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Thread: Air Force's dream, Homeland Security's nightmare

  1. #1
    Master OptiBoarder rinselberg's Avatar
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    Air Force's dream, Homeland Security's nightmare

    The U.S. Air Force is quietly spending millions of dollars investigating ways to use a radical power source -- antimatter, the eerie "mirror" of ordinary matter -- in future weapons. From the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, October 4, 2004.

    From the same article: About 0.00005 grams (fifty one millionth parts of a gram) of antimatter could generate a blast equal to 4000 pounds of TNT, or about the same explosion as destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

    But it would be premature for anyone to panic. That's just the explosive charge. Even assuming that the antimatter bomb becomes a reality, who could say yet what the equivalent of an antimatter fuse or detonator would come to in size and weight? Maybe something the size of Arizona? (Just speculating!) Does anyone recall some time ago when there were news (?) stories circulating aboout secret DoD projects involving Hafnium, which is a chemical element? They sounded like hoaxes to me. I wonder if anyone on OB also saw any of those stories. Of course, I could probably "google" my way to further enlightenment.
    Last edited by rinselberg; 10-05-2004 at 03:37 PM.

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    Master OptiBoarder rinselberg's Avatar
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    If you read and appreciated my recent post on Air Force Antimatter Research (above), you may want to visit:

    http://www.spacewar.com/

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    I guess i'm not sure what you're concern is. You're clearly a hawk and this is a fairly benign weapons system. My, admitedly limited, understanding of high energy physics leads me to belive that a matter-antimatter based weapons system produces little or no unintended residual consequences (no radioactive fallout etc.) just a massive energetic output (as heat and higher energy electromagnetic energy such as x- and gamma- radiation). I guess I'm saying it's a big improvement on 'nukes'.

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    Moderator - Joann Raytar Jo's Avatar
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    rinselberg, this stuff is lost on me but interesting; care to give me a simple summation? I'm not the most high tech.

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    Pomposity! Spexvet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo
    rinselberg, this stuff is lost on me but interesting; care to give me a simple summation? I'm not the most high tech.
    Is it possible for Rinsey to say anything in a simple way?
    ...Just ask me...

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    Moderator - Joann Raytar Jo's Avatar
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    Of course it is - you just have to ask him. Many of his posts are interesting if you take a good look at them.

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    Pomposity! Spexvet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo
    Of course it is - you just have to ask him. Many of his posts are interesting if you take a good look at them.
    Interesting - yes
    Simple? - not IMHO.

    No knock, just pointing out how detailed his posts are.
    ...Just ask me...

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    Master OptiBoarder rinselberg's Avatar
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    Yo' ALL! The TITLE of my post was mostly in jest -- or a "teaser", if you will. Anything to draw in a reader! Matter plus antimatter equals an explosion. What's remarkable is that in THEORY, only the most microscopic amount of antimatter would be required to make a very sizeable bomb. Compare that to current nuclear bomb technology. I don't believe that they have ever been able to truly miniaturize an atomic bomb. Maybe down to 500 pounds or even 200 pounds for the very smallest such device, but no smaller or lighter than that -- that's my read of it on the Internet. But that is only THEORY. As I tried to explain in my post, it may take only a minute amount of antimatter to make an antimatter bomb -- but for what seems to be known at this time, it may also take a LOT of ordinary matter to make such a device. I agree with coda -- there's nothing to be alarmed about. It's really a story of DoD sponsored research that could readily overlap with NASA or some purely scientific enterprise. I don't think there is really any huge rush on to build an antimatter bomb. But if there's going to be one, better for the UNITED STATES Air Force to have the FIRST. (IMO.)

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    Master OptiBoarder rinselberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coda
    I guess i'm not sure what you're concern is. You're clearly a hawk and this is a fairly benign weapons system. My, admitedly limited, understanding of high energy physics leads me to belive that a matter-antimatter based weapons system produces little or no unintended residual consequences (no radioactive fallout etc.) just a massive energetic output (as heat and higher energy electromagnetic energy such as x- and gamma- radiation). I guess I'm saying it's a big improvement on 'nukes'.
    We've all been here before with the NEUTRON bomb -- a device that I believe was actually tested during the old days of President Carter or somewhere back there in time. The U.S. decided to take that device "off of the table", because of a general fear that it would make it easier for some country to take some action that would lead to an all out, civilization ending atomic war.

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    Ah, now I see your "concern". The physics of anti-matter containment is such that an device of significant yield would probably have to be MASSIVE in the short term, HUGE in the long term and VERY LARGE in the long, long term. I would be shocked if they could produce an anitmatter-matter explosive device for less than the size/mass of, oh lets say, 10 comperable yield convential nuclear devices.

    I also think that the physics is so advanced that only a very few nations are remotely close to being able to produce such a beast. My list would include (in order of likely hood): US, Japan, UK, Switzerland, Germany, France, Isreal, Italy(?), Russia(?), Spain(?), China(?) then even less likely some other western European countries and India.

    On the other hand fissilable material (what you need for a simple nuke) is relativly easy to produce (there's a great book about a brilliant moron outside of detroit who nearly produced a breeder reactor in his back yard I think it's call "Nuclear Boy Scout"). I suspect that I could jury rig a nuke given a decent machine shop and the fissilable material. Pretty scary.

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    Moderator - Joann Raytar Jo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spexvet
    Interesting - yes
    Simple? - not IMHO.

    No knock, just pointing out how detailed his posts are.
    A few posts later ... okay, you win.

    No, now the rinselberg and coda have clarified the topic - I get it.

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    Master OptiBoarder rinselberg's Avatar
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    Artist's conception



    Artist's conception: What the new U.S. Air Force antimatter bomb may look like.

    :hammer:


    If you read and appreciated my recent posts on Air Force Antimatter Research (above), you may want to visit:

    http://www.spacewar.com/
    Last edited by rinselberg; 10-10-2004 at 05:13 AM.

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