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The Controversy of a Potential Hafnium Bomb 499

deglr6328 writes "Physics Today has a report detailing the surprisingly heated controversy surrounding the usually sober science of nuclear isomers (the Washington Post has run a less scientifically rigorous version). Since the 70's it has been known that the specific "m2" isomer of Hafnium-178 has an extraordinarily long half life of 31 years (nuclear isomers usually have half-lives on orders of pico or nanoseconds) and on decaying, emits high energy gamma rays at ~2.5 Mev. The prospect of energy storage and rapid release in Hf-178 for the puropse of creating large energy stores, bombs and even exotic gamma ray lasers did not escape the interest of Reagan era Star Wars researchers and was seriously studied for a time during SDI's heyday, but was eventually abandoned after being considered unfeasible. Then, in 1999, Carl Collins at the Univ. of Texas Center for Quantum Electronics reported inducing energy release from Hf-178 by bombarding a sample with X-rays (from a dental machine no less). Immediately, comments about the article were submitted, pointing out inconsistencies with basic nuclear theory and the controversy has only grown since then, with claims and counter-claims of flawed experimental design, incompetence and irrational theories in feuds reminiscent of the cold fusion debacle of the late 80's. It's seeming more unlikely as the arguments drag on, but if a Hafnium bomb could be built, it is thought that a golf ball sized chunk could produce the energy equivalent of 10 tons of conventional explosives."
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The Controversy of a Potential Hafnium Bomb

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  • How much energy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:42AM (#9093408) Homepage
    Found this online: (about the ~2.5Mev): []
    but it takes the equivalent energy of about 620,000,000,000,000 million electron volts (MeV) per second to light up a 100-watt light bulb

    So the question becomes, how much of this stuff (and how big a "battery") would it take to handle all my energy needs, and does the resulting crap that comes out the other end (when it breaks down) pose an unecessary risk to my health or the health of the environment (ie, is there a way to really "seal" the battery)

  • Hmm.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DiscordOfFive ( 778099 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:47AM (#9093446) Journal
    This sounds like an argument, with the potential to become a huge debacle, over something that is poorly understood by modern standards. Yeah, IF a bomb of the stuff could be built, it'd be a really effective bomb. But that's like saying if we could make another sun, we'd have lots of light. Maybe it's possible, but I'd bet my chips on not. At least under present tech.
  • Dimensions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daath ( 225404 ) <lp@coder . d k> on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:51AM (#9093469) Homepage Journal
    [...] if a Hafnium bomb could be built, it is thought that a golf ball sized chunk could produce the energy equivalent of 10 tons of conventional explosives
    Doesn't that mean that a ten megaton hafniabomb would be the size of one million golf balls? That's pretty big...
    I'm sure I must be wrong :P
  • Red mercury? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:51AM (#9093470)
    These (rather dubious) claims sound awfully like those attributed to red mercury [], a mysterious (and probably mythical) powerful explosive substance. Note point 5 in the linked document, which suggests that "red mercury" may be a codeword for some kind of new nuclear material.

    </tinfoil hat>
  • BOMBS!! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:52AM (#9093479)
    [Shaking in Rage] Why...always...bombs...first?!

    Everything we develop in the nuclear field has started out as a _bomb_, and then, only 10 or 20 or however-many years later, it finally finds its way into power plants, or medicine, or other _good_ uses.
  • by Maradine ( 194191 ) * on Saturday May 08, 2004 @10:54AM (#9093493) Homepage
    isnt's that a little weak?

    Hiroshima had an estimated yied of 12-16kt, something that can be done these days with 24kg of plutonium (if google serves, anyway).

    And a golf ball of hafnium can do one ton?

    Seems a little less scary, in a nuclear sense.

  • by Borg453b ( 746808 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:12AM (#9093586) Homepage Journal
    I remember being very nervous about throwing my first (and hopefully last) handgrenade. Regardless of hollywood fantasies, it leaves you 3 seconds til detonation, once its armed and released.

    I remember thinking "If you mess this up, it'll be your last mistake"

    I'm glad I'm no longer in the army, but it was kind of neat to try, and fireworks will never be the same again.
  • Lysenkoism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:15AM (#9093605) Homepage Journal
    The article makes it clear that the best-equipped labs aren't seeing the claimed triggered decay and theory doesn't support it either.

    The government has been disinviting expert nuclear physicists from funding meetings.

    It's not healthy when government runs with an unconfirmed result and overrides the give-and-take of experimental science. The old Soviet Union did this when the government endorsed maverick biologist Lysenko because his ideas were compatible with Marxism.

    Notice that even if the result can be confirmed it's still many huge jumps from practical application. First you have to mass-produce the excited isomer of hafnium. Then you have to separate it from normal hafnium, a far harder problem than uranium enrichment. Then you need a far higher yield than Collins has claimed, because even at the rate his experiments claim, you'd spend far more energy triggering decays than you'd get back out.

    Stranger things have happened, of course, but right now it makes more sense to be intrigued than to be excited.
  • So I look at this debate over the efficacy of the Hafnium bomb and wonder to myself why it is that humans have this innate need to develop weapons that possess this much power.

    You aren't really serious, are you?

    Come on, guys. Let's progress beyond freshman seminar and start thinking about things, okay?

    Those human beings who are presently living are the result of hundreds of thousands of years of culling. Before modern civilization, say 100 years ago or so, life was very hard. It was incredibly easy to fall off of a cliff, or get eaten by a jaguar, or get constipated and die.

    The hard facts of life were exacerbated by the presence of other creatures competing for the same resources our ancestors needed to survive: food and water, mostly, but also the gonads of our fellow human beings. If there's a monkey in that tree, he's going to be able to get to the fruit before you can. If there's a jaguar lurking behind that rock, he's going to be able to get to the monkey. And if there's a human being who's better equipped to kill jaguars, he's going to be able to score more chicks. So great-great-etc.-granddad either responded by figuring out how to kill jaguars, or by figuring out how to kill humans who knew how to kill jaguars. Either one worked.

    Think about it: you are the product of 15,000 successive generations of winners. Red in tooth and claw.

    So, equipped with these facts, you are somehow surprised that people have a natural penchant for creating tools that give them a competitive advantage? Tools like spears and ovens and sunblock and Viagra and wheels and central heating and cruise missiles and the germ theory of medicine and mascara and shoes and the incandescent light bulb and hafnium bombs.

    Use those great big brains, people. They're not just decoration for the top of your spinal cord, you know. Think.

    Understand that human beings are competitive, and that competition includes devising tools to wipe out as many of your fellow human beings as possible. This is, to coin a phrase, "human nature."
  • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:28AM (#9093671)
    Don't overestimate the difficulty of building a working nuclear device. Remember: a small group of what were basically graduate students were able to build a city-buster bomb in the middle of a desert with access to only 1940's-era technology, and not really that much of it.

    Go check out the satellite pictures of Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan pre-November, 2001, and notice how similar they look, from a distance, to Los Alamos circa late 1944.
  • Re:isotope vs isomer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by subnuclear ( 778110 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:29AM (#9093682)
    You just have to make a lot of halfnium from some nuclei and some of the halfnium will have this higher energy spin-state spontaneously. You can seperate different spin-states using strong magnets since the amount a particle bends in a magnetic field depends on its spin. The X-rays aren't used to controlled the spin but to the kick the nucleus in to a higher-energy and less stable spin-state. The nucleus then decays into the ground state releasing a much more energetic photon than the X-ray you put in.

    However, the cross-section (the probability of occurance) for this X-ray excitation is incredibly small in every isomer studied. It usually requies much more energy to be put in than can be produced. Carl Collins's data shows a much larger cross-section (10,000x larger!), but follow-up experiments by Argonne National Labs and others haven't seen a damn thing. Collins data is not very convincing to anyone, but Collins

  • Re:Bah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:32AM (#9093704) Homepage
    Building a bomb, is just plain marketing. A kind of proof-of-concept nobody can't object against.

    After that, you can easily get the money to liberate the energy in a controlled manner and turn it into a peaceful invention.

    Also, at this stage, it maybe much more easier to just focus on the way to liberate the energy without the hassle to figure out how to control it.

    But, don't forget, at end, they get married and add many children (no necessarily in that order).

  • by digital photo ( 635872 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:46AM (#9093781) Homepage Journal

    Since most of the scientist trying to replicated the results notes that it either can't be replicated like the original experiment or that they are seeing extremely low efficiencies, it probably isn't a problem in terms of increasing world violence/death/etc...

    However, assuming that the original research hinted at what that partiular Hafnium isotope/polymer could do, it would be like an energy sponge: soaking up energy so that it could be squeezed out at a later time.

    Since the energy released is gamma only, you could potentially arrange a bank of these and stimulate the material in much the same way as a nitrogen laser and get a gamma beam where the energy being outputted by each stage is cascaded into the next stage to create a denser coherent beam.

    Would be interesting to see if this Hafnium stuff pans out. If it does, it would make for an interesting beam cannon as opposed to a bomb. You can't be very selective with a bomb, but you can with a beam.

    I'm personally thinking it would be cool to have this technology in a microwave oven. :) Food cooked in under a minute every time. >:)

  • by jaoswald ( 63789 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:56AM (#9093833) Homepage
    The difference is that these "graduate students" (about 20 of whom [] won Nobel prizes), were trained in the latest developments in atomic and nuclear physics at the time, and had the technical training to use and adapt that knowledge.

    Al Qaeda, by contrast, puts its highest emphasis on knoweldge of the Koran, and secondarily on guerrilla training and weapons with minimal technical sophistication. Yes, they have desire, but they have the wrong mindset and training to have any success in such an engineering endeavor.

    The only likely way for Al Qaeda to get nuclear weapons is to persuade their allies in the Pakistani intelligence organization or Iran to arrange for a bomb to be "misplaced" on its way to North Korea or some such.
  • by TGK ( 262438 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @11:58AM (#9093841) Homepage Journal
    It's generaly accepted [] that the Soviet Union built a small number of so called "Suit Case" nukes in the latter years of the cold war.

    Of course, the term is a misnomer, because the intelligence community mis-translated "Backpack Nuke" into "Suitcase Nuke."

    KGB documents indicate that the Soviet Union kept one such device in the basement of the Soviet Embassy in DC to use as a decapitation weapon in the event of nuclear hostilities.

    Suitcase nuke, in any case, refers simply to a small nuclear weapon theoretically made man portable, or at least small enough to easily secure within a car's trunk. The United States produced a fair number of these weapons, though they were never fashioned (to the best of my knowledge) into a form intended for covert deployment. The most famous such miniaturized nuclear weapon was the Davy Crocket [], a low yield nuclear weapon designed for battlefield deployment in Germany in the event of a Soviet tank invasion of Europe.

    Of course, for a halfnium suitcase nuke to be built you'd need a compact X-ray source that could discharge a fair quantity of X-ray's before being blown apart by the halfnium discharge, in otherwords you'd need a fission bomb... which kind of invalidates the entire point.
  • Re:Bah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @12:39PM (#9094087)
    Some of these things were mentioned, like a plane with arbitrarily long range. But it's just a joke at this point to talk about applications, because that one golf-ball-sized chunk would need tons of shielding before anybody could walk near it. It's insanely radioactive. If you read the articles, you'll see that though the actual amount of stuff necessary for the explosion is relatively small, the shielding and the necessary excitation device can simply not be made small.

    This means that our best hope of making use of this stuff is if we could get it to explode in an uncontrolled chain reaction. Great! Luckily, the science behind it is less plausible than cold fusion, so I don't expect this "ultimate dirty bomb" is going to be dropping on the heads of our dark-skinned "enemies" soon.

    The $30Billion facility for producing this stuff could make it for a price as low as $1M/ounce, if the thing gets built. The real victims of this sham are the people who hand over these billions to our government. But don't worry, you'll never hear about it, because all the research (about how this is total bunk) is about to get classified. The defense contractors will get richer... though I'd be more mad about it if they were making insanely radioactive nuclear energy release devices that might actually work.

  • It's extremely difficult to take seriously someone who believes that "modern civilization" began about 100 years ago. They must have had a lot of trouble arranging the Constitutional Convention or the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, what with all those jaguars wandering in and eating people.

    Jaguars weren't a problem in the 1780's or the 1530's, but staph was. So were tuberculosis, tularemia, scurvy, plague, scarlet fever, pneumonia, typhus, cholera, and diphtheria.

    Hell, we don't even have to go back 100 years. Today, the rate of infant mortality is about 8 per 1,000 live births. In the 1940's, just 60 years ago, it was nearly six times that.

    Let's put it this way: throughout human history from about 300,000 years ago to just very recently, the leading causes of death have been trauma and infectious disease.

    Only in the past century has the trend shifted. Today, the leading causes of death in the developed world are all chronic diseases: heart disease, diabetes, cancer. (Statistically, you're still quite likely to die from some kind of trauma, but if you look at all trauma, today you're far more likely to survive an injury that would have killed you even just 20 years ago. God bless the emergency room.)

    Do you know what would happen to you if you broke your arm in 1900? Which, incidentally, you'd be far more likely to do, because you would have had far less calcium in your diet, and your bones would have been far weaker. If you broke your arm and you were very lucky, you would merely be crippled for life. Your barber--unless you were one of the relatively few people who lived in or very near a big city, your barber would be your sole source of medical assistance--would reduce the fracture badly, and the absence of anything like a cast would guarantee that it would not set properly. The result would be a permanent disability.

    If you were slightly less lucky, your fracture would be a compound one. Your wound would get infected. Your barber would tie a piece of not-altogether-clean cloth around your upper arm, then use a short piece of wood to twist the cloth until it constricted your brachial artery. Then he would cut through the muscles, nerves, vessels, and ligaments in your arm until he reached the bone, and then saw through the bone. Meanwhile, you're unable to scream because you've got a piece of rawhide stuck in your mouth, and you're unable to reach out because three strong men are holding you down. The blood that was trapped in your arm spills out onto the sawdust-covered floor; later, that blood-soaked sawdust will be swept up, lofting whatever dire pathogens you might have been host to into the air.

    Of course, if you were only slightly less lucky than that, you'd simply lapse into sepsis and die.

    Don't be so arrogant. Only about four generations separate us from a standard of living that many of us would find to be just barely above proto-humans scrabbling around in the dust.
  • Re:Bah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by john.r.strohm ( 586791 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @02:00PM (#9094487)
    Why do people think of weaponry as the first use for a new method of power?

    Step One is triggerable release of disordered energy (heat and noise) from a new source by whatever means.

    Steps Two through N are learning to control it in various ways: maximizing the yield, tuning the yield, controlling the timing of the effect, using it in cascade with other things. Compare for example the incandescent light bulb, which gives most of its output in infrared, with fluorescent lights, light-emitting diodes. Compare the original ruby lasers with the various gas lasers and the modern laser diodes. Consider fission, fusion, and the more recent work in laser-triggered fusion with inertial confinement from all the lasers hitting from all sides.

    The first step is ALWAYS making it go boom. Then you learn how to control the boom.

    The original Little Boy and Fat Man devices were large, heavy, and very inefficient, compared to weapons with similar explosive yields today.

    If you want an extreme example: black powder was originally developed as an explosive. That very same black powder is still in use today, powering small model rocket engines. All it takes is proper design and packing to control the combustion.
  • by pfdietz ( 33112 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @02:01PM (#9094493)
    No, but bogus is certainly the way to bet, especially when the putative result contradicts well-tested theory, as this one apparently does.
  • My impression was that barbers did these things until the 16th century or so.

    Barbers did these things whenever doctors (and dentists!) were not available. That goes up to the early part of the 20th century, and even as late as the 19-teens in some rural parts of America and Europe.

    World War I was bad in many ways, but it certainly did wonders to advance the state of the art in trauma medicine.

    Incidentally, why barbers? Because they had the straight-razors, of course.
  • by Anonymous Bullard ( 62082 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @05:00PM (#9095579) Homepage
    After 091101 I've kept wondering when and if americans might eventually begin asking themselves "why are they so angry at us".

    So far there's only been jingoistic kneejerk reaction a la "let's kill every last one of 'em".

    What comes to those nukes "they" don't have, we're barely half a century into the nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction era. The US has an arsenal of some 7,000 nuclear warheads - all far more powerful than those deployed against the two japanese cities - capable of hitting any and all targets around the world in just minutes. In addition to the US, Russia, China and even UK are all either occupying their neighbours or invading some distant foreign country "pre-emptively". All these security council seat holding nuclear states are acting against basic humanitarian principles, simply because they currently can. On a mutual "wink & nod" basis. All that matters is business, acquisition of foreign resources and plain old generating of patriotic fever. In none of these four aggressive states (although the UK isn't yet a lost cause) are the people actively organizing themselves to stop these practises which are the root cause of "terrorism" (aka "fight for freedom").

    50-60 years is a very short time in the timescale of human civilization. In another generation or two the people fighting foreign invasions and occupations may well be capable of building true WMDs and delivering them to capital cities, along with ultimatums to pull out or else... Will the political leaders of that time be capable of realizing and correcting the root causes of such desperate measures, or will they still be stuck to the current "nuclear superpowers can do anything they wish" doctrine of today?

    In my opinion, all actions, including those against foreign people, should pass the simple test of "would I mind someone else doing that to me?".

  • by Wes Janson ( 606363 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @05:43PM (#9095845) Journal
    "I suspect, too, that since nuclear wapons are primarily offensive, rather than defensive (mutually assured destruction relies on being able to strike targets anywhere in the world, not defending your own soil)"

    You don't know much about nukes, do you? Nuclear landmines, nuclear artillery shells, and nuclear short-range surface-to-surface rockets were all developed during the Cold War to be used defensively in the possibility of a Russian attack. An airburst weapon does amazing things to enemy tanks, troops, aircraft, and ships. In the '50s we even did training exercises out west, simulating a Russian landing on the Western coast, making a counter-offensive with tactical nuclear weapons and infantry.

    And anyways, have you ever WATCHED any anime? *I* wouldn't trust them with nukes ;)
  • by langles ( 192276 ) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @06:43PM (#9096200) Homepage
    While it would be amazing if they could make a workable nuclear device that size, 10 tons of explosive yield for a golf-ball sized mass of material is not a very efficient nuclear weapon.

    Doing a few calculations:

    A golf ball [] must have a diameter of not less than 1.680 inches (42.67mm)

    or a volume [] of 40.679 cm^3.

    Feeding that into Calculation of Density with Halfnium [], gives a mass of 0.54143749 kg for a golf-ball sized chunk of Halfnium (neglecting the particular isotope in question).

    Assuming metric tons for simplicity, a yield of:

    10 tons / 0.54143749 kg

    Is equivalent to:

    18.5 tons / kg

    Compare that with existing nuclear weapons. Once you scale the weapon above a certain size, and using optimal designs, you can obtain much higher yield efficiencies, or Yield-to-Weight Ratio's.

    "The W-54 Davy Crockett warhead [] ... was the lightest ever deployed by the US, with a minimum mass of about 23 kg (it also came in heavier packages) and had yields ranging from 10 tons up to 1 Kt in various versions."

    Yield-to-Weight Ratios of US Mk-53 Nuclear Weapon []
    2.25 kt/kg


    2,250,000 tons / kg

    Which is a MUCH higher efficiency weapon - at least in the energy sense.

  • by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <`john.oyler' `at' `'> on Saturday May 08, 2004 @09:37PM (#9097112) Journal
    You know, I'm rabidly against cameras in public places, watching me.

    But I truly like the idea of these. I can't imagine any argument against them, and for once, it might be a good use of my tax dollars. Why the hell aren't they putting these at every street corner?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 09, 2004 @12:39AM (#9098011)
    Nowadays anyone can build a Beowulf cluster, but I suspect that if you are not in too much of a hurry, a standard PC is capable of simulating lots of things that the Manhattan Project team could only guess at, or measure by a series of tedious experiments.
    Richard Feynman (IIRC) tested a room full of women with calculators against their IBM electromechanical computers. The women were just as fast, but they got tired.
    The yield-enhancement features which make the thing much bigger would not be too important to a terrorist.
    The plutonium isotope used for military bombs needs those features to work reliably. It has such a low rate of spontaneous neutron emission that the "pit" can actually implode and rebound without a chain reaction. A neutron source is a really good idea.
    As computers are widespread, and everything you need to know to build a weapon is published (why that was ever allowed, I don't understand!), ...
    Knowing that a fission chain reaction is possible is all you need. That information is nigh-impossible to suppress.
    Even worse, a suicidal maniac with 2 pieces of U235 could create a "fizzle" with no extra hardware, it would kill a lot of people if used in a crowded place such as a city.
    A water-moderated reactor would be even more "fun". Sink it into a lake and watch the gov't anthill swarm.
    ... AFAIK the fall-out from unreacted plutonium etc would be very much worse, and the area might be uninhabitable for a very long time.
    The plutonium fallout isn't that bad. Not healthy, but then neither is radon or obesity. The nastiest bad fallout is from the neutron-activated heavy elements, things like the iron and nickel in the delivery truck. This can be enhanced by adding a cobalt or similar cladding to the bomb.
    ... AFAIK plutonium is "relatively" easily separated from used reactor fuel rods by a chemical process.
    If you want a low-yield dirty bomb, the used fuel itself works just fine!
    I for one would not mind if they were fitted invisibly in public places, they don't affect the privacy of normal people, and they might catch terrorists.
    They already are, at least in some places in the US. People who've been administered radioisotopes for medical purposes are being stopped and asked questions by the police. Personally I'd rather be subjected to that, than suffer the economic loss of a stock exchange or port getting disrupted by a dirty bomb.
  • by Mekkis ( 769156 ) <> on Sunday May 09, 2004 @03:23AM (#9098631) Journal
    Hey, kiddies. We're worried about the evilbadnasty terrorists getting their hands on rogue nukes from the former USSR that might be floating around out there, or worse, constructing their own 'dirty bomb' with internet-fueled recipies, sneak it into the land of the Great Satan and start nuke-nuke-nukin' on heaven's door in the name of Allah. Bush & Co. are shrieking 'For God's sake, don't let those crazy Muslim fundamentalists get hold of nuclear materials!'
    Problem is we've already given them all the material anyone could ever want or need to make a 'dirty bomb', delivered right to their sandy li'l front doors courtesy of the United States Armed Services. That's right, kiddies, we're talking about DEPLETED URANIUM, that nuclear fairy dust that's now littering Iraq and Afghanistan by the megaton! Thanks to the fabled generosity of the good ol' USA, it's possible to drive around and pick up this stuff with nothing more than a shovel and a dedication to a deity stronger than your fear of radiation poisoning.
    A dedicated Boy Scout could easily make either a low-yield nuclear bomb using enough 'spent' uranium to make a subcritical mass (remember, Mouseketeers, that 'spent' fuel rods are still highly radioactive and it just takes a lot more to reach subcritical mass than ordinary uranium) OR even more easily, mix the DU with conventional explosives to make a bomb with a radioactive plume capable of poisoning an entire city for decades!
    Fun Fact for th' Day: The most recent draft of the Geneva Convention considers depleted uranium to be a 'weapon of mass destruction', as its effects linger for decades to centuries after a war has ended, causing such amazing things as severe birth defects, mental retardation, cancer and other ailments endemic to a high degree of radioactive contamination. Any nation employing DU in its weapons will be considered to be in serious breach of the Geneva accord. (Ho ho ho! Not that the US actually gives a damn about those silly Swiss! There's profits to be had, and it's a convenient way to dispose of all that nuclear waste that would otherwise require safe disposal!)
    Check HERE [] and HERE [] for more info.
  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Sunday May 09, 2004 @05:50AM (#9098980) Homepage Journal
    > Don't keep shooting the messengers with this totalitarian "either you're with us or you're against us" war cry. Read a few books about the history (up to current times) of islamic countries, preferably those without obvious political bias, and a pattern emerges.

    When I read this part of your comment, I had to think of George Bush Sr. and Jr.; it was like an eye-opener. I think the Bushes are totalitarian, and that's never been a good thing, historically.

    There was a video game designed that allows you to get a sense of terrorism. You're overlooking an Arabic city/village and you play the role of the US gov't. You have to kill the terrorists by sending cruise missiles. But what happens when you send one is the pure genius of the video game designer. Each time a bomb explodes and kills anyone, more and more terrorists spring up. Anyone who mourns the death of their relatives, friends, families, neighbours, will become a terrorist.

    When I saw that, it became obvious that there is no way to defeat terrorism, but time itself; time and healthy foreign policy.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.