Updated to February 25, 2022
Past Postings (updated to February 25, 2022-Archive at johnw.substack.com)
What got this business going for me (the background story)
Where I come out (on eliminating nuclear weapons)
Were the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs the same or different?
What did J. Robert Oppenheimer say after the successful test of the atomic bomb on July 16, 1945? What did it mean?
What, exactly, is nuclear fission? When was it discovered? What does it do?
What is the difference between a nuclear reactor and a nuclear bomb?
Can nuclear reactors explode?
What was the hardest part about making the first bomb?
How did we enrich the uranium for Little Boy?
How is uranium enriched today?
What was the “other” fissile fuel? (Answer: plutonium.) How is it made?
How many nuclear tests did we conduct before we stopped?
Where did we conduct nuclear tests? What for?
Did any of our presidents ever witness a nuclear detonation?
How are fission and fusion bombs different? Why are fusion bombs so much more powerful?
How big can they get?
How were nuclear weapons “miniaturized”?
What’s the difference between a “strategic” and a “tactical” nuclear weapon?
Can nuclear weapons be used as “tactical” weapons?
At War in the Cold War: What was it like to manage a “tactical” nuclear weapon?
What is the difference between a “clean” and a “dirty” nuclear weapon?
What is “ionizing radiation”? Is it harmful? How do nuclear weapons produce it?
The Fallout Chronicles
First Observed Effects
Fallout Gets a Name
Fallout Gets Tested on Our Soldiers
Fallout Escapes Containment
Fallout Shelters Are Pushed
The Evidence Mounts and is Suppressed
Compensation is Offered
Is There a Threshold?
Where Are We Now?
What is Freedom For?
How have we kept our nuclear weapons from going off accidentally? I
How have we kept our nuclear weapons from going off accidentally? II
How long would it take an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile to get from here to there? Or from there to here?
How long would it take missiles other than ICBMs to arrive?
1. Atlas goes on alert, with Titan close behind
2. Minuteman is stood up and Titan II too
3. Becoming rotten with perfection, the Minuteman III
4. What were the things they carried?
5. What happens when the warheads get where they are going?
6. Becoming rotten with perfection
We weren’t done yet
What are “re-entry vehicles”? Why do we need them? How do they work? What are MIRVs? How do they work?
What happens when the warheads get where they are going?
Into a Minuteman III Launch Control Center
Down into the Heart of It
Through the doors
A Necessary Re-targeting
How do we keep “unauthorized people” from setting off one of our nuclear weapons?
What is the difference between a “counterforce” and a “countervalue” attack with nuclear weapons?
What is a SIOP? I. How Did Ours Change During the Cold War?
What is a SIOP? II. How Did Ours Change During the Cold War?
What is a SIOP III. How Might Ours Have Turned Out Different?
Presidential Predicaments: JFK
I. Closing the Gap
III. Berlin. Again
IV. Becoming More Flexible
V. Should He Pre-empt?
VI. The Tsar Bomba
VII. The Closest We Came?
What is COG? (Answer: Continuity of Government.) What Does It Have to Do with Nuclear Weapons?
I, II, III
Forthcoming and Possibly Forthcoming
Presidential Predicaments: Truman
Presidential Predicaments: Eisenhower
What is a Doomsday Machine? Was one in place during the arms race? Here? There? Is one still in place?
What did the scientists who made the bomb say about the future with it after the war?
What was Operation Candor?
When and why were we lied to during the Cold War?
Is there a defense against nuclear weapons? Was there ever?
How many nuclear weapons would it take to destroy a country?
How many nuclear weapons are needed for “deterrence”? What kind?
Does “deterrence” work? When doesn’t it?
Did nuclear weapons ever give us a political advantage? When? What were we able to do with it?
Are nuclear weapons useless?
Who can “push the button”?
What was Operation Plowshare? Was it a success?
How is the Cold War like climate change?
Is nuclear power generation a good idea?
Is there no escape?