What works for arsenic doesn’t really work for nuclear weapons.

Nuclear acclimization.

Before the military tested LSD on personnel, it conducted even more extreme trials in atomic battlefield conditioning. That is, it put soldiers in close-but-survivable proximity to fission bombs…and then exploded the bombs.

(Can’t find any record of combined LSD/atomic bomb experiments. Which is good…but you’d still love to see that data.)

As a junior tech in the early ’80’s I worked with a 30-year health physics/radiochemical veteran. He provided radiological support during some of those tests. (The bomb tests, not the drugs.) After the soldiers’ “acclimatization”, he’d put a dose rate meter to their thyroids to measure the I-131 (there’d be other radioiodines there as well).

My recollection is that he got around 3 rem/hr. ( 30mSv/hr.) …off their necks.

Never saw hard data on it, but he told me there was heightened thyroid cancer among the men later. It’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be. And once this was realized, further treatment was prescribed. They’d burn out thyroids completely, using…of course…radioiodine.

Why on earth?! Because back then there were weapons like this:

Fortunately the concept of “hydrogen bomb acclimatization” never caught on.

I’d rate as “very extremely likely” that the Fukushima disaster will not put as much I-131 in any Nippon citizen as we did in those soldiers.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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10 Responses to What works for arsenic doesn’t really work for nuclear weapons.

  1. abUWS says:

    My favorite “tactical” atomic weapon was a two man portable atomic mortar. The blast radius was “classified” and supposedly secret even from the mortar crews presumably because the range was less than the blast radius. It was called the Davey Crockett.

    • wormme says:

      That’s the name we always toss around the office. I’d originally thought it was this cannon. But obviously not; an ex-Navy tech in the office says the same as you about the Crockett’s blast radius.

  2. poul says:

    “3 rem/hr. ( 30mSv/hr.) …off their necks” – and it didn’t fry their brain? wouldn’t they see permanent fireworks in their eyes? have synapses misfire randomly?

    • wormme says:

      Brain tissue is actually pretty radio-resistant, compared to other cells.

      Are you thinking of the researcher who saw a light “like a thousand suns“? He accidently stuck his head in the path of a particle beam for a moment. The dose rate was probably 5 to 6 orders of magnitude greater.

      • poul says:

        no, decades ago i was talking with some chernobyl resquers, and they complained about permanent fireworks and muscles contracting randomly, which was explained by brain being hit by gamma radiation from inside their bodies. it was over much vodka, though, so take it for what it is…

        • wormme says:

          Hmm. Maybe the soldiers couldn’t see flashes of light because they’d just watched a nuclear detonation?

          The people to talk to would be those who’ve had the “thyroid burnout” treatment. They’d be in the same ballpark as the soldiers. They’re told to stay away from children entirely, not sleep beside their spouse for a few weeks, etc. They get a really, really large dose.

          If it’s true, I’d guess the Chernobyl responders got into fields much higher than 3 rem/hr. for a brief time.

  3. Leopold says:

    Ah, that was back in the days of the (short-lived) Pentomic Division — the army organized around fighting while the nukes were flying — the division was split into five relatively weak battle groups (too small, it was thought, to be a nuke magnet). My dad was in a signal battalion assigned directly to a numbered army. The theory was that after some subordinate corps HQ got nuked, the battalion would have enough comms capacity to pick up the pieces and service whatever maneuver units were left. My dad was in the company that was a miniature of the battalion as a whole. I guess the theory was that the company would have the comms capacity to support a corps that had been nuked twice.

    I will say this about the Davey Crockett — as an indirect fire weapon, you could (in theory) put a hill or a town between you and the soon-to-glowing-Godless-communist-hordes and make the experience theoretically survivable. Wouldn’t want to have had to use it in a desert or in the Low Countries, though.

  4. oldHP says:

    And we still can’t talk about delivering a backpack nuke via a diver exiting a submarine at a classified depth…

    Who would have thought that lowly machinists bear the secret to making small amounts of metal go kaboom…

    • wormme says:

      What wasn’t known, making all those old specialized nukes, is that there’s no such thing as a “tactical” one. That’s one of the few good things to come from radiophobia.

      It’s also why the “anti-American” Americans are going to be surprised by our response to nuclear terrorism.

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