Bombs and rockets

LOX and RP-1 never burn absolutely clean, and there is always a bit of free carbon in the exhaust, which produces a luminous flame. So when you’re looking at TV and see a liftoff from Cape Kennedy—or from Baikonur for that matter—and the exhaust flame is very bright, you can be sure the propellants are […]

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Finally somebody in authority sat down and thought the problem through. The specifications of JP-4 [jet fuel] were as sloppy as they were to insure a large supply of the stuff under all circumstances. But Jupiter and Thor [ballistic missiles] were designed and intended to carry nuclear warheads, and it dawned upon the thinker that […]

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[Calculating rocket fuel performance mathematically] gets worse exponentially as the number of different elements and the number of possible species [of reaction products] increases. With a system containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, you may have to consider fifteen species or more. And if you toss in boron, say, or aluminum, and perhaps a little […]

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A tweet of mine, written in a moment of irritability aggravated by the sound of jets roaring overhead, has gotten some attention by virtue of being incorporated into some news articles about social media commentary on the Toronto Air Show. In addition to my standard gripes about the wastefulness of jet engine use, the undesirability […]

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A monopropellant is a liquid which contains in itself both the fuel and the oxidizer, either as a single molecule such as methyl nitrate, CH3NO3, in which the oxygens can burn the carbon and the hydrogens, or as a mixture of a fuel and an oxidizer, such as a solution of benzene in N2O4. On […]

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has some great free software available that lets you see many solar system bodies (from the sun to Jupiter’s absurd abundance of tiny moons) as well as a wide variety of space missions. Some interesting objects: Miranda, Phobos, Deimos, Io, Europa

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Many problems in nuclear strategy are unpleasant or even horrifying to contemplate. As the number of nuclear-armed nations grows, the chances that one will be put in a desperate situation and choose to use one more more nuclear weapons likely rises. An article by Vince Manzo and John Warden considers potential American responses to the […]

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An episode involving missile defence* from the West Wing holds up very well today. The craggy old American chief of staff is in favour, out of fear of what rogue regimes might do to America. The British ambassador is opposed because it’s impractical, violates international law, and risks worsening the global nuclear weapons situation. I […]

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Yet what seems to be beyond question is that any social system (not only ours) that has created and maintained a Doomsday Machine and has put the trigger to it, including first use of nuclear weapons, in the hands of one human being – anyone, not just this one man, still worse in the hands […]

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The Distant Early Warning line (“Fides Contentio Sapienta”) is part of Canada’s cold war legacy. The DEWLine website has a lot of information on the history of these RADAR sites, how they operated, and who was involved.

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