The BBC after the bomb. The BBC's War Book contains meticulous plans for the organisation's operations after a nuclear attack on the UK. Ordered to be destroyed after the end of the Soviet Union, a rebellious BBC official quietly transferred it to the corporation's archives. Filled with the sort of mordantly amusing detail common to such documents - the BBC would be run by Radio 4, 'informal clothing' only being required, and an abandoned plan to entertain the nation with Round the Horne and Goon Show repeats - the plans help flesh out the way British bureaucracy faced up to an unknowable future that, at the time, seemed sometimes to be very close indeed. Previously.
How World War III became possible: A nuclear conflict with Russia is likelier than you think (SLVox).
Kristen Iversen wants to better inform Colorado residents about the history of the Rocky Flats Plutonium processing facility and recommends this brief YouTube documentary as an introductory primer. [more inside]
Command and Control is a new book by Eric Schlosser about nuclear weapons mishaps, with a focus on the Damascus Accident. You can read an excerpt at Mother Jones, an op-ed adapted from the text at Politico, or a different op-ed at The Guardian. The book has been positively reviewed by The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. Schlosser has been interviewed by Steve Roberts on The Diane Rehm Show, Amy Goodman, Michael Mechanic at Mother Jones, and Ryan Devereaux at Rolling Stone.
" The House In The Middle" A 1954 Civil Defense film shows how you can protect your home against atomic firestorms via good housekeeping (13 min, YouTube)
Back in the 50s, the US planned to create a network of tunnels underneath the Greenland ice sheet to fire nuclear missiles from. (via Slashdot)
The B53 wasn’t just any old megabomb. It was the first bunker buster. U.S. nuclear doctrine called for it to be delivered over suspected underground Soviet command-and-control facilities. The dumb bomb wouldn’t destroy them so much as it would destroy everything remotely near it, leaving — literally — a smoldering crater. That was the U.S. plan for “victory” in a nuclear war right up until the implosion of the Soviet Empire. (related) [more inside]
The Cold War resulted in a rather large number of interesting military research programs. One of these with which I'm familiar is the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, which ran from 1946 to 1961. The basic idea? Modify a bomber (such as a B-36 bomber), creating an aircraft that could theoretically remain aloft for weeks at a time without refueling, much like ballistic submarines? The challenge? Shielding. Shielding the reactor alone would make the aircraft prohibitively heavy, so the idea was to primarily shield the crew compartment instead of the reactor. However, to study the concept, and evaluate various lightweight shielding concepts, two very novel and unique nuclear reactors were built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the Bulk Shielding Reactor, a novel "swimming pool reactor", and the Tower Shielding Reactor, an unshielded reactor that was hung 200' in the air dangling between 310' steel towers. While the program successfully demonstrated several of the concepts (including a nuclear-powered gas turbine engine running in Idaho, and a modified B-36 that carried a nuclear reactor but wasn't propelled by it (mentioned above), the program was canceled in 1961 due to feasibility and budget concerns.
The Rusty Technoporn Of Nuclear Russia - The Base Of Human Exterminators , The Place That Stalkers Would Love To Visit, from English Russia via Warren Ellis
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
Over fifty years after Los Angeles' first nuclear meltdown, the State of California is finally getting around to decontaminating the radioactive fallout.
"With the renewed interest in nuclear weapons I have been struck by how few people there still are who have seen one explode." Jeremy Bernstein looks back on the two above-ground tests he witnessed in 1957. "Smoky" and "Galileo" were part of Operation Plumbbob, a series of 29 tests.
Removing 600 kilos of enriched U-235: the story of how, in 1994, the United States secretly removed from Kazakhstan enough purified uranium to make 24 nuclear weapons. (Full article with one photo.) Russian bomb-grade uranium is now being used in U.S. power plants.
Russian strategic nuclear forces - an online watchdog of the movements of Russia's nuclear forces. [more inside]
Photographer Paul Shambroom has spent the last sixteen years documenting a much-discussed but little seen aspect of American foreign policy -- our nuclear arsenal. [more inside]
This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. - The BBC releases its script for use in the event of nuclear war.
Russian cold war bombers - The Tu 95 Bear and Tu 160 Blackjack, based in central Russia, which resumed long range patrols in August.
In 1965, Peter Watkins produced a fictional documentary called The War Game in which the aftermath of thermo-nuclear attacks in Britain was depicted. The BBC declared that it was "too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting" and was not aired until 1985. Watch it here (warning: graphic depictions of effects of radiation). Related, When the Wind Blows (parts 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), a sober animated tale of a British couple who try and survive nuclear holocaust based on the civil defense manual "Protect and Survive." (Previously).
Looking for a spacious home in a unique, quiet and safe location? It may be a fixer-upper, but buy now before the value skyrockets.
You may owe your life to this man If it weren't for Stanislav Petrov, many or even most of us reading this might be dead now - or never born, for the teens among us. At least according to this article, and the other links above.
Nuclear War Survival Skills: Journey back sixteen years to a simpler time, when the impending apocalypse was a much less complicated affair. [more inside]
Remember the movie "The Day After?" Back in the Cold War days, we were all worried about someday being vaporized by a nuclear blast. Well now, in this post-Cold War era you can relive those wonderful memories with PBS' Nuclear Blast Mapper. I popped in the coordinates for MetaFilter's server location, set the bomb to a 25 megaton blast and this is the result. Think about that the next time you hear a country gets their first nuclear weapons.