the panicillin?
Are you steelin in the panacillin?

Panka Panka

Is she liable no suitifiable no not on trial but so suitifiable
Is she viable no suitifiable pliable style is so suitifiable
so reliable no suitifiable shes not on file but so suitifiable
im on the dial its so suitifiable its like im liable but more suitifiable

Dangers... (3, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458867)

If the dangers from owning your own nukes are so serious, why haven't we destroyed the world yet - even with some of the so-called religious fundamentalist whackos that people are so afraid of in the White House?

Honestly, all this fear running around and western democracies - and the Russians - are the ONLY ones who have managed them responsibly. We haven't blown the world up, and the worst are some "near misses" which didn't produce anything. Shoot, we're farther away now from nuclear war between major powers than we have been since before the Cold War.

Point fingers at Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and their ilk. Leave the rest of us out of it. They're the nuclear "powers" to be afraid of, and we should raise defenses against their armament which are overwhelming - not detente.

Re:Dangers... (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458975)

Honestly, all this fear running around and western democracies - and the Russians - are the ONLY ones who have managed them responsibly.

Maybe I'm just not up on my history, but when have any of the other nuclear powers detonated a nuclear weapon other than in uninhabited areas for testing purposes?

Was there a nuclear war between India and Pakistan that I missed? Did Israel wipe Syria off the map while I wasn't looking?

None of the countries that have nukes have blown up the world. The only one that has used them for their intended purpose (blowing lots of people up) is the US, and that was more than 60 years ago. To say that any other country that got nukes would obviously blow up the world is not backed by any kind of evidence.

Re:Dangers... (0, Flamebait)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459413)

Unless the leadership of said country actively funds suicide bombers and has expressly declared 'Death to Israel'.

Anyone who thinks Iran WON'T use a nuke when it gets one has their head in the sand.

Re:Dangers... (2, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459473)

Why would they? No country will use a nuclear weapon unless it's their last option. To do so would virtually guarantee total annihilation at the hands of the US. They would almost certainly use the nukes just like everyone else does: as a deterrent and as a bargaining chip.

Clearly, it would put them in a much stronger negotiating position on the world stage. This is why we should be stopping them from getting nukes, not because we think they'd actually use them.

Re:Dangers... (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459529)

You're thinking like a rational westerner, and not a radical Islamist. They have suicide bombers, and don't care about killing their own people - that mentality could easily carry over with nuclear weaponry.

Re:Dangers... (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459921)

Especially when their President (I know, I know, he's largely a figurehead) thinks he is going to help usher in the 12th Imam by bringing about the end times.

BULLSHIT! (3, Informative)

linumax (910946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460081)

For several years Saddam bombed Iran (military and civilians) with Chemical weapons, handed to him by Rumsfeld [rense.com] . Iran demonstrated the capability to make similar weapons but emphasized that use of WMDs even in retaliation to enemy's action is against religious principals.

Now you are suggesting that Iran would nuke the second most sacred Islamic religious site after Mecca in a suicidal mission?!!

I also argued against the existence of any suicidal tendencies among Iranian leaders in previous comments [slashdot.org] which hopefully will shed some light on your distorted view of reality.

Re:Dangers... (0, Troll)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460291)

Yes, and the Bushido code is the reason why killing tens of thousends of civilians at the end of WWII was ok by baby Jesus.

Man.... this generalizations some people make. You know what separates you from a radical islamist?

Nothing, my friend: you are willing to easily think that Mahmoud Amedinayad represents the irani people.

They are willing that you (any westerner actually), and all the israelis they kill, are fully represented by George W. Bush.

Now does that seem fair to you?

Then stop doing it to them.

Re:Dangers... (0)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458995)

Honestly, all this fear running around and western democracies - and the Russians - are the ONLY ones who have managed them responsibly.

On the contrary, every party which has them has managed them "responsibly" in the sense of not using them against anyone. Except one. That would be the US, the only nation to use nuclear weapons in war.

Re:Dangers... (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459181)

To end it - keep that in mind. Iran appears to have some sort of ambition to start one, and the wrong people in power in Pakistan or India could very well do something. No one has used any to start one, and we backed off every time it went in that direction. What holds back Iran other than technology?

Re:Dangers... (1)

howdoesth (1132949) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459073)

If the dangers from owning your own nukes are so serious, why haven't we destroyed the world yet - even with some of the so-called religious fundamentalist whackos that people are so afraid of in the White House?

We have destroyed the world, many thousands of times. But thanks to quantum immortality, there only exist observers on those worlds where we haven't destroyed them.

Re:Dangers... (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459465)

I hope quantum immortality is false, or we'll all be in for a world of pain at the end, as our organs will work just enough to keep us alive, but no more.

Re:Dangers... (1)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459159)

Honestly, all this fear running around and western democracies - and the Russians - are the ONLY ones who have managed them responsibly. We haven't blown the world up, and the worst are some "near misses" which didn't produce anything. Shoot, we're farther away now from nuclear war between major powers than we have been since before the Cold War.

I realize I shouldn't be feeding the trolls here, but still: some of those near misses have been pretty [wikipedia.org] fucking [wikipedia.org] near [wikipedia.org] (and these are just some well-known examples!).
So what constitutes "handling them responsibly" then? Not blowing the world up? Sorry, all the other nuclear powers have managed so far as well. Pretty circular reasoning, if you ask me.

Point fingers at Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and their ilk. Leave the rest of us out of it. They're the nuclear "powers" to be afraid of, and we should raise defenses against their armament which are overwhelming - not detente.

Pakistan and India are basically just proliferation threats (and India only indirectly so) - their weapons are only aimed at each other, no one else. Sucks to be them if the conflicts escalate, but no threat to the rest of us.
North Korea? Pretty much the same deal, and they are in the process of dismantling their program. Not that they even need nuclear weapons - the fact that Seoul is within artillery range of North Korea is their deterrent. They can inflict genocidal levels of casualties with conventional weapons (and they have plenty of non-nuclear, non-conventional weapons as well).
And Iran? They don't have any nuclear weapons!

Re:Dangers... (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459345)

The Iranians, while likely over-exaggerating their capabilities, are not held by the constraints that the rest of the western world uses. I honestly believe that they may have used them by now. I'm almost surprised the Pakistanis never did, but they've had too much internal turmoil to do anything further since gaining capability.

Re:Dangers... (1, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459357)

In fact, North Korea probably doesn't even have any nuclear weapons. They claim to, but their single nuclear test was a dud, if in fact it was a test at all. Even if they have them, they are likely to be so primitive as to be far too large to fit on a missile, leaving them with a bomb that can't actually be moved to where it will destroy its target.

Re:Dangers... (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460205)

Shoot, we're farther away now from nuclear war between major powers than we have been since before the Cold War.

My friend, you are clearly misreading the signs of this times.

We are as close today as we have ever been: if it comes to that, any side is willing to shoot... back.

And then you ignore completely that there is no possible "responsible use" of a nuclear device and MUCH LESS of an ICBM. The outcome of that is certain death for all or most life on this planet.

Re:Dangers... (1)

david_bonn (259998) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460329)

I think you are missing a point.

Your argument seems to be, "we haven't had a nuclear war since 1945, so the risk of nuclear war must be extremely low."

A lot of Hellman's article (and the whole point about the glider antics) was pointing out how awful the human intellect is at working out risks (as if the current economic mess, or for that matter Las Vegas, didn't spell that out even more eloquently). He is certainly correct to argue that it is even more dangerous to be complacent.

Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (5, Interesting)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458909)

"...I did a preliminary risk analysis which indicates that relying on nuclear weapons for our security is thousands of times more dangerous than having a nuclear power plant built next to your home."

Yeah...I would love to see how he produced that "risk analysis" statement. I guess, since nuclear reactors are virtually not dangerous at all with todays technology, it can be said that something that is only a little dangerous (relying on nuclear weapons for security, which has worked for almost 60 years) can be a thousand times as dangerous, because 1000 * 0 = 0.

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (1)

jaxdahl (227487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459233)

http://nuclearrisk.org/paper.pdf [nuclearrisk.org]

It's in the appendix, near the bottom. It definitely is preliminary and not in depth, but that's probably due to a lack of accessible/accurate data.

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459417)

it can be said that something that is only a little dangerous (relying on nuclear weapons for security, which has worked for almost 60 years)

As he points out in the article, "a little dangerous" isn't good enough. A 99% per year safety margin for nuclear deterrence would be small, but actually a 1% chance of nuclear war each year isn't an acceptable risk... and moreover is not a sustainable long-term strategy. As he points out, although nuclear weapons have not led to nuclear war in the last 50-60 years, that really only establishes that "the chance of nuclear war is somewhere between zero and 6% per year". Those are terrible odds.

His point is indeed that the risk of nuclear wars is small, and that the risks from nuclear power plants are VERY small (he claims 1000-times smaller). But his bigger point is that the risk from nuclear war is not small enough.

Having said all that, I'm certainly not convinced that the actual risk is 1%. Then again, his overall point is that we need better risk assessment: rather than just assuming something like "if it hasn't happened in the last 50 years, it will never happen", he advocates rigorously developing decision trees and assigning best-guess probabilities to all nodes. Further he advocates taking action that will continually reduce the threat.

His goals are laudable and his analysis isn't wrong. But it's obviously not easy to come up with really satisfactory estimates of the risks.

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (2, Insightful)

MrLogic17 (233498) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459419)

Strange risk analysis.

Out of untold tens (hundreds?) of thousands of nuclear weapons, only 2 have ever been used on people, and that was at war time. Zero have gone off accidentaly.

Out of the dozens (hundreds?) of nuclear power plants that have been build & torn down, there have been 1 major (Chernobyl) and 1 minor (Three Mile Island) accidents.

That's a pretty small sample size to be dividing against a zero.

I too wanna see how he produced that "risk analysis".

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (1)

ramirez (51663) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459443)

This is not an interesting comment. It's a stupid comment. What are the moderators smoking?

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459683)

Just thinking about it for 5 seconds offers some clues.

A nuclear reactor accident is unlikely to kill a huge number of people, but a nuclear bomb will do that. Risk is counted by both the liklihood of disaster AND the number of people it could kill.

Even Chernobyl, which was pretty bad, didn't kill many people. How many? Don't know, but I'd be surprised if it was over 1000. A nuke on the other hand, kills a lot more.

Example:

Let's say that a power plant melts down every X and kills 1000 people. Let's say that a nuke gets dropped once in a century and kills 100,000 people.
The question is: How often would a power plant have to melt down to equal the risk from one nuke getting dropped once in a century, killing 100,000 people (a small nuke for sure)?

The answer is: Once a year. To equal 100,000 deaths from a powerplant in a century, one would have to melt down every year.

When you consider that we're unlikely to drop just one nuke at a time (we dropped TWO in WWII) then you can see that the number of people who might be killed by nukes goes into the millions. To get even close to this kind of damage from a power plant you'd have to melt down a few plants every hour.

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459785)

Hmm, 57 deaths (arguably 4000+) from having a nearby nuclear reactor over all of history (1 incident), vs 0 deaths over the whole of history from relying on nuclear weapons for defense. No country with nukes has ever been invaded (with the possible exception of Israel, but I don't know if they had nukes back then). Whereas every country that doesn't have nukes has been invaded (or at least bombarded from sea or sky) at some point.

I think his math is a bit off... It's more like a negative inverse of his number, due to the lives that have probably been saved.

Re:Off the cuff statistics make me sick. (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460391)

Pshew....

I see A&M education still has that "official math" department alive and well.

Old data? (1)

KovaaK (1347019) | more than 5 years ago | (#25458931)

In taking a quick glance, it seems like his estimates of

relying on nuclear weapons for our security is thousands of times more dangerous than having a nuclear power plant built next to your home

aren't even based on current technology of nuclear power plants. Plus I'd imagine that nuclear power plants are even better for our safety when you consider how a number of the new ones can be used to destroy old weapons-grade material...

risk analysis Vs.real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25458973)

This is nonsense.

Nuclear-armed nations invaded:
Zero

Non-nuclear nations invaded by nuclear armed nations.
Basically all of them.

Mutually assured destruction hasn't been US strategic doctrine since 1989. Now it's "deterrence"

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459105)

Nuclear-armed nations invaded:
Zero

The US is nuclear-armed. The Mexican army has, on several occasions, gone into the US [washingtontimes.com] and threatened border patrol agents, helped drug runners, and other stuff. Certainly nothing large scale, that is true.

The invasion of the US by illegal aliens from Mexico is a very large scale, and could form a fifth column

MAD doesn't work too well if the enemy is mixed with your own civilians.

or, put more succinctly (1, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459433)

military responses to economic and ideological problems never works

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (3, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460079)

I think, perhaps, the person you quoted meant invasions by the military forces of actual countries.

It'd be more of an infiltration of the US by illegal aliens than an invasion. Invasions are rather obvious and hostile affairs.

Non-state actors aren't the target of MAD policies. They generally don't care what sort of destruction they face. A state, on the other hand, has to worry about the continuance of the state.

Psycho with a nuke: not deterred by MAD.
Rogue state with a nuke: leaders still probably not deterred by MAD.
Developed stable state with a nuclear arsenal: welcome to club MAD.

Plus I'm quite sure most (by surface area) of the US would be quite willing (and eager) to sink both coasts into the ocean to quell a fifth column threat.

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459381)

Ever hear about this little place in the South Pacific called the Falkland Islands? You should check it out, it may be interesting to you.

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459553)

Yeah,

That was where the nuclear armed Great Britain invaded Argentina's sovereign territory known as, Las Malvinas, right?
</flamebait>

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459765)

Please do not be such an idiot. Even if you want to take that side, said invasion happened in 1833. Unless I have grossly misunderstood things, Great Britain didn't have nuclear weapons at the time.

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459861)

<flamebait fuel=napalm>
The loser doesn't get to name the territory or write the history.
</flamebait>

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459801)

You should check your geography before posting.
The Falkland Islands are absolutely NOT in the Pacific Ocean.
(but in the south Atlantic).

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459851)

Not geography, just a simple brain fart. Thanks for the correction in any case.

Re:risk analysis Vs.real world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25460345)

Nuclear-armed nations invaded: Zero

About about Argentina invading a piece of sovereign territory of nuclear-armed UK?
Falklands war [wikipedia.org]

No Nukes! (0)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459027)

"He is also a glider pilot with over 2,600 logged hours"
Ha! Ive spent more time on slashdot ...
Amateur

Some dodgy statistical analysis in there (1)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459243)

All of his risk estimates are based on analysis of 40 year old quotes. He may as well have just plucked figures from the air.

Lessons from Dr Gatling (2, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459259)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Jordan_Gatling [wikipedia.org]

In 1877, he wrote: "It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished."

Sounds a lot like this, from TFA:

Since World War III would mean the end of civilization, no one would dare start it.

The thing is, just as many bodies lie in the dirt since the invention of the machine gun, and armies are effectively as big as ever. Also, this invention has been used to commit COUNTLESS atrocities that wouldn't have been as possible before it was introduced.

My point is simple, focusing on the WEAPON is futile. In the hands of men anything will eventually be turned to evil. You have to assume the worst case when dealing with weapons and humanity. This is also why you basically HAVE to participate in the arms race. The opposite choice is elimination.

and for our next analysis.... (0, Flamebait)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459315)

And for our next analysis, we will have Zbignew Brzenski give his opinion on quantum cryptography versus Enigma machines.

Why is it when a genius in field X has some free time, they think they can do immediately have deep insights in field Q?

----

As an obvious counterexample, a nuclear plant, to avoid disaster, needs continuous monitoring and maintenance by dozens of fallible humans, plus the critical reactor vessel gets steadily weaker due to neutron bombardment. It's not a question of "if", but of "when" something gives.

OTOH nuclear weapons, by comparison, are intrinsically inert. Only by a special sequence of ministrations can they be activated.

Personally I'd rather live next to something in category 2 than category 1.

Re:and for our next analysis.... (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459517)

Brezinski is a bad choice. He presided over the Iran hostage thing, for instance, and the failed rescue attempt. He's damaged goods.

which brings us to iranian proliferation (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459327)

pro-israel or anti-israel

pro-usa or anti-usa

you should be against iranian proliferation

there's this weird alien line of thought out there that goes like this: "if the usa has nukes, why shouldn't iran?"

what that thought represents is tribal nationalistic thinking trumping common sense

common sense holds that NO ONE should have nukes. so proliferation is bad, for whomever. the most logical approach to iranian proliferation then is this: "i am against iran having nukes, AND i am against the usa having nukes"

but this whole "i support iran having nukes, to balance out the usa" is a level of stupidity beneath respect

Re:which brings us to iranian proliferation (1, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459783)

fair enough, but what do you do once you are "against" iranian proliferation? John McCain (and many others) think that this means the U.S. should bomb Iran. I'm as against Iranian proliferation as I am against Korean, Bolivian, or Austrian nuclear proliferation -- but I am also against using phony claims of an imminent Iranian nuclear threat to justify hypocritical policy choices. If Iran does choose to go nuclear, that will be a decision that I have little influence on, and I'm not about to advocate bombing Iran to stop it. I'm more likely to advocate looking at how we all will manage to live in a world with an Iranian nuclear deterrent (and the reality is I think there will be a nuclear Iran eventually, though not nearly as quickly as the neocons want us to believe). I see no reason Iran would be any more irresponsible with its nuclear deterrent than India or Pakistan or China or any other member of the "nuclear club." The flip side of what you're saying is also true -- a nuclear Iran is a bad thing, but so is a nuclear Israel (or Russia or the US). There's no reason we should be more apeshit about a nuclear Iran than we are about any other nuclear state.

you have to take a stand (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459999)

if you simply rationalize every development in the world, and never draw a line, you don't actually stand for anything. its this weird sort of person who says they are acting according to the highest of principles, but all those principles seem to come down to is: accept anything that happens

sometimes you need to take action in this world that is risky and with a cloudy outcome, sometimes you do need to go to war, for the best of reasons. sometimes violent conflict is something you need to choose to engage in, in the name of upholding your values

not that i support invading iran either. but i would certainly support covert sabotage, or another action which is provocative and aggressive but short of full-scale war

but in general, i am very suspicious of people who always seem to advocate accepting vile things in this world. tell me on what grounds you would engage in violent conflict, and i will relax about my impression of your words, comfortable that you stand for something. but some people's "morality" seems to be pretty much let a rape take place in front of them, for fear of offending the rapist

its the bizarre desperate and failing attempt at rationalization that accepts nuclear proliferaiotn in the name of nuclear disarmament. and so far, that absurdity is what you represent to me

frankly, your words are morally and logically incoherent, unless you enunciate the conditions under which you would engage in violent conflict with iran

Re:you have to take a stand (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460413)

its the bizarre desperate and failing attempt at rationalization that accepts nuclear proliferaiotn in the name of nuclear disarmament. and so far, that absurdity is what you represent to me

I'm not rationalizing anything, and I'm trying to justify anything. I'm simply stating the truth that sooner or later the US will probably have to learn to deal with a nuclear Iran just like we learned to deal with a nuclear China, India, Pakistan, etc. Frankly, it's a fact whether or not we bomb Iran or engage in unspecified acts of "covert sabotage." We're long past the situation in 1981 where a single nuclear reactor could be bombed to end a nuclear program -- if Iran decides to make nuclear weapons, the US really isn't going to be able to stop it, no matter what you or John McCain thinks.

And regarding your comment about rape - fuck off. That's an idiotic comparison that has nothing to do with Iranian nuclear weapons.

frankly, your words are morally and logically incoherent, unless you enunciate the conditions under which you would engage in violent conflict with iran

Frankly, you're completely full of shit. But I'll go ahead and answer your logical fallacy anyway -- the US should engage in violent conflict with Iran if and only if Iran attacks or clearly presents an imminent violent threat to the United States. The mere presence of a nuclear weapon wouldn't do that, unless there is some evidence they were actually going to use it for something other than deterrence. The fact is, nuclear weapons have only been used twice in human history, and both times were more than 60 years ago.

Re:which brings us to iranian proliferation (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460121)

Here is my solution. Let Iran build a nuke, and get the security council to agree that if Iran uses it, overtly _or_ covertly, we get to turn Iran into a parking lot as an object lesson for North Korea, Pakistan, et al.

And you are wrong about this

There's no reason we should be more apeshit about a nuclear Iran than we are about any other nuclear state.

The reason is that these countries are, ostensibly, sane, although I am beginning to wonder about Russia. Iran is ruled by a bunch of fanatics that believe in fairy tales and are attempting to bring about the return of the 12th Imam.

The countries on your list have not used nukes, excepting the US pre-understaing-much-about-the-long-term-impact. We haven't since.

Re:which brings us to iranian proliferation (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460263)

AFAIK, any country that uses nuclear weapons in combat should be turned in a parking lot. They have been used once and that was enough.

Re:which brings us to iranian proliferation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25459811)

but this whole "i support iran having nukes, to balance out the usa" is a level of stupidity beneath respect

Is that just another way of saying "I'm too dumb to argue against your statement"?

Re:which brings us to iranian proliferation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25460109)

I agree that no nation should have nukes, but reality is that nations do have them and they are very fond of them. And they even hand them out to other nations. Remember that it was the US who "gave" Pakistan the technology for nuclear weapons. As such, you cannot really deny any nation the right to have nukes, especially if some of the nations who do have them, have a tendency to abuse military power.

The current situation also leaves a number of questions open. How can non-nuclear nations protect themselves against nuclear powers? And why is Israel the only country allowed to have nukes without international oversight? Why not another nation? And why is the fuss only about countries close to the oil. Are we afraid we cannot start the third World War for oil?

the usa did not give nukes to pakistan (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460465)

khan got them via a variety of means: dutch, chinese sources [wikipedia.org] . but this isn't to blame the dutch or chinese like you blame the usa. the best way to describe the truth and ascribe blame for pakistan having nukes is that pakistan wanted nukes like india had, so it went out and got them. the fault of pakistan having nukes is... drum roll please... pakistan's

for you to suggest that the usa "gave" nukes to pakistan is a sort of braindead propaganda that imagines the world works like a bad hollywood movie plot, a cartoon, and seriously questions your ability to judge how and why things really happen in this world. pakistan is its own entity. it is not a puppet of the usa. when you see pakistan do something, question pakistan's agenda, not the usa's. pakistan does nothing it doesn't think is good for pakistan. the world has slightly more players in it than the only player you look at

"And why is Israel the only country allowed to have nukes without international oversight?"

ok, you go tell israel it can't have nukes. you get the security council to unilaterally insist israel give up its nukes or face invasion or economic isolation. would israel give up its nukes then?

no. because the reason israel has nukes is because israel wants nukes. there is no dark secret cabal secretly protecting israel's right to have nukes. it is more acccurate to say that the international consensus is that it is bad tha tisrael has nukes, it is dangerous, but at the same time, everyone accepts that they won't be persuaded to get rid of them

so why is it that in your mind, this acceptance of the inevitable is some sort of purposeful endorsement?

Re:which brings us to iranian proliferation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25460119)

Does that mean that you are also for an economic embargo of the US and occasional strategic bombings of suspected US weapon sites or is it enough to give international teams of weapon inspectors access to any US military facility whenever they desire?

sure, why not (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460341)

international inspection teams in the usa, sounds like a good idea

it is possible to oppose iran and not support the usa. it is possible to oppose iran and the usa at the same time. so when you hear me oppose iran, do not automatically assume i am pro-usa

Who the hell is Merkle? (2, Funny)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459369)

They don't call it a Diffie-Merkle-Hellman exchange, who the hell is this Merkle guy?

How to survive a nuclear attack (1)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459621)

I watched an interesting video [ted.com] a while back about what can be done to increase your chances of survival during a nuclear attack. The gist of it is that after the detonation you should make sure you get out of the path of the radiation which will be flowing with the wind. The presentation approaches the issue in a more rational way than most of our politicians.

Disturbing Times (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459711)

Anybody else notice the nuclear weapons elephant in the room lately? I mean, beyond just the rhetoric level? I've noticed some people are re-evaluating their approach to nuke proliferation by deciding, "hey, let's build a shelter in the garage anyway, rather than just assuming everyone will be wiped out." Sort of a frightening trend, albeit more realistic than the idea that everybody's gonna die.

I was also watching a C-SPAN panel of economists a couple weeks ago, and one of the panelists was extrapolating based on the current economic situation. He weaved a short scenario that ended in nuclear war, and *nobody*, not *one* of the other panelists, batted an eyelash. Yikes.

Rocket Assist for Glider? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459907)

If the author of TFA, Martin Hellman, is so concerned about the low speed pass then why not equip the glider with an emergency booster rocket? That way, if he ever finds himself without enough speed to come around and land he can activate the emergency booster rocket to gain enough speed to safely glide back and land OR he could equip his glider with a rocket powered ejection system OR (perhaps more feasibly) an aircraft parachute (a feature that is becoming more common in other light aircraft as a safety precaution against engine failure at a bad time).

The bomb provided peace (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25459935)

Situation before the Atomic bomb :

Every 20-30 years, wars regularly happened between the most industrialized or powerful countries on earth.

The bomb ended WWII.

After the bomb :

No open/direct/full conflict between the most powerful countries on earth since then.

60 years of 'peace' as we have now since 1945 are an exception in the long recurrent wars that regularly dotted history.

2600 hours logged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25460051)

hmmmm anyone else going to blow the crunch whistle on this one?

obvious clue....

Kinda meaningless (1)

downhole (831621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460195)

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that article was kinda meaningless? Really, what's the point? "Hey guys, you know, having all of these nukes pointed at each other is pretty dangerous. Maybe we should do something about it?" Gosh, how insightful - I'm sure that nobody has ever thought of that before.

If you want to actually do something meaningful, figure out a way to reduce the risk that doesn't involve surrendering to the whims of any nutcase that has some nukes. We'll be waiting...

The Problem with Rational Thought on Nuclear Arms (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25460475)

It is not possible, unfortunately, to approach the issue of nuclear arms proliferation in a purely abstract and rational manner because humans are not purely abstract and rational beings. Although MAD is not absolutely effective in all cases, as Mr. Hellman correctly points out in his essay, neither are the alternatives, IMHO, any more appealing. There will always be people and leaders in this world, Iran and Pakistan for example, who have or are rapidly acquiring nuclear arms AND are NOT, for various reasons, deterred by the prospect of their own destruction. How can we get rid of our weapons when countries like Iran are building arsenals of their own? Would any of us want to live under threat of nuclear blackmail from an ascendant and nuclear armed Iran? If living in a world wide Islamic theocracy is the alternative to a third world war then I would rather fight, even if it meant certain death, then live in a tyrannical and theocratic society.
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