No Lost Sleep Over Nukes
Two years ago today, COVID fear-mongering began in earnest: “Two weeks to flatten...” Today’s talking heads revert to an older, more durable fear-mongering.
“The atomic bomb is shit… It will make a big bang - a very big bang. But it is not a weapon which is useful in war.”
— the late J Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and “the father of the atomic bomb”
“Everything you know is wrong.”
--the late naturopathic physician and medical school professor Jim Sensenig ND
We hear belligerent talk about possible nuclear war due to Ukraine/Russia rise in crescendo and then peak over the current weeks, last week and earlier this week, and then within days or weeks from now, it will likely begin to decrescendo as some peace-making off-ramp is found, yet again, from the oft-repeated "brink of nuclear annihilation." Then people won’t be talking about that awful scenario much anymore, and will be on the way to the next crisis du jour. Now think back to when that last happened, and the time before that. At each sine wave of nuke bluster and fear, crescendo then decrescendo over the previous decades, think of the public, now riveted by mortal terror, totally distracted from other (likely more important) issues, then given a very short break due to MSM ratings obsession, where every day of the year is bursting with Breaking! news, and then hurrying on to the next hill of the emotional roller coaster all over again, perhaps a new scary virus story, perhaps the climate change story, etc.
Now step off the roller coaster, and distance yourself from its sickening rise to the peak of dizzying terror at the crest and then plunging down to what looks like must be oblivion. Step away from that and assess it all from a distance, dispassionately and academically: the route of the roller coaster, the emotional exhaustion of the passengers, their endurance of yet another hill with the same sine wave results, their position too close to the ride to assess the entire ride. This is what happens to the public each time we are threatened: Focus narrows to the very short term. The immediate threat is all-consuming and all-eclipsing. People become too terrified to step back and look at the previous time, to anticipate the next time, too caught up in the moment to notice a repeating pattern.
Mathematician Akio Nakatani has doubts about the viability of nuclear weapons. In his book Death Object, he evaluates the probability of nuclear weapons that remain dormant for a time, years perhaps, to suddenly being activated by the flip of some switch, leading to impact-driven detonation by means of a perfectly targeted neutron aiming and arriving precisely at the nucleus of another atom. Nakatani compares such an event to standing at one end of a football field and shooting a bullet toward a mosquito in flight at the other end, and actually hitting it. But that is a bit generous, given the sizes, velocities and erratic collisions of atoms everywhere (especially in hot weather) versus the usually slow floating of a mosquito.
I think Nakatani is generally correct that a nuclear holocaust, even if political leaders were to jam all the red nuke buttons on their desks at once, is very unlikely to impossible. Here’s why. Consider hydrogen, in which a neutron is 10 E-15 meters wide. A nucleus is 10 E-14 m wide. The distance from that first tiny object to that second tiny object on adjacent atoms averages 74 x 10 E-12 m wide. (Please pardon all the exponents.) Therefore, this distance between the nuclei of adjacent atoms even in the same molecule is 7,400 times the width of the nucleus. On average. And moving fast. And moving all over the place, not in straight line paths. Good luck trying to hit it, from one allegedly bursting forth neutron to the tiny, fast-moving nucleus of a nearby atom.
Here’s another way to think about it. If the nucleus of a hydrogen atom were a golf ball size, the distance to the nucleus of an adjacent atom is a constantly and rapidly and unpredictably shifting distance averaging in the neighborhood of one and a half to two miles away. Can the world’s top golfers hit a fast-moving and erratically moving hole two miles away? Can a robot golfer? Or a robot marksman with the most effective rifle? Can a nuclear warhead resting in its silo for years suddenly do that, all inside that warhead, upon such an instantly messy and unpredictable event as impact on some rock or soil ? Even if such a very unlikely event were to occur, what are the odds that a second or third such reaction would take place? Mathematicians might summarize this as:
unlikely x unlikely x unlikely = very, very unlikely, because the probability that multiple independent events will happen is multiplicative, not additive.
Nakatani notes a “pre-bang checklist” would have to include all of the following at once: a sufficient quantity of fast neutrons, going at fast enough speeds, with likelihood of hitting target nuclei, in the right type of encounter (fission, rather than capture and orbit) with enough neutrons being liberated as a result in just the right amount of time for an explosive outcome. And that minimal likelihood is further compounded because the target nuclei are so very few and far between, given the vast empty atomic scale discussed above, creating what Nakatani calls a “Goldilocks problem.” Certainly the idea, of each of these events happening once in perfect coordination may be possible, but the “Burn the sky” narrative of setting the atmosphere on fire would require them happening in just that narrow infinitesimal probability over and over.
With molecules colliding constantly and everywhere, faster and with more impact in hot weather, why does such a nuclear blast, even the tiniest observed pop, never happen spontaneously, even in very hot places such as ceramic kilns or volcanos? (Volcanos are different sorts of bursts.)
Furthermore, neutrons come at us all the time from space. From sources outside our solar system, we are bombarded with a shower of secondary radiation including x-rays, protons, electrons and neutrons, more so with higher altitude. Why do Himalayan, Andean or Rocky Mountain residents and aircraft never have nuclear fission explosions from this constant bombardment? Not even the tiniest observed pop.
Nuclear fear-mongering consists of “Burn the sky” narrative of endless chain reactions of nuclear fission, which has never materialized in any testing, whether in Alamogordo, Bikini Atoll or the bombs that landed on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Jonathan Schell’s highly imaginative armageddon unfolds in brutal detail in his 1982 book The Fate Of The Earth. “Duck and cover” cowered a generation of school children. If only their teachers knew then how much more effectively masks would later produce the semi-asphyxiation and hypercapnia needed to keep the kids docile and obedient these days. “Docile and obedient” were the words I heard used by a flight attendant to describe that particular effect on masked passengers.
Back to nukes, Nakatani quotes the doubts expressed by J Robert Oppenheimer and other nuclear scientists regarding nuclear warfare; they seemed to understand that a chain reaction at sufficient speed to enable nuclear explosion was not possible, and they seemed to understand this by the end of WWII.
The human toll of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts were unfathomable tragedies. It is estimated that one quarter of the pre-nuclear bomb Hiroshima population died by the end of that year, 1945. One percent of the survivors within a one-mile radius of ground zero were later diagnosed with radiation sickness. But the other 99% ?
55 groves of 170 survivor trees hibakujumoku in that same one-mile radius of ground zero are still lovingly tended by concerned citizens and Hiroshima municipal employees, many surviving over seven decades later. Here is the United Nations recognition of those trees.
It’s kind of strange that with all the stories of how nothing is left after nuclear war, nobody ever happened to mention that 170 trees survived the blast within a mile radius of ground zero, many of them to the present. Perhaps this was an oversight in our grade school education on nuclear weapons. I distinctly remember being told that only cockroaches survive nuclear weapons, but as it turns out, 3/4 of the human population of Hiroshima survived that first year after the bomb dropped.
Nakatani also discusses World War II history that is rarely discussed in the west, for example the Soviet Union’s declaration of war on Japan within a few days after the August 1945 “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” bombings, but just before Japan surrendered. Japan saw that it would be attacked from the west, north and east, and that it could not feasibly take on both the US and the Soviet Union at once, and surrendered at that time, with the large bombings (of the 67 Japanese cities devastatingly bombed, mostly “carpet-bombed,” in WW II) providing a better face-saving for surrender than because of Soviet declaration of war. When Japan’s top military met for the last time before surrender, the recent blast at Nagasaki was not even recorded as being mentioned in their discussion.
But here is a further reason that I am skeptical of big nations’ bluster about their big bad nukes. As a naturopathic physician, I look to biology and anthropology for insight, and often very helpful answers, on perplexing questions of our time, assuming that there is nothing (completely) new under the sun. Therefore, Let’s ask this: When bullies bluster, can they always back up their threats, or do they sometimes bluff? Is it easier to bluff than to come up with the real goods? Let’s look at biology and anthropology.
For an example from the world of mammalian dust-ups, if a smaller mammal is confronted by a larger predatory animal, which strategy is easier for the smaller animal to implement: To suddenly grow longer teeth, longer claws, bigger muscles, more overall body mass and volume? Or to simply raise the hackles at the neck, back and tail, in order to project an image of larger, and hopefully intimidating, size? If the latter bluff were not an evolutionary advantage, and had not been decisively effective in the past, then why do both cats in a cat fight do this? Why would they have inherited that trait from their apparently successfully surviving and reproducing ancestors? Why did their and other species’ develop the mechanisms to do this at the level of the pili muscles at the base of each hair, to make fur stand on end, unless bluffing and projecting the image of a larger size were a useful survival tool? Perhaps it has served as a useful political tool in the human realm as well.
On this, the anniversary of the start of COVID craziness, it is time to stand up to the COVID hoaxers everywhere. Will Karen really slap you for not wearing a mask? No. (On a plane, maybe; but then your unmasked face may already be turning the plane around, because tyrants resort to tantrums when they do not get their way.)
Nakatani argues: “Trickery is the way of war - thus has it always been. But the nuclear trick is the biggest, boldest and baddest-ass scam in all of mankind’s ancient and eternal quest for power and profit through mass slaughter.”
The gates of nuclear hell are many times approached, but not crossed, by politicians for three purposes: For re-assertion of big nation hegemony as the few large power holders, to remind smaller nations that they are not in that nuke club, and to just stay in their lane, and to distract the public from real and important issues.
When you step away from the victim role in a psy-op, and observe it disinterestedly, academically, it's easier to see the nature of the game and historical patterns repeating.
The tiger you fear may be a paper tiger. The Great Wizard of Oz may find his curtain has been tugged open.
While I appreciate the reassurance, I'm not entirely sure I want to test the theory.
I am much more concerned about a starving, lawless, immoral populace in a collapsing civilization than I am of nukes. And we are seeing the beginnings of that collapsing civilization right now. I am choosing to focus on the real threat, and nukes are not it. Once again, all of this nuke crap is to make us forget what they have/are doing to civilization right now. IMHO. Stay alert. The monsters would love for us to forget what they've done over the last 2 years... and, unfortunately, it is working. Sigh.