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U.S. Had Plan To Nuke The Moon

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the stupid-use-of-technology dept.

461

Jeffy was one several people this weekend who writes: "According to this article, The U.S. planned on detonating a nuclear bomb on the moon in the fifties to 'one up' the USSR and sway public opinion on the States' military might. An interesting twist to the story is that Carl Sagan was hired to help do the math to make sure the explosion was big enough to see from earth." Well, this isn't really news for nerds, but the whole idea behind nuking the moon strikes me as such a sad commentary on the Cold War that I had to post. The thinking behind this was such a pissing match it astounds me -- but here it is.

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461 comments

Re:The Price of War (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072392)

To tell you the truth, I don't give a shit about freedom as long as I've got my stereo, my compact disc collection, my computer, and all the sex I could want.

Try and blow a nuke anywhere near my little piece of heaven and I'll show you the price of freedom...

Re:Sad commentary? (1)

Alexey Goldin (5545) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072394)

The idea was not that dumb, actually. It was a way to demonstrate that the space probe indeed reached the moon which was not easy in those day. Until now some people are unconvinced that Apollo reached the moon --- Moon rocks, videos, radio signals received from the Moon by everyone and his uncle apparently not enough.

BTW, USSR had similar project which, thankfully, also died.

Re:Mushroom cloud? (1)

Beede (105094) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072396)

Also, remember one or two scientists on the first A-bomb project were worried that the explosion would ignite all the oxygen in the atmosphere?

I believe the concern was starting a fusion reaction, not "burning all the oxygen."

You're right about the cloud--I thought the same thing when I read it. I assume that's an example of the reporter making up something that he thought sounded plausible (I don't know what the approved reportorial terminology for this is...). If not, then the article is probably a complete fabrication.

Incidentally, someone I don't remember once had a science fiction short story where a Coca Cola analog puts their logo on the face of the moon by spreading lamp black ballistically over the entire visible face. Cooler than doing it with a laser....

Re:Considering the alternative (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072398)

So when did the United States occupy Canda and Mexico?

Oh right...they didn't. But the Soviet Union did occupy Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia as well as annex Georgia, the Ukraine, Moldova and a host of other nations while it strove to make sure it's neighnours behaved. Didn't the Soviet Union occupy both Hungary and Chechzlovakia?

US Doctrine at the time was "Containment" originally that was supposed to be economic...but it was twisted around to become military. So we had the war in Vietnam...and we supported the Afgans so that Pakistain wouldn't be the next "domino" to fall. And we had that little invasion of Granada too.

So...no the United States didn't follow the same doctrine as the Soviet Union did...or China is trying to do now with it's...we *have* to take Taiwan back stance.

...But Would There Have Been a Mushroom Cloud? (2)

wynlyndd (5732) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072400)

While the flash might have been big and bright enough to be seen from Earth, would there have really been a mushroom cloud? Isn't the shape of a mushroom cloud dependant on atmosphere and convection?

Re:Nuke the moon, Nuke Vietnam, Nuke Korea (1)

stitch (1429) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072401)

That's funny, it was only a few years before that those same generals helped save Britain and the rest of Western Europe during WWII.
I think you'll find that was mostly ordinary people. Heroic soldiers, sailors and airmen from all around the world. One or two generals stand out for their brilliance, but the majority pale into insignificance compared to the men who got down and dirty with Jerry.

Re:Sad commentary? (5)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072403)

First, rockets back then were *gasp*! less reliable than they are now. A fault on launch, with a bomb capable of an explosion that could have been seen a few =million= miles away would have turned more than the launch-pad into toast.

Second, picture this. The Russians discover that a quadrillion-tonne nuclear warhead has been fitted to a rocket. Their spy-planes discover that the rocket is on the launch pad, target unknown. The Russians have a total xenophobia of America (and likewise in reverse). The Russians are aware of American military leaders advising an attack on Russia, before Russia got too big. The only weapons you have, capable of stopping an attack by America on Russia are nuclear missiles. If you were in the Russian's shoes, what would YOU do?

The Americans miscalculate the position of the moon, and the rocket goes into a free return path. Space debris, radiation and other nasties, by this time, have destroyed any self-destruct system. (Assuming any was installed. This WAS early on, remember!) The rocket detonates on impact with Earth, wiping out whatever continent it strikes. Because of a total clamp-down on any information regarding the missile, surviving nations declare all-out world war, using whatever conventional and nuclear weapons that existed. Life on Earth is obliterated. For ever.

Another possibility. Terrorists capture the warhead, and threaten to detonate it. Because of the secrecy involved, the security forces involved in negotiation and/or attack are NOT advised that the warhead is nuclear, OR of the capability of the warhead. The forces storm the terrorists, who detonate the bomb. The world dies in unspeakable agony. The End.

The size of the warhead is miscalculated. The missile strikes a fissure in the moon. (The moon cooled VERY quickly, when it formed, maybe in less than a year. That's going to make for very low-grade rock.) The moon is literally blown apart. Earth is struck by massive rocks, wiping out half the population. The loss of the moon destabilises the Earth, which wobbles wildly. Seasons cease to exist, and all life dies in a catastrophic ice-age.

The Americans succeed in hitting the moon. The moon survives. The Russians (who, at that time, had vastly superior space technology) launch an even bigger rocket and an even bigger nuclear warhead into space. Repeat all of the above.

The Russians and Americans get into a huge space-based arms race, contaminating all solid planets in the solar system with a thick layer of uranium 235 and plutonium. Space science is set back a hundred years, due to radiation affecting radio astronomy, planetary destruction rendering space probes useless, and the impossibility of ever landing humans on any other world. Humanity is confined to Earth and dies of stagnation and/or over-population and/or exhaustion of resources.

In the end, humanity has only reached the year 2000 because of the FAILURE of projects like this.

Ahem... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072419)

Does it bother anybody else that the only source given for this "story" is one web page called "commondreams.org"? Hello? Fact-checking, anyone?

Oh well. If you read it on the Internet it must be true, right?

weird! (1)

Wheely (2500) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072422)

You are ever so funny! I hope this gets a score 5 funny!

USSR used to use nukes for civil engineering (3)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072424)

They used to blow mountains and dig whole lakes with nukes. I remember seeing a report on this a while ago. Great stuff, really nice lakes ... too bad they're so radioactive that everybody's dying of cancer in the surrounding villages ... LOL

Re:ick (2)

Tim C (15259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072426)

if they blew up big nukes, well they could potentially (without much difficulty since themoon is quite a bit smaller than the earth) blow it up entirely.

Woah there, time for a reality check I think!

Yes, the moon is quite a bit smaller than the Earth. I forget how much smaller, but the gravitiatioanl force is roughly a sixth, so that'll give you some idea (gravitational force depends upon mass/(square of radius), don't forget, so it's not as easy as being a sixth the mass)

But blow it up entirely? We are still talking about billions upon billions of tons of rock; I personally doubt that we'd be able to blow up an average-sized asteroid if ever we needed to (a la "Armagedon")

Cheers,

Tim

Sad commentary? (2)

MaximumBob (97339) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072427)

I guess this is really more of a reply to H's comments on the story, rather than the story itself, but is it really such a sad commentary? I mean, I'm much more comfortable with the idea that the government would detonate a nuclear weapon on the moon to scare the USSR than I am with them detonating them on earth. I guess I just make certain assumptions about the early cold war mindset that let me excuse "pissing matches," to a certain extent.

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

BilldaCat (19181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072429)

Yeah, damn the Teutons and that cheap TC rush technique they use..

:)

just one of many (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072430)

stupid things the various governments of the world have planned and/or done.

you should check out `a higher form of killing` by jeremy paxman (yes, THAT pacman, if you`re in the u.k.) to see more `well-spent` tax dollars/pounds... amazing stuff (its about nerve/germ/biological warfare)...

Nuclear might... (2)

Ron Harwood (136613) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072433)

It's amazing how far society has come in the last century... and yet how much everything has remained the same...

If the same thing were planned today, there would be tons of protests... back then it would have probably been "Yay for us!"...

And you know, if they had nuked the moon, that would've been when they discovered afterward that it had amazing resources or a hidden ancient technology... at least that's what would've happened on the "Outer Limits"... ;)

Akira (1)

Squeeze Truck (2971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072434)

Later on in Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira" series, lord Tetsuo blows a big chunk out of the moon to demonstrate his power.

It basically f*cked up the tides worldwide. Scary.

Considering the alternative (2)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072527)

If one had to demonstrate the ability to detonate such a weapon, I can't think of a safer place to do it. Considering that the old Soviet Union was aggressively expansionist in nature, such a deterrance was potentially a useful thing.

"When I'm singing a ballad and a pair of underwear lands on my head, I hate that. It really kills the mood."

Austin Powers 2 Quote (1)

lohen (122373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072530)

"Sir, are you saying that you want to blow up the moon?"
"Would you miss it? Would you?"

You make it sound like a bad thing... (2)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072535)

First of all, looking back on it nuking the moon seems really dumb.

However, "pissing match" is exactly what it was--and what it was intended to be. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that von Neumann was behind this idea (or at least supported it).

Military strategy since the mid-to-late 1940's has been less about "how many guns do we have" and more about "what moves can we make to force the opponents hand into playing to our strengths". In other words, game theory.

And game theory has a lot to say about bluffing's direct effects (like nuking the moon making the enemy think you are more powerful) or indirect effects (nuking the moon makes the [1950's] citizens more confident which in turn makes the enemy citizens less confidant, providing a nice vicious cycle).

In any case, there were probably some scientific benefits to doing this as well. Selenological research, ballistic stuff, maybe some astronomy, etc.
--
Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?

US Budget (5)

seizer (16950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072539)

US provisional Budget circa 1950:

Option 1:
  • Cure world hunger
  • Cure world disease
  • Make the world a paradise on earth
  • Become heroes in the eyes of the world as a result


Option 2: Nuke the moon!!!

Such an easy decision.

--Remove SPAM from my address to mail me

Pepsi/Pizza Hut and the Moon. (1)

viper21 (16860) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072544)

I remember a couple of years ago reading an article about how Pepsi was researching a way to project an image of the Pizza Hut on the logo for one night. They were going to use lasers or something. The moon is a great advertising space, everyone can see it. Well, everyone near the projection equipment ;-)

-S

Scott Ruttencutter

DUH!! (1)

Ace_ (44146) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072550)

Didn't any of these people watch "The Day the Earth Stood Still" ???
What were they thinking!!! We wouldn't want all those creepy aliens who know all about us to destroy Earth for blowing up the moon.. ;)

Bond or Austin Powers Plot? (1)

regen (124808) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072563)

This really sound more like a bad James Bond or Austin Powers plot.

Re:Sad commentary? (1)

steve_bryan (2671) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072566)

Speaking of sad commentary can you imagine that some people thought it was necessary to intervene militarily and stop Adolf Hitler? Gosh I'm glad we're all so advanced today that we can see past such folly today. We're so much smarter now than those fools and knaves who waged the Cold War.

Mushroom cloud? (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072572)

I'm no expert in fluid mechanics, but my intuition tells me that the mushroom cloud in a nuclear explosion (or any explosion for that matter) is caused by the interaction of the material picked up by the bomb and the atmosphere in which the explosion takes place. In which case I dont see how the Air Force could get their mushroom cloud visible from earth!

I suspect a bomb exploded on or below the surface would produce a plume rather than a dome, something like the volcanoes on Io.

Also, remember one or two scientists on the first A-bomb project were worried that the explosion would ignite all the oxygen in the atmosphere? Good reason to test on the moon :)

Baz

No, no, no... (1)

Stig (22182) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072574)

...they should be _chroming_ the moon.

Morons.

S.

And they should have done it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1072576)

The fact of the matter is that if America had shown early on that they were clearly the superior superpower on Earth the Cold War might not have dragged on for as long as it did. This plan, crazy though it might seem to liberal /.ers who never lived through that era, would probably have shown the Reds that they could not hope to win against the might of the American military.

Instead the US military strategists had their glorious vision scrapped, probably by the elected officials of the White House, more scared of public opinion than the very real Red threat, and the Cold War was forced to drag on for another thirty years, and now nations mock us in public rather than fearing the might of our military.

What our nation needs is less pandering to the "public" and more strength in Government. Unless the rulers of our country are free to take whatever means are necessary to secure our freedoms in a world increasingly hostile to American decency, we will go the way of the British Empire, and our glorious hegemony over the world will fail.

At the moment, America stands as a beacon of decency and quality to the world, an ideal of what a just and free society is, and there are many who wish us to be destroyed in fire. And the fear of "public opinion" as portrayed by the pseudo-scientific discipline of statistics (today's version of numerology) is preventing our Government from doing what is truly necessary for our future.

wow, fireworks. (1)

matman (71405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072579)

I would not be opposed to seeing that sort of fireworks, but just think of all of the poor people that would be looking the other way, or those who would have their skies clouded over. man. heh. Such an explosion may even send bits of rock flying about space, and into our atomosphere. There may be a nice meteor shower too :)

We wouldn't do that now. (1)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072580)

Now we just bombard planetary surfaces with junk.

Big deal (1)

NightHwk (111982) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072582)

Who cares? Even our largest nukes wouldn't make a crater to compare to the astroid hits that mark the moon. And radiation? so what? one warhead detonated in space is like a m80 in a bonfire, don't people realize that the hippies 'smiling sun' is the biggest dirtiest nuclear reactor for several lightyears?

Some people are just so incredibly ignorant about anything nuclear it's painful.

A nuke set off on the moon would have been a huge victory in the cold war, saying to the russians 'hey, we can hit the *MOON* with our missiles, you think you are safe?'

Just my 2cbils
Tyranny = Government choosing how much power to give the people.

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

MarkKomus (71304) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072591)

What deterrance? Do you think the soviet union would have backed down just because the US could set off a nuke on the moon. As is said it was just a pissing contest that went on till the soviet union went broke and stopped trying to one up the US.

There are worse options... (4)

sstrick (137546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072595)

It is a sad state of affairs to detonate a weapon on a pristine planet just to prove a point. However I do think it is better then some other explosions that have taken place.

For example I prefer this to the French alternative of the South Pacific. They don't even have the excuse of the cold war anymore to hide behind anymore.

Deteriorating orbit?!?!? (1)

thrillbert (146343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072599)

I wonder if one of the deterrants to this half-assed-shit-for-brains of an idea was the slight chance that the moon's orbit would deteriorate and cause massive problems for our planet (like it wiping out what we now consider the americas).

Of course, the other reason might have been that Carl Sagan looked at them and said Billions and Billions of brains are smarter than you .

Smiley Face moon (1)

Croaker (10633) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072602)

At the end of the cold war, with all these nukes lying around, my freinds and I figured a good way to re-use them would be to place a bunch on the moon, and set them off in such a way as to carve a huge smiley face on it.

Just the US's way of saying "hey! Have a Nice Night!"

Ah... and then there's the wackos on alt.chrome.the.moon... I haven't read that group in a while.

We came in peace for all mankind, (1)

JamesSharman (91225) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072604)

And F$#ked up this planet as well.

Re:USSR used to use nukes for civil engineering (2)

bladel (104002) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072606)

Similar plan was developed by the Dept. of Transportation to clear a mountian and make way for a freeway in California during the '50s.

Didn't pan out, but this was all part of the "Atoms for Peace" program of the Eisenhower administration. The long-term environmental effects of nukes were unknown, and the thinking of the day was they could be useful tools in large scale mining/earthworks projects.

Re:Nukes on the moon? (2)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072609)

No, no bad idea.
Did you never see Space: 1999

Weak idea (2)

redelm (54142) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072612)

Nuking the moon is a poor idea. To make much more than a single, bright flash, it would have to be "dirty", ie, a surface impact. The some of ejecta would head to earth as satellite killers.

Furthermore, even a big heavy 50 MT fission-fusion-fission warhead is only 2e14 Joules, about the same as a 2000 tonne meteor (35 ft diameter) moving at 15 km/s.

Re:And they should have done it (1)

seizer (16950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072630)

I think that at the time, it was far from clear that the USA was "clearly the superior superpower". Hindsight is 20:20.

--Remove SPAM from my address to mail me

From: Austin Powers 2 (1)

truefluke (91957) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072633)

President: I've got nukes up the ying yang ! ...

Aide: Sir, are you seriously considering nuking the moon?

President: (pause) Would you miss it? Well?!!

(paraphrased, but if you've seen it, you will recall this scene) ;)

At least they didn't plan to blow it up (5)

Tony Hammitt (73675) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072637)

I'm not kidding with the following:

I was at Iowa State University in the past. There is a nutty math professor who wants to blow up the moon. He believed that the moon being absent would turn Earth into paradise. The name began with an A, I think. I don't really remember.

We all had lots of fun when his plan made the cover of the Weekly World News....

Monday.. Work.. Ick.. Later.

Re:Mushroom cloud? (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072642)

I think they'd be more interested in viewing the flash and resulting dust cloud, not the mushroom cloud.


...phil

What if... (2)

garbs (121069) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072644)

What if, the Americans did do this.

The Soviets would think, I'll go one up better, and detonate a nuke in the center of the sun, and turn day into night...




--

more commentary on the commentary (3)

aunchaki (94514) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072658)

the whole idea behind nuking the moon strikes me as such a sad commentary on the Cold War that I had to post. The thinking behind this was such a pissing match it astounds me -- but here it is.

Sad Commentary? -- surely. Astouding? -- maybe you had to have been there.

I'm feeling like a dinosaur that I can actually remember the Cold War (the end of it, at least, I was born in 1965). I didn't realize until years later how much the Cold War mentality had shaped my childhood. For example, in high school I wrote the government for plans on how to build a nuclear bomb shelter (and got them!). I don't know what disturb me more: that I asked for them or that they sent them to me!

In recent years I've worked with people a decade or so younger than myself and have found that they lack that visceral, subconcious understanding of what it was like. It's the same odd feeling I still get when I hang out at the pool with my younger friends. They (born after the early 70's) don't have small-pox vaccination scars. It took me a while -- staring blankly at their left shoulders -- until I figured out what was missing.

Secret Govt Plans (5)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072660)

This may be considered 'off topic' - I consider it 'meta-topic', and all this may just be an emergent phenomenon of the 'info age' but I'm seeing a lot of people going public and expressing disbelief in many of the 'plans' exposed by govts., whereas it may just be perfectly 'normal' contigency planning. Folks: govt's almost always 'plan' for every imaginable situation possible, and thankfully few of them ever come to pass. E.g., a local city bought a truckload of "this city is under martial law" in preparation for Y2K, is just one example. Naturally they try to keep it under wraps for public relations purposes, so as not to spook the public to riot. It doesn't mean we should run around screaming "the govt threatened to impose martial law!". I'm sure there's even a 'plan' for alien invasion, and you may not like what it entails, but it's probably there, waiting to be exposed so everyone can be shocked at what they were planning to do. Imagine if a city near a river felt exposed to flooding so the city wisely makes plans to deal with it in private, because if word got out a segment of the population would start panicking about a 'coming flood that they're not telling us about', when it may or may not.

Small Potatoes (2)

derrickh (157646) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072664)

This is nothing compared to some of the stuff guys will do to impress women.

This is basically the same thing, except instead of a pretty girl, it's other countries the US is trying to impress.

USA: Hey Europe, check it out, I can build an atomic bomb! Wanna go to the malt shop?

USSR: Big deal. I can put a man in space! So Europe, how 'bout we catch a movie later on Friday.

USA: Ignore that loser, Europe. That's nothing. I bet I can blow up the moon! By the way, did you have any plans for prom?

D

ick (1)

DGregory (74435) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072666)

God... is anyone seeing the consequences of what could happen if they blew up the moon? If they blew up small nukes on the moon, I'm not so sure that people without telescopes would see it and go "wow, I better not mess with the big, strong US of A!!" if they blew up big nukes, well they could potentially (without much difficulty since the moon is quite a bit smaller than the earth) blow it up entirely. The oceans wouldn't be held back any longer by the lunar pull (tides), and IANAA (I'm not an astronomer) but IIRC, the moon helps keep the earth in orbit around the Sun, and has other important benefits to life on earth.

*shakes head*
I can't even believe that they were considering that, it simply disgusts me that our government would do that.

CHA (1)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072668)

nuff said

Re:And they should have done it (1)

luckykaa (134517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072670)

The USSR probably had the technology to put a nuke on the moon before the US. If they had done this, would the US have thought that they would never win against the might of the mighty Soviet Union?

I wonder why I'm even responding to this......

Nukes the most visible sign of CW (1)

RobertW103 (54252) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072671)

Yes, the nuke race was the most visible sign of the arms race, but the actual war was fought in the third world, places like Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan. This was a war of government grabs. The two countries did not directly fight, but rather "supported" the actual warring factions with arms and money. We knew exactly how much the USSR had and the so called "missle gap" was non existent. Nixon knew that as veep but Kennedy did not. That was why he was able to pound Nixon during the debates. Nixon could not divulge what he knew without tiping off the other side that we knew their abilites and endangering our agents in the field. So the whole arms race was kind of stuck in an endless loop. Next i while i keeps on increasing. The history of the Cold War is really a scary but interesting read. Read up, it explains why France is 80% nuclear but the US is scared to death of the stuff.

What mushroom cloud? (2)

Arnaud (97502) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072673)

It was clear the main aim of the proposed detonation was a PR exercise and a show of one-upmanship. The Air Force wanted a mushroom cloud so large it would be visible on earth,' he said yesterday. 'The US was lagging behind in the space race.'

I highly doubt there would have been a mushroom cloud on the moon. If I remember correctly a mushrom cloud is formed because the slight decrease in air pressure going up makes it a lot easier for the shockwave to move in that direction. At a certain point this effect becomes less important and the cloud becomes more or less spherical, hence the mushroom. On the moon there is no atmosphere to speak of, so I would expect a more spherical cloud.

Public relations (2)

adjensen (58676) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072675)

...by the same token, it would be interesting to see what other things we've done in the last fifty years have been undertaken solely for their public relations benefits. The whole point of actually dropping the bombs on Japan was to "convince" them to give up, rather than fight on.

The whole "race to the moon" gimmick was largely that -- a PR scheme intended to show US superiority. Given that we haven't been back in almost thirty years, and we've largely abandonded manned missions to anywhere but our own atmosphere, the "Rah-rah" crowd got what they wanted and turned it over to the budget guys who whacked anything that cost over a set amount, regardless of what the results might be.

We may not see a manned mission to Mars unless there's some sort of compelling PR reason to do so.

Re:And they should have done it (1)

pyrotic (169450) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072689)

I support the death penalty for children too. Eight last year I think. A great source of pride.

Nuke the moon, Nuke Vietnam, Nuke Korea (3)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072694)


The early cold war years are often characterised by generals just itching to try out the new nuclear toy. With politicians often being the controlling factor preventing them.

Thats the scary bit, politicians acting as the only buffer.

Yes, along with black helicopters..... (1)

blogan (84463) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072695)

$Sarcasm = True;

Of course they wanted to blow up the moon. They wouldn't want anyone to find out how the faked the moon landing. What better way then to blow it up and destroy the evidence. Besides, during the Reagan administration, they were doing "Star Wars", which meant building a large Death Star. Sure, the article sites 1958 as the starting date and the man didn't "land" on the moon until 1969, but that's just what the man wants you to think. Besides, they got one of those little Roswell bastards, and they wanted to give the others the message that they better fly their ships correctly so we can have a good one to research. None of the busted up ones. Those don't do the NSA any good.

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

CrusadeR (555) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072700)

Agressively expansionist?

Hardly. This statement is indicative of the way most Americans completely misunderstand Russian culture and their world outlook.

NATO was formed *before* the Warsaw Pact, the US detonated nuclear devices before the Soviets (and even used them militarily, something the Russians have never done).

Russia fears the West because of the numerous incursions over their long history by European invaders (the Teutons, and more recently the two World Wars). They had horrible, horrible losses to the '41-45 German invasion, so after the war they wanted to ensure this could never, ever, happen again... hence the puppet states along their border and the partitioning of Germany. The Americans couldn't understand their concerns, although ironically enough, Winston Churchill did and even privately agreed to it with Stalin (sort of partitioning the world itself into security zones).

The Soviets were never seriously interested in "World Conquest", any more than America ever has been.

Re:And they should have done it (1)

matman (71405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072701)

Is it just me, or did I hear the grand imperial wizard saying about the same thing on Jerry Springer? ;)

It is sad, but... (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072702)

...not as sad as the big Nike swoosh that will be carved into the moon in 20 years ;)

Strange (2)

lbrlove (164167) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072704)

Given that we sent the world a signal not once but twice in 1945, would it not have been redundant to do it again in the late 50's? Yes, it was a different show of force, but would we explode a nuke to give 'em the what-for everytime we were losing at something? The Soviets take more medals in the Olympics, so we blow up a track-and-field stadium?!

I think Ike missed an opportunity with this one. He could have eroded Americans' faith in government a full year or two before he actually did with the U2 incident.

-L

What about Bikini Atoll? (2)

justin_saunders (99661) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072725)

That's a pretty "sad" place to nuke, given that people actually lived there and have since become dispossesed and radiation sick thanks to the good ol' US Government.
Cheers,
j.

Re:Considering the alternative (2)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072727)

You don't think the Soviet union was deterred by American weapons? Then you are in the minority. Consider also that the US was unaware at the time that spies had sold them instructions on how to build their own such weapons.

But you are right in asserting that nuking on the moon was unnecessary, since it did in fact turn out to be unnecessary. But the military thinks up lots and lots of ideas that they never use.

Incidentally, it may have been a 'pissing contest,' but it meant the difference between slavery and liberty, as the citizens of Georgia or Eastern Europe could attest.

"When I'm singing a ballad and a pair of underwear lands on my head, I hate that. It really kills the mood."

Re:What mushroom cloud? (1)

matman (71405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072730)

Well, there'd be enough dust, and some gravity to form something like a mushroom cloud. Either way, the flash of the detonation would probably be visible.

Re:USSR used to use nukes for civil engineering (1)

jgibson (14889) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072732)

Similar plan was developed by the Dept. of Transportation to clear a mountian and make way for a freeway in California during the '50s.

Didn't pan out,

It wasn't so much that it didn't pan out, as that the Atmospheric nuclear Test Ban treaty was signed before they could carry out the plan.

Re:Pepsi/Pizza Hut and the Moon. (2)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072733)

Would someone care to make an energy consumption estimate for this baby ... Probably something like the power of 2637 large nuclear plants ...

Re:Nukes on the moon? (2)

troc (3606) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072734)

Here's [space1999.net] a website all about the UK Sci-Fi series Space: 1999.


Not sure it's been shown much outside the UK :)


Basic premise is a nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon explodes taking the moon out of Earth orbit and off into deep space - carrying with it 'Moonbase Alpha' and crew.


Excellent wobbly BBC sets and some of the best space ships (Eagles) ever in a sc-fi ever at all ever.


Did I say the space ships were cool?


troc

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

G Neric (176742) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072735)

What deterrance? Do you think the soviet union would have backed down just because the US ...

Yes, I do. The Soviet Union backed down because of U.S. military power on a number of occasions. They would have backed down even more if we didn't have so many sissies on our side who started bawling every time we stood up to them on the playground.

The very same sissies are now thinking, "how can he compare the Cold War to a playground?" Gotcha :) didn't I? :)

The Price of War (2)

Alex Pennace (27488) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072737)

In retrospect, some of the things both sides did during the Cold War seems rather cruel and selfish. Both sides put live animals into space with no intention of safe retrieval, for example. And, they also planned on nuking the moon.

Keep in mind that, for all intents and purposes, we were at war with the USSR, and rest assured that they'll do those awful things if we don't.

So ask yourself: if it ever came down to it, would you value the moon over your freedom?

Re:more commentary on the commentary (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072738)

Human stupidity is always astounding.... or not, once you become cynical enough.

Re:USSR used to use nukes for civil engineering (2)

prodeje (58779) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072739)

everybody's dying of cancer in the surrounding villages ... LOL

What the fuck is wrong with you? People dying of cancer... LOL!!! Real funny.

Re:Bond or Austin Powers Plot? (1)

j_d (26865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072740)

what about...
"CHA"

Wouldn't it affect the earth? (1)

FiDooDa (23111) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072754)

would blowing a nuke that big affect the earth? I'm no astronomer but wouldn't it affect the moon's mass (after explosion) and in the same way it's orbit? or earth gravity? isn't it all related?

Re:At least they didn't plan to blow it up (2)

PhoboS (21600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072759)

This is intresting, because it is a really, really stupid idea.

I recently watched a show on TV where they showed what would happen if the moon was removed. Apparently it is the moon that keeps earths rotation approximately stable. If it was removed the earth axis would be all over the place, and that would make day and night and the seasons an stuff like that go rather wierd.

Since the moon is moving farher away from the earth all the time (due to friction from the tide) there are even people who think about stealing a moon from one of the other planets when it gets too far away.

Re:At least they didn't plan to blow it up (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072762)

I has always heard that in absence of the moon, our polar tilt would constantly change, giving us a completly unlivable earth. What did he think it would do?

I hope you're just a troll... (1)

lohen (122373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072763)

...rather than a nationalist fanatic. The government is representative of the public. Gung-ho displays of military might to frighten neighbours does not make a country well-liked, nor yet any kind of 'ideal'. Do you know just how many countries the US has bombed since WW2, and that not one country ended up as a freer and more democratic nation on account of the bombing? Thanks to poorly planned and executed acts of intervention, such as in Kosovo, the US has really screwed a lot of people over and spent mega-bucks doing so. Nobody looks to it as a beacon of anything but profitability these days, since it's hard to call people still dropping their load on Iraq after all these years 'decent'. (No, they're not alone - Britain are still there too - but without them the bombs would have stopped falling and sanctions would have been relaxed enough for better food, education and medical care by now).

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072764)

And how about the numerous dictators around the world that would get all the support from the US they wanted just by being anti communistic?
Never mind the fact that they were slaying entire populations, they were on our side!!!!

Jeroen

Re:Nuke the moon, Nuke Vietnam, Nuke Korea (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072765)

Nuke Redmond

silly person have you not seen the sorceror's apprentice?

Re:Nuke the moon, Nuke Vietnam, Nuke Korea (1)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072766)

That's funny, it was only a few years before that those same generals helped save Britain and the rest of Western Europe during WWII.

generational differences in gut response to nukes? (1)

jacks0n (112153) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072767)

I think people of different ages would respond differently to this news. Many of us here are post cold-war kids, or just caught the end of it. The space race is as distant as the mythology that missions were named for. To me, this seems like just more inscrutable posturing by old-testament god[s]. I am barely able to comprehend the hostility people my senior by only a few years have for Russians (Soviets...), and completely unable to fathom my grandparents reactions to Germans and Japanese. Oh, sure, on an intellectual level we get it. I've read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and coutless other histories, but that's not the same as feeling it. So try to avoid the obvious "this is incredibly stupid" and "look how dumb/incompetent/out of touch the govenment/military is" Thats certainly my gut reaction too. But maybe we just don't get it. They must have had some reason. It must have made some sort of sense. Right?

The REAL reason WHY they did'nt do it (4)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072768)

Look at the timing. 1958? Exactly the time when lots of UFO activities have been reported. It's clear now: the people 'out there' talked the President into not doing it to protect their moon base.

Re:Considering the alternative (2)

guran (98325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072769)

True

You can have whatever opinion about the Soviet domestic politics. On the foreign arena the two superpowers had more in common than they liked to pretend. After Lenin, Moscow gave up the quest for a communist world domination. They were much more interested in protecting their own borders. (and their own asses)

The "pissing contest" and the puppet governments in eastern europe fits right into that view.

The doctrine was "Show the world how powerful we are and make sure our neighbours behave." exactly the same doctrine as the US of A.

Re:USSR used to use nukes for civil engineering (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072770)

Harbour in Alaska anyone?

Seriously, these kind of ideas are the things that make the movie industry include "mad scientists" in movies. You'd think that people that are intelligent enough to understand nuclear physics would be intelligent enough to avoid nuking anything people would get close to. (Perhaps not significant in the moon case.)

OTOH perhaps the reason they wanted to nuke stuff is that they didn't understand nuclear physics. (I'm perfetly aware that Sagan was an intelligent man, and I don't think he proposed this.)

yes, contingency plan. (1)

G Neric (176742) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072786)

moderate that guy up! It's a very good point.

I'll add something completely unrelated: ... and any engineer/scientist who has lost their boyish wonder at the fun of blowing things up, should retire and take up hall patrol or something. This contingency plan would have been a blast to work on :)

Re:Space 1999 (1)

Pathetic Coward (33033) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072788)

You haven't seen the show, obviously :-)

Re:I hope you're just a troll... (1)

luckykaa (134517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072791)

Do you know just how many countries the US has bombed since WW2,

Its somewhere in the region of 30 isn't it? Germany bombing England worked about as well in WW2.

Re:Nuclear might... (1)

hal200 (181875) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072793)

Or 2001...Anyone got a spare monolith lying around? We could really freak the hell out of some astronomers!

Somewhere, Robert Heinlein is smiling (3)

Industrial Disease (16177) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072794)

A variation on this story that I heard (NPR, probably) was that Nike was going to put a giant "swoosh" in orbit to cast a shadow of its corporate logo on the moon. This was about the same time that Starship Troopers came out in theaters, so I couldn't help but think of Heinlein's old short story "The Man Who Sold the Moon". D. D. Harriman, the protagonist of the story, was trying to drum up financial support for a corporate moon shot. In one scene, he visited the head of the "Moka-Cola" beverage company with a button of the logo of their competitor "6+" superimposed on the moon. (I'm sure you've all seen the latest "Make 7-Up Yours" commercial, right?) Another scene was an attempt to scare up support from the U.S. government with another moon button, this one bearing a hammer and sickle.
--

Not quite Space: 1999, but close... (2)

jht (5006) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072795)

In Space: 1999, the moon was hurled from orbit by a nuclear blast. Granted, the blast was from a runaway reaction of nuclear waste, not a "bomb" per se, but it's still a nuclear blast.

It's a little weird to see that people were seriously considering the idea of a big blast. Though the premise of the show was admittedly far-fetched, I would think anything big enough to be seen clearly from Earth would have a risk of affecting the Moon's orbit - not necessarily knocking it out. But the risk of changing the orbit enough to affect tides, weather, and such on Earth would not be insignificant, I'd expect.

Yet another reason to not screw with H-bombs. And here's a semi-scary thought. Space: 1999 was a series in the mid '70s, when lunar exploration was real, and the expectation was we'd be focusing on lunar exploration - a moonbase seemed like a somewhat reasonable stretch to assume we'd have by then (and the stapler guns they shot & the Eagle spacecraft were real cool). 1999 came and went, and all we have to show for it is a rickety old space station (Mir), another one being built behind schedule and over budget, and no realistic hope of going anywhere other than Earth orbit for the forseeable future. A pity.

- -Josh Turiel

Re:Mushroom cloud? (1)

Maurice (114520) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072796)

Oxygen is not flammable. Burning is an oxidation reaction and there is no oxidizer that would oxidize oxygen. Unless you introduce large amounts of fluorine in the atmosphere.

I knew I had this somewhere... (1)

lohen (122373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072797)

I had a feeling someone would ask that question, so I've just been trawling my hard disk for this little piece of data. Basically, these are the countries which the US have bombed, and it didn't help their political situation once (though it often did a lot for the American politicians of the time, who got to look like big strong leaders for a change).

China 1946-46
Korea 1950-53
China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Guatemala 1967-69
Cambodia 1969-70
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1880s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-2000
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072798)

Almost all (if not all) of the examples you mentioned were a direct result of local revolutions against totalitairian regimes (most supported by the US). The sovjet union simply aided the local communists, instead of the local dictator.

Jeroen

Re:USSR used to use nukes for civil engineering (1)

I R A Aggie (32996) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072799)

Similar plan was developed by the Dept. of Transportation to clear a mountian and make way for a freeway in California during the '50s.

And a new canal across Nicaragua. Crazy stuff, they must not have appreciated how bad surface blasts are.

James

Re:Considering the alternative (1)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072800)

I'd rather live in Cold War Chile or Argentina than Cold War Poland. I suppose you think it was totally wrong for us to be allied with Stalin against Hitler, too?

"When I'm singing a ballad and a pair of underwear lands on my head, I hate that. It really kills the mood."

Re:At least they didn't plan to blow it up (3)

jhesse (138516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072801)

Er... was.
Unfortunatly, Alexander Abian passed away last year. His collegues in sci.physics and sci.math miss him very much.
Abian's Iowa State homepage(last updated 4/28/97) [iastate.edu]
Abian's obituary [demon.co.uk]
A tribute by A. Plutonium [swarthmore.edu]



--
"I have also mastered pomposity, even if I do say so myself." -Kryten

Re:more commentary on the commentary (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072802)

> In recent years I've worked with people a decade or so younger than myself and have found that they lack that visceral, subconcious understanding of what it was like.

I think there was lots of variation even at the time. My elementary school had "duck and cover" drills, but I never realized what they were really all about until I went off to college and met a guy from Miami, Florida. The kids there knew exactly what the drills were for, and even took bottles of drinking water to school with them. The CMC had apparently terrorized them much more than it did us out west.

> I don't know what disturb me more: that I asked for them or that they sent them to me!

My hometown went through a brief fad of buying fiberglass prefabs that you were supposed to assemble/bury in your back yard. It was fairly irrational - it happened quite a few years after the worst part of the scare - and most ended up being used for fish ponds or children's swimming pools. I don't think anyone in town actually buried one. I guess some entrepreneur figured out that he could hit a certain nerve and cash in on it.

But hey, in another generation we'll be reminiscing about Y2K bunkers.

--

Re:Not quite Space: 1999, but close... (1)

foistboinder (99286) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072803)

I haven't done the math, so this is just a guess, but I bet detonating the earth's entire inventory of nukes on the moon's suface won't change the moon's orbit in any significant way.

Nuking the moon (1)

Frijoles (16015) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072830)

1958
----
US Air Force: We need something to show our power.
Response: Let's nuke the moon.

2000
----
US Air Force: We need something to show our power.
Response: We call it a "laser". This "laser" will be placed on the moon and will cost '1 million dollars'.

Why the moon sucks. (3)

Munky_v2 (124274) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072832)

It's like that one TV commercial here in the US.

Man first went to the moon 30 years ago, and discovered that it was NOT made out of cheese.

We haven't been back since.



"Behold the power of cheese."


Munky_v2 [dialug.org]
"Warning: You are logged into reality as root..."

Just think of the advertiseing potential of this (1)

Da Unicorn (941) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072834)

With the advances in shape charge technology, we could offset the cost of 'nukeing the moon by incorporating the proper chemicals (for color), along with properly prepared shaped charges. We could then sell Micky Ds on a huge yellow M shaped cloud arising from the western terminator, with an equally impressive red ball from Coca Cola on the Eastern terminator.

Moderators: Please do the usual, gimme a -5

Re:You make it sound like a bad thing... (1)

jflynn (61543) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072836)

If Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren't a good enough example already of why you don't want to play with nukes, I really doubt hitting the moon would provoke that much more fear.

It seems very likely though that useful seismological research could be carried out on the moon's interior if you had the right sensors set up over it's surface when you set off a nuke underneath it.

Nukes are tools we'll likely need for space development, just don't let the politicians play with them until they grow up a bit :)

The US and the UN (1)

lohen (122373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1072837)

The action in Kosovo was not condoned by the UN, nor could it be under international law. It did horrific damage to the country while at the same time triggering a massive increase in Serb atrocities - they couldn't get at us, so they took it out on the Kosovans. It didn't help anybody or anything except the wilfully violent image of the USA and Milosevic's political strength (it gave him an excuse to crack down on his political opposition, almost all of whom were against NATO's actions anyway).

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