Welcome to the Utopia Forums! Register a new account
The current time is Mon Mar 25 11:45:15 2019

Utopia Talk / Politics / Plasma nukes, like a meteorite!
Thu Mar 01 14:23:28
Putin shows new Russian nuclear weapons: ‘It isn’t a bluff’

MOSCOW (AP) — An underwater drone armed with a nuclear warhead powerful enough to sweep away coastal facilities and aircraft carriers.

A hypersonic vehicle impossible to intercept as it flies in a cloud of plasma “like a meteorite.”

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia has these new strategic weapons and many more, declaring: “No one has listened to us. You listen to us now.”

Putin unveiled the stunning catalog of doomsday machines in his annual state-of-the-nation speech, saying that Russia had to build them to counter the potential threat posed by the U.S. missile defense system.

And in a touch of dark humor, he invited Russians to join a Defense Ministry contest to name some of the weapons.

It wasn’t immediately possible to assess whether the weapons could do what Putin said or how ready they are for deployment, but they would represent a major technological breakthrough that could dramatically bolster Russia’s military capability, boost its global position and trigger a new arms race.

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said the Defense Department isn’t surprised by Putin’s claims of new nuclear weapons, adding that the U.S. military is prepared to defend the nation.

White told Pentagon reporters that U.S. missile defense has never been about Russia.

Washington has consistently argued that missile defense systems in Europe aren’t aimed at Moscow but designed instead to defend against threats from Iran, North Korea and rogue threats.

Putin has shrugged off those arguments and said Thursday that the U.S. plans to develop its missile defense system would “eventually devalue the Russian nuclear arsenal if we sit with our arms folded.”

He said the U.S. has underestimated Russia’s ability to mount a response, aiming for a “unilateral military advantage that could eventually allow it to dictate its terms in other areas.”

The United States should now revise its Russia policy and engage in a serious dialogue on global security, he said.

“You will have to assess that new reality and become convinced that what I said today isn’t a bluff,” he said. “It’s not a bluff, trust me.”

He said the creation of the new weapons has made NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense “useless,” putting an end to what he described as years of Western efforts to sidetrack and weaken Russia.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful restrictions and sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies has now happened,” he said. “You have failed to contain Russia.”


“We aren’t threatening anyone, we aren’t going to attack anyone, we aren’t going to take anything from anyone,” he said. “The growing Russian military power will guarantee global peace.”

Thu Mar 01 16:39:54
Straight out of a Bond villain playbook. I love Putin.

Although insisting "this isnt a bluff, I swear" sounds suspiciously like a bluff.
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Thu Mar 01 20:30:12

I wonder where he got the uranium?

smart dude
Thu Mar 01 21:11:47
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Thu Mar 01 22:23:56
^Doesn't know a joke when it kicks him in the ass.
Thu Mar 01 23:25:49
My God. An underwater Nuke.
Fri Mar 02 03:16:56
I really believe that when Putin tells me that, he means it.
large member
Fri Mar 02 04:34:10
The underwater drone is actually about triggering earthslides on the continental shelf. I have mentioned it before.

The whole posturing is about safeguarding deployment abroad in territory not linked by land to the USSR, sorry Russia.

Putin is actually stepping back from his "fuck you, we have nukes" anchor to deployment in Syria after Turkey shot down a plane. It worked, but is very brinkmanshippy.
Fri Mar 02 09:47:59
Wait. What you are saying is Putin has created an Earthquake machine?
large member
Fri Mar 02 10:18:51
Subject to geological instability - yah.

Though not an earthquake machine in any technical sense (more a rockslide machine), I doubt naval bases will notice the difference. Or any unfortunate collateral damage mega-cities.
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Fri Mar 02 16:15:20

Hopefully, he doesn't drop it on Yellowstone.

large member
Fri Mar 02 17:56:53
We are talking about torpedoes. So, yah, let hope he does not drop them on Yellowstone.


More Putin mind-set. Amazing more that he admits it clearly (he has limited himself to calling the dissolution the greatest tragedy of the last century earlier)

KALININGRAD, March 2. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that, if he had an opportunity to change something in the history of the country, he would like to prevent the disintegration of the Soviet Union. He stressed, however, that he does not want to change the present day for another historical period.

The head of state said as much answering questions during the Truth and Justice media forum organized by the Russian Popular Front.

When asked which of the events that happened in Russia he wanted to change, Putin answered, "The collapse of the Soviet Union," while his answer to the question what historical period he would like to live in was the following, "Today." You see, all my ancestors in the past were peasant serfs, while I am the president," the head of state explained ironically.

When asked whether he has a dream, which has not come true, the president said that his goal is clear. "I want our country to be successful, powerful, stable, balanced and looking ahead," he stressed.

Hot Rod
Revved Up
Fri Mar 02 19:28:42

Sorry, I didn't read the whole thing. I thought they were missiles launched from a submarine.

But, I can see Mad Dog quietly putting nukes back aboard our subs.

large member
Fri Mar 02 19:34:46
Russia does not have the same vulnerability.

You understand what those torpedoes do, right? They can cause a rockslide that will trigger a tsunami able to wipe out the eastern seaboard, or western seaboard, or both.

From outside US territorial waters incidentally. So you would not technically even be attacked.
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Fri Mar 02 19:50:33

You mean the start a rock slide on the ocean floor?

That's interesting, but if they use it they will be swamped with nukes since they are the only ones that can do it.

Fri Mar 02 19:52:14
7 million years from now an intelligent descendant race of raccoons will be teaching university courses on how an ancient species of intelligent hairless monkies destroyed themselves in nuclear hell fire over tribal angst.
Hot Rod
Revved Up
Fri Mar 02 20:03:10

You may think you are kidding.

large member
Sat Mar 03 03:06:45
I doubt it. There is nothing surprising about tool-using apes becoming extinct. Their geologists might not minute changes in geology indicating something cool took place, but you would need to add a few 10s of million years for that to register properely.

The US has survivable nukes?
large member
Sat Mar 03 03:39:15
Also, I am not sure about that nuclear retaliation.

The window for doing that is pretty small. Say 48 hours at most before everything gets sucked into rescue and reconstruction mode.

The attack duplicates a natural phenonoma. Rock slides do happen.

Either strike back on circumstantial evidence at best (there will not be much in the way of that), or not at all.

Even if the circumstantial evidence improves, you still have rescue and reconstruction work ongoing. Do the rescue workers want Russian nukes added into the mix?
werewolf dictator
Sat Mar 03 04:43:54
usa has no credible deterrent against russian attacks that kill under 150 million americans [russians can do this any time they feel whim with no worries].. since retaliation would just lead to the usa losing even worse
large member
Sat Mar 03 04:59:14
Also, lulz@20 second infographic video format.

The Russians are tailoring Putin's speech to fit presidential security breifings.

3x20 second bits to shock and awe the attention deficient Potus.
Sat Mar 03 09:33:56
"When asked whether he has a dream, which has not come true, the president said that his goal is clear. "I want our country to be successful, powerful, stable, balanced and looking ahead," he stressed."

At the risk of being labeled a Russian meddler I believe him. If you want to see hardened corruption look no further than the U.S. and all the bullshit cock fighting currently using Russia as a scapegoat.

There is a nasty undercurrent(pun intended) sweeping the Nation and it isn't Putin's missiles.
Sat Mar 03 15:50:14

You are barking up the wrong tree.

Rockslides do happen. But 20M nuclear warheads going off - even under water - have a very distinct signature that would be trivially detectable by any major power with sonar or seismic sensors or gamma ray detectors in space - and given the extensive networks already set up to detect tests for the CTBT, and the way sound and seismic waves travel, it would be detected very quickly by a large number of countries.

Attribution at some point would be unavoidable.

So basically all the major powers and mid-ranking powers. None of the major military powers (and certainly none of the P5) would, at some point, not be in the slightest doubt as to what had happened or who had done it. Nor I doubt would the second tier countries.

And Russia is the only country with this capability. Granted, there would be the outside possibility of a country doing a false flag operation, but that would not likely hold anyone up in launching the retaliation.

Retaliation would be certain.

But there are other things to consider before we even get to that stage.

Initial retaliation could potentially take place before the tsunami hit (depending on the geographical feature targeted) - it could take a a few hours for the wave to hit. It takes considerably less time to launch a counter-force response as a pre-amble to WW-III.

Strategic consideration here would be that such attack would only make sense if the Russians intended to use the resulting disruption and commitment of logistics to rescue and relief efforts as a window to engage on large scale conventional warfare (likely in Europe). Such an effort would likely need a counterforce attack by Russia, which would again probably be timed to occur during the same period.

Given the new SARMAT missile has FOB capability (potentially allows for trajectories that minimise detection, e.g. over south pole), much flatter trajectories with short radar tracking times, and short burn times to reduce launch detection. The strategic calculation would be that such an attack is likely underway. Unlike GMD etc. SARMAT is the mainstay replacement for Russia's land triad, so will be present in strategically significant numbers.

So the overwhelming strategic pressures on the US at this point would be to engage in an immediate counterforce attack using it's land based silos to target Russian conventional and strategic forces.

Now, while it is highly likely that the use of such a weapon would be detected and attributed to Russia, the reverse is not true. If there was natural landslide leading to a large Tsunami, given the other dangerous new features of the Russian arsenal - a fleet of low detection, radar evading, highly manouvreable land based weapons that can approach the US from abnormal trajectories - the question is whether the Pentagon would demonstrate restraint and wait to see if their missile fields blow up as a test as to whether their gamma ray detection gear cocked up or their eggheads were too slow in analysing the seismic signal?

I would say there is a high likelihood of "Mr President, we cannot wait for the eggheads to analyse the seismic signals, Russian hypersonic glide vehicles could be being deployed over south America from de-orbiting sarmats even as we speak, we must use our weapons now or lose them".

Basically, for all the rather flimsy concerns the Russians have about GMD, the new arsenal they have put together greatly exceeds anything the US have in terms of destabilising moves.

They've put together an arsenal that looks absolutely designed to engage a first strike (rather than being a robust second strike) and which breaks many previous norms, and pretty much guarantees in the medium term space based weaponry.

This based on the supposed hypothetical possibility that the GMD bases could host IRBMs that the US simply doesn't have (unlike Russia).

Why you continue to view this the other way around I genuinely don't know. Sure you can say that GWB is dumb for giving Putin the cover on this, but that is only dumb in the sense that it allows people to adopt your position, which is to be indifferent to the increasingly insanely escalatory and globally dangerous stance Russia has taken with respect to nuclear weapons and instead blame America.

Reliance on tactical nuclear weaponry, "escalatory" de-escalation, doomsday weapons that run (small) risks of triggering. These are all reckless, reckless acts.

I expect the likely result from the US will be:
1. Weapons stationed in space.
2. Next generation of US ICBMs will be FOB capable too.
3. More subs at sea.
4. RNEP, because why the hell not.

As for the air breathing nuclear cruise missile, the US abandoned that one in the 60's because it was so insane. It basically kills anything under (as in within a hundred km either side) of the flightpath. I seriously hope Putin is just bluffing on that one. It's basically the Cobalt bomb from Dr Strangelove if used at any scale.

Sat Mar 03 15:56:54

Does the same thinking apply to Russia?

It seems to me then that if the US killed 30% of the Russian population in retaliation, then the Russian's would not retaliate because if they did, that would lead to further retaliation... etc. etc.

The idea that the US would not retaliate for what would be the single greatest act of mass murder ever perpetuated on the planet in human history is laughable.

They would burn Russia to the ground, because a country that had killed 150m once would easily do it a second time or a third time, and taking that hit is going to make you much weaker in the medium to long term. So you wouldn't wait. You'd go straight in for the kill. The choice is annihilate the threat entirely and risk death, or risk death anyway as you would be throwing yourself on the idea of restraint from a country that had just demonstrated the most ruthless and psychotic act in human history.

And the world would gladly chip in, because the moment someone kills hundreds of millions, they become a threat to the world.

You simply don't have a proper grasp of the scale of this.

large member
Sat Mar 03 16:29:10
Nice brainstorm, but wrong on detectability I'm afraid.

Careful analysis of seismic data might indicate a pretremor before rockslides and tsunami seismic impact completely dwarf that spike.

Careful analysis of spectral data may or may not collaborate a theory that the rock slide was man-triggered.

But that would take weeks, months, or years to analyse and theorise on and would be independent of early warning systems and nuclear decisionmaking.

A US president is free to treat any rockslide as if it were an attack by another nuclear power. But that seems unlikely.

So no nuclear response within 48 hours based on evidence. And after 48 hours? Well, whats the point?

I am not blaming anyone. We are just watching disregard for Westphalian principles play out in full.

I have warned against that since Kosovo.
large member
Sat Mar 03 16:30:33
Not blaming meaning essentially that Russia is matching disregard with any other country you might want to shake a stick at.
Sat Mar 03 17:17:13
These weapons are things the United States experimented with back in the 60's. The programs were discontinued for the same reasons biological weapons were discontinued. The price of their use would be too terrible for the user, let alone the person on the receiving end.

For example, the nuclear drive missiles, are a technical possibility. But to accomplish it is incredibly "dirty". Basically dumps a huge quantity of dangerous radiation into the upper atmosphere that would fall liberally to the ground, building up the longer the missile or missiles stay aloft.

There was simply no need to do it either. Having missiles perpetually in flight sounds good in theory, but in practice there is really no need for it since ICBM's work just as effectively if launched from the ground.
Sat Mar 03 17:18:17
And then of course there is the issue of what happens if the drive malfunctions.
Sat Mar 03 17:42:05
Re signals - hours to days max.

Earthquakes and nuclear explosions produce very different seismic traces.

Sonar and acoustics will be very different too.

Much more single big spike with trails. Very different power law for the frequency spectrum.

The entire ctbt apparatus is set up for that and works very well. Underwater being a possible place to hide a nuclear test. Turns out it's even worse than underground (much easier to suspend a nuke in a cavity).

Then you have gammas. A few hundred metres of water isn't enough to stop that intensity of gamma radiation, but kilometers is.

So if you compare gamma ray detectors on satellites in orbit, you'll get a distribution of intensities depending on angle of the cord connecting the site and the satellites.

The signal amplitude alone puts it in a spot of being too big to be anything but a nuke going off anyway. GRBs are intense only in so far as they are also a long way away. In terms of amplitude, they are less than a nuke going off (even under a few hundred meters of water) a few hundred km directly below you.

That means:
1. You can instantly rule out cosmic sources (wrong intensity, shouldn't vary in amplitude depending on satellites position)
2. You can locate the source to some degree with two to three satellites within 180 degrees of the point. Two will give you an arc which will come close to your "rockslide" site. Add timing data and you can get a point. Three and you can get position just from varying intensity. Thanks to the interest in GRBs there are quite a lot of civilian high time resolution gamma detectors in orbit, and I assume there are high time resolution military ones given the military use gamma detection and there's no real cost to making them high time resolution.

Both of those methods will give raw data for high probable cause in minutes to hours. Experts eyeballing it could call it with >90% confidence in either case (which is all that would be needed). The liklihood of the acoustics, seismics and gammas all going off at the same time or having a coincidental or alternative cause is minimal. So in practice, the military position would be far more certain than, say, DSP IR plume detection plus radar returns which we know can have rare common causes (dodgy cloud, funny reflections coinciding with either a geomagnetic storm or non military rocket storm).

If this was North Korea before it had nukes and icbms, sure, you might wait for: extensive modelling, analysis of power distributions of the seismic, acoustic and gamma rays to that of an n megaton bomb going off underwater, and radio-isotope analysis of sea spray etc.

But that's because you can afford to.

But, given the context of:
1. This weapon exists
2. The only country possessing it has weapons that can execute a counterforce strike with low response times

All that would be unnecessary. The pentagon would know within an hour whether or not it was a bomb. That's all that matters as if the US believed it had been so attacked, it wouldn't care to pursuade the world.

In any case, China, most US allies would have independently reached the same conclusion.

The real issue is not whether the pentagon can prove an attack was Russia, the real issue is whether they'd wait to check a natural phenomenon was not man made. That is much more concerning. And why Russia is being a bit stupid in creating a weapon such as this. It's unnecessary and more likely to provoke the US into developing a truely effective counterforce arsenal.

Russia developing a first strike arsenal isn't a response to Kosovo. It's creating a nuclear umbrella for conventional war on European countries. This isn't a response to Kosovo, it's Putin's response to Gorbachev - he is one of those that believes Russian security can only be built on the insecurity of its neighbours.

Sat Mar 03 17:48:15
Tl;Dr for signals:

You can rule out natural causes in real time.
Combination of signals would give high confidence to a nuke in real time for military decision makers.

Full modelling plus radio isotope might take days.

But modelling can be done up front, and put on file.

I expect the pentagon already have a "this is what the Russian torpedo going off would look like compared to a natural landslide to sonar and seismics. And this is what it would look like to our gamma ray detectors compared to an underground or atmospheric or space based nuke, and any other known natural phenomenon".

This would mean initial reports world have very high confidence attached to them.

What would take time is convincing other powers.

But the US doesn't need to convince others to respond. That can be done after Russia's gone.

Sat Mar 03 18:36:14
Russian disregard here is far more serious btw.

Nothing the US has done comes close to increasing the liklihood of civilisation ending.

Nor has the US got nearly so an expansive view of what extent it should control other countries nor the degree of oppression acceptable for a govt to deploy against its own people.

The US is far from perfect. But in no way is it morally or practically equivalent to Putin's Russia.
large member
Sun Mar 04 03:41:37
I definately agree that the US might consider upgrading its early warning systems to incorporate such factors. What is another 500 billion after all.

I think we will leave it to more objective writers to make calls on moral and practical equivalency.
Sun Mar 04 04:31:45

It wouldn't need an upgrade.

Two weeks of time for a few engineers or physicists.

I could write a program that could tell you the expected signal for a nuclear explosion at an arbitrary point in the sky in an afternoon.

Give me actual geophysical maps, the instrument parameters etc. and in a month, I can give you something that can tell you from a given signal, where it went off.

Someone who did this sort of thing for a living could do it much faster.

It's fairly trivial.

Plus sonar and seismics have been done already for CTBT.

Honestly, given the intensity difference, the chances of someone letting a bomb off at the exact same time a one in n hundred year geological event occurs is v near zero.

This isn't remotely as complex as you are making out.

The infrastructure exists, the analysis is trivial and can be done ahead of time. Probably, it's already been done. There would be absolutely no need to integrate it into hardware or sensor networks. You could even do it with a paper look up table if you run the code in advance.

Save the money for rods from God and lasers in space instead. That's where this is heading now.

The other important thing to note here is the US currently has a cost for kg to orbit between 20% and 10% of competitors.

If Russia is developing and deploying capabilities that make the outer space treaty redundant then they are making a seriously poor strategic move.

Space X is going to do well on this.

Sun Mar 04 04:33:18
*brainfart 20-25% not to 20%-10%.
Sun Mar 04 04:34:26
Also, reusability means US launch capacity is much higher.

Given the gearing effect here, this is an absolutely awful time to start a strategic arms race.

Sun Mar 04 04:39:24
The net effect here is that Russia is converting a hypothetical issue (secret IRBMs capable of executing an implausibly effective first strike on Russia) into a real issue.

I can only suppose their hope is trying to stoke an arms race to break the US economy while they focus on asymetric warfare.

That should worry Europeans.

All the more so as post brexit UK is likely to share a lot of common interest with Russia via a vis the EU if the exit talks are mishandled. The more bitter, the quicker the UK establishment will come to that realisation.
Sun Mar 04 04:40:40
Basically, your approach is dangerously complacent.
werewolf dictator
Sun Mar 04 08:09:07
“It seems to me then that if the US killed 30% of the Russian population in retaliation, then the Russian's would not retaliate because if they did, that would lead to further retaliation... etc. etc. ”

if usa killed 45 million russians then russia would kill an even higher number of americans.. so usa would lose even worse and russia would win even more.. same goes for any percentage of russians that usa killed [russia would kill even more americans]

so usa can’t do that in retaliation [vs russia first strikes that kill <175 million americans].. their hands are tied and they have no credible deterrence.. all they could really do is whine a lot [the way they do about “2016 electronic pearl harbor”] without doing anything
Sun Mar 04 09:26:25
"It seems to me then that if the US killed 30% of the Russian population in retaliation, then the Russian's would not retaliate because if they did, that would lead to further retaliation... etc. etc. ”

This is one of the dumbest internet conversations ever.
Sun Mar 04 09:33:39

I feel compelled to point out flawed thinking
werewolf dictator
Sun Mar 04 09:56:48
seb’s knowledge of war

“invading iraq is great idea” [in 2002]

“assad will fall any day now” [2012]

“russia can’t easily win nuclear war because usa likes losing more people” [2018]
Sun Mar 04 10:33:10

No. Russia wouldn't win. Russia would be destroyed.

Your idea boils down to "Americans aren't prepared to take casualties so we can kill as many as we like".

This is a county that won't regulate guns despite it literally leading to the slaughter of their own children.

Of course they are going to retaliate. But it won't be tit for tat. They'll bank on being able to execute a counterforce strike.

Plus, America has enough friends who will help rebuild. Russia has no friends. Europe and China and the Stans will not be looking to help rebuild Russia.

large member
Sun Mar 04 10:51:15
Much as I admire the "Secret V-weapons of the Luftwaffe" approach to providing the US military with early warning capability, it still is nothing more than amusing fiction until you can show me the budget allocations.

You would be looking for sonar arrays, full spectral coverage, and seismic monitoring stations allocated specifically to Air Force Space Command.

All this actually does is remove some degree of ambiguity. Right now, Russia may actually think it has suvivable first strike capability. Which is somewhat dangerous.

But its just a variant of missile defence shields that also provide an illusion of survivable first strike capability.

Laid to rest now after...say a trillion dollars has been invested in it.

Rendering opposition technology obsolete is a good way to do an arms race.

But of course, the ambiguity returns as soon as another nation develops and deploys the technology. At that point, a future US warning system may provide credible supporting evidence that the US was attacked.

It would just remain open to question who was behind it. And voila - ambiguity returns.

How many tons of lift capacity does the US currently have per year - and what would the average cost of that capacity be per kg?

China is incidentally already doing recoverable launches. So in the test stages - just like Musk.
werewolf dictator
Sun Mar 04 11:02:57
the idea usa has deterrent to keep nyc and la from being nuked any time russia feels like it.. is just more stupid “duck and cover” propaganda fed to masses.. to keep them from living in fear as they would if they knew the real truth
Sun Mar 04 11:25:57
The deterrent is response capability.

Kind of like legal weapons availability so people can protect their family and self in a wild and crazy world.

I bet my gun is bigger and better than yours!

Sun Mar 04 11:35:29

There's nothing secret about it.

There are sensitive gamma ray detectors already in space that can detect and locate gamma ray burst in fast enough time to track optical telescopes to the phenomenon.

e.g. Swift, Integral, Fermi etc.

Consider the necessary sensitivities for that vs the requirements for detecting a nuke blast.

A GRB is lower amplitude, much higher resolution requirements.

As for the military, we know the Vela satelites were quipped with gamma, xray and neutron packages to detect and track nuclear explosions on earth as early as the 60's.

They are currently hosted on the GPS satelites as part as IONDS.

We know that seismic and sonar detectors and signal processing exist already and can give a decisive answer on whether an event is a man made explosion or not in minutes. And this has been robustly tested thanks to Mr Kim.

You are being a bit daft here - this isn't some super new cool technology.

This is an active programme that has existed since the 60's to monitor the partial and then comprehensive test ban treaty.

Detonating a nuke in the ocean is detectable, and trackable.

Now I think of it a bit more, it's highly likely the necessary modelling work and even validation were done in the 60's; given deep water testing was considered a possible means to cheat the treaty.

Sun Mar 04 11:37:05

jergul seems to be unaware there is a sixty year old programme to detect, locate and attribute nuclear detonations; and that the US an allies already fund and maintain a large network of sensors to do just that as part of enforcement of the CTBT.
Sun Mar 04 11:56:34
"But its just a variant of missile defence shields that also provide an illusion of survivable first strike capability."

An illusion the US does not think it has with respect to Russia (maybe Iran and North Korea). Even the Russian's have changed their story - what they don't like is the supposed potential for those GMBs to be re-equipped as IRBMs without Russia noticing.

"It would just remain open to question who was behind it."

No, because only Russia has this capability.

"How many tons of lift capacity does the US currently have per year - and what would the average cost of that capacity be per kg?"

Well, at the moment more than sufficient. Musk is advertising at $2700 per lb on Falcon 9s at the moment for single use. The potential savings on a reuse factor of 15 flights would be something like 40% savings.

Thing about re-usability though is capacity grows really quickly if the demand is there. For the production capacity that would allow ten flights a year single use, you can increase your number of launches by ten each year.

If the US did decide to do space based weaponry, in ten years it could have a large constellation of satellites up there.

Yes, China can probably catch up within 10 years. Linkspace though is way behind spaceX.

Russia, given the problems it had with Bulava, probably not. It would need to choose between funding space, further conventional modernisation and existing strategic modernisation.

By the time they are in a position to, Putin will be very old, 75-85 I'd say. So you will have a looming succession crisis too.

It's basically inviting an Arms race that will render it second tier.

Sun Mar 04 12:24:41
Jergul, for reference:

The Programme name is UNSDS and realtime data integration and sensor modelling was implemented implemented and operational in 2006 by Sandia national labs - called ICADS.

Meanwhile the CTBTO technical reports on the IMS network reckoned they had near 100% coverage and would be able to detect and identify a nuclear explosion as low as kg yields globally - the biggest problem is screening out low yield tests. A 20MT isn't going to cause that problem.

The bubble collapse cycle is a dead give away too.

So, not V weapons stuff really - tech that was new in the 60s and now been in operation for 30+ years.

large member
Sun Mar 04 12:37:02
The gamma detectors you are citing are pointing in the wrong direction. For detecting a sub-seabed, submerged nuclear detonation through several km of water and 150 km of atmosphere?

Cue Secret V-weapons of the Luftwaffe.

Seismic events are monitored. And often do get the measures right to within a decibel or 5 on the Richter scale. And even the location correct within a few kms.

A nuclear device in isolation is detectable. One immediate followed by a seismic event of a size able to wipe out seaboards. Not so much. A small earthquake type register followed by a massive seismic event.

500 billion into the dedicated observation arrays under the control of the correct authority might make the Russians think they have lost ambiguity.

They are the ones you have to convince. Not me.

Musk's rocket venture lacks unfair advantages that can hinder duplication.

Russia's torpedo technology lacks unfair advantages that can hinder duplication. China is alread working on unconventional torpedo types (I am actually rather surprised Russia beat China past the goal post.

So more ambiguity is on the horizon in any event.

What the US actually needs is a convincing doctrine that clearly shows how it will attribute blame in the case of man-triggered environmental disasters, and how it will respond if such events happen.
large member
Sun Mar 04 14:39:36
This seems a fair summary of the Russian position (we are willing to close pandora's box if part of a comprehensive arms reduction deal).

MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. Russia has completed the trials of a miniaturized nuclear power unit to be installed on cruise missiles and underwater drones, a military-diplomatic source told TASS on Saturday.

Read also
Putin declares creation of unstoppable nuclear-powered missile

"Russia has completed the trials of miniaturized nuclear power units for cruise missiles of unlimited range and for autonomous submersibles of an oceanic multi-purpose system. To date, those technologies have been designed and put into practice only by Russia," the source said.

The source said that Russia had sent signals to "its uncooperative Western partners" in the past, intended to show them "the futility of their attempts to neutralize our strategic potential by the deployment of missile shield elements."

Those signals included a leak about Russia’s project to build underwater drones of unlimited range, which was made on purpose several years ago in a bid to spur a dialogue on global security with Western partners.

"Instead, our Western counterparts have made a serious mistake because of their illusion of superiority and technological advantage. They have chosen to ignore our signals. Now it’s they who have to catch up and bear all due consequences, first of all for the purses of their taxpayers," the source said.

The source described West’s policies regarding Moscow as "strategic blindness to Russia and its capabilities."

"That’s why one of important ideas voiced during the [president’s State of the Nation] address is a proposal to stop fuelling a new arms race and to start searching for ways of preserving peace," he said.

On Thursday, in his speech to the Federal Assembly Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled the most advanced systems of strategic weapons, developed in response to Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and practical deployment of missile shield elements both inside the US and outside its borders.

Among the new cutting-edge weapons are the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons system, a nuclear-armed cruise missile, as well as a dual-capable unmanned underwater vehicle, which is meant for conventional and nuclear missions.

Sun Mar 04 15:34:15

Oh dear.

1. Gamma ray detectors are not directional because... well, gamma rays go through pretty much everything, and putting your gamma ray detector in a thick, lead shield means you just lose your opportunity to spot an event. Also, that's payload that would be better used for pretty much anything else, given the only point in collumnating a detector would be to make it directional, but you can get the direction much much more easily by having several satellites in different orbits all atop incredibly precise atomic clocks.

2. The packages on the NAVSTAR satelites specifically designed to detect neutrons, xrays and Gammas from detonating nuclear weapons are "pointed in the wrong direction"?


"and 150 km of atmosphere"
Pfft. Effectively invisible to gamma rays.

The torp isn't going to go significantly into the ground (too slow to penetrate), so it's just a km of water. Which sounds like a lot but:
1. Gamma ray detectors are incredibly sensitive.
2. Nuclear bombs are incredibly powerful sources of gamma rays.

The hydrophone network already exists.

Nuclear explosions look nothing like the seismic traces of an earthquake. Like I said, totally different power laws. "Immediately followed" is kinda irrelevant. It's not like the rockslide can somehow add noise to the signal that preceded it. Rockslide sounds don't travel back in time.

"500 billion into the dedicated observation arrays under the control of the correct authority might make the Russians think they have lost ambiguity."

Again, I think you are missing the point: the hydrophones and seismic detection networks already exist and have done since the 90's.

I think the Russians already know this. If this was intended as a secret surprise weapon of unidentifiable attacker, they wouldn't be showcasing it so obviously. It's intended instead as a big scary stick to say "we can wipe you out even if you do have missile defense".

large member
Sun Mar 04 15:56:43
Oh dear indeed.


They are directional Seb. Its like you don't know the internet exists.

And what gamma ray sensors are on the NAVSTAR package exactly? You seem to be confusing letters in the greek alphabet.

Nuclear explosions that are not followed by rockslides have a specific seismic signature as the cause is a single explosion with no rippled tremors as you see in earthquakes.

Detection devices almost good enough to sometimes correctly warn of tsunamis? Yepp, they exist.

I think the Russians think the immediate focus will be on the tsunami and that a nuclear response will be difficult to impossible once a small window of opportunity closes.

Its not much of a secret. I have known about the development for years.

And even if deployment of a robust detection system is launched (robust in sense of removing the Russian perception that there is ambiguity), then that would only last until China deploys.

Then one of two countries may have been behind an attack. Who to bomb, if anyone?

I think you can take the Tass article at face value. The Russians will close Pandoras box if part of a greater arms reduction agreement.

A stick is scary only if you believe it will be used. So, yah, Russia is moving towards a usable nuclear arsenal.

It does not matter you might think they will never get it. It matters only if Russia thinks it has it.
Wrath of Orion
Sun Mar 04 16:28:00
Huh? TGF's are detected by gamma ray detectors on satellites that were launched with the intent to study high energy astrophysical phenomena.
Sun Mar 04 16:32:55

Nope, that's not directional. It doesn't "point" in a direction in the same way a telescope does, for example.

That's a *stack* of gamma ray detectors from a particle detector designed that way in order to calculate momentum from sequential scattering events in each plate. That allows you to work out the direction a gamma ray is going, but it doesn't stop you from detecting gamma rays coming from other directions. This is one of the reasons they build particle accelerators deep under ground and put the detectors in giant shielded rooms.

A single plate from the stack can still detect a gamma coming from any angle (but this being a particle detector, it's coming from the beam pipe). If I went and shone gamma rays from the other direction, or tangential, it'd still detect them.

So no, it doesn't really "point" in any particular direction (though it would be unable to track a gamma moving parallel to the individual plates).

"And what gamma ray sensors are on the NAVSTAR package exactly?"
The package is fairly standardized and referred to as Nuclear Detection System (also IONDS and NUDET). They include optical (with the hilariously named Bhangometer), xray, Gamma ray and neutron detectors.

Gammas, it'll be a scintillator of some type, detecting photon emissions from scattering events.



See page 296 of the above. It is as I said - because it's fucking obvious to anyone who remembers particle, nuclear and instrumentation courses from undergrad physics.

"Nuclear explosions that are not followed by rockslides have a specific seismic signature as the cause is a single explosion with no rippled tremors as you see in earthquakes."

Right, but seismic events have a ramp up from an avalanche of smaller events > cf self organised criticality etc.

So if you see a seismic trace (a high resolution one) that looks like a giant narrow spike followed by rippled tremors, that's a nuke followed by an earth quake. The fact the spike is followed by a trail doesn't obscure the spike.

"Detection devices almost good enough to sometimes correctly warn of tsunamis? Yepp, they exist."

I think you are confusing two different problem spaces. Not all earthquakes lead to tsunamis, and not all tsunamis are caused by earthquakes.

A 20MT nuclear bomb, with a characteristic series of bubble pulses is very, very loud, and very very distinctive in terms of the pulse shape, power spectrum and intensity.

"I think the Russians think the immediate focus will be on the tsunami and that a nuclear response will be difficult to impossible once a small window of opportunity closes."

Yes, but you only think that because of your poor understanding of detection technology which the Russians probably don't share. Hence, yes, you are the person to be arguing with.

"obust in sense of removing the Russian perception that there is ambiguity"
The Russian's do not have a perception of ambiguity as they are also partners on CTBTO so very well know the capability. The only one who believes there is ambiguitiy is likely yourself.

"Then that would only last until China deploys."
I don't think that fits with China's MO. The weapons has very limited strategic value.

"It matters only if Russia thinks it has it."
Which is the problem here. It's delusional thinking.

Mon Mar 05 01:06:00
What's a TGF?

My point about the gamma ray observatories was to show that it's obvious gamma detection on satellites and location by timing differences was possible and the military would have the same capability.

Jergul described this as V weapons (i.e. crazy mad scifi stuff).

So I did a bit more research.

Gamma ray detectors were on the VELA military satellites to, we, detect nuclear detonations. It was they which discovered gamma ray bursts leading to the dedicated observatories.

VELAs mission was ultimately taken over by NAVSTAR GPS satellites as a secondary mission.
large member
Mon Mar 05 02:50:34
Both types are directional. One monitors a particular region of space, the other uses layed plating to discern gamma rays. By design, the gamma particle has to pass through the first plate, then the second to be discerned.

I provided a link. No way for you to word salad your way out of that.

A rock slide trigger will show a relatively small spike followed by a giant one, followed by tremours.

Why are you citing 20 MT?

I have a fine understanding of detection technology. It loses aircraft and sometimes detects tsunamis in a timely manner.

You are in secret weapons of the luftwaffe mode and are imagining super weapons.

Navstar satetillets have x-ray, not gamma-ray detection modules on board. Date technology by the way. As wiki shows

The Russians have a perception of ambiguity. And China is developing non-conventional torpedoes specifically because it fits its MO.

We are speaking of an indefinate range, stealth torpedo after all. Global blue water capability based on limited naval tonnage.


Mon Mar 05 03:13:58

You are confusing direction and tracking.

When you say "the detectors in space are pointing the wrong way", that implies they can only detect in one direction.

Tracking in ATLAS is achieved by having layers of stacked scintillators. This works because the source and rough direction of gammas is known (they come from the vertex in the beam pipe), and great efforts are taken to prevent other gammas from different sources getting anywhere near them. To the point they use pre- nuclear steel to avoid contaminaron from daughter products from atmospheric nuke testing IIRC).

If you took that stack into space, it'd happily detect gammas from any direction, but if the gamma was substantially parallel to the attack axis, you'd also be able to tell which direction it came from.

In space though, this approach is bad for astronomy. You want full sky coverage as GRBs are rare. Ditto nuclear blasts.

To figure out where the gammas are coming from, you just compare time of arrival of signals.

This is how the VELA satellites, which were designed to look at the ground, picked up Gamma ray bursts in the 60s.

Suffice it to say again: gamma ray detectors are not directional. You don't need to point them.

And tracking, unless in very compact situations, is best done by time of flight.

Mon Mar 05 03:16:40

"provided a link. No way for you to word salad your way out of that."

Er, hate to say this, but you are in danger of doing a Nim. There are better hills to die on! Read up on particle physics detectors, scintillators etc. and you will see that what I have said is the case.
large member
Mon Mar 05 03:23:24
Are you arguing that a particle does not have to pass through layed plates to be detected?

If so, then in what % of deployed gamma devices would that be true for?

I mentioned word-salad, because you are actually trying to edge your way around our contrarian claims

I am claiming that detectors are directional. You are claiming they are omni directional.

I have proven many types are certainly directional. I have not found design types that are omni directional.
Mon Mar 05 03:25:55
Re hydrophones and seismics, they detected and located the Indian and Pakistani tests in the 90s and Nork tests in close to real time.

Scintillators are very mature technology. Put it this way, if 6 vela satellites could pinpoint GRBs to a narrow arc in the sky in the 60s (so using 50s kit); then the GPS systems with their far more accurate clocks and many more individual satellites are going to be fine.

20MT was what was in the original non-leak.
large member
Mon Mar 05 03:26:38
I am also not claiming that such devices are impossible. But they need to be designed, built, deployed, and answer to the US early warning system.

500 Billion. Give or take (the figure includes sundry upgrades to the monitoring system).
large member
Mon Mar 05 03:35:26
I think we will just agree to disagree. I think the specifics of a subseabed detonation at a few km depth that triggers an event able to wipe out seaboards is in fact highly masked and does require specific, dedicated, and expensive monitoring for convincing data to be available to decision makers within a few hours.

More importantly, I think the Russians believe this to be true.

You believe differently. But all we are arguing about is investment into monitoring.

Because ambiguity is bad.

More to the point. Russia is signalling that a comprehensive arms reduction agreement is timely now.

Do you disagree?
Mon Mar 05 04:56:39

I don't know if you are not reading this clearly or not.

I'm telling you that the US already has designed and built such a network of seismic monitors, hydrophones and space based radiation detectors for the explicit purpose of detecting, locating and attribuing clandestine nuclear detonations.

They've even develoed real time sensor fusion and signature comparison (probably unnecessary in my view). Sandra has a newsletter talking about the project I referenced earlier.

And yes, it's run by DoD.

And on top of that you have the CTBTO run IMN (which takes feeds from some of various countries kit "NTM" - National Technical Measures - as it's obliquely referred to.

E.g. IMN isn't going to get raw hydrophones data from the DoD because those are also used to detect subs, and they don't want to reveal too much annoy the lower bound. Data will be down graded.

But given the IMN can detect such nukes readily in the IT range, and we know that the US has it's own network for detecting clandestine nukes and has operated since the 60s, I'm frankly baffled you find this so unlikely.
large member
Mon Mar 05 05:45:54
And I am saying detecting a subsurface, subsea (in the multi km range beneath the ocean surface) that will immediately be cloaked by a huge seismic event is way outside the design specs of any existing, deployed system within the early warning chain.

You are essentially arguing that the US already has a huge degree of redundancy in place, I am saying that is untrue.

See tsunamis for example. Either data could not be collected to provide timely warning, or the data chain did not provide timely warning.

So a number of completely new systems were put into place to be able to monitor and pass on tsunami information in a timely manner.

Even if you are right, it still would not matter as ambiguity exists.

But lets just agree to disagree and move on.

"More to the point. Russia is signalling that a comprehensive arms reduction agreement is timely now.

Do you disagree?"

Mon Mar 05 08:17:50
Status 6 is, according to published data, not rated below 1km. And in any case below that water pressure starts to limit effects.

Tsunami generation means targeting the edge of the continental shelf.

I am not saying anything about redundancy.

I'm simply saying the US put in place a network to detect nuclear explosions in the KT range back in the 60s, underwater, underground, in atmosphere and in space.

It's definitely as good as (and realistically likely much more) sensitive than the CTBTOs IMN, and we know that can detect nukes in the KT range. We know that IMN can detect an explosion of 1T anywhere in the ocean and the biggest issue is screening out false positives.

So there is simply no sane grounds for believing that it would not detect at 20MT nuclear explosion.

It's a fantasy.

Detecting a tsunami is different. Firstly, not all earthquakes lead to a tsunami. Secondly, as you say, a lot depends on displacement events (either plate or rockslide) and then the Tsunamis themselves are very long wave low amplitude events that are less amenable to detection and tracking by hydrophone.

If I were to analogise your argument it's akin to suggesting that as scintillators are poor at detecting IR, they must be poor at detecting gammas, as both are forms of EM waves.

Ambiguity doesn't exist though. Only the Russians claim to have this weapon. Ergo, if anyone uses it, it's Russia.

Further, the pentagon isn't going to second guess given SARMAT FoB capability. They have to assume Rusdian first strike underway.

Mon Mar 05 08:20:32
Another interpretation of Russian behaviour is that it is trying to develop a robust nuclear umbrella to engage in hybrid and conventional war in Europe.

It's how they still, it's what they've been doing, it's what they've been saying, and fits with Putin's remorse over the end of the Soviet union.

So, frankly, I don't think it's about trying for arms control.
Mon Mar 05 08:20:32
Another interpretation of Russian behaviour is that it is trying to develop a robust nuclear umbrella to engage in hybrid and conventional war in Europe.

It's how they still, it's what they've been doing, it's what they've been saying, and fits with Putin's remorse over the end of the Soviet union.

So, frankly, I don't think it's about trying for arms control.
Mon Mar 05 08:20:33
Another interpretation of Russian behaviour is that it is trying to develop a robust nuclear umbrella to engage in hybrid and conventional war in Europe.

It's how they still, it's what they've been doing, it's what they've been saying, and fits with Putin's remorse over the end of the Soviet union.

So, frankly, I don't think it's about trying for arms control.
Anarchist Prime
Mon Mar 05 09:00:17
Mon Mar 05 09:05:18
You are both wrong on enough things with regards to this that neither of you is correct, at all.
I can not go into details, most of it is classified. There are 3 words that are not redacted in the file "date", "use" and "scissors".

Even the part where you normally expect there to read "TOP SECRET", it's redacted. That is how top secret this is.

Mon Mar 05 09:07:17
I should not have posted that, my screen started flickering just after I hit reply.

Anyone who posted in this thread or opened this thread, you might want to find some place where you can lay low for a while, there are probably CIA death squads searching for you.
Wrath of Orion
Mon Mar 05 10:36:18
TGF = Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flash

There are several satellites that were launched to study deep space high energy phenomena that unintentionally detect TGF's (Fermi is one AGILE is another, and I forget the remaining ones). So yes, they were intended to monitor deep space, but as you describe, they do detect terrestrial events.
large member
Mon Mar 05 11:12:19
Targeting below the continental shelf. The tsunami driver is earth displacement from a rockslide, not water displacement from a blast (The cited effect is off by numbers order of magnitude).

Ok, you don't think Russia wants arms control. We will just have to agree to disagree as you await the shock army advances across central Europe.

My point was not that incidental gamma ray discovery is impossible with current deployed tech, but rather that a subsea blast along the continental ridge would be highly masked and requires dedicated systems to track such things in a manner that removes ambiguity (that an attacker might believe a stealth attack would be cloaked by the environment and the subsequent natural disaster it triggers).

TGF monitoring shows clearly that unintentional observation by non-dedicated systems is sporadic at best. Which would be in line with my best knowledge (the nature of particles would have some occassionally cross at a detectable angle no matter the relative position of the source).

large member
Mon Mar 05 11:15:14
Though note that the assumption of nuclear intervention is to me always a fallacy. Countries bordering Russia should have their own robust defences and be freed from expectations in participation in foreign adventures.
Wrath of Orion
Mon Mar 05 11:23:24
I'm well aware of the limitations. Far more than you realize, I'm sure. Thanks.

I was simply providing a real world, very well-documented example to counter your point that these gamma ray detectors are "pointing" in a direction and monitoring just outer space. They are not.

I have not said word one beyond that.
large member
Mon Mar 05 11:24:47
You are welcome!

My points stand.
large member
Mon Mar 05 11:27:44
"Reductio ad absurdum" in case you were wondering what you are doing wrong.

Wrath of Orion
Mon Mar 05 11:29:11
Not your point about them being directional, which you were 100% wrong about. I am interested in preventing the dissemination of incorrect information, not your ego.

Btw, ALL of those satellites would detect TGF's if they used different timing. A big challenge with TGF's is the brevity of the flash. How brief is a nuclear blast flash compared to a TGF? I have no idea - because I don't give a shit about military issues and weapons. I'm assuming one of you knows and can provide that data.
Wrath of Orion
Mon Mar 05 11:30:11
Wow, just wow... It's ok to be wrong on occasion. Holy shit...lmfao.
large member
Mon Mar 05 11:36:31
That is incorrect. Gamma detectors are either directional in sense that they observe certain sectors of space at a time, or directional as a function of construction; that gamma particles have to pass through plates sequentially to be detected.

The nature of particles are such that some may still pass regardless of the relative position of their source.

Dedicated systems for earth observation would do much better of course. Which is why I argue that we are missing 500 billion is system construction and implementation.

The point is to remove ambiguity (no, you cannot trigger a massive rockslide off the continental shelf and expect to get away with it).

The main issue would be if gamma rays would pass through a few km of water, then 150 km of atmosphere. That at least is to me still very unclear.
large member
Mon Mar 05 11:37:48
Yes, it is ok to be wrong on occassion. Is that you accepting that you are doing that reductio ad absurdum thingy? Inadvertadly no doubt.
large member
Mon Mar 05 11:49:15
Again, I am saying is that the data has to be robust and on the president's table in close to real time. This requires dedicated systems that are not currently in place.

The US cannot wallow in disaster relief for 72 hours and then go to nuclear war. That is not a credible scenario.
Mon Mar 05 12:12:04
Where does the great divide collide with reality? Take 27 minutes to listen that no one is willing to listen for whatever reason. Can you tell the crackerjack box from the toy? An onslaught will proceed, I'm certain :), since the physics have been fully covered and explained from the eyes of defense. Catch-22

Wrath of Orion
Mon Mar 05 13:18:49
"The nature of particles are such that some may still pass regardless of the relative position of their source."

Which is what makes them non-directional. Thanks. Btw, your grasp of that logical fallacy is equally as bad.

Just move on, jergul. You're wrong on that point and it's fine. I probably does not have much relevance to your overall argument once you factor everything else in. I'm not qualified to judge those aspects of it.
Mon Mar 05 14:04:51
Yea bro, it’s ok.
Mon Mar 05 15:12:10

Cool, I'd never come across TGFs before. One of the mechanisms looks very similar to runaway electrons in tokamaks.


Yes, I understand the mechanism.

1. It doesn't need to be beneath to cause a land slide, it just needs to be near the edge of a steepish segment.

2. The published rating is 1km (yes, yes, maybe it can go deeper and they aren't telling us, but that seems unlikely if it is intended to be a big scary weapon).

3. Deeper than a km and you start to cause problems - the higher the surrounding water pressure the more energy is dissipated in sequential bubble pulses and the poorer the coupling to the shelf will be.

If Russia wanted arms control, I think they have screwed themselves. Status 6 is just ridiculous, they've put IRBMs at the heart of their military doctrine (something you've claimed too), and making SARMAT a FOB means they can't really afford to remove that capability in a credible way unless they build a completely new missile system which they won't have time and money to do.

So, no, I think this is for keeps. Sure they can afford to trade off Status 6, and this stupid nuclear thermal cruise missile, but if I was the US, I'd not really offer much in the way of concessions for such an insane weapons. Both are huge counter-value weapons suitable for retaliation, both are super detectable with longish leadtimes and not suitable for counter-force missions so deterrence holds.

The thing I'd be worried about is the potential first strike weapons, which is Iskanders with their tactical nuclear warheads which are increasingly part of Russia's conventional doctrine and SARMAT with it's FOBS capability, and I see little Russia can do now that wouldn't leave Russia with a huge missile gap it could never tolerate.

I appreciate you have a different view; but from my perspective, if they are selling arms control talks, they have turned up with nothing the US would want to buy, and with a really good pretext for the US to do all the things the "lets win a nuclear war" brigade have wanted to do for ages but not had the right conditions to land; right as Elon Musk has crashed the cost of space launch.

But hey, Putin has always been better at tactical wheezes than long term strategy.

Re detection, I'm going to do a different post for that.

Mon Mar 05 16:04:17
RE Gammas:

Space based Gamma detectors do not observe only a narrow section of the sky at a time. If they did, they'd never spot anything.

"gamma particles have to pass through plates sequentially to be detected."

You are confusing detection and tracking.

If a Gamma passes through scintillation plate, it has a high probability of scattering and generating a flash of optical light that is then detected at the edges of the scintillation plate (normally by a CCD these days).

Analysis of the secondary photons in optical wavelengths produced by scintillation lets you figure out:
1. the energy of the Gamma
2. the probability that it was a gamma and not some other particle

At that point, you have detected your gamma. There was a gamma ray here, at such a time.

Tracking - determining the direction that the gamma was traveling in - can be done in a number of ways:

1. You can put your scintillation plate down a heavily shielded tube with a heavily shielded base. That means you can only detect photons that are entering through the hole at the top, thus constraining the arc you are observing.

2. You can have multiple plates in a stack, and track the position of the scintillation in each successive plate. This works well if you are trying to precisely determine the source of the gammas at close distances from the detector.

3. You can have a whole bunch of scintillation spread all over the place, have really fast time resolution, and compare the time of flight. This works well for pulse like events where you can assume that a gamma detected was emitted from the same source at close to the same time. Then you can use time of flight calculations to identify where that point must have been. N.B. you are not really tracking the gamma here, you are trying to identify the source.

In particle detectors, what you are really trying to do is trace the gamma back to identify it's source, in order to detect the decaying particle that produced it. You are tracking the gamma in order to detect the source particle. Hence they are referred to as "detectors" not because they are detecting the gamma (they are tracking a gamma) but because they are detecting a more exotic particle.

As has been pointed out, if space based gamma detectors "pointed" in particular directions, then VELA would never have detected GRBs because they are pointed at the ground, not at space.

"The main issue would be if gamma rays would pass through a few km of water"

The answer is yes, but be prepared to do a numerical model of several hours of analytical equations to prove it.

A simple view would be "of course not, the half value layer of water is 10cm for 1MeV gammmas".

The problem is, this is for a well collimnated beam under "good" geometry. i.e. "If I had a beam of gammas, how far for the intensity of the beam to be reduced by a half". This superficially seems like the right thing to look at, but it turns out to be the wrong thing.
It treats gammas that have been scattered off course as lost from the beam. But in reality, scattered gammas can then be scattered back onto trajectories that intersect the area of interest.

And you will find big red warnings on using the gamma attenuation formula to design shielding because it massively over-estimates the effectiveness of shielding to the point it will kill you.

Water doesn't absorb gammas effectively. It scatters them via compton scattering. And because H and O are fairly elastic scattering and not efficient at drawing much energy off the gamma in each scattering, it just bounces it around a lot.

The result is rather than a point of very intense light heavily attenuated by looking through a filter, it's more like looking through frosted glass.

So if you do the rather painful calculation of scattering, energy reduction etc. what you find is that water just acts like a big pane of frosted glass. You end up with a big diffuse patch (but not that big) of water that is glowing with gamma radiation.

The pulse width is attenuated somewhat (by which I mean, spread out in time), but still very detectable. Scintillators can easily be made sensitive enough to detect single photons.

How do I know then that this works for gammas under km of water?

I remember doing a worksheet in instrumentation where this insight was the gotcha.

Finally, re dedicated newtork - again - as I keep pointing out, the US already has a dedicated network providing data in real time to the DoD.

It's called the NDS, which is a horrible concatenated acronym NuDet (Nuclear Detonation) Detection System.

There is an sensor fusion function called ICADS (Integrated Correlation and Display System) that runs in various ground stations that was developed by Sandia to do real-time signal analysis from hydrophone, seismic and the NDS sensor packages on DSP and GPS satellites.

This was specifically designed to detect any clandestine nuclear test on land, underground, in the air and underwater.

If you can reliably let of 20MT nuclear bombs at a meter KM depth, cheating the nuclear test ban is really fucking easy.

So, how much more dedicated do you want, exactly?

Or do you think the US needs to maintain a sensor network for each type of delivery mechanism?
large member
Mon Mar 05 16:23:48
Again, I am not arguing impossible, I am arguing not done yet. Its more an engineering thing. Which is perhaps why I find it vexing. Systems must be in place. Ordung muss sein (Muss ess sein? Ess muss sein!).

"Mid" slope matters. Cascade effect.

10-15 m of silt, 2km water, minimum 150 km atmosphere (generally much more depending on the angle).

20MT is an arbitrary number. Based on what might trigger a significant tsunami from water displacement from the blast.

The torpedo may not actually be there yet.

Check out the Blake Escarpment for details.

It would be a pretty semantic point.

I say directional meaning a device pointing one way will catch a lot more particles comming from that direction, than strays that are comming from another direction.

You could argue it could be viewed as omni, but my point still stands and it would be perfectly acceptable to argue directional.

So, no, not wrong.

Tue Mar 06 13:41:36

I'm not saying you think it impossible.
I'm questioning why on earth you believe it doesn't already exist when it clearly does.

150km atmosphere is irrelevant (there is no appreciable reduction in gamma flux due to the atmosphere, but compton scattering events mess up energy).

The silt, again, too small to be significant (put it this way 15m of silt is less screening material than the radiation case of the nuke, which while very hot is still there on the time scale the prompt gammas are emitted by the fusion reactions).

The only relevant thing is the 1km of water, which while scattering will not significantly reduce the overall gamma flux.

2km is deeper than status 6 is rated at and would lead to unacceptable energy loss that would limit it's effectiveness.

But I doubt 2km would do the trick either.

I'll go up to the loft this weekend and see if I've still got that worksheet :)

large member
Tue Mar 06 14:52:51
I have not seen the budgetory allocations that suggest such systems are in place. McGyverism (at best) is amusing but does not amount to a robust and timely detection and decision system.

Gamma observation from space is significantly complicated by the atmosphere.

If you want to do the math properely, then factor in a shielded casing (25mm lead), guesstimate the silt effect and calculate 2 km depth + 150 km atmosphere @0, 15, 30, 45, and 60 degrees. 345 degrees could be amusing assuming 1 km below the Blake Escarpment ridge.

The trigger effect is accentuated by pressure and is in effect tampers the nuclear detonation. Mass displacement causes the tsunami.
Tue Mar 06 15:17:43

Google is your friend.

Search terms are:

US Nuclear Details System
Integrated Operational NuDet Detection System
Integrated Correlation and Display System
large member
Tue Mar 06 16:20:16
Have you actually checked your search terms?

"The next time a nuclear detonation occurs in
space or in Earth’s atmosphere, enlisted men and
women in US Air Force ground stations will be
the first to know."

"The United States Nuclear Detonation (NUDET) Detection System (USNDS) provides a near real-time worldwide, highly survivable capability to detect, locate, andreport any nuclear detonations in the earth's atmosphere or in near space"

etc. Yah, google is my friend.
Tue Mar 06 16:35:11
RE doing the maths right:

1. Primary mechanism for gamma attenuation is compton scattering. Compton scattering cares about Z and mass desntiy.

With that in mind:

A few meters of silt and the lead shielding - lets pretend it's concrete instead. Lead is 10 times more effective a screen than concrete. Uranium is 3 times better a screen than lead.

Lets think about the physics of a thermonuclear bomb.

The primary goes off, sending fast particles into a depleted uranium radiation case/tamper. The fast partciles slamming into the uranium generate brhemstrahlung in the soft to hard x-ray range, which bakes the secondary leading to radiative implosion, the fusion reactions then set off the prompt gammas.

That is followed by a wave of fast neutrons from the primary and the secondary, which then fission the uranium tamper, responsible for about half the yield of a mid sized device. For something like the Tsar Bomba, there is much more tamper and much more fissioning of DU by fast neutrons (effectively, there's a tertiary stage).

Note - what this means is this all happens *faster* than it takes for the several cm radiation thick uranium tamper to be physically blown away. Yes, it will actually effectively be a dense plasma that is accelerating outward, but the duynamics of the nuceli are so much slower compared to the neutrons and the EM radiation that it's not had time to move yet.

So, to put it another way, the silt and lead are far less effective screening than the uranium tamper and radiation case.

Now lets remember that the prompt gammas are emitted by the fusion reactions (there are more gammas emitted subsequntly by fast particles slamming into nuclei and the fission reactions in the tamper - but that's not the prompt gamma component).

So the obvious point: if the silt and the lead were remotely relevant, there really wouldn't be any prompt gammas. They would be contained in the radiation case until the radiation case had been dispersed, by which time they would have been thermalised.

So, basically, we can entirely neglect the silt and the lead.

And it's kind of obvious. If a nuke went off in space with say, twenty meteres of vacuum between you and the bomb, and in that twenty meters there was ten meters of concrete, and a few cm of uranium - do you really think you won't experience any gamma radiation?

And gamma is far more penetrating than x-rays, neutruons, betas and alphas...

Ok, so now lets consider the sky.

As I said, compton scattering is the main physical mechanism for attenuating gamma radiation. That depends on z, and then density. Air and water are not significantly different in terms of Z (not compared to, say lead or uranium). From a compton scattering point of view, the nuclei are quite similar. The difference is that there is a lot more nuclei in a meter of water compared to a meter of air.

As a crude rule of thumb, how much depth of water do you need to go down to get one atmosphere of pressure? 10m.

As a crude rule of thumb to get order of mangnitude significance:

The entire atmosphere is worth about 10m of water out of a km or so of water.

It is entirely negligable.

The only thing that matters is the water. Which is complicated as I explained (cf why is the sky blue on the horizon when the sun is directly overhead, where is the light coming from?)

So, to do the math properly we can factor in the lead, silt and sky, but it's going to be chaning some pretty low significant figure. It will be less significant than deciding whether we want our fraction of energy emitted in gammas to be 4% or 4.5% of the yield, our assummptions on the yield, and picking a representative energy for the gammas.

I.e. no, to do the maths properly, we do not need to consider anything other than the ocean.

Finally, nukes underwater. Pressure accentuates shockwaves in conventional explosives because water is incompressible.

But because the radiation precedes the blast in a nuke (massive atoms and fission fragments move far slower than the fast neutrons, gammas, xrays etc.) the bulk of the energy of the nuke finds itself going off in a bubble.

It is akin to how they try to muffle underground tests by suspending the nuke in an empty chamber: it greatly decouples the shockwave from the water.

The bubble collapses, the force of the collapse creates another bubble etc.

This is called bubble pulses.

The deeper the depth of the explosion, the longer the chain of bubble pulsles.

The net effect is to reduce the peak over-pressure and spread out the mechanical energy of the shockwave in time and reduce the effective radius.

large member
Wed Mar 07 02:37:35
So basically, you provide for an uranium case. Or other methods that best add to a shielding effect.

Silt and internal shielding matter from a compounded effect perspective. It gives a lower baseline gamma radiation.

The bubbles collapse faster and more energy is required for each bubble when under pressure. But the idea is to direct as much force as possible against the cliff. Reduction of effective radius is given, but it does not follow from your physical description that anything other that the timeline is spread out.

2km is not arbitrary. It is best placement for maximum mass displacement. The upper limit of effective radius would be 1km in that case.
large member
Wed Mar 07 02:39:50
The effects of the atmosphere for gamma ray detection is not negligable. So that crude rule of thumb is invalid.
Wed Mar 07 05:28:59
All large MT nukes already *have* a large uranium case. It's called the Radiation Case and Tamper.

The prompt gamma radiation is still more intense than the secondary's produced in the fissioning of that Tamper, which should give you an idea that no realistic thickness of radiation shielding is going to stop the prompt gamma radiation.

And I've not even *got* to the secondary gammas released from fissioning, brhemstrahlung and neutron collisions in surrounding matter which, although less intense (i.e. spread out further over time) corresponds to much larger integrated gammas signal than the prompt.

Seriously jergul, this is obvious by inspection.

"The bubbles collapse faster and more energy is required for each bubble when under pressure."

Yup, that's my point. More energy dissipated in the bubble pulses and less in the primary shockwave.

"anything other that the timeline is spread out."
If the timeline is spread out, the peak over-pressure by necessity is reduced.

The total integration of force, distance and time will give you the energy.

"The effects of the atmosphere for gamma ray detection is not negligable. So that crude rule of thumb is invalid."

What makes you think that? I think you are likely confusing detection and measuring energy of individual gammas.

Wed Mar 07 06:00:49

Also, note that the most frequent sources of gamma rays from cosmic sources tend to be in the lower energy range and photoelectric effect means the atmosphere is much better at filtering those lower energy.

Abouve 500kev, it's compton scattering, and above 10meV, pair production is about the same ammount of attenuation as compton scattering (so you get a factor of 2).

Attenuation is minimum in the 1-10MeV range which is where gammas from nukes are.

This might be misleading you too.

Megaton nuclear explosions produce very very large volumes of gamma rays of an energy that is very good at penetrating.

Tbat's the long and the short of it.

So you need a *lot* of scattering events to reduce the overal signal down to one where you are not getting enough gammas received at the NDS detectors on GPS. Scintilators can easily detect and measure the energy of individual gamma photons.

So when you have even a handful of gamma photons arriving at near the same time, you have a strong candidate event.

large member
Wed Mar 07 06:13:00
The sum of all factors that lessen gamma particle emission to orbital platforms are relevant. So a casing that gives significant secondary gamma rediation on fusion is the wrong kind.

I was challenging you to assume a casing suited to the task at hand.

It is not given that increased pressure increases the timeline was my point.

Shockwave dissipation outside a bubble lasts for a long time as force and distance trends towards 0.

Quoted limitations on TGF detection on the articles I reviewed. We are speaking of detection.

You have not even gotten to calculating effective distance to the closest monitoring satelitte yet ;).
Wed Mar 07 06:19:40
L'episode deux s'il vous plaît!!
show deleted posts
Bookmark and Share