Re: Nuke Weapon Mishaps--was Re: Bill Joy on the CBS evening news

From: S.J. Van Sickle (
Date: Fri Jan 05 2001 - 15:13:40 MST

On Fri, 5 Jan 2001, John Marlow wrote:

> In 1957, the Air Force dropped a ten megaton nuclear
> bomb outside Albuquerque. In 1967, two, twenty four
> megaton bombs in North Carolina; five of six failsafes
> were tripped on one bomb—the one with the parachute,
> mind you. The other one they never found. The chute
> didn't open and it went into soft ground. Somewhere.
> It's still there. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was
> one-fiftieth of one megaton.

And how many of these weapons detonated? None?

> Nuclear warheads do not eat through their own
> containment mechanisms.

And nanoreplicators would? Why?

> Three more bombs off Delaware and two in Texas the
> same year. Another off Georgia the next year. Two more
> on Spain in 1966. Four more on Greenland in '68…
> Detonators have gone off. The same year we torpedoed
> our own sub with two nukes on board. Classified for
> twenty five years. It's still going on; it just hasn't
> been declassified yet. The Russian record is, of
> course, far worse.

And despite all these mishaps, there were no nuclear explosions.

> As to reactors: Browns Ferry, I believe it was, nearly
> burned to the ground because some idiot with a LIGHTER
> or a candle was poking it into FLAMMABLE
> insulation--AND the redundant wiring ran right
> alongside the primary wiring. Windscale, Chernobyl,
> Three Mile Island all released radiation into the
> atmosphere.

And despite the most appalling of human stupidity, all these accidents
*combined* have killed only a small fraction of those who have died in
other industrial accidents.

> We release self-replicating nannites,
> ONCE, and it's over.

Why? Nanotech is not magic.

You might find "Some Limits to Global Ecophagy by Biovorous
Nanoreplicators, with Public Policy Recommendations" by Robert Freitas at:


> We are not competent to control nanotechnology

Possible. It is a more difficult problem than nuclear weapons and power,
since nanotech does not require exotic, easily controlled materials.
However, it is far from obvious that it is hopeless, as you seem to think.


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