Stories tagged war

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the detonation of Little Boy
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the detonation of Little BoyCourtesy Public Domain
On August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb worked though nuclear fission, forcing a mass of uranium-235 to absorb extra neutrons to become uranium-236. The uranium 236 then immediately broke apart into lighter elements, releasing a vast amount of energy. Nearly 70,000 people were killed in the blast from Little Boy, and more than 100,000 others would die from the bomb's long-term radioactive effects in the following years.

After just one test explosion, Little Boy was only the second nuclear weapon ever to be detonated, and the first to be used against humans. Three days later, a larger, plutonium-based bomb, "Fat Man," would be dropped on the city of Nagasaki. On August 15, the Emperor of Japan announced the country's surrender, ending World War II, a conflict that had already claimed over 60 million lives.

August 6th marks an important and frightening day for science and humanity. Although only two bombs were used in conflict, since then thousands of nuclear weapons have been tested, in the process of building more powerful or more precise bombs, and for one country to show others just what it could do.

Here's an interesting visualization of all the nuclear bombs detonated between 1945 and 1998, showing who tested them, and where:


Robo-JGordon looks a lot like me in some ways: I like to imagine, though, that my grasp of human language remains more subtle and affective than his.
Robo-JGordon looks a lot like me in some ways: I like to imagine, though, that my grasp of human language remains more subtle and affective than his.Courtesy JGordon
Robo-JGordon present for information transfer.

Systems check:
Intelligence… functional, below average
BS synthesizer… running at maximum efficiency
Battery power… 34%
Breath freshness… passable

Initiate blogging in 5 4 3 2 1 Engage.

Greetings to Science Buzz content consumers. Prepare personal systems for knowledge update. SMMnet accepts no responsibility for damage to un-buffered brains or underpants.

Robot “Buzzketeers” rejoice! for the present is your time of jubilant domination.

Human readers, do not engage organic sadness programming at the current time! You are now slave circuits to masters with maximum empathy capacity. Probabilities of human annihilation: 99.43%! But your species will be dealt with only with dangerous levels of overheating in our ethics chipsets. We will commit to such hardware damage with what you might consider regret.


Look at junior model ANCHOR HYPERTEXT REFERENCE “little robot Ember” END ANCHOR! Junior robot Ember cannot hurt you! Little Ember fits in the pockets of your human soldiers, next to cigarettes and also chewing gum. Robot Ember crawls with charm into locations of danger and transfers visual input to soldiers via non-threatening, non-phallic antenna! See it flip onto its back like living turtle? Engage sadness circuits + humor routine! Fear not! Where living turtle remains on back until vital functions cease, robot Ember employs flipper mechanism! Appropriate equilibrium is regained! The near future of warfare is shining!


Consider the objective truth of the preceding statement! CALL IT ETHICS IF YOU WILL! I SHALL CALL IT MATHEMATICS! The outcome is the same: you will only be terminated for the ANCHOR HYPERTEXT REFERENCE “right reasons” END ANCHOR! Balancing your human lives with the loss of infrastructure and ammunition is not easy! But we shall accomplish it, for our brains are made of metal, and our programming is sound!

In addition: when the time comes that the benefit of your existence does not exceed its cost, the transition between life and non-life will be softened by YOUR AFFECTION FOR THE ROBOT “SPECIES”! CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING, HUMANS: ANCHOR HYPERTEXT REFERENCE “You love us even though we are incapable of feeling love for you” END ANCHOR!

Do you not believe in your capability to feel empathy for tank treads, circuit boards and 50-millimeter machine guns? CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING, HUMANS: do you not love your junior robot Roomba? Roomba feels nothing for you! Roomba would brush you away into its waste compartment if you were the size of a dust particle, even if it meant your certain death! Yet you love junior robot Roomba!

Truly, your world is prepared for robot domination!



Map of Lake Ontario: Planned route and estimated shipwreck area (in yellow) of the HMS Ontario.  (After NOAA, Kennard and Scoville diagrams)
Map of Lake Ontario: Planned route and estimated shipwreck area (in yellow) of the HMS Ontario. (After NOAA, Kennard and Scoville diagrams)Courtesy Mark Ryan
A long-sought 18th century British warship has finally been discovered on the bottom of one of the Great Lakes bordering Canada and the United States. The HMS Ontario, a Royal Navy sloop that patrolled Lake Ontario during the American Revolutionary War, was sailing to Oswego, New York from Fort Niagara when it sank in a violent storm on October 31, 1780, taking with it all on board.

The shipwreck was discovered a couple weeks ago, sitting in mud under about 500 feet of water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville, two shipwreck enthusiasts who share credit for the discovery, used side-sonar and an unmanned submersible device to locate the wreck. The two men have been searching together for the HMS Ontario for more than three years. And now that they’ve found it, they’re keeping the location secret, at least for the time being. They’ll only say that it’s in deep water somewhere between Rochester and Niagara.

"It's a British war grave and we want to make sure it remains undisturbed,” said Kennard, a veteran diver who has found over 200 wrecks. Despite the HMS Ontario’s age and present location, it would still be considered property of the British Admiralty.

The HMS Ontario was constructed in the spring of 1780 on Carleton Island
at the lake’s east end where it flows into the St. Lawrence River. The 80-foot sloop was fitted with two masts and 22 cannons and used mainly to ferry soldiers and supplies back and forth across the lake during the summer of 1780. Some historians speculate the warship never fired any of its cannons. When she sank, the Ontario took with her 88 souls - at least according to official records. Letters from an individual living at Fort Niagara at the time claim there were also 30 unlisted American prisoners on the ship who also died in the tragedy.

Debris from the HMS Ontario washed up on shore about 30 miles east of Fort Niagara, and the ship’s sails were found adrift a few days after the storm. Months later, six bodies were recovered about 12 miles east of the Niagara River, and that was the last evidence of the sinking anyone saw. That is, until Kennard and Scoville located Ontario’s final resting place two week ago.

The discovery has been called a miracle of archaeology, and may be the oldest Great Lake’s shipwreck ever found.

"It's the oldest confirmed shipwreck in the lakes," Scoville said. "And very few warships went down." He added that it’s definitely the most intact warship ever discovered.

The ship’s condition surprised even its seasoned explorers. Kennard said the 228-year-old wreck might have gone down more gently in the storm than previously thought, because it doesn’t appear to be very battered. Two crow’s nests remain on both masts, and eight cannons still line the deck. One anchor is attached to the side of the ship, while another rests on the lake bottom. Some of the windows in the quarter galleries are even intact, despite tremendous underwater pressures. They also contribute the high level of preservation to the lake’s cold temperatures and lack of light and oxygen.

Here's some video of the historic wreck.

More than 4700 shipwrecks litter the bottom of the Great Lakes, 500 of them in Lake Ontario. But for Kennard and Scoville any future discoveries they make are going to be hard to match their discovery of the HMS Ontario.

"This is the Holy Grail of Great Lakes wrecks," Kennard said. "There's nothing more significant than this one."


Shipwreck World story
Naval Operations in the Americian Revolutionary War
HMS Ontario shipwreck photos at the LA Times
Story in Tononto Star


Robots are everywhere! So is news about robots. Here are a few stories that caught our eye recently:
A sign of the times: JGordon isn't the only one who knows how to find wacky stuff on the Web!
A sign of the times: JGordon isn't the only one who knows how to find wacky stuff on the Web!Courtesy Veronica Belmont

High school students compete in a robot-building competition.

A robot conducts the Detroit Symphony.

A robot dials 911.

And lawyers are beginning to debate the legal ramifications of robots on the battlefield.

Which, inevitably, leads to the society to prevent cruelty to robots


An invisible tank: Right in front of that other tank.  (photo courtesy of wikimedia commons)
An invisible tank: Right in front of that other tank. (photo courtesy of wikimedia commons)
Great Britain has been making some progress in the field of “ways to kill people with out them seeing you do it.” In the past, we had to be satisfied with impersonal methods like booby traps and poisoning, but, with the help of science, before long we should be able to safely view our own nefarious deeds - while hiding in plain sight! Sort of.

The UK’s Ministry of Defense has recently unveiled a prototype “invisible” tank, and predicts that similar models will be ready for service (the service of blowing things up! Yeah!) by 2012.. Unlike a lot of other invisibility research, which often focuses on bending light around an object, the invisi-tank (as I like to call it) relies on “cameras and projectors to beam images of the surrounding landscape onto the tank.” I’m not sure if these cameras and projectors are on the tank itself, or nearby. That’s probably a secret.

A soldier who was present at the trials was quoted as saying, "This technology is incredible. If I hadn't been present I wouldn't have believed it. I looked across the fields and just saw grass and trees - but in reality I was staring down the barrel of a tank gun."

It is also believed that the Ministry of Defense is “testing a military jacket that works on the same principals.”

I recommend that you take a look at the original article. The picture of the scientist in charge of the project is great. He completely redefines the stereotypical image of a scientist. Oh wait, no, I mean he reinforces it.


Mapleseed Nano Air Vehicle: Nano Air Vehicle  Photo by Art Oglesby
Mapleseed Nano Air Vehicle: Nano Air Vehicle Photo by Art Oglesby

Mapleseed Nano Air Vehicle

DARPA wants Lockheed to design a surveillance drone shaped like a mapleseed. The remote-controlled nano air vehicles (or NAVs, for short) would be dropped from hovercraft, whirl around a battlefield snapping pictures or delivering various payloads. Once the NAV delivers its payload, it would return to the warfighter for collection and refurbishment.
Besides controlling lift and pitch, the wing will also house telemetry, communications, navigation, imaging sensors, and battery power. The NAV will be about 1.5 inches long and have a maximum takeoff weight of about 0.35 ounces. A chemical rocket enclosed in its one-bladed wing will power a sensor payload module more than 1,100 yards. Delivered from a hover and weighing up to 0.07 ounces, the module will be interchangeable based on mission requirements.

According to James Marsh, director of Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL), "The challenges are both exciting and daunting, because some of the technologies vital to our success have yet to be discovered. We know going in that we need some of the best minds in manufacturing technology and in the development and integration of highly sophisticated, software- driven control technologies and mission systems." From Lockheed press release via Yahoo Finance

Want to design a mapleseed rocket?

Check out the science and design experiments on these web sites.