Civil defense efficiency data from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Texas City Disaster nuclear and conventional explosions on the public in buildings etc
“A soldier on picket duty at Nagasaki was vaporised by the explosion even though he was 3.5 km from the centre of the blast.”
- Myth promoted by physics Professors Tony Hey and Patrick Walters, The Quantum Universe, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 69 (photo above).
The soldier was only subject to skin reddening because of the brief pulse, which even a leaf or a sheet of paper stopped. The wooden panel behind the person was slightly scorched where shielded by the person. Hey and Walters’ are unaware that it takes more energy to evaporate water (people are 70% water) than to burn dry wood! If the flash had been sufficient to “vaporise” anyone, the wooden panel would have burned first, being less than 70% water! However, some physics professors are proud to promote pseudo-science like non-relativistic (first-quantization) quantum mechanics in preference to relativistic second quantization, just like the myth that a bomb can vaporize 70% water people and merely leave scorch marks on a wooden fence!
ABOVE: U. S. Army photo showing how a mere leaf of Fatsia japonica attenuated the heat flash enough to prevent scorching to the bitumen on an electric pole near the Meiji Bridge, 1.3 km range, Hiroshima. It didn't even vaporize the leaf before the pulse ended, let alone did it somehow ignite the wooden pole (most photos claiming to show thermal flash radiation effects in Hiroshima and Nagasaki purely show effects from the fires set off by the blast wave overturning cooking stoves, which developed 30 minutes to 2 hours later):
“Even blades of grass cast permanent shadows on otherwise badly scorched wood. The [Hiroshima nuclear bomb heat] flash lasted less time than it took the grass to shrivel.” - Chapman Pincher, Into the Atomic Age, Hutchinson and Co., London, 1950, p. 50.
Above: Yorozuyo Bridge, 880 metres south-southwest of ground zero in Hiroshima. Notice that the railings and their support pillars weren't vaporized when casting shadows in the otherwise flash-scorched road. Unlike some wooden bridges in Hiroshima which burned, this modern bridge was neither “vaporised” nor blasted into the river. Just 240 metres from ground zero, the modern T-shaped Aioi Bridge also survived (this bridge was the distinctive aiming point for Enola Gay bombardier Major Thomas Ferebee, but the crosswind carried the bomb 240 metres south, so that it detonated directly over the Shima Surgical Clinic):
The ability of Hiroshima survivors to beat or roll out the flames from dark coloured ignited clothing, thereby preventing any flame burns at the higher thermal exposures is discussed in the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 19 June 1946:
Page 3: “The [Hiroshima] attack came 45 minutes after the ‘all clear’ had been sounded from a previous alert [the weather survey aircraft, flying ahead of the nuclear bomber]. Because of the lack of warning and the populace’s indifference to small groups of planes, the explosion came as an almost complete surprise, and the people had not taken shelter. Many were caught in the open, and most of the rest in flimsily constructed homes or commercial establishments.”
Page 17: “Uninfected burns healed promptly without any unusual clinical features [nuclear radiation synergism with thermal burns only occurred where there was infection of the burns wounds; high doses of nuclear radiation prevented the infections from healing normally from about 1-8 weeks after exposure, when the white blood cell count was suppressed due to bone marrow damage] ... Because of the brief duration of the flash wave and the shielding effects of almost any objects – leaves and clothing as well as buildings – there were many interesting cases of protection. ... The most striking instance was that of a man writing before a window. His hands were seriously burned but his exposed face and neck suffered only slight burns due to the angle of entry of the radiant heat through the window.”
Page 18: “Flash burns were largely confined to exposed areas of the body ... the thicker the clothing the more likely it was to give complete protection against flash burns. ... skin was burned beneath tightly fitting clothing but was unburned beneath loosely fitting portions. ... dark-colored clothing were most likely to be burned.”
Page 19: “A few burns resulted from clothing set afire by the flash wave, but in most cases people were able to beat out such fires without serious injury to the skin.”
Page 21: “Treatment of victims by the Japanese was limited by the lack of medical supplies and facilities. ... Allied doctors used penicillin and plasma with beneficial effects. ... A large percentage of the cases died from secondary disease, such as septic bronchopneumonia or tuberculosis, as a result of lowered resistance. Deaths from radiation began about a week after exposure and reached a peak in three to four weeks. They had practically ceased to occur after seven to eight weeks.”
Page 32: “Clothing ignited, though it could be quickly beaten out, telephone poles charred, thatched roofs of houses caught fire. In Hiroshima, the explosion started hundreds of fires almost simultaneously, the most distant of which was found 13,700 feet from ground zero; this, however, probably started when a building with a thatched roof collapsed on to a hot charcoal fire. Fires were started directly by flash heat in such easily ignitable substances as dark cloth, paper, or dry-rotted wood, within about 3,500 feet of ground zero; white-painted, concrete-faced or cement-stuccoed structures reflected the heat and did not ignite. ... Clothing as well as buildings afforded considerable protection against the flash. Even a clump of grass or tree leaf was on occasion adequate.”
Page 41: “In our planning for the future, if we are realistic, we will prepare to minimize the destructiveness of such attacks, and so organize the economic and administrative life of the nation that no single or small group of successful attacks can paralyze the national organism.”
Above: protection against severe thermal radiation burns by cloth cap and summer uniform of soldier at 1.23 mile from ground zero in Hiroshima, as photographed by the Japanese on 2 October 1945. This pair of photos were published on page 16 of the 30 June 1946 (typeset version) of the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey unclassified report, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There were 40,000 soldiers in Hiroshima preparing to resist the American invasion when the bomb dropped. The thermal exposure calculated for this soldier by Glasstone and Dolan (The Effects of Nuclear Weapons 3rd ed., 1977, Fig. 12.70 on page 567) is 5.5-6 cal/cm2 assuming 12.5 kt yield, which implies 7.0-7.7 cal/cm2 for the 2002 DS02 dosimetry yield revision of 16 kt. Glasstone and Dolan designate 7.1 cal/cm2 as the thermal flash energy needed for third degree burns (charring) to medium colour skin, 16 kt yield, so this is skin charring on that criterion. By the medical "rule of nines" he received only 4.5% body area (face) burns and was able to survive, despite the serious nature of the burns. The widely-cited U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report The Effects of Nuclear War falsely asserts that outdoors 6.7 cal/cm2 is lethal to all exposed, even for nuclear explosion yields higher than at Hiroshima (the thermal energy needed to cause a given burn increases with bomb yield).
The flash of light arriving ahead of the blast wave from a nuclear explosion advertises a bright visible advance warning to get down, to take cover against the strong blast winds and accompanying flying debris, contrary to lies in popular media films of explosions where the bang soundtrack is falsely synchronized with the flash. It is true that at large distances where the flash was not painfully bright upon the eyes (i.e. many times the brightness of the noon sun), some people will actually turn to look towards the fireball. However, the maximum size of a retinal burn is limited by the solid angle of the fireball in the observers field of view. Glasstone and Dolan report the following eye injury facts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki on page 572 of the 1977 Effects of Nuclear Weapons. There was only one known case of permanent retinal injury, and only 5% of people within 6,600 feet of ground zero suffered temporary keratitis (cornea inflammation) because the cornea is transparent and doesn't heat up! Nobody in a sample of 1,400 cases received permanent opacity of the cornea, despite 25% of cases having facial burns! Nobody had their eyes burned out.
Even in the case when rabbits were exposed in aircraft flying above the clouds and directly facing the 3.8 megaton Teak high altitude test in 1958, the size of the retinal burns was limited to a very small fraction of the retina area, so even where retinal injury does occur, it doesn't imply permanent total blindness. The rabbits forced to face the fireball had small eye injuries but were not blinded. For lower altitude detonations, the duration of the flash is longer and the pain caused by the intense glare of many noon-suns close to a nuclear detonation instinctively causes the person to close their eyes and face away by reflex, just as people react to a painfully bright flash of light at night from a camera. As we shall see, these actions automatically reduce the hazard from both eye injury and burns in high-yield nuclear weapons that expose massive areas to dangerous thermal and blast effects. Thermal burns data for bare skin and no evasive action is inappropriate to humans who wear clothes and reflexively take evasive action upon seeing a very bright flash. (Few people are likely to be looking upwards from ground zero in a high altitude detonation with a short duration flash.)
Above: thermal burns to bare skin at normal incidence (facing the fireball) for low altitude nuclear detonations of various yields, from Glasstone and Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, assuming no evasive action, no shadowing of the fireball by the skyline, fences, houses, vehicles, trees, other people, clothing, etc. The data also implicitly assumes a low (relaxed) heart pulse because the burn volunteers were seated and relatively relaxed during the exposure. Larger amounts of thermal radiation are needed to cause burns when the duration of the pulse increases in large weapon yields, because there is then time for heat to be carried from surface tissue to deeper layers by the circulation of blood, reducing the temperature rise. A pulse rate higher than 72 beats per minute has the same cooling effect on the skin, by carrying away surface heat faster and limiting the temperature of the tissue. E.g., a fighting soldier or a person running for cover with a high pulse rate during a nuclear attack warning will require considerably more thermal radiation for a particular burn than is indicated.
Above: U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey photo of the Hiroshima firestorm area: modern city buildings survived near ground zero in Hiroshima, saving lives by shielding radiation. Several hours after being evacuated, some were burned out in the firestorm started 30 minutes after the detonation in the overcrowded and obsolete wooden housing predominant in the old city centre. Remember the mechanism for the firestorm was not thermal radiation causing instant building flashover, so the burned down wooden buildings gave nearly complete thermal flash protection to the people in them (except near some windows which had a clear view of the fireball), who mostly evacuated the firespread area before their houses burned:
“Six persons who had been in reinforced-concrete buildings within 3,200 feet [975 m] of air zero stated that black cotton black-out curtains were ignited by flash heat ... A large proportion of over 1,000 persons questioned was, however, in agreement that a great majority of the original fires were started by debris falling on kitchen charcoal fires ...”
- Secret-classified May 1947 Strategic Bombing Survey report on Hiroshima, vol. 1, pages 4-6 (excluded from the unclassified booklet they published in 1946, before the full six-volume secret report had been finished).
Above: 1945 Hiroshima overcrowded wood-frame city area (this area was just outside the firestorm perimeter, so it survived intact apart from broken windows) was judged to be a serious fire hazard even in peacetime without a nuclear explosion, according to the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 19 June 1946 (emphasis added to key sentences in bold below):
Page 5: “In Hiroshima (and in Nagasaki also) the dwellings were of wood construction; about one-half were one story and the remainder either one and one-half or two stories. ... The type of construction, coupled with antiquated fire-fighting equipment [stored in wooden sheds] and inadequately trained personnel, afforded even in peacetime a high possibility of conflagration. Many wood framed industrial buildings were of poor construction by American standards. The principal points of weakness were the extremely small tenons, the inadequate tension joints, and the inadequate or poorly designed lateral bracings.”
Page 18: “The collapse of the buildings was sudden, so that thousands of people were pinned beneath the debris. Many were able to extricate themselves or received aid in escaping, but large numbers succumbed either to their injuries or to the fire before they could be extricated.”
Page 32: “Clothing ignited, though it could be quickly beaten out, telephone poles charred, thatched roofs of houses caught fire. In Hiroshima, the explosion started hundreds of fires almost simultaneously, the most distant of which was found 13,700 feet from ground zero; this, however, probably started when a building with a thatched roof collapsed on to a hot charcoal fire. Fires were started directly by flash heat in such easily ignitable substances as dark cloth, paper, or dry-rotted wood, within about 3,500 feet of ground zero; white-painted, concrete-faced or cement-stuccoed structures reflected the heat and did not ignite. ... The majority of the initial fires in buildings, however, were started by secondary sources (kitchen charcoal fires, electric short circuits, industrial process fires, etc.). ... Clothing as well as buildings afforded considerable protection against the flash. Even a clump of grass or tree leaf was on occasion adequate.”
Above: The Hiroshima Fire Department had only one modern ladder truck which was burned when the wooden West Side main fire station was burned down, 1.2 km from ground zero. (U.S. National Archives)
Above: the modern city Hiroshima today, no longer the fire hazard of predominantly inflammable overcrowded wood-frame buildings that existed on 6 August 1945. As shown later in this post, the few modern city buildings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki withstood the effects very well, and in buildings which were not evacuated during the firestorm 2-3 hours afterwards, they were able to put out the fires. Because of the high humidity in the two Japanese coastal cities (and most modern Western cities near the coast or a river) relative to the dry Nevada desert, and the geometric shadowing by the city skyline of windows (and people) from the fireball, modern style buildings did not ignite from thermal radiation, unlike some Nevada nuclear test structures, but instead from burning firebrands from the firestorm raging in wood-frame housing around them (a threat which does not exist in modern cities). This example tells us the facts about low thermal ignition threat for any modern, humid, non-desert Western city (cities built beside a river or ocean are relatively humid compared to the Nevada desert), unlike Lynn Eden's overhyped case of a room flashover in an inflammable trash-filled wooden house exposed with a window having an unobstructed line of sight facing the 1953 Encore nuclear test, on the dry, low-humidity desert plains of the Nevada. (Two almost identical houses were exposed at Encore and only the one filled with obsolete inflammable junk burst into flames; the one with modern furnishings which were manufactured to modern safety standards regarding normal fire-resistant - but not fire-proof - outer fabric coverings did not undergo flashover and the few smouldering items were easily extinguished by the recovery party after the test. Eden and brainwashed supporters live in an imaginary world where city centres are still filled with 1945 non-whitewashed inflammable wooden houses, piled high with illegally inflammable furnishings, somehow kept as dry as the test houses in low-humidity Nevada desert, with windows arranged so they have an unobstructed view of a nuclear fireball.)
Nuclear winter and related lies debunked by actual firestorm data
Of thousands of nuclear test explosions, the one “nuclear winter” from the Hiroshima fire storm blocked out the sun for 25 minutes (from burst time at 8:15 am until 8:40) in Hiroshima as shown by the meteorological sunshine records printed in Figure 6 (3H) of Drs. Ashley W. Oughterson, Henry L. Barnett, George V. LeRoy, Jack D. Rosenbaum, Averill A. Liebow, B. Aubrey Schneider, and E. Cuyler Hammond, Medical Effects of Atomic Bombs: The Report of the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan, Volume 1, Office of the Air Surgeon, report NP-3036, April 19, 1951, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Nobody is recorded as being a casualty from the 25 minutes of sunlight deprivation!
The reason? The soot is hydroscopic. It absorbs water and falls out in black rain. The firestorm took 30 minutes to start and was at peak intensity 2-3 hours later, so radioactive mushroom cloud been blown many miles downwind before the black rain occurred over Hiroshima, contrary to ignorant lies about “fallout radiation”. The soot doesn’t freeze the planet. The soot was instead rapidly precipitated in a self-induced rainout as was pointed out back in 1983 by J. B. Knox in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory report UCRL-89907, which nuclear propaganda ignored. No other nuclear explosion ever created a firestorm. Even those near naturally forested Pacific islands failed to ignite the vegetation by thermal radiation.
Targeting oil wells instead of cities reduces the moisture effect, but the soot doesn't rise high enough from burning oil wells, as proved when Saddam set fire to all of Kuwait’s oil fields. This has all been intensively researched and documented. Regarding the non-soot dust injected into the stratosphere, unlike soot it’s not a strong absorber of sunlight and weather records were intensively studied for signs of both nuclear winter and ozone depletion during hundreds of megatons of atmospheric 1945-62 nuclear tests, with failure.
The initial gamma radiation from a nuclear explosion produces more ozone than it destroys. Gamma radiation produces large amounts of ozone from atmospheric oxygen regardless of the burst altitude, but ozone-destroying nitrogen oxides are only produced by the high-density air blast of low-altitude nuclear explosions. Those nitrogen oxides then combine with water vapour in the turbulent toroidal circulation of the mushroom cloud to form nitric acid, which does not destroy ozone but simply gets deposited, very diluted, in rain. This was proved in the 1970s when aircraft were flown through mushroom clouds from Chinese nuclear tests. In high altitude nuclear explosions, there is no compressed blast wave that forms nitrogen oxides, so you actually get a boost to the ozone layer since the explosion produces vast amounts of ozone due to the gamma radiation.
Even the “nuclear winter” from mass fires, dust, and other effects from the well-established 100 million megatons K-T explosion 65 million years ago failed to wipe out plants and mammals. Instead, it made extinct the dangerous cold-blooded reptiles that were preventing freedom for peaceful mammal evolution. The idea that there is no protection and no possibility of surviving against a big explosion is false. Claiming that nuclear wars cannot be won if you lie and exaggerate the effects of nuclear weapons and the effects of nuclear war while downplaying countermeasures, is exactly what encouraged the terrorists to exploit the most feared weapons in the 1930s while peace-loving nations disarmed and thus effectively signed the death warrant for six million Jews on “peace treaties” with liars.
One of the Scientific American’s Cold War publishers, Gerard Piel, had a long history of lying and publishing lies about fires from nuclear weapons to attack civil defense readiness, just as his predecessors did in Britain during the 1930s (which made the Prime Minister appease Hitler, encouraging him to start WWII). Typical example of lie:
“A heading in one recent report concerned with effects of nuclear detonations reads, ‘Megatons Mean Fire Storms,’ and the report predicts that a 20-megaton nuclear burst is sure to produce a 300-square mile fire storm. [Reference: Gerard Piel (then the anti-civil defense publisher of the Scientific American), ‘The Illusion of Civil Defense,’ published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 1962, pp. 2-8.] The report further states that blastproof bomb shelters afforded no protection in World War II fire storms, and the reader is left to conclude that vast fire storm areas in which there will be no survivors are an assured consequence of future nuclear attacks. ... the 40,000-50,000 persons killed by the fire storm at Hamburg constituted only 14 to 18 percent of the people in the fire storm area and 3 to 4 percent of Hamburg’s total population at the time of the attack. ... Two of three buildings in a 4.5 square mile area were burning 20 minutes after the incendiary attack began at Hamburg, and similar figures were reported for other German fire storm cities.”
- Robert M. Rodden, Floyd I. John, and Richard Laurino, Exploratory Analysis of Fire Storms, Stanford Research Institute, AD616638, 1965, pages 1, 5.
Media lying about the thermal ignitions (leading to lies about firestorms and nuclear winter caused by the soot of such fires blocking sunlight) can be traced back to the secret classification of the full three-volume 1947 report on Hiroshima by the Strategic Bombing Survey, which was edited out of the brief single volume “summary” that the openly published a year earlier, 1946. Here is the key revelation (originally ‘secret’ May 1947 U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey report on Hiroshima, pp. 4-6):
‘Six persons who had been in reinforced-concrete buildings within 3,200 feet [975 m] of air zero stated that black cotton black-out curtains were ignited by flash heat… A large proportion of over 1,000 persons questioned was, however, in agreement that a great majority of the original fires were started by debris falling on kitchen charcoal fires ... There had been practically no rain in the city for about 3 weeks. The velocity of the wind ... was not more than 5 miles [8 km] per hour.... Hundreds of fires were reported to have started in the centre of the city within 10 minutes after the explosion... almost no effort was made to fight this conflagration ... There were no automatic sprinkler systems in building...’ [Emphasis added.]
No modern city today is built out of 1945 Hiroshima style wood frame houses with charcoal stoves amid bamboo furnishings and paper screens. Even Hiroshima is no longer built like that, it’s a modern steel, concrete, and brick city and would not suffer a firestorm if a bomb dropped on it again.
Even where city firestorms have actually occurred in obsolete wooden city areas of Japan and Europe, there was not a nuclear winter. What about the theoretical predictions that a nuclear attack on oil supplies will cause a nuclear winter, made by the founder of nuclear winter hype, Paul Crutzen? Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army invaded Kuwait and set all of its oil wells on fire as it was driven back into Iraq by America in 1991.
Peter Aldhous, ‘Oil-well climate catastrophe?’, Nature, vol. 349 (1991), p. 96:
“The fears expressed last week centred around the cloud of soot that would result if Kuwait’s oil wells were set alight by Iraqi forces ... with effects similar to those of the ‘nuclear winter’ ... Paul Crutzen, from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, has produced some rough calculations which predict a cloud of soot covering half of the Northern Hemisphere within 100 days. Crutzen ... estimates that temperatures beneath such a cloud could be reduced by 5-10 degrees C ...”
Dr Richard D. Small of Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation, California, responded in Nature, vol. 350 (1991), pp. 11-12, that 16,000 metric tons of actual soot is produced from 220,000 metric tons of oil burned every day, and anyway:
“My estimates of the smoke produced by destruction of Kuwait’s oil wells and refineries and the smoke stabilization altitude do not support any of the purported impacts. The smoke is not injected high enough to spread over large areas of the Northern Hemisphere, nor is enough produced to cause a measurable temperature change or failure of the monsoons.”
It turned out that the nuclear winter hype was false, because even if you do somehow manage to start a firestorm in the modern world (the overcrowded fire-hazard wooden medieval areas of Hamburg, Dresden, and Hiroshima weren’t rebuilt with wood after they burned in firestorms), it simply doesn’t produce a stable layer of soot in the stratosphere like the computer simulation. At Hiroshima the soot returned to the ground promptly because it is hydroscopic: it forms water droplets, rain. (It wasn’t fallout: the firestorm took over 20 minutes to get doing, by which time the radioactive mushroom cloud had been blown miles downwind.)
Above: body area exposed to blast winds, flying glass and other debris, and thermal flash burns, under different curcumstances, from Fragment Hazard Criteria by D. I. Feinstein, report AD-A265238. Lying prone under a table or desk dramatically reduces injury compared to a standing person for many different reasons. It reduces the body area exposed to horizontally flying debris and blast winds by a factor of four. It reduces the bathing of the body by direct and scattered thermal and initial nuclear radiations, since getting down low increases the angular terrain/city skyline shielding factor for direct radiations (maximising the protection by shadowing), and it also reduces the scattered radiation exposure since one side of the body is in contact with the ground and thus is protected against scattered radiation by the ground. (Although some nuclear radiation may pass through the body and then be scattered back upwards by ground scatter, this is attenuated by its downward passage through the body before the ground scatter. In the case of thermal radiation, there is even more protection.) As the blast winds pass over a lying person, they press the person down, increasing the friction with the ground and minimising the risk of drag. Any gutter or low-lying terrain irregularities provide shelter from the horizontal blast winds. Most or all of these protective factors, as we shall see, have been neglected in the notoriously wrong Cold War era civil defense computer calculations of casualty rates, as proved by specific tests against Hiroshima and Nagasaki survival data.
Above: classic photos of the test of a fake "brick" house (brick-veneered cinder block), with the outer walls all demolished by 5 psi peak overpressure from the 29 kt Teapot-Apple 2 nuclear test, Nevada, May 1955 (Glasstone, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1957). The great deception here is compounded by the fact that all editions of Glasstone's The Effects of Nuclear Weapons (1957, 1962/64 and 1977) omit the secret and later limited-distribution blast damage data that the U. S. Department of Defense possessed for full scale real brick houses, which had been held at an earlier highly secret nuclear weapon test in 1951, and which showed far less destruction, with the front and rear walls surviving almost intact after a peak overpressure of nearly 9 psi from a 47 kt bomb! At 4,245 feet (8.6 psi peak overpressure) and 7,020 feet (3.6 psi peak overpressure) from the 47 kt Greenhouse-Easy Eniwetok Atoll test on 21 April 1951, America had already exposed a pair of real two-story houses with 12-inch brick thick walls to a nuclear explosion, as explained in the 1986 U. K. Home Office Scientific Research and Development Branch report 34/86 by Dr S. Hadjipavlou and Dr G. Carr-Hill, A review of the blast casualty rules applicable to U.K. houses: “In the house at 8.6 psi, one side wall was toppled outwards as a unit and 75% of the other side wall was blown outwards in two sections. The roofing and roof rafters were blown off. There were cracks in the front wall and one of its upper corners collapsed outwards. The house at 3.6 psi suffered no visible damage to the load bearing exterior walls, apart from cracking of a gable. The doors and windows were all blown in, the roof virtually collapsed.”
Both brick houses afforded protection from radiation, the blast winds, and flying debris as long as people were not standing directly behind the windows that faced the burst (the blast winds and associated dynamic pressures that accelerate glass fragments, blow only radially outwards from the explosion, so it can't accelerate glass fragments from windows broken by overpressure on the sides or rear of a building). As the movie of the 5 psi Apple-2 blast hitting the brick-veneer cinder block house showed, the walls resisted and did not fall inwards during the overpressure phase; were blown outwards during the negative phase. This reduces the flying debris problem inside the house. Notice that the staircase survived. Increasing the blast pressure or the weapon yield does not increase the weight of debris; it actually reduces the weight of debris because the blast winds blow more of the roof off the house (instead of allowing it to collapse vertically downwards, adding to the debris load on the lower floors). This is why over 90% of people survived the collapse of their houses in Hiroshima. The burned out remains from the firestorm two hours later does not reflect the blast results or survival prospects! Page 162 of the 1966 Dirkwood Corporation report on Hiroshima and Nagasaki casualties shows that most people had time to evacuate the firestorm area (the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey reports from extensive interviews with survivors that the fires in the overcrowded wooden residential areas only began to merge 30 minutes after the explosion, and the peak intensity of the firestorm was only achieved 2-3 hours later): “From the more than 24,000 case histories available from Hiroshima, a total of 755 were for persons who remained in the area during the firestorm.”
Above the Hiroshima branch of the Bank of Japan at just 400 m from ground zero. The Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, of U.S. Department of Defense, DCPA Attack Environment Manual, Chapter 3: What the Planner Needs to Know About Fire Ignition and Spread, report CPG 2-1A3, June 1973, Panel 26, disclosed (from the originally secret-classified six volumes of the full 1947 U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey reports on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) how simple improvised firefighting by ordinary bank personnel saved this building and its human survivors within the Hiroshima firestorm.
There were no initial ignitions at all by either blast or thermal radiation. At 1.5 hours afterwards a firebrand started a fire in a room on the second floor, which was simply extinguished with buckets of water! Later another firebrand ignited the third floor, and the survivors this time ran out of water so just shut the doors and allowed it to burn out. Because hot air rises, fire did not spread to the lower floors. Nuclear bombs do not inject burning aviation gasoline that runs downstairs like the 9/11 aircraft that attacked the World Trade Centre! The manual adds that the Geibi Bank Company in the firestorm area of Hiroshima also survived the bomb with no thermal or blast ignitions:
“However, at about 10:30 A.M., over 2 hours after the detonation, firebrands from the south exposure ignited a few pieces of furniture and curtains on the first and third stories. The fires were extinguished with water buckets by the building occupants. Negligible fire damage resulted.”
A PDF version of Dirkwood summary table above and vital declassified Hiroshima and Nagasaki facts is linked here.
Originally Secret-Restricted Data lessons from Hiroshima casualty treatment (unknown in 1945):
“With regard to troop safety, ionizing radiation is the major hazard below 1 kt, while thermal radiation predominates for larger yields. If the troops can be shielded adequately from the thermal pulse, ionizing radiation is the major hazard for yields up to 100 kt, above which blast effects are the most far-reaching hazard. ... Certain modifications in accepted medical and surgical practices must be considered since radiation exposure, depending upon dose, is known to increase susceptibility to infection, to decrease the efficiency of wound and fracture healing, to increase the likelihood of hemorrhage, to decrease tolerance to anesthetic agents, and to decrease the immune response. It is imperative that primary closure of wounds be accomplished at the earliest possible time and that patients be treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic throughout the period of maximum bone marrow depression. Secondary closure of small soft-tissue wounds should be accomplished by the second or third day. Reparative surgery of an extensive nature should not be performed later than four to five days after injury since skin and soft-tissue healing should have occurred before the effects of ionizing radiation occur. If reparative surgery is not performed within this limited period of time, it must be postponed until the bone marrow has recovered (one to two months post-exposure). Wounds of injuries that require longer than three weeks for healing, such as severe burns and most fractures, should not be definitively treated until radiation recovery is evident. Although reconstructive surgery in the absence of radiation exposure might be performed within the second month or earlier after conventional trauma, it must be postponed for at least three months in instances where radiation exposure is a significant contributory factor. In all instances, extra precaution must be taken to avoid infection and blood loss.”
- Philip J. Dolan, editor, Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1, Chapter 10: Personnel Casualties, originally Secret - Restricted Data, p. 10-35.
“The evidence from Hiroshima indicates that blast survivors, both injured and uninjured, in buildings later consumed by fire [caused by the blast overturning charcoal braziers used for breakfast in inflammable wooden houses filled with easily ignitable bamboo furnishings and paper screens] were generally able to move to safe areas following the explosion. Of 130 major buildings studied by the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey ... 107 were ultimately burned out ... Of those suffering fire, about 20 percent were burning after the first half hour. The remainder were consumed by fire spread, some as late as 15 hours after the blast. This situation is not unlike the one our computer-based fire spread model described for Detroit.”
- Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, DCPA Attack Environment Manual, Chapter 3: What the Planner Needs to Know About Fire Ignition and Spread, report CPG 2-1A3, June 1973, Panel 27.
Above: modern type apartment building 790 m (0.5 mile) west of ground zero in Hiroshima (source: Figure 75 in the Manhattan Engineer District 1945 report). The very large window area reduced the blast loading by allowing a very rapid equalization of pressure, which prevents structural damage as shown below:
Above: rapid equalization of shock pressure by openings in a modern-style city building with a wide expanse of window area: the windows easily break, allowing the pressure to equalize so the building survives. People have protection from the path of direct radiation and horizontally-blown glass fragments by getting under a table or desk when seeing the bright flash (light travels faster than shock waves).
Above: the only modern multistory steel-frame building exposed to nuclear explosions survived at 0.85 mile from ground zero in Nagasaki. (Photo from Glasstone and Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977. There are problems in getting hold of the quality prints from the extensive photo collection of the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey. This is now the predominant type of building in modern cities. What is needed for civil defense credibility is a compilation of all of the photos of the different buildings and views of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and publish them with data alongside each photo giving the full case history statistics and other pertinent data for how the people survived in different locations within each building. This data is available in part from the RERF dosimetry database - which focusses on survivors - and in part from the Joint Committee/Dirkwood database. Such a compendium would be useful for civil defense both in debunking lying myths such as "nothing is really known, so everyone and everything instantly vaporised", and for checks on computer models assessing the benefits of various kinds of civil defense advice, e.g. the value of lying prone to maximize ground resistance against blast wind drag, versus the value of being under a desk or table to avoid thermal flash).
“Don't stand behind windows in an attack. First you will get burned and then you will have fine glass splinters driven into you very deeply within distances like 7 miles from a 1-megaton burst. ... Glass in any disaster like the Texas City disaster is one of the primary materials found in the normal home which can result in blinding and all other types of effects due to the flying small splinters of glass.”
- Dr Frank H. Shelton, Technical Director of U.S. Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, testimony to U.S. Congressional Hearings on the Biological and Environmental Effects of Nuclear War, 22-26 June 1959, page 41.
Although windows are just broken by the peak overpressure out to 25 miles from a 1 Mt surface burst, the hazard from the blast wind pressure accelerating the glass fragments into a missile threat only extends to 7 miles. E.g., many windows were broken in Las Vegas after Nevada tests due to the refraction of blast waves, but the glass fell vertically to the ground without hurting anybody. Note in particular that the blast winds which accelerate the glass from windows blow radially outwards from the bomb, so only windows facing the explosion become a source of fast flying glass fragments. Windows side-on to the blast and on the back of houses can be smashed by the overpressure, but those glass fragments are not accelerated into horizontally flying high-speed missiles. Windows side on and on the rear of houses are also less likely to break because they are subjected to less than the reflected peak overpressure that the front face of a building receives. For example, rear windows on the houses exposed to the Nevada Apple-2 nuclear test survived where the incident peak overpressure was 1.7 psi, which was enough to break all windows facing the explosion.
Facts about blast effects on human beings that are covered-up
“For personnel inside structures, the probability of being hit by glass fragments decreases rapidly as a person moves laterally from behind a window. At 25 degrees from the edge of a window pane, the density of glass fragments is approximately one-tenth the density of fragments measured directly behind the window. ... This was extremely evidently in injuries of British civilians during World War II. As the people learned to quit looking out of their windows during bomb raids, the number of glass casualties decreased dramatically.”
- M. K. Drake, et al., Collateral Damage, Science Applications, Inc., Defense Nuclear Agency report DNA 4734Z, ADA071371, 1978, page 5-86.
The quotation from Drake above is supported by the data in Dr E. Royce Fletcher, et al., Glass Fragment Hazard from Windows Broken by Air Blast, Defense Nuclear Agency, DNA 5593T, ADA105824 (1980), Figure 10 on page 21. Notice that Figure 9 of that report shows that the number of glass fragments from a broken window increases almost exponentially with increasing the peak overpressure, so that the average mass per glass fragment falls almost exponentially with increasing overpressure, and thus the glass window at high overpressures is transformed into very tiny fragments which, despite high velocities, individually have too little mass to penetrate very deeply.
Glasstone and Dolan's Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, gives detailed data showing the human injuries implications for this effect in Tables 12.43 and 12.46. Table 12.43 (which includes the 1955 Teapot-Apple II Nevada nuclear test window fragment data for 1.9, 3.8 and 5.0 psi) shows that peak overpressures of 1.9 and 5.0 psi produce glass fragments with a median velocity of 108 and 170 ft/s, respectively, measured at about 10 feet behind the windows (i.e., the average velocity of the glass fragments is only proportional to rouughly the square root of the peak overpressure).
But the median mass of the glass fragments is 1.45 grams for 1.9 psi but only 0.13 grams for 5.0 psi, so the average size and mass of glass fragments falls very quickly for small increases in peak overpressure (i.e., a 2.6-fold increase in peak overpressure here causes an 11-fold decrease in the average mass of the flying glass fragments).
The overall effect of the peak overpressure on median velocity and mass of the glass fragments is that the danger doesn't increase as you might expect with higher peak overpressures (and the accompanying blast winds). You get more fragments, but individually they carry less momenta, are less penetrating and more easily stopped by improvised duck and cover protection.
Table 12.46 in Glasstone and Dolan shows that 1 gram glass fragments need to travel at 140 ft/s to have a 1% chance of abdominal wall penetration, and 245 ft/s for a 50% chance. Compare this to the median 1.45 gram fragments travelling at 108 ft/s from windows broken by 1.9 psi (Table 12.43). Thus, at 1.9 psi peak overpressure, there is not even a 1% chance of having such glass fragments penetrate your abdominal wall even if you are both facing the window and unclothed!
Table 12.46 also gives data for 0.1 gram glass fragments: they need to go at 235 ft/s for a 1% chance of abdominal wall penetration and at 410 ft/s for 50% chance. But as Table 12.43 shows, the median 0.13 gram glass fragment velocity 5.0 psi peak overpressure is just 170 ft/s. Hence, at 5.0 psi, there is not even a 1% risk of abdominal penetration per median glass fragment! They are not very penetrating and are very easily stopped or shielded since there tiny splinters with little individual momentum.
Table 12.43 in Glasstone and Dolan 1977 is misleading when compared to the original nuclear weapon test report, because it purports to indicate the maximum number of glass fragments per unit area 10 ft behind the windows. It gives 4.3 fragments/ft2 for 1.9 psi and 388 fragments/ft2 for 5.0 psi, whereas the original report (I. Gerald Bowen, et al., Biological Effects of Blast from Bombs, AECU-3350, 1956, Table 5.1, p. 31) gives correctly the mean number of glass fragments per square foot of horizontal area, arriving at 10 ft behind the window, as just 2.1 fragments/ft2 for 1.9 psi and 100.9 fragments/ft2 for 5.0 psi. The change from mean to maximum between the 1957 and 1977 editions causes a large increase from the mean data in the 1957 edition, and no definition of "maximum" is given; in fact it the number of glass fragments per unit area physically must be a mean! Statistically, you cannot have a generally meaningful maximum of an average, without precisely defining the calculation.
The original nuclear test Teapot-Apple-2 glass fragment studies report WT-1168 (1956) shows that the 1.9, 3.8 and 5.0 psi peak overpressure data are from glass windows instrumented in houses located at 10,500 ft, 5,500 ft, and 4,700 ft, respectively, from ground zero. Pages 79-80 in WT-1168 show that 90% of the glass fragments had velocities within a factor of 1.50 of the median velocity, and 90% of had masses within a factor of 6.0 of the median mass.
The graph given by Glasstone and Dolan for the median velocity of glass fragments, as a function of both peak overpressure and window glass thickness, is shown (complete with the actual data points that Glasstone and Dolan omitted) as Figure 6 in Dr Fletcher's report ADA105824. Looking at the data points, you can see that the thickness of the glass (for thicknesses from 0.16-0.67 cm) has no significant effect on glass fragment velocity.
Figure 5 in Dr Fletcher's report gives the spread of individual glass fragment velocities as a function of individual fragment mass, showing it is only a very weak function (the velocity of a fragment for a fixed peak overpressure is inversely proportional to the 1/4-power or fourth-root of its mass, i.e. fragments 10 times more massive than the median mass have a velocity of only 56% of the median velocity).
The glass window fragment danger has been grossly exaggerated. It is true that velocities and masses quoted above are median, and the actual sizes have a statistical distribution around the median, but the standard deviation is small. Nuclear weapon test report WT-1468 (1963) investigated this, finding that the distribution of glass fragment masses is log-normal, and for a peak overpressure of 3.9 psi at Operation Plumbbob, the median glass fragment mass some 10 ft behind a window was 0.324 gram, with only 17% of fragments less than 0.1 gram, and only 17% were over 1 gram (just 1% were over 5 grams and none were over 10 grams).
The 1950 edition of The Effects of Atomic Weapons on pages 335-6 stated that: "Patients were treated for lacerations received up to 10,600 ft [3.2 km] from ground zero in Hiroshima and 12,200 ft [3.7 km] in Nagasaki." This glass fragment hazard therefore covers an area many times larger than the area of serious structural damage to buildings, emphasizing the immense benefits from duck and cover protective action for people standing behind windows. Figure 3 in Fletcher's report shows that the peak overpressure needed for a 50% probability of window shatter is inversely proportional to the area of the window glass pane, so bigger windows are more likely than small ones to be shattered by small peak overpressures, for a constant glass pane thickness. For an incident free-field (not reflected) peak overpressure of 7 kPa or 1 psi, a 1 m2 area window pane 0.8 cm thick facing the explosion has a 50% risk of shattering. The peak overpressure needed for a 50% risk of window pane shatter is proportional to [glass thickness]0.6.
Above: another Hiroshima building surviving with large window area was the Electric Company Building at 640 m (0.4 mile) from ground zero (source: Figure 32 in the Manhattan Engineer District 1945 report).
Above: The modern Fukoku building survived at just 274 metres (0.17 mile) from ground zero in Hiroshima. The British Mission to Japan inspected it in 1945 and stated: “There was no serious structural damage, although a roof panel was depressed and some internal partition walls were deflected.” (Source: British Mission to Japan, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, H. M. Stationery Office, London, 1946, Figure 7).
Above: the faked, airbrushed Hiroshima before and after propaganda photos, from Wikipedia. Contrary to these lies, only now-long-obsolete crowded wooden city centre buildings were burned in the firestorm 2-3 hours after the Hiroshima bombing (source: Manhattan Engineer District, Photographs of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945, Figures 8 and 19). Let's take a closer look and compare in detail the actual before and after photos (which were omitted from The Effects of Nuclear Weapons) and the popular propaganda photos used in numerous books of fakery and deception, attacking civil defense:
Above: real before and after Hiroshima photos of ground zero and the modern city area out to 1,000 feet (305 metres) radius, which is indicated by the white curved line in the right-hand photo (source: Manhattan Engineer District, Photographs of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945, Figures 4 and 19).
Above: the greatest photographic swindle of all time (more effective for anti-civil defense propaganda than Stalin's effort to airbrush Leon Trotsky out of the official photos of Lenin's speeches). All surviving buildings in Hiroshima were literally airbrushed out of the still-used lying propaganda media photos taken on 7 August (in a desperate American propaganda attempt to force Japanese surrender without having to drop another nuclear weapon). On the left is the classic widely-believed and still published fake propaganda photo of "nobody and nothing remaining" within 1,000 feet of ground zero in Hiroshima after the bomb (still being used on Wikipedia): all of the surviving buildings near ground zero have been airbrushed out to make it look as if nothing survived and more impressive as a weapon! (This fake photo of Hiroshima from Wikipedia is also located on the server here.) On the right hand side is the actual photo of the after effects near ground zero, which presents a diametrically opposite story of survival in the commonplace modern buildings of cities.
Above: actual photographs of Hiroshima ground zero, showing more than 14 surviving modern buildings within a radius 1,000 feet (305 metres) of ground zero (source: Manhattan Engineer District, Photographs of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945, Figures 19-22). All had broken windows and other damage from blast and the firestorm in the surrounding wooden buildings 2-3 hours later. All of the surviving buildings were the modern types of city buildings, made from steel and concrete (which is fire resistant, unlike the commonplace wooden houses that burned), and only the obsolete wooden buildings (no longer used in modern city centres, even in Japan) were burned down due to overturned charcoal braziers and ignited black coloured wartime air-raid blackout curtains (no longer used in cities today). Inside these concrete buildings (which despite having no modern fire sprinkler systems installed, still survived the firestorm that began after 30 minutes and burned fiercely for 2-3 hours), there was 50% survival within a radius of 630 feet (190 metres) or 0.12 mile from ground zero (source: Glasstone and Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, page 546).
Above: U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey photo taken looking ground zero in Hiroshima, showing the depth of debris from blast and the firestorm from the collapse of the Honkawa Elementary School. The partially collapsed building on the left is the Hiroshima Gas Company Building at just 240 metres from ground zero, while on the far right the domed building is the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall (a three-storey brick building with a five-storey central core topped by a steel-framed elliptical dome clad with copper, now renamed the Hiroshima Peace Memorial) at just 150 metres from ground zero. Ground zero is located to the right of the photo, between the camera and the domed building.
Above: Nagasaki is located in a valley so the hills were used for air raid shelters. (U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey photo.)
Above: civil defense precautions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very simple and crude compared to those in Britain against the Blitz, but they still stood up to the nuclear weapons effects. The only problem was that people were not in the shelters when the bombs fell. Nagasaki lies in a valley, so shelter places for 70,000 people were dug in tunnel shelters in the hill sides, which survived very close to ground zero as shown by Figure 12.52a on page 389 of the 1950 Effects of Atomic Weapons (the photo was removed from later editions), and by the photo taken by British serviceman Cecil A. Creber whose ship H. M. S. Speaker arrived in Nagasaki just a month after the bomb dropped (published in the London Daily Telegraph). The U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey reported in 1946 that due to the lack of effective warning (the weather aircraft going over the cities daily for weeks beforehand and two hours ahead of the nuclear bomber had lulled the radar operators in charge of the air raid sirens into generally ignoring small groups of aircraft, rather than give repeated false alarms) only 400 people were in the safe tunnel shelters of Nagasaki, which had places for 70,000 and could have easily saved most of the fatalities. In Hiroshima, there were poor quality earth-covered wood frame shelters, tested by the British Mission to Japan and found far less effective than British Blitz Anderson and Morrison shelters, as they state on page 9 of their 1946 report: "The provision of air raid shelters throughout Japan was much below European standards." The two photos of shelters above are from the British Mission to Japan, 1946: the partly above-ground earth-covered wood frame shelter at 270 m from ground zero in Hiroshima survived, as did a similar shelter 90 m from ground zero in Nagasaki, where 50% of these shelters survived intact at 270 m of ground zero. The point is, that great though the casualty-averting potential of such shelters is, it was worse than the lower floors of modern city buildings. At only 190 metres from ground zero in Hiroshima, there was 50% survival in the lower floors of modern concrete buildings, which makes them the best shelter, particularly if people duck and cover to avoid flying glass, blast winds and thermal flash from any windows which have an unobstructed view of the fireball. So who needs shelters when you have modern buildings? Even in London during the World War II Blitz, most people survived the collapse of their home by blast while sheltering in the cupboard under the stairs or under a strong table (or after May 1941, a Morrison indoor table-type shelter): outdoor shelters were too cold and liable to ground water flooding, and no more effective.
Overall lifesaving civil defence effectiveness in Britain and Germany during World War II
German bombing damaged or destroyed 2 million houses in Britain during World War II, but the 60,595 people killed from bombing in Britain was 0.030 persons killed per house destroyed or damaged. In London alone, 1,200,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, and 29,890 were killed by bombing, 0.025 persons killed per house destroyed or damaged. Without civil defence, the ratio of the number of people killed per house destroyed could have been much greater than 0.025-0.030. Assuming just 2 persons per house, this means that the assumption of 100% killed per damaged or destroyed house exaggerates deaths from bombing by a factor of 2/0.025 to 2/0.030 or 67 to 80.
In Germany, where there were firestorms in medieval wooden areas of Dresden and Hamburg, 300,000 people were killed and 3,600,000 houses were destroyed, a ratio of 0.083 persons killed per house destroyed. 7,500,000 people were made homeless, so there had been roughly 2 persons living in each house destroyed. Hence, the assumption of 100% killed in destroyed houses would exaggerate deaths by a factor of 2/0.083 = 24 times.
In November 1940 the government took a Shelter Census of central London to see who was sheltering where. It found
4% were sheltering in the Underground system
9% in public shelters
27% in domestic shelters [Anderson and Morrison shelters]
Most Londoners stayed in their homes, sleeping downstairs, under stairs, under tables, in cupboards. If they used a shelter at home then it would have been either an Anderson or a Morrison shelter.
2,250,000 Anderson shelters were given away free at the start of the Blitz. The roof was made of corrugated steel and was dome-shaped, the roof was bolted to strong rails and the structure was put 3ft underground with 18 inches of earth on top. People constructed Anderson shelters in their back gardens. Some of the drawbacks of this type of shelter was that it tended to flood regularly, the space inside was generally too small for a family to sleep in, it didn't keep the noise of the air raids out, and war-time shortages of steel meant that after a time they had to be stopped being produced.
The Morrison shelter was named after the Minister for Home Security, Mr. Herbert Morrison. It was a family shelter, free for most people, and one advantage it had over the Anderson shelter was that it could be kept indoors. This helped to reduce noise, it got rid of the flooding problem, and it helped to minimise disruptions made to normal home life. It had a steel roof, wire mesh sides, and could be used as a table during the day. It was 2ft 9 inches high and was just big enough to sleep in. 5,000,000 were given out by November 1941 and the Morrison shelter was widely used for the later air raid attacks from the V-weapons.
"A [Morrison type, house collapse-resisting] shelter should be designed to absorb some part of the applied energy in its own partial collapse; complete resistance was far too costly ... The Morrison table shelter was ... designed to withstand the debris load of a house by its own partial collapse, whilst still giving adequate protection to the occupants."
- George R. Stanbury, "Scientist in Civil Defence: Part 1", UK Home Office's Scientific Advisory Branch journal Fission Fragments (issue 17, June 1971).
The point is, your house is only going to collapse once, so the steel table (Morrison shelter) only needs to resist the kinetic energy of the falling debris of your house once, unlike public air raid shelters. Therefore, the brains of the table shelter is that you can allow a certain amount of denting to take place, and this allows the table to absorb the energy of the falling house without breaking the table. The same idea exists in car bumpers and "crumple zones" which absorb impact energy.
The U.K. Government's Shelter Census of central London during the Blitz in November 1940 found that 60% of the public were sleeping in their own homes during air raids, instead of getting up and dressed to go to a shelter upon the attack warning siren. Only 4% used the Underground system shelters, 9% used other public air raid shelters, and 27% used domestic Anderson shelters (Morrison indoor shelters were not even introduced until March 1941). The 60% who did not go out to any kind of shelter during air raids stayed in their homes, sleeping downstairs, under stairs, under tables, in cupboards. Sir John Anderson lost his job and was replaced by Herbert Morrison, who instructed Sir John Fleetwood Baker and his assistant Edward Leader-Williams at the Ministry of Home Security to develop an indoor shelter which could absorb the energy of the falling debris from the collapse of a normal house. These Morrison table shelters were named after the Minister of Home Security (Herbert Morrison) and were introduced in March 1941. More than 500,000 were issued by November 1941, when the following press release was issued:
Morrison Shelters in Recent Air Raids
A report of Ministry of Home Security experts on 39 cases of bombing incidents in different parts of Britain covering all those for which full particulars are available in which Morrison shelters were involved shows how well they have stood up to severe tests of heavy bombing.
All the incidents were serious. Many of the incidents involved direct hits on the houses concerned, a risk against which it was never claimed these shelters would afford protection. In all of them the houses in which shelters were placed were within the radius of damage by bombs; in 24 there was complete demolition of the house on the shelter.
A hundred and nineteen people were sheltering in these Morrisons and only four were killed. So that 115 out of 119 people were saved. Of these only 7 were seriously injured and 14 slightly injured while 94 escaped uninjured. The majority were able to leave their shelters unaided.
Above: with the resurgent Soviet Union exceeding nuclear parity and threatening the West, in 1981 the U. K. Government republished the World War II Anderson and Morrison outdoor and indoor shelter designs. Fifteen Anderson shelters had been secretly and successfully tested against blast and radiation at the very first British nuclear test, Operation Hurricane, Monte Bello, in 1952. Frank H. Pavry, a member of the British Mission to Japan who had been in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, authored the "Secret-Atomic" classified British nuclear test report, Operation HURRICANE: Anderson Shelters, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, AWRE-T17/54. The 15 Anderson shelters had survived very well. Nearest to the bomb ship, they survived a peak overpressure of 55 psi or 380 kPa without internal damage: sand bags on the outside were hurled off when the blast wave arrived, but by that time they had done their job of shielding the initial neutron and gamma radiation. They could have been replaced before fallout arrived. At a peak overpressure of 12 psi or 83 kPa, even the sandbags on the outside remained intact. Pavry had used sand bags instead of the recommended packed earth as a convenience. If he had used packed earth as is recommended, the protection afforded would have been greater. Experiments at Maralinga with cobalt-60 salted fallout radiation shielding by concrete at Operation Antler in 1957 confirmed British experiments on fallout shielding for the worst-case gamma ray energy situation, as described in detail in the previous post. They added some extra designs tested against kiloton yield TNT blasts and simulated fallout from American Oak Ridge National Laboratory civil engineer Cresson Kearny, author of the Expedient Shelter Handbook and related publications. Unfortunately, the U. K. Government refused to publish all of its extensive secret research on civil defense, which was only released to the U. K. National Archives during the 1990s and 2000s upon declassification under the 30-years-rule, so loud, lying anti-civil defense propaganda from politically biased lobby groups went completely unopposed.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) blast-tested three models of an earth-covered corrugated metal blast shelter and three full-size blast door closures for such a shelter at the Defense Nuclear Agency’s detonation of 0.609 kt of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (ANFO) at a height of 168 feet in the White Sands Missile Range Direct Course test of 26 October 1983. All these items survived blast overpressures of 2.55 MPa (370 psi). For earlier blast tests of improvised or “expedient” earth-covered emergency shelters, see also Cresson Kearny’s and Conrad V. Chester’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory reports Blast Tests of Expedient Shelters, ADA391034 (1974), Blast Tests of Expedient Shelters in the DICE THROW Event, ADA052913 (1980) (PDF version is linked here), Blast Tests of Expedient Shelters in the MISERS BLUFF Event, ADA083966 (1980), and Edward D. Esparza's report Blast Testing of Expedient Shelters in Model Scale, ADP005368 (1986).
Above: the illusion promoted in anti-civil defense propaganda is that the firestorm instantly burned down or vaporized all the wooden buildings and instantly burned all leaves of trees, when in fact they only burned down hours later when the city had been largely evacuated. This damnable lie is then used to claim that there is nothing to duck behind to obtain the protection from the thermal pulse. Most incompetent civil defense manuals repeatedly fail to clarify the basic effects of nuclear weapons, the time sequence, the actual data. This leaves the field open to lies from certain either ignorant or insanely criminal modern physics professors and other characters who falsely assert that the bomb vaporizes everything so duck and cover is ineffective. The 1946 British Mission to Japan report on Hiroshima and Nagasaki debunks myths about people being vaporised where shadows were cast on flash-burned material (even though the vegetation or wooden building was hours later burned down in the firestorm, after being evacuated): ‘There were cases where a clump of grass or the leaf of a tree has cast a sharp shadow on otherwise scorched wood. Therefore the most intense flash from the ball of fire had ended in a time less than that required to shrivel vegetation.’ It also notes that: ‘even the thin clothing protected from flash burn.’
Equally important, the British report by World War II Blitz civil defense experts who in 1945 surveyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the attacks debunks the horror rumours which were spread (and are still being spread today by liars for various political reasons, ranging from lunatic newspaper editors who are so bigoted against the truth and so fascistly arrogant against facts and so fanatically into fashionable groupthink that they only want to publishing damnable lies, to outright terrorists who want to undermine the public credibility and knowledge of civil defense for obviously evil reasons): ‘a rumour was current which age has made almost respectable, for it appeared in the London Blitz and before that in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. This was that large numbers of people had been ripped open by the blast, and their entrails exposed; their eyes and tongues were said also to have hung out. Experience in this country [Britain] has shown that blast pressure alone does not in fact cause these sensational effects ... two Nagasaki survivors who had spoken of seeing hundreds or thousands of such bodies on examination reduced their claim to one or two. Flying debris would be expected to produce a few such injuries.’ (Report of the British Mission to Japan, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, H.M. Stationery Office, London, 1946, pp. 17-18.)
According to the 1979 U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report The Effects of Nuclear War, p. 31: ‘... on a winter night less than 1 percent of the population might be exposed to direct thermal radiation, while on a clear summer weekend afternoon more than 25 percent might be exposed (that is, have no structure between the fireball and the person).’
Philip J. Dolan (editor) in the originally secret 1981 U.S. Department of Defence Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons (c. 10, p. 10) states that pain produced by intense thermal radiation provides: ‘a useful tool in warning an individual to evade the thermal pulse.’
R. A. Langevin and others in 1958 compared the ability of trained troops and the untrained civilian population to duck and turn away, covering exposed skin ("Effectiveness of Troops Exposed to Thermal Radiation from Nuclear Weapons", Operations Research, vol. 6, pp. 710-722). Trained troops duck and cover in 0.75 second when a very bright flash occurs. The untrained civilians fared less well: 2% protected themselves within 1 second, 15% by 2 seconds, 50% by 3 seconds, 70% by 4 seconds, 80% by 5 seconds, 90% by 7 seconds, but 7.5% are still fully exposed at 10 seconds after detonation. The young and the old react most slowly if they lack clear simple knowledge of the dangers. Langevin shows that even this untrained protective reaction increases the amount of energy required to cause burns to an exposed population, especially in the case of high-yield weapons which expose the most people. However, this data is valid for long-distance bright flashes and is not valid for painfully bright flashes which instinctively force people to quickly turn away and put their faces to the ground to minimize the pain.
Dr Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan stated in the 1977 edition of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons (U.S. Department of Defence, p. 561):
‘Persons exposed to nuclear explosions of low or intermediate yield may sustain very severe burns... These burns may cause severe superficial damage similar to a third-degree burn, but the deeper layers of the skin may be uninjured. Such burns would heal rapidly, like mild second-degree burns.’
This rapid healing of uninfected burns is confirmed by the U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 19 June 1946:
Page 17: “Uninfected burns healed promptly without any unusual clinical features [nuclear radiation synergism with thermal burns only occurred where there was infection of the burns wounds; high doses of nuclear radiation prevented the infections from healing normally from about 1-8 weeks after exposure, when the white blood cell count was suppressed due to bone marrow damage] ... Because of the brief duration of the flash wave and the shielding effects of almost any objects – leaves and clothing as well as buildings – there were many interesting cases of protection. ... The most striking instance was that of a man writing before a window. His hands were seriously burned but his exposed face and neck suffered only slight burns due to the angle of entry of the radiant heat through the window.”
Page 18: “Flash burns were largely confined to exposed areas of the body ... the thicker the clothing the more likely it was to give complete protection against flash burns. ... skin was burned beneath tightly fitting clothing but was unburned beneath loosely fitting portions. ... dark-colored clothing were most likely to be burned.”
Page 19: “A few burns resulted from clothing set afire by the flash wave, but in most cases people were able to beat out such fires without serious injury to the skin.”
Page 21: “Treatment of victims by the Japanese was limited by the lack of medical supplies and facilities. ... Allied doctors used penicillin and plasma with beneficial effects. ... A large percentage of the cases died from secondary disease, such as septic bronchopneumonia or tuberculosis, as a result of lowered resistance. Deaths from radiation began about a week after exposure and reached a peak in three to four weeks. They had practically ceased to occur after seven to eight weeks.”
Page 32: “Clothing ignited, though it could be quickly beaten out, telephone poles charred, thatched roofs of houses caught fire. ... Fires were started directly by flash heat in such easily ignitable substances as dark cloth, paper, or dry-rotted wood, within about 3,500 feet of ground zero; white-painted, concrete-faced or cement-stuccoed structures reflected the heat and did not ignite. ... Clothing as well as buildings afforded considerable protection against the flash. Even a clump of grass or tree leaf was on occasion adequate.”
At Hiroshima and Nagasaki, high mortality from superficial burns occurred despite the slight depth of charred skin, because of synergistic interaction between nuclear and thermal radiation exposure. This was discovered by Dr James W. Brooks et al. in 1952, and published in their paper ‘The Influence of External Body Radiation on Mortality from Thermal Burns’ (Annals of Surgery, vol. 136, p. 533). Although superficial third-degree burns from the brief thermal pulse of a nuclear explosion are easily survived, a concurrent nuclear radiation exposure of 100 r interferes with recovery by suppressing the white blood cell count, allowing otherwise minor infections to become lethal.
Contrary to antinuclear propaganda claims that people were ‘vaporised’ in Japanese photographs of human ‘shadows’ left behind on otherwise melted asphalt paint and road surfaces, the fact that these shadows exist proves that people blocked the thermal radiation without disappearing. The peak skin temperature is reached when the rate of absorption of energy equals the rate of dissipation of energy by re-emission, blood circulation, and air-cooling. The human body (mainly water) could not be vaporised by the thermal exposures present at ground zero, even if the energy could have somehow diffused throughout a person within the time available. Skin has a thermal conductance of 8 kg.cal/m2/hour/C. Another recurring myth are spectacular keloids (overgrowths of scar tissue) misrepresented as ‘nuclear bomb’ burns: ‘The degree of the keloid formation was undoubtedly influenced by secondary infections, that complicated healing of the burns, and by malnutrition, but more important is the known tendency for keloid formation to occur among the Japanese, as a racial characteristic. Thus, many spectacular keloids were formed after the healing of burns produced in the fire raids on Tokyo.’ (Dr Samuel Glasstone, editor, The Effects of Atomic Weapons, U.S. Department of Defence, September 1950, p. 337.)
In a controlled sample of 36,500 survivors, 89 people got leukemia over a 40 year period, above the number in the unexposed control group. (Data: Radiation Research, volume 146, 1996, pages 1-27.) Over 40 years, in 36,500 survivors monitored, there were 176 leukemia deaths which is 89 more than the control (unexposed) group got naturally. There were 4,687 other cancer deaths, but that was merely 339 above the number in the control (unexposed) group, so this is statistically a much smaller rise than the leukemia result. Natural leukemia rates, which are very low in any case, were increased by 51% in the irradiated survivors, but other cancers were merely increased by just 7%. Adding all the cancers together, the total was 4,863 cancers (virtually all natural cancer, nothing whatsoever to do with radiation), which is just 428 more than the unexposed control group. Hence, the total increase over the natural cancer rate due to bomb exposure was only 9%, spread over a period of 40 years. There was no increase whatsoever in genetic malformations.
Contrast these hard facts to the propaganda first spread by Dr Harold Jacobson, a nuclear effects ignorant Manhattan Project physicist at Los Alamos, who claimed to the International News Service that Hiroshima will be uninhabitable for 75 years, and then falsely added: ‘Any Japanese who try to ascertain the extent of the damage caused by the atomic bomb are committing suicide.’
Examine the post-attack recovery rate in Hiroshima before any significant outside help arrived:
7 August (Day 2): Survivors open bridges and roads to pedestrian traffic, clearing away debris: “The [Hiroshima] prefectural governor issued a proclamation on 7 August, calling for ‘a rehabilitation of the stricken city and an aroused fighting spirit ...’. To prevent the spread of rumors and brace morale, 210,000 out-of-town newspapers were brought in daily to replace the destroyed local paper.” (Source: U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 19 June 1946, page 9.)
8 August (Day 3): Rail tracks cleared and trains to Hiroshima resumed.
9 August (Day 4): Street trolley bus (electric tram) lines return to service.
1 November (Day 86): “the population of Hiroshima is back to 137,000. ... The official Japanese figures summed up the building destruction at 62,000 out of a total of 90,000 buildings in the urban area, or 69%. An additional 6,000 or 6.6% were severely damaged, and most of the others showed glass breakage or disturbance of roof tile. These figures show the magnitude of the problem facing the survivors. ... In view of the lack of medical facilities, supplies and personnel, and the disruption of the sanitary system, the escape from epidemics may seem surprising. The experience of other bombed cities in Germany and Japan shows that this is not an isolated case. A possible explanation may lie in the disinfecting action of the extensive fires. In later weeks, disease rates rose, but not sharply.” (Source: U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 19 June 1946, page 9.)
Next, consider what civil defence did during the post-attack recovery process to help aid survivors in Nagasaki, subjected to a nuclear explosion just 3 days after Hiroshima:
9 August (Day 1): Emergency rations are brought in to feed 25,000 survivors (though less than the required amount, due to bureaucratic confusion). The survivors lived in the air-raid shelters, which had survived.
10 August (Day 2): Emergency rations are brought in to feed 67,000 survivors: “this represents a remarkable feat of organisation that illustrates the great possibilities of mass feeding.” (Source: Fred C. Ikle, The Social Impact of Bomb Destruction, University of Oklahoma Press, 1958, p. 147.) “On the morning of 10 August [in Nagasaki], police rescue units and workers from the Kawami-nami shipbuilding works began the imperative task of clearing the Omura-Nagasaki pike, which was impassable for 8,000 feet. A path 6 ½ feet wide was cleared despite the intense heat from smouldering fires, and by August 15 had been widened to permit two-way traffic. No trucks, only rakes and shovels, were available for clearing the streets, which were filled with tile, bricks, stone, corrugated iron, machinery, plaster, and stucco. Street areas affected by blast and not by fire were littered with wood. Throughout the devastated area, all wounded had to be carried by stretcher, since no motor vehicles were able to proceed through the cluttered streets for several days. The plan for debris removal required clearance of a few streets leading to the main highway; but there were frequent delays caused by the heat of smouldering fires and by calls for relief work. The debris was simply raked and shoveled off the streets. By 20 August the job was considered complete. The streets were not materially damaged by the bomb nor were the surface or the abutments of the concrete bridges, but many of the wooden bridges were totally or partially destroyed by fire. ... Despite the absence of sanitary measures, no epidemics broke out here. The dysentery rate rose from 25/100,000 to 125/100,000. A census taken on 1 November 1945 found a population of 142,700 in the city [Nagasaki]. ... Of the 52,000 residential units in the city [of Nagasaki] on 1 August, 14,146 or 27.2 percent were completely destroyed (by Japanese count) (11,494 of these were burned); 5,441 or 10.5 percent were half-burned or destroyed; many of the remaining units suffered superficial or minor damage.” (Source: U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 19 June 1946, pages 12-13.)
7 October (Day 60): The first green shoots of recovery appeared on an irradiated and firestorm-burned chestnut tree, photographed by U.S. Air Force observers, and published in the U.S. Congress book, The Effects of Nuclear War, 1979:
Above: the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment published a very poorly researched book in May 1979 (full of popular lies about ozone layer damage, and so on) called The Effects of Nuclear War in which the one useful disclosure (on page 114) was this U.S. Air Force photo of the leaves and new shoots appearing on a chestnut tree in Nagasaki 2 months after being irradiated with gamma rays and neutrons and then charred and burned in the fires which followed. Predictably, this one piece of honesty is omitted from the online PDF version of that book by the Federation of American Scientists here (which is so poorly scanned for page 114 that not even a single word of the photo caption is readable), and also hosted by Princeton University here. Robert Jungk, Children of the Ashes (Heinemann, London, 1961): 'one morning in April 1946, the Vice-Mayor [of Hiroshima] gazed for a long time. For what met his eyes was a sight he had scarcely hoped ever to see again ... The blackness of the branches was dappled with the brilliant white of cherry buds opening into blossom.'
Robert Jungk carefully investigated the history of the recovery in Hiroshima by interviewing the people involved and collecting first hand reports, and gives further interesting details in his book Children of the Ashes (Heinemann, London, 1961):
1. On 31 August 1945: 'the first locally produced and locally printed post-war edition of the Chugoku Shimbun was on sale in the streets of Hiroshima ... 'Our darkroom was an air-raid shelter dug into the hillside [which survived of course]', one of the editors remembers, 'but our type had to be cast in the open air, under the sunny sky.'
2. On 7 September 1945, the Chugoku Shimbun reported that Hiroshima then had a population estimated to be 130,000.
3. On 10 September 1945, electricity was reconnected to some parts of Hiroshima: 'huts made of planks quickly knocked together ... already had electric light.'
4. On 5 November 1945, the Chugoku Shimbun reported that - despite inertia and delays due to 'the rigidity of bureaucratic procedure' which was hindering the recovery rate - a lot of progress was being made:
'Housing. The building of houses is to be systematically begun on 15 November. ...
'Tramways. At present, ten trams are in commission on the main route, eight on the Miyajima route and five muncipal buses. These twenty-three vehicles must cater for an average of 42,000 persons daily.'
Some 70% of the destroyed buildings of Hiroshima had been reconstructed by mid-1949. (Ref.: Research Department, Hiroshima Municipal Office, as cited in Hiroshima, Hiroshima Publishing, 1949. Other recovery data are given in U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Washington, D.C., 1946, p. 8.)
Above: the Chugoku newspaper building 870 m east of GZ Hiroshima, gutted by fire. Unlike the CND 'survivors would envy the dead' propaganda of big name 'journalists' (anti-civil defense propagandarists) of today, those journalists at Hiroshima didn't let a nuclear attack deflect them from their duty of reporting news truthfully. They go on with the task of helping to keep morale up, and assisting the flow of information needed to rebuild Hiroshima. They rolled their sleeves up, and got to work, setting type outdoors, processing photographic prints in an old air raid shelter! These journalists are a model for civil defense!
'I must confess that as an expert, my original view, and the view I held during the time I was on the SALT delegation, was that there was no defense against nuclear war and that there was no realistic recovery from it. ... [However, upon checking the actual facts... ] The day after the blast, bridges in downtown Hiroshima were open to traffic. Two days later, the trains started to run again, and three days later, some of the streetcar lines were back in operation.'
- Thomas K. Jones, Program and Product Evaluation Manager, Boeing Aerospace Company, Testimony the Hearings before the Joint Committee on Defense Production, U.S. Congress, 17 November 1976.
See also the detailed report by L. Wayne Davis, Prediction of Urban Casualties and the Medical Load from a High-Yield Nuclear Burst, Dirkwood Corporation paper DC-P-1060-1 (1968). This paper is an unclassified summary of the classified paper DC-P-1060, which gives the accurate nuclear effects data for people in different kinds of buildings, in the open and in vehicles, and with different percentages of body area exposed to blistering and charring burns, from a computer analysis of the individual records of over 35,000 cases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, plus the massive nuclear-size Texas City ship explosion. It negates all of the arbitrary blast and thermal effects casualty criteria used in the 1979 U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report, The Effects of Nuclear War (which inaccurately assumed 50% blast casualties at just 5-6 psi and lethal burns outdoors at 6.7 cal/cm2) and in subsequent follow-ups by groups trying to deny civil defense by misrepresenting the nuclear weapons effects for exactly the same political reasons that led to popular exaggerations of weapons effects in the 1930s (with serious consequences).
Above: streetcar burned out by the firestorm 270 m east of ground zero in Hiroshima. Vehicles offered some possibility of shading from the thermal flash.
The Dirkwood Corporation report reveals that that the usual "composite casualty" curves widely published for all fatalities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a blast wave effects curve for people indoors, but is thermal casualties for unshielded people outdoors, because these casualties extended for the greatest distance in both cities and contributed most to mortality outdoors. Essentially all the fatalities at the 50% lethal ground radius for the general population in each city were people who were standing in the open with no shadow from the flash. People indoors or in shadow contributed the remaining 50% (the survivors at that distance). Hence, the use of the composite fatality curve for blast effects in houses is a fraud.
Even indoors in wood frame houses (which were blown over at about 5 psi in similar yield Nevada tests in 1953 and 1955), in Nagasaki due to blast and initial nuclear radiation there were only 10% fatalities for unwarned people indoors at 10 psi, 50% at 15.6 psi, and 90% at 18 psi.
For Hiroshima, the Dirkwood corporation gives 7, 12.2 and 13.5 psi for 10%, 50% and 90% fatalities in wood frame homes, but these pressures are underestimates since they assumed a yield of 12.5 kt rather than 16 kt (determined by the DS02 dosimetry research) for Hiroshima. Taking account of this yield correction and also differences in the initial nuclear radiation emitted by the gun-type Hiroshima bomb relative to the implosion system of the Nagasaki bomb, the Nagasaki data are reconciled with those for Hiroshima.
In the 0.67 kt non-nuclear Texas City Disaster of 1947, the peak overpressures for 10%, 50% and 90% mortality due to blast effects in wood frame houses were 9, 22.5, and 30 psi, respectively. The difference is due to the initial nuclear radiation inside houses at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was absent in the Texas City Disaster nitrate ship explosion.
A high survival probability even quite near ground zero was possible on the lower floors in concrete buildings because they shielded the initial nuclear radiation. All buildings provided good thermal and blast protection, although most buildings burned some hours afterwards, due to fires started by overturned charcoal kitchen braziers, after survivors evacuated or took shelter, fearing further raids.
In Hiroshima, the Dirkwood data (DC-P-1060-1 and DC-FR-1054) shows that the distance from ground zero for 50% survival ranged from 140 metres for the lower floors of earthquake-standard concrete buildings to 730 metres for vehicles (street cars/trolley buses/trams) and 880 metres for wood-frame dwellings. Outdoors, casualty rates depended essentially on the thermal radiation shadowing (by clothing, trees, buildings, fences, terrain, vehicles, etc.). People outdoors in thermal shadows were not burned and survived high peak overpressures like those in buildings, as shown. Most people outdoors moved out of shadows into a clear radial line of sight to watch the B-29 aircraft and saw the bomb fall, unaware of the danger, and were flash-burned in silence before the blast wave arrived and knocked them down. Mortality for people outdoors without thermal shielding was 10% for 12 cal/cm2, 50% for 16 cal/cm2, and 90% for 18 cal/cm2 (these figures apply to the light summer clothing worn in August and include enhancements due to synergism of burns with initial nuclear radiation).
At 3.05 km ground range in Nagasaki, 43% had 2nd degree burns (blistering) and 5% had 3rd degree burns (charring), although even light clothing offered complete protection here, so the body area burned was small and recovery was possible in all cases. There was no significant nuclear radiation at that distance to accompany the thermal flash burns and delay or prevent recovery from the burns. At 1.86 km ground range in Nagasaki, there was 10% mortality to persons outdoors without thermal shadowing, due to the 53% of cases having 3rd degree burns and 36% having 2nd degree burns, an average total body burned area of 20%. A rate of 50% mortality for unshielded persons outside in Nagasaki occurred at 1.37 km from ground zero, where 72% of cases had 3rd degree and 18% had 2nd degree burns, with an average total body burned area of 38%. The reason for the increase in area from 20% average area burned at 1.86 km (10% killed) to 38% average area burned at 1.37 km (50% killed) in Nagasaki was simply that the burns were more likely to occur under light summer clothing as the thermal radiation increased. At low thermal exposures, a low protection factor by clothing is sufficient to stop any burns under clothing. Such a protection factor at a smaller distances may permit enough skin heating to cause burns, and single layers of dark clothing in direct contact with the skin may result in conduction burns or (at high exposures) flame burns, before the person rolls the flames out.
Above: some of Penney's 1970 published data for the attenuation of peak blast overpressure by the act of causing destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which lowers the peak overpressure in a city relative to that over unobstructed terrain. This effect means that the desert nuclear test-validated cube-root distance scaling law severely exaggerates peak overpressures at large distances from nuclear weapons exploding in or over cities. The very first edition of Glasstone's nuclear effects handbook, The Effects of Atomic Weapons, 1950, on page 57 has a section written by John von Neumann and Fredrick Reines of Los Alamos (it is attributed to them in a footnote) stating factually:
"... the structures ... have the additional complicating property of not being rigid. This means that they do not merely deflect the shock wave, but they also absorb energy from it at each reflection.
"The removal of energy from the blast in this manner decreases the shock pressure at any given distance from the point of detonation to a value somewhat below that which it would have been in the absence of dissipative objects, such as buildings."
This was removed from future editions. This isn't speculative guesswork: it's down to the conservation of energy. I emailed Dr Harold L. Brode and other experts about why it isn't included in American nuclear weapons effects manuals. Dr Brode kindly replied with some relevant and interesting facts about non-radial energy flows in Mach waves and the transfer of energy from the blast wave to flying debris (which, alas, travels slower than the supersonic shock front because the blast wind is always slower than the shock front velocity). It is true that the energy loss from the blast wave near ground level is partially offset by downward diffraction of energy from the diverging blast wave at higher altitudes. However, this downward diffraction process is not a 100% efficient compensator for energy loss, particularly for the kinetic energy of the air (the dynamic pressure or wind drag effect). The dynamic pressure (which in unobstructed desert or ocean nuclear tests makes the blast more hazardous for higher yield weapons) is an air particle effect not a wave effect so it does not diffract like a wave, and it is cut down severely when transferring its energy to building debris. Even if every house absorbs just 1% of the incident energy per unit of area incident to the blast, then the destruction of a line of 100 houses cuts the blast energy down to 0.99100 = 0.366 of what it would be over a desert surface. Basically, this chops down the collateral blast damage from large yield weapons detonated in cities and affects the usual scaling laws, making nuclear weapons even less dangerous than predicted by the textbook equations and curves.
The key diagrams from DC-P-1060-1 are shown below; click on diagrams for a larger view. Remember, as pointed out on pages 37-38 of the 1957 Effects of Nuclear Weapons, that for the yields and burst heights of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Mach stem formed at a peak overpressure of about 16 psi and the Mach stem was something like 185 feet high when the peak overpressure at the shock front was 6 psi, so the Japanese data for overpressures below about 16 psi applies to the Mach stem, but at higher overpressures the buildings were in the regular reflection region (so points above the ground were hit first by a downward-slanted incident blast wave, then after a brief delay by an upward-slanted ground reflected blast wave), while the Texas City Disaster was a surface burst nuclear-sized conventional explosion of a ship:
Above: the effect of the firestorm and initial nuclear radiation in Hiroshima on mortality is clarified by comparing the mortality as a function of peak overpressure in different types of building in Hiroshima with (1) the data from Nagasaki (where there was no firestorm, and reduced initial neutron radiation due to shielding of the bomb core by the proton nuclei in the hydrogen-rich high explosive implosion system, not used in the Hiroshima bomb), and (2) the data from the April 16, 1947 Texas City explosion, when an ammonium-nitrate fertilizer loaded freight ship, SS Grandcamp, docked at Texas City exploded during a fire without warning (spectators believed it to be containing burning grain, not explosive ammonium nitrate) with a yield equivalent to a 0.67 kt surface burst nuclear explosion. It destroyed 1,000 buildings, killed 581 people in known locations within different kinds of structures in the city, and injured over 5,000.
Above: what everyone needs to know about the effect of the blast winds on a standing human being (from nuclear weapon test report WT-1693 by Taborelli, Bowen and Fletcher, which gives human dummy data for nearly ideal and precursor blast wave situations measured at the Priscilla and Smoky tests of Operation Plumbbob in 1957): the centre of mass (“centre of gravity”) of a standing human is above waist height, so the body rotates in the blast winds, with the legs swinging forward. This is useful, because it means that any impact at a high horizontal velocity is likely to be taken by the feet, instead of the head. Notice that in this example, from the Plumbbob-Priscilla nuclear test in 1957, this tilting of the body makes it effectively an aeroplane so it actually gains upward lift from the blast winds, thus the head and the centre of gravity falls vertically at a speed even slower than Galileo’s freefall law (fall distance = ½gt2, where g is acceleration due to gravity = 9.8 m/s2), a much better situation than the simplistic idea that the body is accelerated head-first and impacts head-first on highly decelerating objects (e.g. buildings) from the full horizontal velocity achieved by the blast wind acceleration. The dummy in the film which was lying down was unmoved by the blast wave since (1) a smaller cross-sectional area of the body was exposed to the blast, (2) area in contact with the ground was maximised (increasing the ground friction), and (3) the passage of the blast winds over the lying body tended to press it downwards. Lying down also reduces the body area exposed directly to flying debris and direct thermal radiation. There is also some increase in direct nuclear radiation shielding because of (1) increased line-of-sight protection by terrain irregularities and buildings between the fireball and the person when down low, and (2) increased self-shielding of the body when exposed along its long axis rather than side-on (see British National Archives report HO 225/14, The advantage of lying prone in reducing the dose of gamma rays from an airburst atomic bomb).
Although both neutrons and gamma rays lose some of their radial directional dependence as distance from the burst is increased, and the contribution of scattered radiation increases, the scatter is not completely random. For instance, Compton scattered gamma rays (Compton scattering is predominate) are on the average only scattered by a fairly small angle from the angle of the incident gamma ray. Figures 4 and 5 on pages 144-5 of Dr Hurst's testimony in the June 1959 U. S. Congressional Hearings, The Biological and Environmental Effects of Nuclear War, before the Special Subcommitte on Radiation of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, gives the measured angular distribution of the initial gamma radiation and fast neutrons from a fission bomb detonated at Operation Plumbbob in the Nevada in 1957. For a mid-body height of 1 metre above ground and 1 km slant range from the bomb, 87% of the fast neutrons (which contribute most of the neutron dose) came from the hemisphere around the observer which faced the burst, and only 13% was back-scatter from the opposite direction. Thus, protection by a building or terrain irregularity just on the side facing the burst could afford some useful protection. The situation was even better for the initial gamma radiation, since 98% of the initial gamma dose came from the hemisphere around the observer facing the burst, and only 2% came from the other hemisphere. Therefore, although a lot of the radiation is indeed scattered, most of it is still coming from that hemisphere around the observer facing the detonation. Even if the radiation were so randomly scattered that it came uniformly from all directions, lying down would reduce exposure since the side of the body in contact with the ground would be afforded protection on the side facing the ground, unlike someone standing up, who would be exposed from all directions.
At 1 mile from ground zero in Nagasaki, a “standard” standing man outdoors (165 pounds, acceleration coefficient 0.03 ft2/lb) would be blown off his feet and accelerated to 20 ft/second after a 10 feet translation, and to 23 ft/second peak velocity if he did not collide with any solid object. Head impact at that speed is likely to cause a skull fracture, but because the centre of gravity of a standing man is above mid-height, the body rotates during translation so that the legs are in front, so they will impact on highly decelerating objects first. Although the head may eventually hit the ground, it does so at the much lower vertical velocity just due to gravity, not the high horizontal translation velocity produced by the blast winds. (For nuclear test films data of the detailed translation of accurate articulated crash dummies by blast waves, see for example R. V. Taborelli and I. G. Bowen, “Tertiary Effects of Blast – Displacement”, Operation Plumbbob interim test report ITR-1469, 1957.) Anyone lying down (prone) facing away from the explosion flash would survive the blast winds and would also be a smaller target for blast wind-carried debris impacts. Contrary to deceptive films of explosions in general and sound track-edited nuclear explosions in particular, the blast wave does not arrive at the velocity of light with the flash, so the explosion flash advertises a visible duck-and-cover warning to anyone in a highly vulnerable line-of-sight behind an unprotected window facing the blast. Windows on other sides of the building may be broken by the overpressure, but the fragments from those windows will not be accelerated to high inward velocities by the blast winds, since the blast winds or dynamic pressure acts only in a radial line from the explosion in the Mach region and doesn't diffract sideways into openings (unlike the overpressure). Like thunder after lightning, the bright flash of a nuclear or large conventional explosion can provide a useful warning to many people when large areas are at risk from blast effects, even if all other warning methods fail. These physical facts are ignored in the anti-civil defense deception propaganda from the Cold War era, which governments avoid contradicting even in compendiums like The Effects of Nuclear Weapons (which present the blast arrival time data in a passive, technical way). At the same 1 mile distance, Nagasaki, 10 gram glass window fragments (acceleration coefficient 0.72 ft2/lb) are accelerated to 270 ft/sec after 10 feet of travel and to 350 ft/sec maximum velocity (if there is no impact with an object during acceleration by blast winds). Such fragments would be likely to cause serious wounds (such as abdominal wall penetration) to people standing behind windows.
Such fragments are stopped, along with the thermal radiation pulse, by a solid desk or strong table that a person can quickly duck behind or under. This is the basis for WW II “duck and cover” advice. (In London in the Blitz in WW II, survival was likely under strong tables when the building collapsed due to blast, and this inspired the development of the indoor “Morrison table shelter”, which proved more popular - and just as safe - as outdoor shelters liable to ground water flooding.) Since glass fragments move with a high velocity horizontally, simply lying face-down on the floor if there is no solid object for protection – while not preventing window glass fragments from landing on the body – will ensure that the velocities and numbers of glass fragment impacts are minimised. This is because the highest numbers and velocities of glass fragment lacerations and abdominal penetrations occur if a person is standing directly behind a window, since (1) the horizontal component of the glass fragment velocity is the highest directly behind the window, and (2) the cross-sectional area of the body exposed to the fragments is maximised. Lying down below window height reduces both the average impact velocity and also the average number of glass fragment impacts on the body, as well as obviously reducing the cross-sectional body area exposed to the blast winds.
For a detailed presentation and discussion of the Dirkwood Corporation data: L. Wayne Davis, Prediction of Urban Casualties and the Medical Load from a High-Yield Nuclear Burst, Dirkwood Corporation paper DC-P-1060-1 (1968), published as Appendix C in Mass Burns: Proceedings of a Workshop, 13-14 March 1968, Sponsored by the Committee on Fire Research, Division of Engineering, National Research Council, and the Office of Civil Defense, Department of the Army, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1969, pp. 310-393 (Google PDF download linked here). The Texas City Disaster blast casualty versus peak overpressure data are appropriate for some terrorist nuclear weapon threats:
Key medical data on the Texas City Disaster casualties was collected and published by Drs. Truman and Virginia Blocker, specialists in burns and plastic surgery, who followed up the recovery of 800 survivors of the disaster for nine years. They also treated some of the burns casualties from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. See: V. Blocker and T. G. Blocker, “The Texas City Disaster, a Survey of 3000 casualties”, American Journal of Surgery, November 1949, vol. 78, issue 5, pp. 756-71, and T. G. Blocker, Jr., V. Blocker, J. E. Graham, and H. Jacobson, “Follow-up medical survey of the Texas City disaster”, American Journal of Surgery, May 1959, vol. 97. Issue 5, pp. 604-17. (Ships laden with munitions equivalent for blast to the kiloton nuclear yield range have caught fire and exploded in ports in 1917 and 1944, although the recorded casualty data in these cases was not detailed enough to relate the peak overpressure to mortality in different structures. On December 6, 1917, the SS Mont-Blanc, laden with 2.9 kt of explosive munitions for World War I, caught fire and exploded at Halifax, Nova Scotia, killing 1,950 and injuring 9,000. On July 17, 1944, the Port Chicago disaster occurred, when 2 kt of TNT-equivalent World War II munitions in SS E. A. Bryan and on the adjacent pier exploded, killing 320 and injuring 390.)
Above: comparison of the blast from nuclear and chemical explosives. Because only a fraction of the nuclear yield appears in air blast, it follows that a smaller yield chemical explosion produces a similar blast to a nuclear detonation. However, the massive physical size of chemical explosives needed to simulate nuclear weapon blast waves reduces the energy density (joules/m3) of the source of the blast, reducing the blast pressures from the TNT chemical equivalent in the region above about 500 psi.
In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, roughly 99.7% of the buildings were relatively weak wood-frame inflammable buildings which suffered far greater blast and fire damage than the brick and concrete structures (which mainly survived with some fire damage to interior combustibles, due to fire brands from the surrounding mass fires in wood-frame buildings entering broken windows). Two-thirds of the 76,000 buildings in Hiroshima were destroyed by fire (due to blast-overturned breakfast charcoal braziers at 8:15 am, as discussed later), mainly in the period of 2 to 3 hours after the detonation when the firestorm was at its peak intensity (by which time many survivors had escaped). In Nagasaki, a higher yield burst than Hiroshima where there was no firestorm (due to the detonation at 12:01 pm, when fewer kitchen charcoal braziers were burning in wooden houses), only a quarter of the city's 51,000 wood-frame buildings were flattened or burned. For comparison to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the report by L. Wayne Davis, Francis J. Wall and Donald L. Summers, Development of 'Typical' Urban Areas and Associated Casualty Curves (Dirkwood Corp., Albuquerque, New Mexico, DC-FR-1047 and AD623087, April 1965, 192 pp.), shows in Table 42 on page 91 that 63% of downtown buildings in large American cities in 1965 were reinforced concrete, 33% were brick, and only 2% were wood-frame houses. Thus, 99.7% of Hiroshima's buildings were wood-frame, but only 2% of those in American cities in 1965 were wood-frame. Hardly any buildings in modern cities are now made of wood. This is why casualty curves must reflect the actual building construction today!
The longer blast durations for higher explosion energy yields accelerate heavy flying debris for a longer period, so the debris reaches higher velocities for any given peak overpressure, causing more casualties. However, this overpressure duration effect is not applicable for very light debris like small glass fragments, which attain their maximum or “terminal” velocities very quickly in the blast winds and are therefore unaffected in speed by increased blast duration. Furthermore, the production of heavy flying debris requires the destruction of walls, which is dependent upon the peak immediately reflected overpressure on the wall. At the threshold peak pressure which just breaks a wall, the wall resists until nearly all the blast wave has past by, and so there are no high velocity blast winds or blast duration remaining with which to accelerate the debris.
Therefore, the lower threshold pressures for casualties by heavy flying debris are less sensitive to the duration of the blast (and thus to the yield of the explosion) than the effects at higher pressures (well above the threshold pressures for wall destruction). These curves are taken from the Dirkwood Corporation analysis of all Joint Commission and other data for 35,000 checked case histories in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Texas City medical reports. Contrary to political propaganda, even near ground zero there were many survivors in buildings who could give the names of other people present at the time of the explosion. To avoid incorrect information due to incorrect recollections from individuals, the Dirkwood analysis utilized only situations where collaborative evidence from several witnesses was available. Another more recent source of information on the combined biological effects from nuclear weapons of various yields is the 2008 Russian atmospheric nuclear test effects summary by V. A. Logachev and L. A. Mikhalikhina, Animal Effects from Soviet Atmospheric Nuclear Tests, ADA485845, DTRA-TR-07-38 (beware of the serious error in the peak overpressure units used in this report; the correct units can be verified from the data provided for the 400 kt 1953 test, see pages 14-15).
As discussed in the previous post, all of the empirical data above is grossly different to the false "assumptions" made to make deceptive predictions of casualties from nuclear attacks during the Cold War. For example, the thermal energies needed to produce mortality are vastly higher than the energies needed to produce burns to bare skin, because any shadow or clothing provides protection and people instinctively close their eyes as an automatic reflex and turn away from a painfully bright unexpected flash, whatever the source may be, which provides some protection. The 1979 deceptive U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report The Effects of Nuclear War used completely outrageous lies to calculate casualty rates, ignoring the facts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to exaggerate the difficulties facing civil defense, for politically expedient ends. As pointed out in the previous post, the vagueness and covering-up of the facts served a deterrent purpose during the Cold War, but against terrorists who exploit fear of the unknown, secrecy of the basis for countermeasures is an inappropriate response. As history showed before World War II, exaggerations of weapons effects can encourage terrorists and dictatorships to exploit the climate of fear for their own ends.
Exaggerations of nuclear casualty predictions: the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment's 1979 Effects of Nuclear War blast overpressure versus mortality effects criteria appeared in the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) civil defence manuals, such as the Attack Environment Manual (originated by FEMA's precursor, the DCPA or Defense Civil Preparedness Agency) from the 1970s, without citing any specific references. However, it the extremely exaggerated casualty figures they use (which imply 50% lethality from blast effects inside typical city buildings at 5-6 psi peak overpressure, compared to much higher figures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki data which included initial nuclear radiation and thermal effects to people near windows in sight of the fireball) were based on error-filled computer models such as that developed by IIT Research Institute of Chicago of the bodily translation from blast winds when a person is inside a building. This particular computer program (code) is stated and discussed in the "unclassified" report by David I. Feinstein, William F. Heugel, Merle L. Kardatzke, and Albery Weinstock, Personnel Casualty Study, IIT Research Institute, Chicago, AD842573, July 1968, which while not classified confidential or secret, was limited in distribution ("only authorized for distribution to U.S. Government contractors") from July 1968 until 7 October 1976.
The abstract states misleadingly that: "A validation of the code was was performed using existing Hiroshima data." The abstract does not mention that this "validation" actually disproved the model, instead of verifying it! See pages 131-133 of the validation (online link to PDF download, here). The main component of the model was the part of the program predicting mortality from bodily displacement due to blast winds entering a building and blowing a person into an object. This model was developed on the basis of dummies exposed outdoors on unobstructed terrain to two 1957 Operation Plumbbob nuclear tests, and was a reasonable model for predicting the peak velocity attained by a standing person outdoors. However, the "validation" using Hiroshima data was done for casualties in one building in Hiroshima only, the Hiroshima Telephone Office at 2,000 feet range from ground zero, where there 14 percent of personnel were casualties; the computer model predicted 93 percent casualties!
This is a massive error factor, exaggerating the casualty rate by 6.6 times, and it only "validates" the stupidity of applying a model for blast wind displacement based on personnel outdoors to inside buildings. This kind of translation model was applied in all the computer casualty codes of the 1970s, massively exaggerating indoor casualties. The report tries to explain away the error by suggesting that the translation model was not appropriate to air bursts for the regular reflection blast region, which extended out to about 2,000 feet in Hiroshima. However, in that case the model is also wrong from all air bursts in the regular reflection region (the FEMA manuals and the 1979 Effects of Nuclear War report apply the same blast casualty criteria to both surface and air bursts, without differences for regular reflection or Mach region).
In the regular reflection region, the incident blast wave arrives first and the accompanying blast wind is directed along the radial line from the detonation point, so it is not horizontal but is coming downwards (it comes vertically downwards at ground zero, but at an angle of 45 degrees for a ground range equal to the burst altitude, which is roughly the maximum range of the regular reflection region). This downward angle of the blast winds will reduce personnel displacement in an air burst, because the person will be blown down to the ground sooner than for a purely horizontal blast wind, which has time to accelerate the person to a higher velocity before the person hits an object or the ground.
Nevertheless, in the regular reflection region this downward directed blast wind component of the incident shock wave is followed by the reflected wave, which is accompanied by a blast wind with an upward component coming from the radial line of the mirror image of the burst, which would enhance translational injuries by blowing people into the air:
Above: in the Mach stem region, the shock wave and blast winds move horizontally, but in the regular reflection region there are two shock waves received at any height above the ground (e.g. in a building): the first is the incident blast wave, which has a blast wind or dynamic pressure with a downward component to it, and then the ground-reflected blast wave is received which has an upward directed angle to it. (Illustration is from Glasstone and Dolan, Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977.)
In the regular reflection region, the incident blast wave will tend to blow things down rather than just horizontally, but after a very brief period of time (for locations near the ground), the reflected wave arrives and the blast wind and associated dynamic pressure (responsible for displacing personnel) loses its downward component and blows with a slightly upward direction. Actually, once the blast wave enters the horizontal floors of a building, the blast winds will be constrained (or ducted) into a more horizontal direction anyway, if the airflow is to blow through. Overall, the excuse that the IIT model failed because of the direction of the blast winds in the regular reflection region is a red-herring. More likely, the blast winds in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (in both regular and Mach reflection regions) tended to blow unimpeded through the buildings only above the waist-high window base heights, so the air drag loading to standing people was effectively limited to the upper halves of their bodies, simply knocking them over and down on to the floor, instead of accelerating them horizontally for large distances at high speeds before they hit something (as occurred for dummies exposed outdoors in standing posture for nearly ideal and precursor duststorm conditions at the Priscilla and Smoky nuclear tests of Operation Plumbbob in 1957).
This is the main reason why the 1979 Effects of Nuclear War blast casualty predictions for air and surface bursts were gross exaggerations. The Texas City ship explosion data given earlier (above) is for a surface burst, and confirms this conclusion because in a surface burst the incident and reflected shock waves are fused at all distances into a Mach stem, with horizontal blast winds at all distances. These horizontal winds did not increase casualties due to translation, as the curves above confirm.
The report states on page 133 that if the translation model in the computer code is ignored, the predicted casualties for the Hiroshima building at 2,000 feet are correct: 14 percent! However, it is silly to try to "validate" a computer model by trying to simulate just the casualty data from one building selected at random in Hiroshima from the full data for all buildings in the originally secret 1947 six volumes of Strategic Bombing Survey reports on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A statistically significant validation of a computer prediction system should be done using all of the data, such as that in the Dirkwood Corporation data summary, not just trying to simulate data for one building (which will magnify the risk of errors due to uncertainities related to the precise positions of the people and objects in that building when the blast wave arrived). By simulating casualties for lots of buildings in the cities, the random errors from individual cases will be statistically suppressed by the increase in the size of the data sampled. Another factor of relevance for casualty models is that in the 1960s and 1970s the dosimetry for initial radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was grossly oversimplified and the latest dosimetry from 2002 (the Dosimetry System 2002, or DS02) is verified by empirical neutron activation data (measurements of long-lived low-level neutron induced radioactivity in steel samples from the city buildings) and gamma dose thermoluminescence (the gamma radiation displaced atoms in the crystal structure of roof tiles, and this energy could be later released as light when the samples were heated, allowing the radiation dose to be determined accurately; this technique is easily and reliably calibrated by simply exposing the same sample to a known dose of gamma radiation afterwards and repeating the measurement of the light release upon heating using a standard laboratory instrument), as well as comparison of the new models with nuclear test initial radiation measurements. We discussed this DS02 model in detail in an earlier post.
Above: the IIT blast wind translation model with its gross casualty exaggerations for people in buildings persisted in the May 1973 report by Anatole Longinow, G. Ojdrovich, L. Bertram, and A. Wiedermann, People Survivability in a Direct Effects Environment and Related Topics, AD0764114, as illustrated in the computer simulation above of a person being blown out of a building and falling to the ground outside under gravity. (For a generally good compilation of effects data, see also Anatole Longinow, et al., Debris Motion and Injury Relationships in All Hazard Environments, ADA030815, 1976.)
Anatole Longinow, et al., “Casualties Produced by Impact and Related Topics of People Survivability in a Direct Effects Environment”, IIT Research Institute, AD-A011108, August 1974:
Page 1-1: “Ground plane impact is taken as a separate category because it involves those individuals who are swept out from the upper stories by the blast winds.”
The subsequent graphs of mortality (from different kinds of flying debris and floor impacts) in the report show that essentially all of the mortality predicted by the model is due to gravity accelerating people to impact the ground, after the blast is presumed to have blown people out of multistorey buildings.
This did not happen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the reason is clear: the blast winds with associated air drag (or dynamic) pressure blow in freely through broken windows, but unlike the overpressure of the blast, the wind pressure is not a wave phenomenon and doesn't diffract downwards from the window frame. Just as shallow trenches or depressions give protection from the wind drag (although the overpressure component of the shock wave diffracts into them), the wall portion below the broken window shelters the blast wind. See the following illustrations (adapted from Anatole Longinow, E. Hahn, A. Wiedermann, and S. Citko, Casualties Produced by Impact and Related Topics of People Survivability in a Direct Effects Environment, Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, ADA011108, 1974):
If the shock wave loading on the wall is only just enough to break it, then by definition the wall will only break up after the whole of the positive phase of the blast has passed, so there will be no wind pressure remaining to accelerate the debris. Those pieces of wall debris cannot then become high velocity flying missiles, and the wall will also have successfully sheltered the wind pressure, despite failing at the end. If the shock wave loading is slightly greater, then the wall will fail and break up before all of the shock wave positive phase has ended, and some wind pressure will persist to act upon the fragments and accelerate them. However, the dynamic pressure falls off much faster than the peak overpressure (dynamic pressure is proportional to roughly the square of the overpressure). Also, a fraction of the dynamic pressure impulse (at the "tail end" of blast wind pressure pulse) will be able to blow through the broken up wall and act upon a person inside the building. However, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki many modern city buildings survived high pressures with minor damage. (The large areas of ashes and soot were the result of the fires spreading in wooden buildings 30 minutes to 3 hours after the explosion.)
Above: double page spread of Nevada nuclear test experiment from the 1957 edition of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, proving that although the blast overpressure diffracts like a wave, the wind pressure of the blast wave doesn't. Two complete sets of earth moving equipment were exposed where the peak overpressure was 30 psi, one set in the open and fully exposed to the blast winds, and the other in an open trench where the blast wave overpressure (but not wind or dynamic pressure) was able to diffract in. There was no significant wind drag damage because the sides of the trench stopped the free flow of wind pressure within the trench, effectively creating a dead air layer. Only the wave like overpressure component of the blast entered and caused damage: the wind just blew straight over the top without deflecting down into the trench. Similarly, a solid wall below window height will provide some shielding from the blast winds, which will blow over the top. If the room has an interior wall which stops the winds blowing straight through, the winds will blow in umimpeded only for a short time (the time taken for the shock to reach the far wall and bounce back), generally a time much shorter than the positive phase duration of the pressure in a large yield detonation. The free-flow of air pressure in the room will then be reduced much below the flow rate over open terrain.
This can be confirmed by anyone with the wind: the wind flow through a tube with both ends removed is more efficient than the flow of wind into a tube with the far end capped. Similarly, opening one window in a house will not allow the wind to blow freely through the house unless an exit is provided by opening another window on the other side of the house, to allow a draught to blow straight through. If there is only one entrance, the wind blowing in increases the air pressure within the house until it is just sufficient to oppose the drag pressure of the incident wind at the entrance, cutting off the wind inflow.
For these reasons, the computer models of people being blown straight out of buildings and falling to the ground exaggerates casualty rates. Moreover, the flash of the explosion gives visible warning ahead of the blast wave arrival time, like lightning before thunder. People behind windows facing an explosion over large blast damage areas will therefore usually have adequate time to duck and cover, reducing the body area exposed to the blast winds and the flying glass or debris they carry. This is the important lesson for civil defense that must not be ignored or downplayed for "political correctness" over Cold War dogmas of exaggerated effects to bolster the strength of nuclear deterrence or to motivate disarmament pipe dreams. Weapons effects exaggerations for disarmament led to disaster in the 1930s. Vulnerability through deception doesn't protect people or deter thugs. On the contrary, vulnerability through exaggerating the threat until it is made to look beyond rational control by civil defense countermeasures just ensures that nobody will duck and cover, thus maximising the helpless intimidation generated by terrorist threats and maximising the scale of any potential disaster (including non-nuclear explosions like the 0.67 kt nuclear equivalent Texas City disaster of 1947 which killed 581 people).
Although ABM offers protection and deterrence against a wide spectrum of accidental and limited war scenarios, it is always limited to airborne attacks and cannot defend against all kinds of subversive attack by smuggled explosives carried in ships or vehicles. ABM systems should not therefore be allowed to generate complacent "Maginot Line psychology" because it can always be by-passed by back door attacks. Even EMP-causing high altitude bursts cannot automatically be prevented by ABM, because a warhead can be equipped with radar sensors and fused to detonate when approached by an ABM missile, with the full effect.
The first five volumes of the 1951 Report of the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan by Ashley W. Oughterson and others is online (link here), although the most important data analysis is in volume six which is unavailable. The originally secret six volumes of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey reports on Hiroshima and Nagasaki from 1947 are still unpublished (only a completely misleading, non-quantitative discussion booklet on the results was openly published by them in 1946 (The Effects of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, June 19, 1946), which omits the vital statistical evidence on the origin of the firestorm in Hiroshima) but are held in the British National Archives, as documents AIR 48/160, AIR 48/161, AIR 48/162, AIR 48/163, AIR 48/164, and AIR 48/165 (declassified from secret in 1972, although in America they had been declassified earlier, while effectively limited in distribution, since they were never published). The originally secret May 1947 volume of the Strategic Bombing Survey report on Hiroshima states on pages 4-6:
"Six persons who had been in reinforced-concrete buildings within 3,200 feet [975 m] of air zero stated that black cotton black-out curtains were ignited by flash heat ... A large proportion of over 1,000 persons questioned was, however, in agreement that a great majority of the original fires were started by debris falling on kitchen charcoal fires ..."
This vitally important survey fact, that fires started mainly from the normal Hiroshima and Nagasaki wood frame dwelling debris like paper screens and bamboo furnishings falling on breakfast (8:15 am Hiroshima) and lunch (12:01 pm Nagasaki) charcoal cooking braziers, is extremely important. A few black coloured air-raid "black-out" curtains did ignite near ground zero due to thermal radiation under intense exposure in a line-of-sight to the fireball without intervening buildings or trees, but such dark air-raid avoiding curtains are not used in city windows today, nor are charcoal cooking braziers used amid highly flammable houses and furnishings. The vitally important evidence on the importance of the blast (not thermal radiation) firestorm mechanism in Hiroshima was been missed by Glasstone and Dolan (probably because of its initial secrecy and the vagueness of the widely-reported, unclassified "summary" volume of the 1946 U.S. Bombing Survey Report, which omits the vital survey data), and also by the late Walmer E. ("Jerry") Strope, the Pentagon head of American civil defense research in the 1960s (while civil defense under military control), who commented in his recent autobiography, Chapter 19, The Civil Defense Research Surge:
"The brilliant flash resulting from a nuclear explosion, called the “thermal pulse,” was believed to be the principal cause of the fires that raged at Hiroshima. Of course, Japanese houses were made of paper and Hiroshima was not much like modern American cities but the potential fire threat was uncertain. The Effects of Nuclear Weapons had a table of materials that could be ignited by the thermal pulse [the June 1957 and April 1962 editions of that book contained false data which greatly exaggerated the problem for ignition of newspaper and fine kindling materials; the February 1964 reprint and the 1977 edition give corrected data but it was too late and the exaggerations from earlier editions were widely hyped in the early Congressional Hearings and many anti-civil defense books in the early 1960s, as we have seen in previous blog posts]. The most ignitable was old, crumpled newspaper such as you may have seen caught up in a chain-link fence. It would flame up at a thermal pulse intensity of about 5 calories per square centimeter. Anti-CD [Civil Defense] activists seized upon this datum, which could extend beyond blast damage on a clear day, drew a circle around a hypothetical explosion point, and declared all within the circle lost in the resulting mass fire."
This problem and widespread ignorance continues today with Eden's book. One excellent way to address the futility of the firestorm lies is to point out that survival rates in both Hiroshima (firestorm) and Nagasaki (no firestorm) correlated to blast parameters. Despite the instantaneous flash-over in the inflammable rubbish-filled Encore test house with a massive window facing ground zero without line-of-sight obstructions at Nevada in 1953, the other house (not filled with rubbish) beside it contained more modern fire-resistant/retardant furnishings and survived despite the same immense unobstructed thermal radiation exposure!
Review of Mass Burns: Proceedings of a Workshop, 13-14 March 1968, Sponsored by the Committee on Fire Research, Division of Engineering, National Research Council, and the Office of Civil Defense, Department of the Army, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1969 (Google PDF download linked here).
On page 37, the editors write:
"If clothing ignites, education should be so thorough that the immediate reaction is smother the flames.
"Every child should be trained to roll on the floor if his clothes catch fire, and every adult should know how to extinguish flames with the nearest material at hand - his own coat, a rug, or a blanket. They should know, in advance of the actual emergency, the importance of bringing the coat (or whatever else they are using) across the face to fend the flames and smoke away from the vital air passages."
On page 49, Dr Edward L. Alpen of the U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory dispelled myths concerning the part of the thermal radiation spectrum which is most efficient at causing skin burns. It is not visible light, but infrared radiation which is not reflected by clouds like visible light, and suffers severe attenuation due to water vapor such as humid air or clouds. This is precisely why you don't feel heat from the sun when there is cloud cover intervening in the radial line from you to the sun. Ultra violet radiation is not important over large distances because it is absorbed by oxygen and gamma ray-produced ozone in the air (the nuclear explosion's initial gamma radiation ionizes oxygen and like lightning it automatically produces a "smog" veil consisting largely of ozone, O3, around the fireball, which absorbs the ultra violet radiation). Dr Alpen explains on pp. 49-50:
"About this question of the spectral dependence of radiant energy, I think Dr Haynes may have given you the impression that white light does the trick. There is later work which tends to refute that. The [incorrect] work done at Virginia used cut-off filters. The effectiveness of all energy above a certain wavelength or below a certain wavelength was measured. At the upper end the most effective and the least effective were mixed together and made it [wrongly] appear that infrared was not too good in producing burns. [This error was due to lumping together visible red (0.6-0.8 micron wavelength) and infrared wavelengths into the same energy spectrum interval, averaging the extremely burn-ineffective visible red light with extremely burn-effective infrared, to create a misleading result. Skin and most other body tissue is relatively transparent to visible red light of 0.6-0.8 microns wavelength, so red visible light does not cause skin burns: it is not stopped by a very thin layer of skin, so it does not cause large temperature rises compared to infrared radiation which is absorbed rapidly by the water in tissue.]
"When you subdivide the spectrum, the most effective energy in producing a flash burn is the infrared above about 1.2 microns. The importance of this, and the only reason I make an issue of it, is that a very important source of flash burn, both in civilian life and under wartime disaster conditions, is radiant energy burns from flaming sources ...
"There is one window of wavelength in the skin of man which does not burn. This is from about 0.6 to 0.8 micron, because the skin allows the transmission of this energy. You can demonstrate this simply by holding up your fingers to the sun and looking through them. You will see that red light is transmitted. This is a phenomenon all of you know. Energy in the wavelengths of 0.6 to 0.8 micron is about one-eighth as destructive as the rest of the spectrum. But long wavelength [infrared] radiation above one micron is extremely destructive, and the most effective of all. ... Anything that shields out radiation above one micron is extremely effective in preventing burns to the skin."
Dr Carl Jelenko, III, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Hospital in his paper beginning on page 68 explains clearly physiology of burn wounds:
(1) Water is lost through burned skin because the body is 70% water so a primary function of the skin is to retain moisture because evaporation is high at the normal body temperature (37 °C inside the body and 32 °C at the body surface). Lung tissues are coated in a layer of water in which oxygen from inhaled air is dissolved prior to transport around the body, so exhaled moist air is normally (in cool, non-sweaty conditions) the biggest source of water loss after excretion. When the skin is damaged by a burn, water is able to evaporate from from the exposed moist 32 °C tissue directly, and unless this moisture loss is compensated by oral or intravenous fluid administration, lethal shock may result if the burned area exceeds 15% of body area in children or 25% body area in adults. An adult with 40% body area burns loses 6 quarts (a quart is 0.946 liter) of water every day through that burned skin (until it is healed).
(2) Energy is rapidly lost via burned skin because the almost uninhibited evaporation of water from burned tissue is not just a problem in draining the fluid from the casualty and causing shock, because it also drains energy from the casualty because at the normal 32 °C skin surface temperature (or higher still in the case of a fever due to infection), it takes 579 calories to evaporate a kilogram of water. This energy drain due to evaporation of water cools the burned skin, therefore the body has to burn up more energy reserves just to maintain thermal homeostasis. Severe burns patients normally cannot hold down solid food, so have to be given water and an energy supply either orally (by almost continuous drinking) or intravenously. For oral administration, Dr Jelenko recommended that electrolytic balance is maintained by adding 2 level teaspoons of table salt and 2 level teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to every 3 quarts of water, while some sweetener such as cola syrup is added to make the drink palatable. On page 85, it is noted that burns patients have a poor appetite for the first 36-48 hours, when it may be impossible even to consume fluids (intravenous administration is then important). Solid foods may not be digested and even if not immediately vomited, may be vomited later during sleep, causing inhalation of some of the material (thus resulting in either fatal choking or lung infections like pneumonia). Abdominal swelling indicates that the digestive system is not functioning and only liquid intake should then be given until recovery progresses.
(3) The skin damage permits infections of the burned skin tissue. This is particularly important after exposure to large doses of nuclear radiation, because of the decreased abundance of infection-fighting white blood cells which results from damage to the radiation-sensitive bone marrow.
A new innovative burns treatment aimed at combatting all of the problems above (at least in the short-term, for first-aid in disasters) consists of simply covering the burned area with aseptic transparent plastic film (an aseptic version of the cling film wrap commonly used to keep sandwiches and other foods fresh). This prevents water evaporation and infection, but the plastic film may stick to the tissue and cause damage to the skin when removed, and it may delay long-term healing. Care should be taken not to wrap the plastic film around burned areas too tightly, to allow for the inevitable swelling of burned tissue which could damage the skin by compression of damaged tissue and also by restricting blood flow (the tourniquet danger). However, since the plastic is transparent the wound can be visually monitored for problems and the plastic can serve as a short-term barrier to infection, to prevent immediate water loss and associated shock from setting in before burned people can escape from an explosion damaged area, and as a temporary countermeasure for keeping radioactive fallout particles from entering burns wounds in the event of a surface burst nuclear explosion:
Think Plastic Wrap as Wound Dressing for Thermal Burns
ACEP [American College of Emergency Physicians] News
By Patrice Wendling
Elsevier Global Medical News
CHICAGO - Ordinary household plastic wrap makes an excellent, biologically safe wound dressing for patients with thermal burns en route to the emergency department or burn unit.
The Burn Treatment Center at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, has advocated prehospital and first-aid use of ordinary plastic wrap or cling film on burn wounds for almost two decades with very positive results, Edwin Clopton, a paramedic and ED technician, explained during a poster session at the annual meeting of the American Burn Association.
"Virtually every ambulance in Iowa has a roll of plastic wrap in the back," Mr. Clopton said in an interview. "We just wanted to get the word out about the success we've had using plastic wrap for burn wounds," he said.
Dr. G. Patrick Kealey, newly appointed ABA president and director of emergency general surgery at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, said in an interview that plastic wrap reduces pain, wound contamination, and fluid losses. Furthermore, it's inexpensive, widely available, nontoxic, and transparent, which allows for wound monitoring without dressing removal.
"I can't recall a single incident of its causing trouble for the patients," Dr. Kealey said. "We started using it as an answer to the problem of how to create a field dressing that met those criteria. I suppose that the use of plastic wrap has spread from here out to the rest of our referral base."
Although protocols vary between different localities, plastic wrap is typically used for partial- and full-thickness thermal burns, but not superficial or chemical burns. It is applied in a single layer directly to the wound surface without ointment or dressing under the plastic and then secured loosely with roller gauze, as needed.
Because plastic wrap is extruded at temperatures in excess of 150° C, it is sterile as manufactured and handled in such a way that there is minimal opportunity for contamination before it is unrolled for use, said Mr. Clopton of the emergency care unit at Mercy Hospital, Iowa City. However, it's best to unwind and discard the outermost layer of plastic from the roll to expose a clean surface.
If shock from thermal burns and other injuries cannot be avoided, it must be treated immediately. Whatever the cause, the physiology of shock stems from the thickening of blood caused by the loss of blood plasma from capillary walls into tissue, increasing the viscosity of the blood and slowing the circulation rate. This is an automatic reaction to trauma which reduces blood losses in bleeding and makes the blood more sticky, enabling faster and more effective clotting than is possible at normal blood viscosity and normal blood pressure. This loss of plasma from the blood is accompanied by a dilation of blood vessels in muscles and abdominal organs, which slows the rate of blood flow and thus the rate of oxygen transfer, and further reduces the blood pressure, to reduce blood loss rates and allow clotting to proceed effectively. The fall in blood pressure due to the pooling of blood in dilated deep vessels makes the skin pale. The fall in the oxygen delivery rate to tissue causes the heart to race in an effort to maintain a flow of oxygen, so the pulse increases from the normal 72 beats a minute to 100-120 or more for adults at rest. The reduced delivery of oxygen to tissue can cause the person to faint or to show symptoms of cold hypothermia (e.g. shivering) because there is insufficient oxygen being delivered to produce warmth in the tissue by oxidisation of glucose.
The cause of shock (thickening of blood and fall in blood pressure) is the natural response to trauma: it prevents excessive blood loss by bleeding (the bleeding rate is a function of blood pressure) and forces the casualty to lie down, making blood clotting more efficient. In summary, the symptoms of shock are faintness, pale and/or cold skin, fast pulse, and slow breathing. The basic treatment consists of hydrating the casualty to increase the blood plasma volume to make the viscous red blood cell content of the blood less concentrated: give the casualty non-alcoholic fluids such as water, soft drinks, etc. Short-term first-aid treatments for shock which do not increase the blood plasma volume and just mask the symptoms but not the underlying cause of shock, consist of treating the circulation and hypothermia symptoms by lying down the casualty and raising their feet, and using blankets to keep warm. The 1983 British Medical Association report The Medical Effects of Nuclear War on page 101 gave a recipe for oral administration, which is relevant for nuclear explosion casualties at risk of shock from blast, thermal and nuclear radiation effects:
“The effects of dehydration can be combated effectively by early and energetic oral rehydration with clean water containing sugar, i.e. glucose, dextrose or sucrose (20 g/litre), and common table salt, sodium chloride (3.5 g/litre). These additives to potable water are readily available in households and it is important that supplies of the two substances should be available.”
The first-aid measures against mechanical wounds and fractures are well known, except for the need to hydrate crush wounds casualties trapped under heavy rubble before or immediately after release (toxins are produced by crushed muscles which are released into the blood stream when the muscles are released, which can be concentrated enough to poison the kidneys unless adequate fluid has been given to dilute the toxins). Radiation injury in large but survivable dose cases (2-6 Gy or 200-600 rads free-in-air dose) is well known to consist of an initial phase of sickness for (poisoning symptoms due to hydrogen peroxide and other toxins created by the action of radiation on water in the body), followed by an apparent recovery phase of a few days before a final phase consisting chiefly of the symptoms of decreased abundance of various types of blood cells.
Cell proteins are sythesised using information carried by genes in DNA, so cells are particularly vulnerable to radiation during cell production. The shorter the lifespan of a cell, the longer the percentage of their life which is spent in the vulnerable production process (e.g., a cell with a lifespan of only 3 days must be normally produced at a rate which can replace the entire supply of that cell every 3 days, so the shorter the lifespan of a cell, the more rapid the production rate, and the higher the vulnerability to radiation during production). This fact explains why the fastest-reproducing cells of the body (blood cells) show greatest sensitivity to radiation, and it is also the basis of radiotherapy (because rapidly dividing cancer cells are more sensitive to radiation than normal, more slowly-dividing cells) as discovered in 1906 by French radiologists Jean A. Bergonié and Louis F. A. Tribondeau ("Interpretation de quelques résultats de la radiotherapie et essai de fixation d'une technique rationelle", C. R. Soc. Biol., Paris, 1906, v. 143, pp. 983-5). Mature cells are insensitive to radiation, but when they naturally die, they cannot be replaced quickly, due to the damage to the cell production mechanism. This is why blood cell counts only start to fall a few days after exposure to radiation, when the existing mature cells naturally die but are not replaced at the normal rate. White blood cells (leukocytes) include granulocytes produced in the bone marrow and lymphocytes produced in the lymphoid tissues (e.g., lymph nodes and spleen), and defend the body against infection. Their loss becomes apparent a week or two after exposure to radiation when the existing cells in the blood have died and have not been replaced in sufficient numbers, increasing the risk of infection at this time. In lethal cases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the total white blood cell count fell from the normal 7,000 or so cells per cubic millimetre to below 2,000 in serious cases, and to below 500 in fatal cases (reference: Effects of Atomic Weapons, 1950, page 349). It is therefore a useful indicator of the dose and survival prospects if a radiation dosimeter is not available. The loss of red blood cells (erythrocytes) is less severe, but the fall in platelets can be severe after a week or two, and since platelets cause the blood to clot, their loss can cause bleeding (hemorrhage) in the gums of the mouth, the lining of intestinal tract, and under the skin (petechiae and purpura). These temporary effects were well documented in the irradiated survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they naturally disappeared as the blood-forming organs recovered. Likewise, the hair loss was only temporary:
"Burns of moderate second degree (and milder) usually healed within four weeks, but more severe burns frequently became infected so that the healing process was much more prolonged. Even under the best conditions, it is difficult to prevent burns from becoming infected, and after the nuclear bombings of Japan the situation was aggravated by inadequate care, poor sanitation, and general lack of proper facilities. Nuclear radiation injury may have been a contributory factor in some cases due to the decrease in resistance of the body to infection."
- The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense, 1957, pp. 463-4.
"Hemorrhages breaking through a surface layer of epithelium, laden with bacteria, may give rise to other effects. ... Normally harmless bacteria, generally found within the digestive tract and on the skin, may actually gain access to the blood stream and cause blood poisoning and fatal infection. Boils and abscesses may form in any part of the body through a similar cause, but they are characterized by being more localized."
- The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense, 1957, p. 501.
"Epilation (loss of hair), mainly of the scalp, was common among those Japanese who survived for more than 2 weeks after the explosion. The time of onset of epilation reached a sharp peak, for both males and females, between the thirteenth and fourteenth days. The hair suddenly began to fall out in bunches upon combing or plucking, and much fell out spontaneously: this continued for 1 or 2 weeks and then ceased. ... In severe cases, hair began to return within a few months and in no instance was the epilation permanent."
- The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense, 1957, p. 500.
"Among 1,000 cases, chosen at random, of individuals who were in the open, within some 6,600 feet (1.25 miles) of ground zero at the time of the explosions, only 42 gave a history of keratitis [eye cornea inflammation] coming on within the first day. Delayed keratitis was reported in 14 additional cases ... Investigators have reported that in no case, among the 1,000 examined, was the thermal radiation exposure of the eyes apparently sufficient to cause permanent opacity of the cornea. This observation is surprising in view of the severe burns of the face suffered by many of the patients. ... Nevertheless, some three years later the corneas were normal. No persons in the survey group developed permanent central scotomata (blind spots), although several stated that they were looking in the direction of the bomb at the time of the explosion. ... it seems probable that the blink reflex was rapid enough to provide significant protection. ... owing to the bright sunlight the pupils of the eyes would be small, thus decreasing the exposed area."
- The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense, 1957, pp. 465-6.
Continuing the review of the 1968 Mass Burns civil defense experts symposium, Harvard Medical School Professor of Surgery Oliver Cope summarized and reviewed the presentations on page 263-5, commenting on the fact that in science a "consensus" must only emerge naturally only after the acquisition of all of the facts, and this is the whole point of real science, which is distinguished in methodology from the groupthink prejudices and relativism of politics and fashion. Science is not a faddish dogma enforced by a tradition or dictatorial politics, points out Professor Cope:
"All of us people won't agree about every detail. Each of us puts a little different emphasis on this treatment or that, but, as knowledge develops, we become more secure, and ultimately unanimity of opinion will be reached. ...
"Society leaves us completely free. ... We are perfectly prepared in medicine to find that the thing that makes cells run wild may be something as new and different as bacteria were when Pasteur first described them. So that we, in medicine, are in a very, very fortunate position. Contrast this with the political position of the world in which our political leaders are not free to look at things in the open sense that medicine is. The political considerations are bound by tradition, which hampers progress. ... We must try to get our attitude toward society and toward research into world affairs."
This of course is the opposite of the approach taken by the International Physicians Against Nuclear War, a politically not scientifically motivated group whose approach is to exaggerate the effects of nuclear war in order to discredit the civil defense and thus to promote the lie that the only protection is nuclear disarmament, even though it is a fact that the disarmament in the 1930s simply encouraged fascists to attack Jews and invade defenseless countries with impunity.
Professor Cope continued on pages 264-5, explaining that mortality is often higher from civilian burns "accidents" than military burns accidents because up to 50% of civilian burns casualties are psychologically depressed, careless people, or engaged in self-harm, and such people have a higher burn mortality rate than non-depressed people:
"... in civilian burns we know very well that the morale factor is terribly important in recovery. ... A depressed patient does poorly. There has to be a will to live. ... the burns could easily have been assumed to be the results of accidents, if no further attempt had been made to understand the patients, establish a rapport with them and help them psychologically. ...
"Now you may find this hard to believe, but of all the burned children we have seen in Boston 50 percent have had an emotional reason for damaging themselves. Consciously, or unconsciously, they have taken the only way they could get the attention they desperately needed and have burned themselves. They have found a way of getting back at their parents for their neglect, by doing the very things they have been told not to do. It is a kind of accident proneness. In civilian accidents it is not enough to treat the burns. We must inquire into, and alleviate, the cause of the burns.
"These children who have burned themselves need very special attention. If they don't get it, they don't eat, they waste away, and mortality is high. If, however, they can be reached (and they can now with our better understanding), the mortality rate drops. [Therefore the mortality rate in civilian burns statistics is a function of not just the type of treatment and the age of the patient, but also of the psychological state of depression in patients who have burned themselves as a result of carelessness or deliberate exposure to fire.]
"... Depending on the victims' will to live the outcome may be far different from what statistics lead us to expect. Victims of a disaster, which is not likely to strike them again, may fare much better than the usual civilian accident victims.
[This was not the case in Hiroshima or Nagasaki where, as is well documented in numerous first-hand interviews, the severely burned and irradiated survivors were soon depressed by reports in the Japanese media of ignorant scare story originated by a report by Dr Harold Jacobson which falsely stated: "Hiroshima is contaminated with radiation. It will be barren of life and nothing will grow for 75 years. Any scientists who go there to survey the damage will be committing suicide ... Rain falling on the area will pick up the lethal rays and will carry them down to the rivers and the sea. And animal life in these waters will die ... Investigators in a contaminated area will become infected with secondary radiation which breaks up the red corpuscles in the blood. People will die much the same way that leukemia victims do." Dr Jacobson was just a laboratory based radiation health physicist of the Manhattan Project, who knew nothing about the physics of fallout creation in the Hiroshima air burst, but his wildly inventive claims were reported in the Washington Post on August 8, 1945. This news, reported extensively in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the newspapers which quickly restarted their presses, was extremely depressing for many survivors. Scientist correspondent William Laurence of the New York Times on September 3, 1945, wired the finding that the death rate was still 100 people a day in Hiroshima from burns complicated by initial radiation: “Japanese doctors told us they were helpless to deal with burns caused by the bomb’s great flash or with the other physical ailments caused by the bomb. Some said they thought that all who had been in Hiroshima that they would die as a result of the bomb’s lingering effects.” However, "Laurence denied that the black rain fallout in Hiroshima was significantly radioactive because it originated from the firestorm that began 30 minutes after explosion, when the radioactive mushroom cloud had been blown many miles downwind. Most survivors were injured mainly by blast and heat. Laurence was proved right: Hiroshima was not made barren of human and animal life for 75 years." As a result, Laurence has recently been accused by some journalists of masterminding an sinister conspiracy to cover-up the fallout radiation, which supposedly continues to make Hiroshima and Nagasaki uninhabitable, although both have been continuously inhabited all the time.]
"We've seen this in wartime. For the civilian, an accident is usually the start of the victim's stress and trouble. For a soldier, who has been in danger and under prolonged stress, the wounds, which incapacitate him from further duty, may represent the end of the period of stress, so that morale soars and recovery is swift.
"In German concentration camps during World War II, those who had no one to live for succumbed before their fellow immates who had families outside. Drr Rusk has found the same thing in his Rehabilitation Center in New York. He tried to find a correlation between recovery from strokes and a whole series of other factors, such as age, severity of the initial stroke, fats in the diet or in the blood stream and so on. But there was only one thing which showed a high correlation with recovery, and that was love. The patients, who had someone who cared about them, did better than those in whom no one was very interested.
"... If properly instructed, the family can be a tremendous help under disaster conditions, rubbing backs, turning the injured patients to prevent bed sores (or in a bedless fallout shelter the more promptly appearing floor sores), urging the patients to take deep breaths to prevent collapse of their air cells, and to exercise their joints to prevent undesirable clotting in their blood vessels, and positioning limbs in the position of function to minimize later crippling."
On page 272, Dr Eric Wolman of the Committee on Fire Research, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, summed up these facts very clearly:
"... the people who survive when they are in a tough spot are the ones who want to survive and are sure they can survive."
This is the reason why civil defense must consider it the primary duty to debunk exaggerations of the effects of nuclear weapons which have been invented to persuade people that nuclear weapons effects are unsurvivable.
On pages 277-80, the editors of Mass Burns summarize this disaster mentality problem:
"Dr Glass, in his outstanding paper on mass psychology, explained why it is difficult to persuade people to plan for disaster, especially nuclear disasters. The usual response when fear is aroused is to fight or run away, the so-called 'Flight or Fight Reaction'. If one does not know how to fight or where to flee, there is one more avenue of escape: running away mentally by denying the existence of the danger. It is because of this type of fleeing that people convince themselves that nuclear warfare is so ghastly it will never really happen and they need not plan for it.
"... A rug, blanket, or coat, thrown over the burning clothes in such a way as to sweep the flames away from the face may be lifesaving. The flames may also be extinguished by rolling on the floor, which every child should be taught. Smouldering clothes should be removed at once.
"... If nuclear disaster seems imminent, women and children as well as men should wear trousers and long sleeves, white preferred.
"... If caught outside, drop to the ground ... After the flash there may be a second or two to find more solid protection against the blast wave. Avoid positions in front of solid surfaces which may reflect the blast waves, doubling or trebling their damaging force."
On page 280, the editors point out Dr Phillips' Adult Age Plus Extent Rule of Burns, which states that in the absence of nuclear radiation, the fraction of the LD50 (lethal dose for 50%) produced by a serious thermal burn to X percent of the body area of a person aged Y years is equal to (X+Y)/90. Hence, 45% body area burns to a 45 years old person gives one LD50 (50% survival, 50% mortality), which is also given by 30% body area burns to a 60 years old person. The editors also point out on that page:
"During the period from 1939 to 1948, patients who died of burns lived only 3.5 days before death [on average]. With the improved therapy of today, those who die of burns live 14.5 days. For those who die, this must be a rather sterile triumph. We have grown accustomed to making heroic efforts to save even the most hopelessly burned, that we tend to forget that we are prolonging the suffering of those who die. Of 76 patients treated at the Massachusetts General Hospital, who would have been excluded from treatment if [treatment was reserved for patients with less than a thermal burns LD50, i.e. for a value of X+Y less than 90 in Dr Phillips formula], 64 died despite the best peacetime efforts. In those 64, sedatives were a blessing, but all other therapy only prolonged the patients' ordeals."
This is the justification for triage in a mass burns situation: a medical system in which limited resources are not withheld randomly from casualties but are instead sensibly administered to those who are most likely to derive the most benefit of those resources. One of the most persistent propaganda delusions repeatedly made against civil defense runs as follows: in any nuclear attack the entire civilian population will be outside wearing minimal swimming costumes and standing up in a direct unobstructed radial line facing the fireball in a perfectly clear atmospheric condition, with no intervening trees or buildings that would cast a "shadow". Under these "typical" and "probable" conditions, which were close to those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki where attacks occurred during morning commuting time and lunch time in fine August summer weather where many people were walking (or working ouside on clearing firebreaks) and in many eyewitness testimonies actually moved to get into a position to watch the apparently harmless B-29 bomber drop the nuclear bomb, thousands of serious thermal flash burns casualties can result.
Then the propaganda cites as an example the enormous amount of resources (miles of dressings, gallons of blood plasma, dozens of nurses, truck loads of oxygen cylinders) lavished on a single peacetime burns casualty who ended up dying anyway. To finish up, the anti-civil defense propaganda states that the entire country has only serious burns unit beds for 500 or so casualties, and a single nuclear weapon exploded over a large, highly-crowded beach on a clear day could produce many thousands of burns casualties. Therefore, the argument claims, there is guaranteed proof that the medical system of peacetime cannot cope with a single nuclear explosion, and then some media personality is quoted as saying that any terrorist use of nuclear weapons will automatically somehow escalate to an all-out nuclear war. So the rant continues that civil defense is therefore useless in all circumstances, and is a mean delusion to support nuclear deterrence, when in fact the only way to make the world safer is to reduce civil defence in order to increase vulnerability in a demented "peace" gesture to our enemies like Prime Minister Chamberlain's tea party with Hitler at Munich in 1938.
That way, the anti-civil defense propaganda claims, we can make historic signed peace papers with our enemies and prevent any war, thereby avoiding any need for civil defense in war or in natural disasters (so it is claimed; see picture above for an example of such an historical paper-signing episode from 1938): "War, you see, is not something people resort to in desperation when dialogue degenerates to violence; instead war is a silly impulsive thing that people could avoid by trying dialogue instead of violence. Just talk to Hitler and you will avoid war. Build common ground with Hitler by adopting racism. Collaborate with your enemies. Peace is worth any sacrifice of morality: the ends of peace justify the means used to achieve it." It's extremely difficult to reason with this sort of crazy delusion because it's built upon groupthink and fashionable belief systems: people who don't base their beliefs upon firm facts cannot be easily convinced by factual evidence which goes against their beliefs. Their attitude is that the facts are irrelevant, because they come from past experience which (being past experience) can tell us nothing of use to the present or the future (or so they conveniently claim).
Many civil defense proponents give up even trying to reason with such people, even though they have the mainstream media in their hands. However, they should begin stating the facts more, so that some people who are not too deeply stuck in the rut of fashionable propaganda delusions will become less dogmatic, and less susceptible to irrational beliefs. They will at least be equipped to question some of the more obvious delusions and deceptive propaganda spread by so-called civil defense "critics":
Above: the 1982 BBC QED "documentary" of anti-civil defense propaganda, A Guide to Armageddon, states at the start that it is based on the casualty effects criteria in the 1979 U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report The Effects of Nuclear War (the other two documents omit mortality-effects criteria), which are false as the Dirkwood data show. Page 19 of The Effects of Nuclear War claims vaguely (for unspecified bomb yield):
"... the winds associated with as little as 2 to 3 psi could be expected to blow people out of typical modern office buildings. ... People standing in such a residence have a 50-percent chance of being killed by an overpressure of 3.5 psi, but people who are lying down at the moment the blast wave hits have a 50-percent chance of surviving a 7-psi overpressure. The calculations used here assume a mean lethal overpressure of 5 to 6 psi for people in residences ..."
Above: 1979 FEMA diagram showing the same misleading casualty predictions as used in the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report The Effects of Nuclear War.
As we have seen, far greater peak overpressures were needed for 50% survival in nuclear explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the computer models used for people being "blown out of buildings" for the 1979 U.S. Office of Technology Assessment report were completely bogus, having failed validation using the data from Hiroshima! Page 21 of the The Effects of Nuclear War states:
"A 1-Mt explosion can cause first-degree burns (equivalent to a bad sunburn) at distances of about 7 miles [11 km], second-degree burns (producing blisters that lead to infection if untreated, and permanent scars) at distances of about 6 miles [10 km], and third-degree burns (which destroy skin tissue) at distances of up to 5 miles [8 km]."
This is a falsehood, because the energy required for skin burns caused by radiant infrared radiation is a function of the intervening clothing. Table 5 on page 32 of The Effects of Nuclear War "arbitrarily" assumes that 6.7 cal/cm2 of thermal radiation is 100% lethal to "exposed" people, defined on page 31 as being 25% of the population on a summer weekend afternoon, but the Hiroshima data in the Dirkwood report given earlier in this blog post shows that even for exposed people "unshielded outdoors" who were clearing firebreaks in Hiroshima in hot weather (minimal clothing), 16 cal/cm2 was required for 50% mortality, while 20 cal/cm2 was required for 100% lethality for unshielded personnel outdoors in Hiroshima, and even more is needed for higher yields where the thermal energy is released more slowly in time. See the Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, figure 5-2 on page 5-12 and table 6-2 on page 6-4, which show that the thermal energy for bare skin blistering or 2nd degree burns of 4, 5.1 and 9.1 cal/cm2 for 1 kt, 100 kt, and 10 Mt are raised to as much as 70, 90 and 120 cal/cm2, respectively, for skin covered by clothing. In addition, there is the effect of the intervening skyline of trees and buildings between people and the fireball (in general, most of the thermal radiation is received before the blast wave arrives), i.e. the shadows cast upon people who are not in a radial line-of-sight to the fireball. This shielding effect is greater in a surface burst than in an air burst where the fireball is elevated above the ground. Scattered visible light, as noted above, was found to be many times less effective than infrared radiation for producing burns, which is why we feel insignificant radiant energy heating when there is cloud cover that stops infrared radiation from the sun, even when there plenty of scattered visible light penetrating the cloud. The burn-producing infrared radiation is directional: it is not scattered as much as visible light (unless the scattering material is first heated up to fireball temperature, and re-radiates energy instead of simply scattering it). The curves above from the Dirkwood report show that in Hiroshima many times the 3rd degree burns exposures to bare skin were needed for mortality; clothes and fireball shadowing by the skyline increase the average lethal thermal exposure by several times for people outdoors watching the plane drop the bomb, and by many times for people indoors.
Figure 29 in the final Dirkwood report on Hiroshima and Nagasaki gives the thermal flash burns mortality rate in Nagasaki (where there was no firestorm, unlike Hiroshima) for 11,055 case histories, correlating the body area (instantly estimated from the familiar medical "rule of nines") covered by a given type of burn (2nd degree = blistering, 3rd degree = charring) with resulting mortality. This is vitally important for assessing the effects of thermal radiation in a nuclear explosion situation where accompanying nuclear irradiation of bone marrow suppresses the WBC a month after exposure (while the burns wounds are healing), allowing fatal infections in many cases where either effect alone would not be fatal. (This is an example of "synergism", a situation where the combination of two effects together is greater than the simple sum of the effects of the individual components, if they are received separately.) The result was 10% mortality for 20% of the body area burned (either 2nd or 3rd degree burns), with 50% mortality occurring for 37% body area subjected to 3rd degree burns or 53% body area subjected to 2nd degree burns.
“The high incidence of flash burns caused by thermal radiation among both fatalities and survivors in Japan was undoubtedly related to the light and scanty clothing being worn, because of the warm summer weather ... If there had been an appreciable cloud cover or haze below the burst point, the thermal radiation would have been attenuated somewhat and the frequency of flash burns would have been much less. Had the weather been cold, fewer people would have been outdoors and they would have been wearing more extensive clothing. Both the number of people and individual skin areas exposed to thermal radiation would then have been greatly reduced, and there would have been fewer casualties from flash burns. ... The death rate in Japan was greatest among individuals who were in the open at the time of the explosions; it was less for persons in residential (wood-frame and plaster) structures and least of all for those in concrete buildings. These facts emphasize the influence of circumstances of exposure on the casualties produced by a nuclear weapon and indicate that shielding of some type can be an important factor in survival. ... Had they been forewarned and knowledgeable about areas of relative hazard and safety, there would probably have been fewer casualties even in structures that were badly damaged.”
- Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, paragraphs 12.14, 12.17, and 12.22, pages 545-7.
The 1950 Effects of Atomic Weapons pointed out on page 337 that thermal flash burns occurred out to 14,000 feet from ground zero in Nagasaki and 12,000 feet in Hiroshima. The 1977 edition of Effects of Nuclear Weapons states on page 546 that lacerations from flying glass or other debris only occurred out to 12,500 feet from ground zero in Nagasaki and 10,500 feet in Hiroshima. Both flash burns and debris impact injuries are minimized or averted by taking cover. Page 549 of the 1977 Effects of Nuclear Weapons reports that the maximum incidence of eardrum rupture for either city was 9 percent for the survivors within 1,640 feet of ground zero in Nagasaki. Page 570 states that of 1,000 survivors within 6,600 feet in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, only 4.2 percent suffered temporary inflammation of the cornea of the eye (keratitis) on the first day, and 1.4 percent more suffered delayed keratitis. It adds that in all cases the corneas were found to be normal three years later. The relatively small effect of the Hiroshima firestorm on mortality is indicated the comparison of the casualties for Hiroshima and Nagasaki on page 544: 26.5% were killed, 29.7% injured and 43.8% safe in Hiroshima, compared to 21.9% killed, 12.1% injured and 66.0% safe in Nagasaki. Obviously, if either city had been of modern brick, steel and concrete construction instead of inflammable predominantly wood-frame design, casualties from all causes would have been reduced by a large factor. Duck and cover on seeing the plane could have halved casualty rates simply by reducing thermal flash burns, neglecting the benefits from reducing body area exposure to flying debris and the blast winds.
Nuclear winter in Hiroshima
Above: the sun was obscured by the mushroom cloud dust and smoke for 25 minutes (from burst time at 8:15 am until 8:40) in Hiroshima as shown by the meteorological sunshine records printed in Figure 6 (3H) of Drs. Ashley W. Oughterson, Henry L. Barnett, George V. LeRoy, Jack D. Rosenbaum, Averill A. Liebow, B. Aubrey Schneider, and E. Cuyler Hammond, Medical Effects of Atomic Bombs: The Report of the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan, Volume 1, Office of the Air Surgeon, report NP-3036, April 19, 1951, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (linked here). There were no reported casualties due to 25 minutes of sunlight deprivation.
Radiation after-effects in Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Above: contrary to the usual "survivors envy the dead" anti-civil defense propaganda on nuclear weapons effects, Hiroshima is not a toxic wasteland. The fallout radiation was below natural background within a year. This is a photo of the modern rebuilt city of Hiroshima today (which would have survived nuclear weapons effects far better than the old city of crowded wood-frame dwellings of August 1945), taken from September 2008 Radiation Effects Research Foundation: A Japan-US Cooperative Research Organization. A Brief Description which states on page 11: “analyses of extensive records at RERF were able to make estimates of shielding and to calculate that a bone marrow dose of 2.7 to 3.1 Gy caused 50% mortality within 60 days (with the new DS02 dosimetry system, the corresponding doses would be 2.9 to 3.3 Gy). The data came from about 7,600 survivors in 2,500 households exposed inside Japanese houses located within 1,600 meters of the hypocenter in Hiroshima. Survivors inside Japanese houses received special scrutiny because the homogeneity of such housing structures allowed better estimation of individual radiation doses.” (See also R. L. Stohler, Japanese Nuclear Casualty Data Combined Injury and Mortality Analysis, Dirkwood report ADA219691, 1990, linked here, where a comparison of figures 17 and 20 shows that the LD50 for free-in-air initial radiation was a factor of 1.40 times the LD50 bone marrow dose. Hence, the DS02 LD50 of 2.9-3.3 Gy in bone marrow corresponds to a free-in-air dose of 4.1-4.6 Gy, or 410-460 rads. The bone marrow dose is reduced by the surrounding tissue, so it is lower than free-in-air dose, which is what a normal radiation dosimeter shows. If the casualty also has burns, the radiation-burns synergism increases the casualty rate, but this is included in the burns mortality criteria from Nagasaki already given. Unlike burns, blast debris wound lacerations are usually sealed long before the white blood cell count has fallen to its minimum level at 30 days after exposure to nuclear radiation, so blast wounds infection risks are relatively small and the blast-radiation effects synergism was on average trivial compared to that from the more slowly healing burns wounds, as shown by Stohler's data, although his absolute dose values need updating for the revised DS02 dosimetry.)
No increase in genetic defects occurred. Page 45 of the RERF report summarizes the long term effects: out of 49,204 irradiated survivors, there were 204 leukemia deaths of which 94 were in excess of the rate in the unexposed control group. Hence the risk of leukemia death due to bomb radiation in the survivors was 0.19%. Of the 94 excess (due to bomb radiation), 56 had received a bone marrow dose equivalent exceeding 1 Sv or 100 rem (using the relative biological effectiveness/RBE of 10 for neutrons). Out of a group of 44,645 survivors, there were 7,851 solid cancers (tumors excluding leukemia) but only 848 of these exceeded the natural cancer rate indicated by the unexposed control group, a bomb radiation cancer death risk to survivors of 1.9%. Of these 848 solid cancer deaths due to bomb radiation, 307 had received a bone marrow dose equivalent exceeding 1 Sv (100 rem). The total cancer death excess for both groups is 94 + 848 = 942, and fewer than 2% of the survivors have died of cancer due to the bomb. Most cancer deaths have been from natural DNA copying errors in each city, not bomb radiation. Anti-civil defense propaganda in the media and TV documentaries lie that hundreds of thousands of cancer fatalities occurred.
Above: comparison of the measured residual radiation due to neutron induced activity (around ground zero) and self-induced rainout downwind in Nagasaki, with the predicted fallout pattern using a dynamic convection fallout model. The fallout patterns for Hiroshima and Nagasaki were measured in detail and are published (see Figures 1 and 2 in the DTRA document linked here) and were both self-induced rainout that resulted from the hydroscopic salt crystals and moisture entrained from the warm sea level coastal air to cooler regions at higher altitudes where it condensed and fell as droplets of precipitation, long before the firestorm and the black rain (soot) precipitation at 2-3 hours after detonation (by which time the radioactive cloud had been blown far downwind). Source: Charles R. Molenkamp, Numerical Simulation of Self-Induced Rainout Using a Dynamic Convective Cloud Model, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory preprint UCRL-83583, March 1980.
Countervalue nuclear attacks over cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki utilized air bursts to minimise thermal and nuclear radiation shielding by buildings and to optimise the Mach wave enhancement blast effects area. Neutron induced activity in the soil under an air burst was extensively researched by Philip J. Dolan and others in the 1950s and detailed predictions of neutron induced dose rates and decay rates in soil are included in the November 1957 Capabilities of Atomic Weapons (linked here), as a function of bomb design (bombs with thick hydrogen-rich TNT implosion systems around the fissile material allow fewer neutrons to escape into the air because when a neutron hits a hydrogen nucleus or proton head-on, it is stopped and the short-range proton picks up the energy, just as occurs in a billiard ball collision) and soil composition (aluminium, manganese and sodium in soils are the main sources of residual gamma radiation from neutron capture). This neutron induced activity is limited to a roughly circular region extending in radius to a few mean free paths of thermal neutron radiation around ground zero. (Calculations are simplified by the fact that most neutrons are captured in the soil only when they have been slowed down by collisions to ambient thermal energy, about 0.025 eV, because the cross-sections of most materials for neutron scatter is much greater than for capture at high neutron energies, and capture cross sections only predominate at low energy; the strong nuclear force is more likely to capture a neutron that is moving slowly than one that is moving fast.)
The self-induced rainout downwind from an air burst only occurs for bursts over or near ocean water and is due to the moisture and salt crystals entrained from the oceanic air. Thus, this rainout was observed after the 1952 King and 1956 Cherokee air bursts in the Pacific, and after the air bursts over the coastal cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, but not after Nevada air bursts, which were too far inland for salt-crystal laden moist air to be entrained. For evidence of the King and Cherokee rainout see WT-1317 and USNRDL-TR-899 table 1, page 5 footnote. See also C. R. Molenkamp, An Introduction to Self-Induced Rainout, UCRL-52669, February 1979, and R. A. Carhart, Effects of relative humidity and yield on self-induced rainout from tactical nuclear explosions published in Simulation, v. 51, pp. 191-194, November 1988: "Under mid-latitude summertime conditions and for yields of 20 to 100 kilotons, the model shows that self-induced rainout is not significant for low relative humidities, is very important for high relative humidities (>80%), and is moderately important for relative humidities down to about 50%. When self-induced rainout occurs, it is heavy within a couple of kilometers of ground zero and peaks early in the episode. The model has successfully predicted observed radioactive self-induced rainout for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki detonations (both in the 20 kiloton range), and does not predict rain under conditions typical of U.S. tests in Nevada, where self-induced rainout has not been observed."
Update (31 October 2010):
The banner for this blog for some time has included the following quotation:
“... We learned about an enemy who is sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and lethal. ... We learned that the institutions charged with protecting ... did not adjust their policies, plans and practices to deter or defeat it.” - Thomas H. Kean (Chair) and Lee H. Hamilton (Vice Chair), Preface to The 9/11 Commission Report, by the U.S. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004.
We temporarily deleted this and replaced it with a quotation from Glasstone and Dolan on the massive variability of the casualty rates that can occur due to a nuclear weapon in circumstances that differ even just superficially from the 8:15 am and 12:01 pm weekday August weather and population distribution in Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, paragraphs 12.14, 12.17, and 12.22, pages 545-7:
“The high incidence of flash burns caused by thermal radiation among both fatalities and survivors in Japan was undoubtedly related to the light and scanty clothing being worn, because of the warm summer weather ... If there had been an appreciable cloud cover or haze below the burst point, the thermal radiation would have been attenuated somewhat and the frequency of flash burns would have been much less. Had the weather been cold, fewer people would have been outdoors and they would have been wearing more extensive clothing. Both the number of people and individual skin areas exposed to thermal radiation would then have been greatly reduced, and there would have been fewer casualties from flash burns. ... The death rate in Japan was greatest among individuals who were in the open at the time of the explosions; it was less for persons in residential (wood-frame and plaster) structures and least of all for those in concrete buildings. These facts emphasize the influence of circumstances of exposure on the casualties produced by a nuclear weapon and indicate that shielding of some type can be an important factor in survival. ... Had they been forewarned and knowledgeable about areas of relative hazard and safety, there would probably have been fewer casualties even in structures that were badly damaged.”
However, we have now returned the original quotation. The motivation for this blog is that civil defense is required against a wide range of possible terrorist and natural disasters, and with all due respect to secret planning by civil servants, quangos, committees, the military and bureaucrats, at the end of the day all these people behind civil defense failed to warn the people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki of impending disaster and most of the worst burns casualties resulted in fact from people outside clearing fire breaks against incendiary attacks in the cities: civil defense turned out worse than useless because people trusted official air raid attack warnings and the all-clear. Additionally, believing authority figures with secret evidence they refuse to publish is contrary to the whole nature of science, and people should have good reasons for keeping secret information of value to increasing the public credibility of civil defense.
A good example of how conspiracy theories and paranoia arise when the facts are kept secret is given by Charlie Sheen's crazy video about 9/11, below. Notice that near the end of the video, a spurious "quotation" from Thomas Jefferson, "Dissent Is the Highest Form of Patriotism" is displayed, which is a false quotation, because the nearest Jefferson actually came to such a statement was conditional to certain occasions, which may not include occasions like 9/11: "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."
The buildings collapsed in a way that looks like a controlled demolition because the heat from the aviation fuel-started fires in the towers heated the steel for a considerable time, and steel is a good conductor of heat which means the whole of the steel gets hot, not just the part actually in the fire! The heat reduces the structural strength of all the connected steel by making it all soft and flexible, which is why steel is heated traditionally to allow it to be shaped. The impulse from the collapse of one floor near the aircraft onto the floor below it is then sufficient to trigger the gravitational collapse of the lower floor because of the hot, soft steel, and the process is repeated like a row of dominos, except that the mass is ever increasing as more and more concrete floors are accumulated in the falling layer. Sheen refers in the video to 47 stories tall World Trade Center building number 7, near the twin towers, which was hit by burning debris when they collapsed and consequently suffered a similar "controlled demolition"-like mechanism for collapse as fire weakened the structural steel and Galileo's law of gravity then took control:
"The debris also ignited fires, which continued to burn throughout the afternoon on lower floors of the building. The building's internal fire suppression system lacked water pressure to fight the fires, and the building collapsed completely at 5:21:10 p.m. The collapse began when a critical column on the 13th floor buckled and triggered structural failure throughout, which was first visible from the exterior with the crumbling of the east mechanical penthouse at 5:20:33 p.m."
The rebuilt building 7 will not suffer the same structural failure weaknesses because it utilizes "a reinforced concrete core, wider stairways, and thicker fireproofing of steel columns." While the world applaud's Sheen's high moral standards of conduct in the entertaining comedy Two and a Half Men, maybe it should not trust his doubts concerning the physics of building collapse and its political significance. Nuclear explosions don't dump burning aviation fuel into buildings. What is interesting about Sheen's video is its slick presentation and the consequences as Sheen goes from presenting questions and some descriptions of the collapse as an "explosion" (a heavy floor hitting the one below is an explosion in its own right, just like a icy comet hitting a planet causes a hot explosion without any need for TNT; the rapid release of kinetic energy in the impact process is all that is required!) to claiming that these indicate a conspiracy of silence and cover-up. The only conspiracy is that of upholding incompetent fumbling explanations of the physical processes involved in building collapse, instead of getting the facts and stating them clearly. Computer simulations confirm the collapse mechanism:
Nuclear weapons testing grounds of Bikini Atoll become World Heritage Site
The World Heritage Committee, on August 1, 2010 at its 34th session in Brazil, inscribed the Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site on the World Heritage List. This was based on a 2009 nomination report which focusses on the role of the tests in building a deterrent to end World Wars, beginning with the quotation used by the American governor of the Marshall Islands in 1946 to justify the 1946 postwar nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll, Operation Crossroads:
“For the good of mankind and to end all world wars.”
- Commodore Ben H. Wyatt, military governor of the Marshall Islands, March 1946.
“A peace enforced through fear is a poor substitute for a peace maintained through international cooperation based upon agreement and understanding. But until such a peace is brought about, this nation can hope only that an effective deterrent to global war will be a universal fear of the atomic bomb as the ultimate horror in war.”
- Report of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operations Crossroads, June 30, 1947
Dose rate threshold evidence, a rejection of dose criteria
Hysteria over low dose rate radiation is due to the simplistic Health Physics community obsession with doses rather than dose rates as criteria for damage. In medicine, the life time dose is not the criterion for effects, but the dose rate: a lifetime dose of one painkiller per day obviously has a different effect if it is all consumed at once! What matters is the rate at which you are taking the dose, not the total number you have taken during your life.
Protein P53 and other DNA repair enzymes repair DNA breaks. Hence there will be a threshold dose rate (not dose) where the rate of DNA breakage (per unit time) exceeds the rate at which the P53 can repair the damage. Evidence:
‘Today we have a population of 2,383 [radium dial painter] cases for whom we have reliable body content measurements. . . . All 64 bone sarcoma [cancer] cases occurred in the 264 cases with more than 10 Gy [1,000 rads], while no sarcomas appeared in the 2,119 radium cases with less than 10 Gy.’
- Dr Robert Rowland, Director of the Center for Human Radiobiology, Bone Sarcoma in Humans Induced by Radium: A Threshold Response?, Proceedings of the 27th Annual Meeting, European Society for Radiation Biology, Radioprotection colloquies, Vol. 32CI (1997), pp. 331-8.
This data indicate 10 Gy per roughly 20 years, i.e. a dose rate to bone of 57 microGrays per hour (5.7 millirads per hour) proved to be a completely "safe" dose rate in over two thousand cases!
Historically, an obsession with doses instead of dose rates took the first bone cancer data from the radium dial painters as a 10 Gy (1000 rad) dose threshold effect, not a dose rate threshold!
This was debunked by a risk (excess cancers, i.e. above the control group cancer rate) from just a few rads at Hiroshima and X-rays (both cases of high dose rates, with the initial dose at Hiroshima received over a few seconds, and X-rays received at high dose rates over a similar time).
If the Health Physicists had forgotten dose and instead specified in the first place a dose rate threshold for a 5.7 millirads per hour or 570 times the normal background dose rate (not a total dose threshold) from the radium dial painters in the first place, the all subsequent data would have agreed with that safe dose rate risk threshold, and people would be far better informed today about the risks of radiation and what causes the danger (dose rates that cause damage faster than DNA repair enzymes can work). Because those health physicists on the Manhattan Project took a "short cut" they screwed up everything in the nuclear age thereafter, by having their obviously daft dose threshold theory debunked and replaced by geneticist Edward Lewis's 1957 no-dose threshold model.
Dr John F. Loutit of the Medical Research Council, Harwell, England, in 1962 wrote a book called "Irradiation of Mice and Men" (University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London), discrediting Lewis on pages 61, and 78-79:
"... Mole [R. H. Mole, Brit. J. Radiol., v32, p497, 1959] gave different groups of mice an integrated total of 1,000 r of X-rays over a period of 4 weeks. But the dose-rate - and therefore the radiation-free time between fractions - was varied from 81 r/hour intermittently to 1.3 r/hour continuously. The incidence of leukemia varied from 40 per cent (within 15 months of the start of irradiation) in the first group to 5 per cent in the last compared with 2 per cent incidence in irradiated controls. ... All these points are very much against the basic hypothesis of Lewis of a linear relation of dose to leukemic effect irrespective of time. Unhappily it is not possible to claim for Lewis's work as others have done, 'It is now possible to calculate - within narrow limits - how many deaths from leukemia will result in any population from an increase in fall-out or other source of radiation' [Leading article in Science, vol. 125, p. 963, 1957]. This is just wishful journalese. The burning questions to me are not what are the numbers of leukemia to be expected from atom bombs or radiotherapy, but what is to be expected from natural background .... Furthermore, to obtain estimates of these, I believe it is wrong to go to atom bombs, where the radiations are qualitatively different and, more important, the dose-rate outstandingly different."
This claim lied for political ends, as argued by Richard P. Feynman in his lecture, 'This Unscientific Age', published in his book The Meaning of It All, Penguin Books, London, 1998, pages 106-9: "Now, I say if a man is absolutely honest and wants to protect the populace from the effects of radioactivity, which is what our scientific friends often say they are trying to do, then he should work on the biggest number, not on the smallest number, and he should try to point out that the radioactivity which is absorbed by living in the city of Denver is so much more serious [cosmic radiation in high altitude cities exceeds global fallout doses] that all the people of Denver ought to move to lower altitudes."
Now should the public be informed about positive research reports on radiation such as the following report? Or do we suppress it? Do we cover-up evidence which doesn't fit the popular media "radiation is bad" ideology?
W. L. Chen, Y. C. Luan, M. C. Shieh, S. T. Chen, H. T. Kung, K. L. Soong, Y. C. Yeh, T. S. Chou, S. H. Mong, J. T. Wu, C. P. Sun, W. P. Deng, M. F. Wu, and M. L. Shen, ‘Is Chronic Radiation an Effective Prophylaxis Against Cancer?’, published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 2004, pp. 6-10:
"An extraordinary incident occurred 20 years ago in Taiwan. Recycled steel, accidentally contaminated with cobalt-60 ([low dose rate, gamma radiation emitter] half-life: 5.3 y), was formed into construction steel for more than 180 buildings, which 10,000 persons occupied for 9 to 20 years. They unknowingly received radiation doses that averaged 0.4 Sv, a collective dose of 4,000 person-Sv. Based on the observed seven cancer deaths, the cancer mortality rate for this population was assessed to be 3.5 per 100,000 person-years. Three children were born with congenital heart malformations, indicating a prevalence rate of 1.5 cases per 1,000 children under age 19. The average spontaneous cancer death rate in the general population of Taiwan over these 20 years is 116 persons per 100,000 person-years. Based upon partial official statistics and hospital experience, the prevalence rate of congenital malformation is 23 cases per 1,000 children. Assuming the age and income distributions of these persons are the same as for the general population, it appears that significant beneficial health effects may be associated with this chronic radiation exposure."
Thus, a dose rate of roughly 0.4 Sv per 9-20 years, i.e. a dose rate of 2.3-5.1 microGrays per hour (0.23-0.51 millirads per hour) or 23-51 times normal background causes the benefit of a fall in normal cancer rates by a factor of 116/3.5 = 33, and a fall in congenital heart malformations by a factor of 23/1.5 = 15. These are big numbers!
Let me repeat the facts again just clarify this very important point, Chen and thirteen other physicians investigated the apparent benefits of low level radiation in Taiwan, "Is Chronic Radiation an Effective Prophylaxis Against Cancer?", Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, v9 n1 2004. After a radioactive source was accidentally mixed into industrial steel and used to build apartments in Taiwan, 10,000 persons were unknowingly exposed to low-level radiation in Taiwan for periods of 9-20 years, and in this group cancer rates were lower than those in the general population by a factor of 33 (a reduction from 116 to just 3.5 per 100,000 person-years); while genetic defects fell by a factor of 15 (from 23 cases per 1,000 children to just 1.5). These are such enormous benefits that you would expect that all donor and publically funded "Cancer Research" institutes would be studying these benefits from dose rates of radiation a few hundred times background, which can apparently slash cancer risks and genetic defect rates to such an extent.
The statistics in the paper by Chen and others has been alleged to apply to a younger age group than the general population, affecting the significance of the data, although in other ways the data are more valid than Hiroshima and Nagasaki data extrapolations to low doses. For instance, the radiation cancer scare mongering of survivors of high doses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been prejudiced in the sense of preventing a blind to avoid “anti-placebo” effect, e.g. increased fear, psychological stress and worry about the long term effects of radiation, and associated behaviour. The 1958 book about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, “Formula for Death”, makes the point that highly irradiated survivors often smoked more, in the belief that they were doomed to die from radiation induced cancer anyway. Therefore, the fear culture of the irradiated survivors would statistically be expected to result in a deviancy from normal behaviour, in some cases increasing the cancer risks above those due purely to radiation exposure.
For up-to-date data and literature discussions on the effects of DNA repair enzymes on preventing cancers from low-dose rate radiation, please see
There is also evidence for low dose radiation benefits from Hiroshima and Nagasaki's joint American-Japanese Radiation Effects Research Institute (RERF) which is being covered up by the statistical fiddle of "lumping together" the majority of the survivors into one large dose interval group, and only taking small dose intervals at high doses, which is a fiddle that falsely omits the benefits from the boosting of the P53 DNA repair enzyme by low radiation doses in those cities (the statistical bias in the table below from the RERF Brief Guide is in every sense a classic example of the biased presentation of data; remember that at high doses the cancer data are least reliable because the average amount of radiation shielding by buildings needed to survive the initial effects and get cancer years later was very high, and estimates of the exact shielding factors are one of the greatest uncertainties continuing in the DS02 dosimetry, as shown for example by the inconsistent curve of percentage temporary epilation versus dose in the same publication - the dosimetry is more accurate at lower doses because the average radiation shielding of survivors is much smaller at those lower doses):
Radiation delivered over long periods at a few hundred times the natural background dose rates stimulates the use of body resources to produce more of the natural DNA repair enzyme, protein P53, thus utilizing more of the energy resources of the body for repairing DNA breaks than is usually allocated, and this reduces the natural cancer and genetic risks. This effect is in some sense like working out at the gym regularly: you end up after regular exercise not generally more tired, but generally fitter and more muscular, because the body responds in the long run by using more resources to adapt by strengthening itself and maintaining hormesis (an effect well known in chemotherapy: "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger").
In the West, freedom of speech allows politically incorrect facts to be censored by the fashionable media. If you want to see why this censorship of the benefits of low level radiation is continuing, see the relatively vague and unconvincing (apart from a quotation from Dr Robert Rowland) article by James Muckerheide in the year 2000, "It’s Time to Tell the Truth About the Health Benefits of Low-Dose Radiation", and see also weak graphical correlations shown in Dr T. D. Luckey's 2008 paper, "The Health Effects of Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation" in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, v13, n2, pp. 39-42, which does at least summarize the 2004 Chen paper in the same journal concisely:
"In 1982-1983, several apartments in Taipei City, Taiwan, were built with structural steel contaminated with cobalt-60. Chen et al. noted the total cancer death rates for radiation-exposed adult occupants and controls in the city were comparable when the apartments were first occupied. As both groups aged, the cancer mortality rate in the radiation-exposed group decreased while the cancer mortality rate of controls increased. The cancer mortality rate of those who had lived 9–20 years in these buildings was only 3% that of the general adult population."
Of course, it's always been known since the work (mentioned above) of French radiologists that radiation is more effective at killing rapidly dividing cancer cells than normal cells (because cells are more vulnerable during cell nucleus fission than at other times, and more rapidly diving cells spend a greater percentage of the time in this vulnerable state than healthy cells do). But this discovery that low dose rates of radiation can produce a health benefit by preventing cancer in the first place is new.
What is happening here is the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" effect: dose rates of 20-50 times normal background over a period of 1-2 decades stimulates a stronger DNA repair enzyme system. The body simply devotes more energy from food into building more DNA repair enzymes, and it over-compensates, thereby reducing natural cancer rates. This positive benefit from radiation would occur up to the threshold for cancer seen in the radium dial painters, 57 microGrays per hour (5.7 millirads per hour) or 570 times normal background. Only if the dose rate becomes too high does the rate of damage overwhelm natural DNA repair mechanisms and cause cancer:
‘... it is important to note that, given the effects of a few seconds of irradiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a threshold near 200 mSv may be expected for leukemia and some solid tumors. [Sources: UNSCEAR, Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation, New York, 1994; W. F. Heidenreich, et al., Radiat. Environ. Biophys., vol. 36 (1999), p. 205; and B. L. Cohen, Radiat. Res., vol. 149 (1998), p. 525.] For a protracted lifetime natural exposure, a threshold may be set at a level of several thousand millisieverts for malignancies, of 10 grays for radium-226 in bones, and probably about 1.5-2.0 Gy for lung cancer after x-ray and gamma irradiation. [Sources: G. Jaikrishan, et al., Radiation Research, vol. 152 (1999), p. S149 (for natural exposure); R. D. Evans, Health Physics, vol. 27 (1974), p. 497 (for radium-226); H. H. Rossi and M. Zaider, Radiat. Environ. Biophys., vol. 36 (1997), p. 85 (for radiogenic lung cancer).] The hormetic effects, such as a decreased cancer incidence at low doses and increased longevity, may be used as a guide for estimating practical thresholds and for setting standards. ...
‘Though about a hundred of the million daily spontaneous DNA damages per cell remain unrepaired or misrepaired, apoptosis, differentiation, necrosis, cell cycle regulation, intercellular interactions, and the immune system remove about 99% of the altered cells. [Source: R. D. Stewart, Radiation Research, vol. 152 (1999), p. 101.] ...
‘[Due to the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986] as of 1998 (according to UNSCEAR), a total of 1,791 thyroid cancers in children had been registered. About 93% of the youngsters have a prospect of full recovery. [Source: C. R. Moir and R. L. Telander, Seminars in Pediatric Surgery, vol. 3 (1994), p. 182.] ... The highest average thyroid doses in children (177 mGy) were accumulated in the Gomel region of Belarus. The highest incidence of thyroid cancer (17.9 cases per 100,000 children) occurred there in 1995, which means that the rate had increased by a factor of about 25 since 1987.
‘This rate increase was probably a result of improved screening [not radiation!]. Even then, the incidence rate for occult thyroid cancers was still a thousand times lower than it was for occult thyroid cancers in nonexposed populations (in the US, for example, the rate is 13,000 per 100,000 persons, and in Finland it is 35,600 per 100,000 persons). Thus, given the prospect of improved diagnostics, there is an enormous potential for detecting yet more [fictitious] "excess" thyroid cancers. In a study in the US that was performed during the period of active screening in 1974-79, it was determined that the incidence rate of malignant and other thyroid nodules was greater by 21-fold than it had been in the pre-1974 period. [Source: Z. Jaworowski, 21st Century Science and Technology, vol. 11 (1998), issue 1, p. 14.]’
- Zbigniew Jaworowski, 'Radiation Risk and Ethics: Health Hazards, Prevention Costs, and Radiophobia', Physics Today, April 2000, pp. 89-90.
Protein P53, discovered only in 1979, is encoded by gene TP53, which occurs on human chromosome 17. P53 also occurs in other mammals including mice, rats and dogs. P53 is one of the proteins which continually repairs breaks in DNA, which easily breaks at body temperature: the DNA in each cell of the human body suffers at least two single strand breaks every second, and one double strand (i.e. complete double helix) DNA break occurs at least once every 2 hours (5% of radiation-induced DNA breaks are double strand breaks, while 0.007% of spontaneous DNA breaks at body temperature are double strand breaks)! Cancer occurs when several breaks in DNA happen to occur by chance at nearly the same time, giving several loose strand ends at once, which repair proteins like P53 then repair incorrectly, causing a mutation which can be proliferated somatically. This cannot occur when only one break occurs, because only two loose ends are produced, and P53 will reattach them correctly. But if low-LET ionising radiation levels are increased to a certain extent, causing more single strand breaks, P53 works faster and is able deal with faster breaks as they occur, so that multiple broken strand ends do not arise. This prevents DNA strands being repaired incorrectly, and prevents cancer - a result of mutation caused by faults in DNA - from arising. Too much radiation of course overloads the P53 repair mechanism, and then it cannot repair breaks as they occur, so multiple breaks begin to appear and loose ends of DNA are wrongly connected by P53, causing an increased cancer risk:
In a previous post, we examined in detail the May-June 1957 Hearings Before the Special Subcommittee on Radiation of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, U.S. Congress, The Nature of Radioactive Fallout and Its Effects on Man, where the false dose-threshold (not dose rate-threshold) theory was publically killed off (in a political-journalism scrum sense, not a scientific evidence sense) by a consortium of loud-mouthed and physically ignorant fruitfly and maize geneticists (headed by Nobel Laureates Muller and Lewis), with only an incompetent and quiet defense for the scientific data from cancer radiotherapy experts with experience that high dose rates cause more damage than low dose rates. The argument they made was that genetic effects of radiation on fruitflies and maize showed no signs of dose rate effects or dose threshold effects. They they extrapolated from flies and maize to predict the same for human beings, and they also claimed that this genetic result should apply to all normal cell division (somatic) radiation effects not just genetic effects! Glasstone summarized this linear-no threshold theory on page 496 of the 1957 edition of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons:
"There is apparently no amount of radiation, however small, that does not cause some increase in the normal mutation frequency. The dose rate of the radiation exposure or its duration have little influence; it is the total accumulated dose to the gonads that is the important quantity."
Flies and seasonal plants don't need DNA repair enzymes, which is why they show no dose rate dependence: they simply don't live long enough to get a serious cancer risk caused by DNA copying errors during cell fissions. This is not so in humans, and even mice. Glasstone and Dolan write in the 1977 edition of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, pages 611-612 (paragraphs 12.209-12.211):
"From the earlier studies of radiation-induced mutations, made with fruitflies, ... The mutation frequency appeared to be independent of the rate at which the radiation dose was received. ... More recent experiments with mice, however, have shown that these conclusions must be revised, at least for mammals.
"... in male mice ... For exposure rates from 90 down to 0.8 roentgen per minute ... the mutation frequency per roentgen decreases as the exposure rate is decreased.
"... in female mice ... The radiation-induced mutation frequency per roentgen decreases continuously with the exposure rate from 90 roentgens per minute downward. At an exposure rate of 0.009 roentgen per minute [0.54 roentgen/hour], the total mutation frequency in female mice is indistinguishable from the spontaneous frequency. There thus seems to be an exposure-rate threshold below which radiation-induced mutations are absent or negligible, no matter how large the total (accumulated) exposure to the female gonads, at least up to 400 roentgens."
The Oak Ridge Megamouse Radiation Exposure Project
Reference: W. L, ”Reminiscences of a Mouse Specific-Locus Test Addict”, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, Supplement, v14 (1989), issue 16, pp. 16–22.
The source of Glasstone and Dolan’s dose-rate genetic effects threshold data (replacing the fruitfly insect and maize plant data of Muller, Lewis and other 1950s geneticists who falsely extrapolated directly from insects and plants to humans) is the Oak Ridge National Laboratory “megamouse project” by Liane and William Russell. This project exposed seven million mice to a variety of radiation situations to obtain statistically significant mammal data showing the effects of dose rate upon the DNA mutation risk (which in somatic cells can cause cancer). Seven different locus mutations were used, which showed a time-dependence on genetic risk from different dose rates, which could only be explained by DNA repair processes. This contradicted insect and plant response, which showed no dose rate effect on the dose-effects response. With the results of this enormous mammal radiation exposure project, observed human effects of high dose rates and high doses could be accurately extrapolated to humans, without using the false linear, no-threshold model that applies to insects and plants that lack the advanced DNA repair enzymes like P53 in mammals:
“As Hollaender remembers it: ‘Muller and Wright were the only two geneticists who backed the mouse genetics study. The rest of the geneticists thought we were wasting our time and money!’”
- Karen A. Rader, “Alexander Hollaender’s Postwar Vision for Biology: Oak Ridge and Beyond”, Journal of the History of Biology, v39 (2006), pp. 685–706.
For an interesting discussion of the way that the radiation controversy led to a change in thinking about DNA, from being a fixed chemical structure (as believed in 1957, after the structure DNA was discovered in its misleadingly non-cellular solid crystal form, which was required for X-ray diffraction analysis) to today’s far more dynamic picture of DNA in the cell nucleus as a delicate strand that is repeatedly being broken (several times a minute) by normal water molecular Brownian motion bombardment at body temperature, and being repaired by DNA repair enzymes like protein P53, see the article by Doogab Yi, “The coming of reversibility: The discovery of DNA repair between the atomic age and the information age”, Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, v37 (2007), Supplement, pp. 35–72:
“This paper examines the contested ‘biological’ meaning of the genetic effects of radiation amid nuclear fear during the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, I explore how the question of irreversibility, a question that eventually led to the discovery of DNA repair, took shape in the context of postwar concerns of atomic energy. Yale biophysicists who opposed nuclear weapons testing later ironically played a central role in the discovery of DNA excision repair, or "error-correcting codes" that suggested the reversibility of the genetic effects of radiation. At Yale and elsewhere, continuing anticipation of medical applications from radiation therapy contributed to the discovery of DNA repair. The story of the discovery of DNA repair illustrates how the gene was studied in the atomic age and illuminates its legacy for the postwar life sciences. I argue that it was through the investigation of the irreversibility of the biological effects of radiation that biologists departed from an inert view of genetic stability and began to appreciate the dynamic stability of the gene. Moreover, the reformulation of DNA repair around notions of information and error-correction helped radiobiologists to expand the relevance of DNA repair research beyond radiobiology, even after the public concerns on nuclear fallout faded in the mid-1960s.”
In fact, the “safe dose rate” concept has always existed (most recently dressed up with health physics sophistry like ALARA, “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”) in the way that radiation safety guides have formulated as a maximum dose per unit time interval. For example, on page 102 of the 1957 Congressional Hearings The Nature of Radioactive Fallout and Its Effects on Man, nuclear testing scientific director Dr Alvin C. Graves testifies:
“I have forgotten the title, but I think it is the American Commission for Radiation Protection, or something of that sort, originally stated that the workers in radioactivity could take one tenth of a roentgen per day forever without suffering injury. [This is 36.5 R/year or 1095 R over 30 years, roughly the minimum dose needed for bone changes in the radium dial painters.]”
'In the 1960s, a group of activist physicians called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) undertook to "educate the medical profession and the world about the dangers of nuclear weapons," beginning with a series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine. [Note that journal was publishing information for anti-civil defense propaganda back in 1949, e.g. the article in volume 241, pp. 647-53 of New England Journal of Medicine which falsely suggests that civil defense in nuclear war would be hopeless because a single burned patient in 1947 with 40% body area burns required 42 oxygen tanks, 36 pints of plasma, 40 pints of whole blood, 104 pints of fluids, 4,300 m of gauze, 3 nurses and 2 doctors. First, only unclothed persons in direct line of sight without shadowing can get 40% body area burns from thermal radiation, second, duck and cover offers protection in a nuclear attack warning, and G. V. LeRoy had already published, two years earlier, in J.A.M.A., volume 134, 1947, pp. 1143-8, that less than 5% of burns in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were caused by building and debris fires. In medicine it is always possible to expend vast resources on patients who are fatally injured. In a mass casualty situation, doctors should not give up just because they don't have unlimited resources; as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they would need to do their best with what they have.] On its website, www.psr.org, the group boasts that it "led the campaign to end atmospheric nuclear testing." With this campaign, the linear no-threshold (LNT) theory of radiation carcinogenesis became entrenched. It enabled activists to calculate enormous numbers of potential casualties by taking a tiny risk and multiplying it by the population of the earth. As an enduring consequence, the perceived risks of radiation are far out of proportion to actual risks, causing tremendous damage to the American nuclear industry. ... Efforts to save lives were not only futile, but unethical: Any suggestion that nuclear war could be survivable increased its likelihood and was thus tantamount to warmongering, PSR spokesmen warned. ...
'For the mindset that engendered and enables this situation, which jeopardizes the existence of the United States as a nation as well as the lives of millions of its citizens, some American physicians and certain prestigious medical organizations bear a heavy responsibility.
'Ethical physicians should stand ready to help patients to the best of their ability, and not advocate sacrificing them in the name of a political agenda. Even very basic knowledge, especially combined with simple, inexpensive advance preparations, could save countless lives.'
‘International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War: Messiahs of the Nuclear Age?’, The Lancet (British medical journal), 18 November 1988, pp.1185-6, by Jane M. Orient, MD:
'... history is apparently not among the areas of expertise claimed by IPPNW [international physicians for the prevention of nuclear war]. Its spokesmen have yet to comment on the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 (for which Kellogg and Briand received the Nobel Peace Prize), the Oxford Peace Resolution of 1934, the Munich Agreement of 1938, or the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, and on the effectiveness of these measures in preventing World War II. ...
'Sir Norman Angell (also a Nobel Peace Prize winner), in his 1910 best-seller entitled The Great Illusion, showed that war had become so terrible and expensive as to be unthinkable. The concept of ‘destruction before detonation’ was not discovered by Victor Sidel (Sidel, V. W., ‘Destruction before detonation: the impact of the arms race on health and health care’, Lancet 1985; ii: 1287-1289), but was previously enunciated by Neville Chamberlain, who warned his Cabinet about the heavy bills for armaments: ‘even the present Programmes were placing a heavy strain upon our resources’ (Minutes of the British Cabinet meeting, February 3, 1937: quoted in Fuchser, L. W., ‘Neville Chamberlain and Appeasement: a Study in the Politics of History’, Norton, New York, 1982). ...
'Psychic numbing, denial, and ‘missile envy’ (Caldicott, H., Missile envy: the arms race and nuclear war, New York: William Morrow, 1984) are some of the diagnoses applied by IPPNW members to those who differ with them. However, for the threats facing the world, IPPNW does not entertain a differential diagnosis, nor admit the slightest doubt about the efficacy of their prescription, if only the world will follow it. So certain are they of their ability to save us from war that these physicians seem willing to bet the lives of millions who might be saved by defensive measures if a nuclear attack is ever launched.
'Is this an omnipotence fantasy?'
(Dr Jane Orient's article, "Homeland Security for Physicians" (Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, vol. 11, number 3, Fall 2006, pp. 75-9) debunks some but not all of the popular propaganda about mass fires from nuclear weapons. One of the recurring examples is Martin Caidin's inaccurate book The Night Hamburg Died which claimed "not a single living soul survived" due to carbon monoxide and heat in the firestorm of burning medieval wooden buildings, whereas in fact Hans Kehrl,
Police President of Hamburg, found that 240,000 out of 280,000 people in the Hamburg firestorm area survived, i.e., 85% (see Kathleen A. Earp, Deaths from Fire in Large Scale Air Attack - With Special Reference to the Hamburg Fire Storm, Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch report CD/SA 28): Dr Orient quotes eyewitness Hans Brunswig denouncing Caidin's book as "the infamous fraud". Dr Orient omits to mention the relevant fact that exaggerations of firestorm effects in Hamburg and Dresden originated in Nazi propaganda, which in the Cold War was adopted by the Soviet Union's Moscow run so-called "World Peace Council" for precisely same purpose as the Nazi propaganda. For example, Nazi propaganda claims of up to 135,000 fatalities in the February 1945 Dresden firestorm were repeated in the 1963 book "The Destruction of Dresden" by pro-Nazi historian David Irving, when the actual Police President's report for Dresden stated there were 18,375 dead, 2,212 seriously injured, 13,918 slightly injured, and 35,000 missing (The Times, letters, July 7, 1966). Anti-civil defense propaganda activists during the Cold War seized on the Nazi firestorm propaganda lies from Irving's book, and they continue to be repeated today in an effort to exaggerate nuclear weapons effects for Cold War style political propaganda, ignoring all real data entirely. The incompetence which led to this civil defense fiasco is largely down to the secrecy culture of the British civil service, who failed to officially publish its April 1953 internal report by Kathleen A. Earp, Deaths from Fire in Large Scale Air Attack - With Special Reference to the Hamburg Fire Storm, Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch report CD/SA 28. A good source of data is A. J. Pryor and C. H. Yuill, Mass Fire Life Hazard, AD0642790, 1966, which summarises the survival in nuclear firestorms in Table 2 on page 8: a total of 28% of the population was killed in Hiroshima compared to 17% in Nagasaki. In non-wooden modern cities, the reduction in fire risk would reduce the casualties still further even in the worst case scenario of no warning which pertained to those Japanese cities.)
World War II as an effect of weapons effects exaggerations for pacifist propaganda, by delaying the implementation of effective civil defense and thus making Britain vulnerable to appease the threat from terrorist states instead of opposing them credibly before they can invade other countries and become strong enough to fight a large scale war
Extracts from the official British history by Terence H. O'Brien, Civil Defence, H. M. Stationery Office, London, 1955 (now out of the 50 years government copyright, linked here in PDF format):
[Summary of the following extracts: civil defense is "better than nothing", unlike propaganda exaggerating possible weapons and war effects (e.g. by falsely promoting worst case scenarios as the only possible - or most likely - scenarios) for peace treaties which proved to be worse than nothing, because those treaties were used as an excuse for a lack of preparation against terrorist state threats, leading to appeasement which encouraged aggressor psychology instead of deterring or defeating it.]
Page 27: "Austen Chamberlain, Briand and Stresemann had concluded in October 1925 at Locarno agreements [for peaceful cooperation]. ... Two years later the Briand-Kellogg Pact for 'outlawry of war' was enthusiastically received by world opinion ..."
Page 33: "In the optimistic atmosphere these events engendered the British Cabinet reaffirmed, for purposes of war preparation, that no major war was likely to occur for ten years. This 'ten-year-rule' [first adopted in 1919], as it was called in official circles, had no beginning by the calendar but, like the rising sun, was new every morning. Until such time as the Government decided to revoke it [a politically thorny decision, the sort of thing that Cabinets agree is best deferred until too late for action, for fear of being unfashionable and upsetting status quo], the possibility of major conflict was to be deemed on any given day as not less than ten years distant. This shifting yardstick (which was subject to annual review) was destined to remain in force ... It acted, it is hardly necessary to state, as a powerful curb on defence preparations of all kinds and on provision of public funds for defence."
Page 67: "After the General Election of November 1935 Mr Baldwin's National Government had returned to power with a large majority; but the Prime Minister had diluted his promise of rearmament with considerable assuagement of pacifist opinion. The swift public reaction to the Hoare-Laval Peace Plan [a secret 1935 appeasement plan by British foreign secretary Sir Samuel Hoare and French premier Pierre Laval that offered fascist Benito Mussolini most of Abyssinia/Ethiopia in return for a truce in the Italo-Abyssinia War; just like all other appeasement papers in the whole of history which were not backed up by force, it failed] had shown how many still clung to faith in the 'collective security' they thought was embodied at Geneva. ... Hitler took advantage of the Italo-Abyssinia war to march into the Rhineland."
Page 81: "Early in 1937 some [anti-civil defence] scientific workers at Cambridge University, who described themselves as the 'Cambridge Scientists' Anti-War Group' and their function as that of acting as 'a technical and advisory body to national and international peace movements', published a book attacking the Government's A.R.P. [Air Raid Precautions/civil defence] plans. This body had studied the official advice about the 'gas-proofing' of rooms, the civilian mask, and extinguishing incendiary bombs, and then conducted some experiments. It claimed to have shown that the measures officially proposed were ineffective or inadequate, and implied that these constitued deception of the public [this entire episode was precisely repeated fifty years later in the 1980s when SANA or 'Scientists Against Nuclear Arms' published a false smear campaign against the U.K. Government's Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch civil defence data; all of the problem in both instances was caused by official secrecy on weapons effects and countermeasures research, i.e. the published official handbooks omitted all of the very extensive experimental scientific data from the detailed research reports upon which they were based, leaving them scientifically unsubstantiated as presented and thus open to 'ridicule']. The mask they had put to various tests was of a 'civilian type' bought on the open market, and not the official article. And their books's declared aim of offering a critical examination of A.R.P. measures was faithfully followed, to the exclusion of any positive counter-suggestions. ... The Government's reply was that the experiments were academic (in the sense of removed from reality), and based on fallacious assumptions about the conditions likely to be met in actual warfare [i.e. the anti-government propaganda claimed that gas would slowly diffuse into a gas-proof room so that since gas masks were no use to protect skin, there was no protection possible and civil defence was a fraud; in reality extensive top secret experiments on gas ingress into houses at Porton Down had been made which showed that the delay in gas diffusing into a sealed room was in most weather and wind conditions and realistic attack situations plenty of time for the gas concentration outdoors to fall to levels where skin protection was unnecessary, and the point of the gas mask is not to protect against a skin blisters drenching of mustard gas liquid but to protect against a wide spectrum of volatile gases, because lung tissue is far more sensitive to most gases than skin]."
Page 86: "... in February 1937 the Home Office Fire Adviser staged a demonstration at Barnes at which [Spanish Civil War incendiary] bombs were successfully controlled and fires extinguished by teams of girls with only short training. At an exercise held later at Southampton a group of air raid wardens carried out this function with such success that the Department concluded it must aim to train all householders in the handling of incendiary bombs."
Pahe 86: on 28 October 1937, the British Committee of Imperial Defence approved an increased "scale of attack" for planning purposes of "no less than 600 tons" of bombs per day, i.e. 0.6 kt per day. Assuming 100 kg TNT bombs, this is 6,000 bombs daily with an equivalent megatonnage of 6,000 x (0.1 x 10-6)2/3 = 0.129 single bomb with a TNT equivalent of 1 megaton (this relationship is due to the fact that diffraction damage radii only scale as the cube-root of explosive yield, so areas and casualty rates for such buildings scale as the two-thirds power of yield). In other words, the scale of the attack assumed in 1937 was equivalent to the dropping of a single 1 megaton TNT bomb (equivalent to the blast from a 2 megaton nuclear bomb with 50% blast yield) on London every 7.7 days!
To emphasize, blast damage equivalent to that from a single 2 megaton nuclear bomb dropped on Britain every 7.7 days was assumed by the Government as constituting the Nazi threat in 1937 (not to mention the assumed effects from fires by incendiary bombs and delayed casualties from the assumed threat of mustard gas, which was in some respects analogous to fallout in the Cold War nuclear war civil defence context). This was precisely why Prime Minister Chamberlain caved in to Hitler's threats at Munich in 1938. The Government in 1937 had assumed (O'Brien, page 96) that 17 people would be killed and 33 wounded for every ton of bombs dropped on a city (this is World War I data applying to a situation, like Hiroshima, of no civil defence and accurate daytime bombing), producing 200,000 casualties a week of which 66,000 would be killed. Because of these false predictions, there was widespread apathy in the Government about the blast damage problem, so no concerted effort was made against blast until the last moment as shown by the fact that all the early civil defence handbooks were about gas. This irrational blast countermeasures apathy was well summed up in the oft-quoted 10 November 1932 statement by Stanley Baldwin: "I think it is well also for the man in the street to realise that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. ... The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves... when the next war comes ... European civilisation is wiped out..." (this was usually quoted to attack civil defence, much as certain very similarly ill-informed speeches by Earl Mountbatten of Burma, together with the farewell address to the American people by President James Carter, were repeatedly quoted by anti-civil defence groups during the 1980s). O'Brien makes the point on page 196 that the Government's Anderson shelters were first checked against real high explosive blast bombs in mid-1939, just before war was finally declared. This late blast effects research was a disaster because while the Anderson shelters were fairly hospitable in summertime, in winter they were freezing cold and usually flooded with ground water in London. O'Brien states on pages 527-528:
"Experience of raids ... led to the introduction of an entirely new type of household shelter. 'Andersons' [outdoor, earth-covered corrugated steel arches], though structually satisfactory, had not originally been intended for sleeping and became in many cases unfit for winter occupation. Domestic surface shelters were very cramped when used for sleeping and were in some places not popular ... After night raiding had ceased to be a novelty, many people preferred to stay in their houses rather than to go out of doors even to their own domestic shelters. ... Since many people were now determined to remain in their homes, it had become necessary to introduce some indoor shelter which might reduce the risk of injury from falling masonry and furniture. The fact that many who had hitherto sheltered under their staircases or furniture had been rescued unhurt from the wreckage of houses suggested that extra protection might be given by a light structure on the ground floor. ... the 'Morrison' shelter ... a rectangular steel framework 6 ft 6 in long, 4 ft wide and about 2 ft 9 in high ... could be used as a table in the daytime, could accommodate two adults and either two young children or one older child, lying down. Experiments showed that it would carry the debris produced by the collapse of two higher floors. ... In January 1941 the cabinet approved the manufacture of 400,000, providing protection for perhaps 1,200,000 people."
With regards to civil defence rescue planning in 1939 (for some details of rescue operations in WW II, see the civil defence training material extracts linked here), O'Brien states on page 215:
"Equipment for Rescue Parties, designed from experience gained in the 1931 Tokyo earthquake, consisted mainly of levers, crowbars, ropes, jacks and other instruments in common use. As every party would need a complete set of these for instant turn-out in war, the Government decided in March [1939, less than six months before it declared war on the Nazis] on the principle of central supply. It proved difficult, as usual, to procure the large quantities required, and in June orders were placed for two of the most important items, lifting tackle and ratchet jacks, in the United States."
A very important point about the role of effective asymmetrical civil defence in preventing attacks by gas is made by O'Brien on pages 329-330, where he states that although 44 million people in Britain had been issued a gas mask by the outbreak of war in September 1939, only 12 million gas masks had been issued to German civilians, due to the rubber shortage in Germany:
"The data available to experts had suggested that a high degree of protection could only be achieved by equipping every civilian with a gas-mask. [Qualitative objections that gas masks were useless because mustard gas can blister skin and that extremely high concentrations of gas can suffocate even with a gas mask, unless compressed air is supplied, ignored the overall quantitative protection factor. No gas mask can save someone in a confined space or drenched with liquid droplets of toxic chemicals, in the same way that a lifejacket is not guaranteed to save someone who falls overboard into icy cold water during a storm; likewise car seat belts, first aid, hospitals, and fire brigades are not guaranteed always prevent injury. The usefulness of a safety precaution is not zero if it is likely to fail in an improbable worst case scenario. The usefulness of a safety precaution is correctly judged on the basis of its validity and usefulness in the more likely and probable situations to arise, not the very worst case. No safety measure has ever been made which is proof against everything, and it would be so clumbersome as to defeat the whole purpose if such a safety device was made. People are prepared to tolerate some discomfort for an increase in safety, but in practice there are limits and safety precautions which to the extreme cause problems by being too expensive, difficult and uncomfortable to implement. Flak jackets that are too heavy, despite perfect protection, are liable to reduce mobility and make the wearer more liable to be a target. Carrying around a lightweight gas mask was more practical than carrying around a suit of protective clothing plus heavy duty breathing apparatus.] ...
"How far did Britain's [gas mask] defence on the outbreak of war and later deter Germany from using this weapon [gas] against her? It will be assumed throughout this volume that Hitler and Goering's restraint in using any weapon cannot be attributed to motives of humanity [they used gas in gas chambers], but solely to fear of reprisals or calculation that the aircraft and crews available could be used to better advantage in some other way. On this assumption, and taking into account Allied investigations after the war [where it was discovered that Germany had invented the nerve gases tabun, sarin, and soman in 1936, 1938 and 1944, stockpiling 12,000 tons of tabun as a war gas between April 1942 and May 1945], it would seem that the deterrent effect was considerable to the point, perhaps, of being decisive."
If Britain hadn't issued gas masks to the public and if Hitler had enough rubber to issue gas masks to all civilians in Germany to negate the dangers from gas retaliation, Hitler could have used his 12,000 tons of tabun nerve gas effectively against Britain, possibly with decisive effect. (The charcoal absorbers in the standard British WW II gas masks were proof against all nerve gases, and for all nerve gases the lethal inhalation concentration-time product "dose" or exposure is many times lower than the lethal skin absorption exposure. Thus, over most of the area contaminated by lethal inhalation threats, the gas mask without protective clothing provides adequate protection.)
Remarkably, however, anti-civil defence propaganda in Britain during the cold war tried repeatedly to claim the opposite, alleging falsely that gas masks proved civil defence was useless in World War II, because gas masks were never needed. The whole point about an effective civil defence system is that, if it is effective and is widely publicised as such, it won't be needed because potential enemies won't waste their effort in launching that kind of attack in the first place. Safe-crackers do not queue up outside Fort Knox. If you make an attack unlikely to succeed in the first place, and you don't keep this fact top secret but explain it clearly with scientific evidence to back up the explanation, it is less likely that such an attack will ever be made, and you will be ready to handle it if it is made. This required a strategy of ongoing vigilance against gas attacks from the Nazis throughout WW II. For example, in 1940 all of the British black-coloured gas mask cannisters were modified by the taped-on addition of the small green coloured "contex" end filter to improve protection against arsine particles (designed to bounce around through the charcoal without undergoing absorption, and then induce vomiting and the removal of the mask), as O'Brien explains on page 332:
"Early in 1940 the Government received reports that the Germans had found a method of using arsine gas (arseniurretted hydrogen) in the aerial bombardment of civilians. Since only the Service [military] masks offered full protection against this gas, the Government ordered the supply of 70,000,000 filters of an improved type for Civilian Duty, civilian and children's masks. In May the first of these - known as 'contex' since they formed small extensions to existing containers - were distributed to local authorities, and wardens began the considerable task of fitting them to the millions of masks in the possession of the public."
Above: the 1 cm thick green "contex" filter cartridges taped on to the front of all 70,000,000 issued and stockpiled (reserve) 1938 gas masks in 1940 to provided added protection against toxic arsine smoke particles. These gas masks, contrary to Cold War propaganda against civil defence, were not an "unneeded" or "token" countermeasure, but valuably helped to deter chemical warfare by credibly negating the Nazi chemical warfare threat, which included 12,000 tons of stockpiled tabun nerve gas, discovered by the Allies in 1945. Terrorists exploit vulnerability; they don't choose to attack using means that can be effectively countered. In this sense, the gas masks proved their worth.
Updates recently added to the earlier blog post on fire ignition by nuclear weapons thermal radiation:
The 1950 U. S. Department of Defense book The Effects of Atomic Weapons stated on page 212: “It has been estimated ... that the physical damage to buildings, etc., equivalent to that at Hiroshima could be produced by approximately 325 tons of high explosive and about 1,000 tons of incendiary bombs.”
This nuclear blast inefficiency of the 12-16 kt nuclear bomb as compared to conventional weapons is due to the fact that blast damage areas due to peak overpressure are proportional to the two-thirds power of yield. E.g., a 1 kg TNT bomb is a thousand million times smaller in blast energy than a 1 megaton blast, but it produces equal peak overpressures over an area equal to (10-9)2/3 = 10-6 of that of a 1 megaton blast. Therefore, one million separate 1 kg TNT bombs, or 1 kiloton of TNT, is exactly equivalent to a single explosion of 1 megaton of TNT. This explains why the blast effects from a megaton bomb are approximately equal to a 1 kiloton World War II conventional bomber attack, with a hundred or more aircraft scattering a few tons of TNT in small bombs over a large area target. But all nuclear weapons media propaganda ignores such facts, presenting a megaton explosion over a city as an unparalleled disaster, a thousand times worse than a large World War II attack!
Now consider the thermal ignition mechanism. The 1957 U. S. Department of Defense book The Effects of Nuclear Weapons stated on page 307 that only 2 and 4 cal/cm2 were required by 20 kt and 10 Mt nuclear weapons, respectively, to ignite shredded newspaper, and on page 308 it stated that only 4 and 9 cal/cm2 were required by 20 kt and 10 Mt nuclear weapons, respectively, to ignite dry rotted wood. However, on pages 322-3 it stated: “Definite evidence was obtained from Japanese observers that the thermal radiation caused thin, dark cotton cloth, such as the black-out curtains that were in common use during the war [to stop enemy bombers from easily identifying cities by their illumination], thin paper, and dry, rotted wood to catch fire at distances up to 3,500 feet (0.66 mile) from ground zero (about 35 calories per square centimetre).”
So pages 307-8 stated that ignition of the most easily ignitable kindling materials, namely newspaper and dry rotted wood, from a 20 kt explosion occurs at 2-4 cal/cm2, while pages 322-3 stated that such ignitions required about 35 cal/cm2 for the nuclear explosions in Japan, an order of magnitude more energy! Part of the confusion was due to humidity and thus water content. The same book points out on page 319 that in the dry air of the Nevada desert, only 12 cal/cm2 was needed at the 1953 Encore nuclear test to ignite houses made of rotted wood or surrounded by a trash filled yard and wooden fence (the whitewashed wooden house with a clear yard survived). Two wooden houses were also constructed for that test, exposing 4 x 6 foot windows with a line-of-sight exposure to ground zero. Both were subjected to the same 17 cal/cm2 thermal flash from the Encore nuclear test, and the one full of inflammables ignited with immediate flash-over to the entire room, while the one with modern fire-resistant furnishings survived with just minor smouldering which was extinguished by the recovery party when they entered the house an hour after the test.
J. Bracciaventi and F. DeBold, Critical Radiant Exposures for Persistent Ignition of Cellulosic Target Complex Materials, Naval Material Lab., Brooklyn, report AD-249476, DASA-1194, July 1960:
"Winds up to 10 mph caused differences in radiant exposures for ignition up to 50%, and conditioning at relative humidities from 20 to 100% changed ignition exposures by 70%."
A controversy over the 1957 Effects of Nuclear Weapons data flared up with the publication of J. Bracciaventi and F. DeBold, Critical Radiant Exposures for Persistent Ignition of Cellulosic Target Complex Materials, Naval Material Lab., Brooklyn, report AD-249476, DASA-1194, July 1960, which found that at 42% humidity newsprint needs at least 16 cal/cm2 for ignition. Glasstone wanted a check to be done before including the new data in The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, so the 1962 edition was published with the old false data, and the U. S. Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory and Naval Research Laboratory studied the problem, reporting in 1963 (e.g., S. Martin and A. Broido, Thermal Radiation and Fire Effects of Nuclear Detonations, 10 may 1963, AD042241, and S. Martin, Ignition of Cellulosic Kindling Fuels by Very Brief Radiant Pulses, USNRDL-TR-660, AD414174, 15 July 1963), which led to Glasstone’s February 1964 reprint of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons with corrected thermal ignition data, which is also used in the 1977 edition. One continuing problem with those simplified data tables is that they still do not state the humidity they actually apply to.
Above: the reported data in Glasstone and Dolan's Effects of Nuclear Weapons for thermal flash burns to skin is misleading since such burns would be prevented by normal clothing, as demonstrated from these Operation Cue photographs of dummies located at 1.3 mile (7,000 feet) from ground zero of the 29 kiloton Teapot-Apple II nuclear test, Nevada, May 5, 1955. Notice that the clothing failed to ignite and burn, despite being dark in colour, although it was bleached slightly in colour, and dark patterns in a light dress produced scorching to the underwear. Data on the protection against thermal radiation by clothing is given in the originally Confidential-classified 1957 Capabilities of Atomic Weapons, Table 6-2, page 6-4 (up to 120 cal/cm2 are required for skin blistering under clothing for large weapon yields, a large protection factor, since even if clothing does ignite the thermal radiation is directional so a person can roll over to extinguish the flames as the thermal pulse subsides; thermal radiation pulses are not like being doused with burning gasoline, contrary to anti-civil defense propaganda which in the 1980s ignored all the facts about actual thermal radiation pulse exposure and instead quoted the "example" of a man with 85% body area third-degree burns from being doused in burning gasoline, who died 33 days later at Massachusetts General Hospital after being given 501 blood transfusions including 281 units of plasma, 147 units of red cells, 37 units of platelets and 36 units of albumin, plus 6 operations and 4,900 medical personnel hours at a cost of $3,500 a day: all this proves is that being doused in burning gasoline has nothing to do with thermal radiation induced clothing ignitions). This data is omitted from unclassified books by Glasstone and Dolan.
Update: Arnold Kramish (June 6, 1923 – June 15, 2010), RAND Corp physicist and one of the original four editors on the editorial board under Glasstone for the 1950 Effects of Atomic Weapons (link to 87 MB PDF format high quality scan of vital pages; please use right click and save file or you will have a long wait for it to load in a browser window), died in June and there are obituaries in the Washington Post and New York Times.
Above: Arnold Kramish was on the board of editors of the 1950 Effects of Atomic Weapons. While at RAND Corp, he undertook several early studies of nuclear proliferation risks and safeguards.
Kramish was author of the 1959 book Atomic Energy in the Soviet Union, the 1986 controversial history of The Griffin about science editor Paul Rosbaud, the major spy for the Manhattan Project, who reported on Nazi nuclear research. (The Manhattan Project chief, General Groves, kept the tale secret to justify continued research on the bomb after the Nazi nuclear failure due to the allied destruction of the Nazi heavy water plants. This failure was due to an incorrect decision taken by the Nazi, the first-quantization (intrinsic uncertainty principle) propagandarist Werner Heisenberg, who fortunately dismissed graphite moderators as useless and demanded heavy water instead. He was ignorant that the ordinary graphite production process used boron electrodes that contaminated the graphite with the neutron absorber boron. By contrast, the Manhattan Project's Leo Szilard (who had first come up with the neutron chain reaction idea in 1933), was a chemical engineer and he knew about this boron electrode problem, so cheap graphite produced with other methods was successfully used as the neutron moderator instead of expensive heavy water by the Manhattan Project to produce nuclear reactors and thus bomb plutonium.)
According to the Atomic Heritage Foundation site, Kramish was writing his memoirs. He suffered serious injuries during an explosion at the highly secret Philadelphia Experiment at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1944. It was the pilot plant for the liquid (not gaseous) diffusion of highly corrosive uranium hexafloride liquid under high pressure. It suffered a pipe blockage which exploded, covering Kramish and two others with the gas which reacted with steam to produce hydrofluoric acid. The basic idea was to produce a porous metal pipe and pump the liquid uranium hexafloride through it at high pressure, so that molecules containing the lighter uranium isotope (mass number 235) would be more likely to penetrate the tube due to its slightly higher average kinetic energy and velocity than the heavier molecules that contained uranium-238. Thus, the enrichment of uranium-235 for the gun-assembly Hiroshima weapon. Unfortunately, there were controversies in the precise design of the porous nickel tube barriers (used both for the gaseous and for the liquid diffusion plants), leading to a complete redesign (the details are still secret to reduce proliferation risks), and experiments were needed with a pilot plant to see if the liquid gaseous diffusion plant design was suitable. If the porous tube walls were too thick and the porosity was too low, the uranium hexafloride pressures required would be dangerously high; thinner walls would allow lower operating pressures but would be subject to more wear and tear.
After the explosion, a green cloud of the uranium hexafloride gas contaminated the entire area and a nearby Navy ship, causing other injuries. The other two persons with Kramish suffered lethal whole-body 3rd degree burns from the acid, although this was covered up by Manhattan Project chief, General Groves, leading to Chinese Whisper rumors a decade later that finally linked the experiment to the wrong theory of Einstein in a notoriously weird Hollywood movie based on the Philadelphia Navy Yard experiment, that got all of the facts wrong.
Kramish credited chicken soup with his unexpected recovery from horrific burns: "While recuperating from the severe burns from the incident at a Philadelphia naval hospital, his mother came to visit him by train from Denver, carrying with her a jar of chicken soup on the three-day trip, which she fed him upon her arrival at the hospital, which Kramish would credit for his unexpected recovery."
The Atomic Heritage Foundation website states:
The Philadelphia Incident
On September 2, 1944, three men entered the transfer room of the liquid thermal diffusion semi-works at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to repair a clogged tube. The tube they were working on consisted of two concentric pipes with liquid uranium hexafluoride circulating in the space between them; the innermost pipe contained high-pressure steam. ... Without warning, at 1:20 PM, there was a terrific explosion. As the tube shattered, the liquid uranium hexafluoride combined with the escaping steam and showered the two engineers with hydrofluoric acid, one of the most corrosive agents known. Within minutes, both Peter Bragg and Douglas Meigs, with 3rd degree burns over their entire bodies, were dead and Arnold Kramish, also burned, was near death. Thus began one of the most extraordinary events in the history of the Manhattan Project. Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding the Manhattan Project in general and the experimental facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in particular, an immediate veil was drawn down over the incident by the highest authority available: General Leslie Groves.
Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding the incident, even the Philadelphia coroner was not made aware of the actual causes of death. It was not until many years later that the true facts began to emerge. However, it was too late for the parents of Peter Bragg, who both died never knowing of how their son had died.
On September 2, 1944, as the explosion ripped through the transfer room of the Naval Research Laboratory's thermal diffusion experimental pilot-plant, the battleship U.S.S. Wisconsin sat berthed not more than 200 yards away. Just back from its "shakedown" cruise, the sailors on board were never made aware that they had been exposed to a cloud of uranium hexafluoride. Although not highly-radioactive, the uranium-hexafluoride is nevertheless, toxic.
"Explosion at Navy Yard," The Philadelphia Record, September 3, 1944: "9 Are Injured; Blast Heard in Wide Area" SIDE OF BUILDING RIPPED OUT; FIRE EXTINGUISHED - Two specialists were killed and nine other men injured late yesterday afternoon when an explosion, followed by fire, ripped out the side of a building at the Navy Yard. The blast, heard throughout the Navy Yard and in some sections of South Philadelphia, occurred while Navy technicians were at work. Gas was released, burning the lungs of some of the men. They were given first aid at the scene and then sent to the Naval Hospital. At least one is in "a very critical condition," the Navy announced. Two other men, Navy Yard firemen, collapsed while fighting the blaze. Their condition is not serious ...
The cloud of green colored uranium hexafluoride vapor and the extreme secrecy involved (the whole experiment was used to produce the uranium-235 dropped in the Hiroshima bomb), corresponds to the Philadelphia experiment rumors. Some hints that nuclear power was connected would have given rise to speculations linking the experiments being carried out at the Philadelphia Dock Yard during World War II to Einstein's theories of relativity.
(Incidentally, Richard Rhodes gives a false account of the porous nickel barrier tube production; Glasstone's Sourcebook on Atomic Energy indicates that the tubes were manufactured simply by producing tubes out of an alloy of nickel and a more reactive metal like zinc, and then etching the zinc out of the alloy using acid. By using the correct percentage of each metal in the original alloy, which is of course secret to reduce nuclear proliferation risks, the porosity of the acid-etched metal tube walls was precisely controllable. The business of using highly corrosive uranium hexafloride to produce the Hiroshima bomb was what really got Teflon off the ground; Teflon had been invented years earlier but it was only when it was needed for coating the inner parts of pumps and valves that had to resist corrosion by uranium hexafloride in the Manhattan Project, that DuPont efforts were made to manufacture it on a large scale.)
Update (27 November 2010): Northrop's data on prompt gamma ray output and its implications for the high altitude burst, wide-area EMP threat from terrorist nuclear weapons such as North Korea
Sequence of events: 1. nuclear weapons effects data is kept secret, 2. critics of civil defense policy openly publish claims that the secret data does not exist ("nobody knows the effects of nuclear weapons reliably"), 3. nobody in government is able to disclose the facts, 4. critics of civil defense policy eventually manage to persuade the public (which is denied the secret data) that the government really has no idea what the threats are or how to combat them, 5. the public end up influencing government policy through the democratic process. This is what happened in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1989, Philip J. Dolan's 1972 two-part Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1, 1972, originally Secret - Restricted Data, was declassified with some page change updates from 1978 and 1981. Chapters 5 and 7 of this manual are online on this blog, and we have summarized some updates which have been made to this manual which have become declassified, on blast, nuclear radiation, thermal radiation (a massive change of thermal partitions and transmission data), cratering (massive changes, reducing crater sizes at high yields), fallout, and space effects. In 1992, I requested the earlier Capabilities of Atomic Weapons from the the Library U. K. Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (now AWE), and was told that Dolan's more recent Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons was then in the British Library on Microfiche. In 1993, William M. Arkin of the Natural Resources Defense Council requested (under the American Freedom of Information Act) the successor, Harold L. Brode's 1992 version of EM-1, which was subsequently slowly declassified with some important deletions (it is much longer than Dolan's version, with each chapter a separate lengthy document). Arkin writes about receiving the updated version in the July 1997 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, leering at the depth of research and totally ignoring the civil defense implications of accurate effects data for survival and damage mitigation during an enemy attack. The Natural Resources Defense Council apparently has decided to keep the actual details of the declassified data from the latest version under wraps (maybe it doesn't fit their Cold War era political agenda, whereby we will be safe when we disarm). At the same time that it was being declassified, the people of the Defense Special Weapons Agency who were declassifying it decided to summarize the declassified material (which is not everything) into a single brief summary volume. This was edited in 1996 by John A. Northrop (who as Deputy Director of the U. S. Defense Nuclear Agency in 1972, wrote the notice of promulgation on page iii of the 1972 edition of Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons). Northrop headed S-cubed research into nuclear terrorism effects in the 1970s and 1980s, e.g. J. A. Northrop, The role of civil preparedness in nuclear terrorism mitigation planning, Systems, Science and Software, Washington Research Center, report SSS-R-80-4185, ADA081560 (1979):
“An assessment of the objectives and capabilities of terrorist groups leads to the conclusion that although an explosion of a small nuclear bomb in a city is improbable, planning for an adequate emergency response is necessary. At the Federal level current planning places primary emphasis on management of terrorist events themselves, rather than on subsequent mitigation. The responsible agencies that will be involved must develop working relationships which will allow a rapid and coherent response to the massive damage and casualties that would result. Some state planning has been made, but local authority planning is very limited. These plans, and their integration at all levels of government, would be greatly enhanced by the drifting of models which could be adapted to individual state and local requirements. Preliminary assessments of effects of low-yield nuclear explosions in cities show significant changes, produced by massive building structures, to conventional data. Such data when further developed will provide important guidance to urban nuclear emergency planners. A new methodology is proposed for modeling the economic impact of terrorist attacks tailored to the nationwide incapacitation of unique industrial processes.”
See also J. A. Northrop, B. E. Freeman, and R. E. Duff, Program to Develop and Codify Urban Nuclear Weapon Effects. Final Report, S-Cubed, La Jolla, California, report SSS-R-83-6228, ADA284141 (1983):
“A program is developed which, if implemented, would assess those effects of a detonation of a terrorist nuclear weapon located in a highly built-up urban area which are unique to the environment, and consider possible techniques for damage limitation. It is assumed that the weapon is of low-yield, that its hiding place can be located, and that there is sufficient time before its detonation for the application of mitigation techniques. A series of radiation-hydrodynamic, hydrodynamic, radiation transport, and fallout calculations are defined which would provide insight into the modification to classic nuclear phenomenology produced by unique urban hiding locations, possible mitigating of the blast and thermal threats by materials deliberately placed around the weapon, and changes in the propagation of blast, fallout, and thermal radiation due to surrounding buildings. It is anticipated that, were such a theoretical study program to be implemented, it would provide useful guidance to nuclear emergency response planners.”
Northrop's 1996 Handbook of Nuclear Weapon Effects: Calculational Tools Abstracted from DSWAs Effects Manual One (EM-1) (Defense Weapons Special Agency, Washington, D.C.) is unclassified but of limited distribution, exactly the status of Dr Carl F. Miller's report Fallout and Radiological Countermeasures between 1963-9. But it contains data on the prompt high frequency EMP source (the prompt gamma ray output of modern nuclear weapon designs) and the spectrum of the thermal radiation as a function of burst altitude and weapon yield which is vital for civil defense and is omitted from the 1977 edition of Glasstone and Dolan's Effects of Nuclear Weapons. Dolan's 1972 Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons DNA-EM-1 in Table 5-3 and Table 5-1 as well as many graphs of data, analyzed the radiation outputs from eight types of nuclear weapons. The revised version by Brode analyzes 13 nuclear weapons designs, and Northrop's 1996 extract handbook gives data from 4 of these designs: type 3 (subkiloton, unboosted fission implosion), type 5 (boosted fission implosion, 1 to a few tens of kt), type 8 (thermonuclear secondary with single yield, a few tens of kt to 5 Mt), and type 13 (the enhanced radiation weapon, 1-10 kt). Most fission weapons have neutron outputs on the order of 1023 neutrons/kt (see for instance Table 5-1 in DNA-EM-1), the enhanced radiation weapon emits 1.77 x 1024 neutrons/kt, according to Northrop (1996).
Above: Northrop's data on prompt gamma ray output from different nuclear weapon designs.
The shocking thing is the prompt gamma ray output (from fission and inelastic neutron scattering reactions with heavy nuclei in the bomb over the first 20 nanoseconds). An enhanced radiation bomb emits a prompt gamma ray output of 6.70 x 1023 MeV/kt with a mean gamma ray energy of 2.0 MeV, according to Northrop (1996). This is about 2.6 % of the weapon yield! Dolan's DNA-EM-1 chapters 5 and 7 (1978) gave a figure of 0.1-0.5 % for the range of prompt gamma radiation outputs. Additionally, Northrop states that the prompt gamma ray out for the type 8 thermonuclear secondary weapon with a single yield of up to 5 Mt is 3.55 x 1023Wkt-0.29 MeV/kt, i.e. 1.4Wkt-0.29 % of yield, which is 0.18 for 1 Mt, not 0.1 % as suggested by most unclassified EMP prediction treatments! The high prompt gamma ray output from the neutron bomb provides a example of how the weapon design can be engineered to produce immense outputs of EMP from a high altitude detonation. In fact, the use of enhanced neutron radiation bombs at high altitude has always been on the cards for ABM defenses, since one way to neutralize incoming enemy warheads is to melt down the fissile material they contain, using the neutron radiation from a defensive warhead. Neutron bombs have always been of relevance to ABM defense as well as deterring massed tank invasions.
Above: data on the thermal radiation spectrum from nuclear weapons in Northrop's limited-distribution handbook. This data is needed in the public domain to help counter anti-civil defense propaganda about there being no reliable data on the details of burn-causing thermal radiation. In fact, extensive data exists on the effects of nuclear weapons from intensive scientific studies at weapon tests and also from extensive computer simulations. The reason that critics of civil defense can falsely claim nothing much is known and get away with such a claim is simply that there are restraints on the publication of data which is needed for making a convincing case for civil defense. It's either secret or (when finally declassified) its "not secret but limited in distribution", which amounts to the same thing for the public (which just wants to know what the facts really are, so they can decide whether civil defense is justified by the data, for themselves):
“The obsession with secrecy ensured that almost all the public information on nuclear attack was provided by the government’s opponents.”
- Matthew Grant, After the Bomb: Civil Defence and Nuclear War in Britain, 1945-68, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010, page 197.
Update: Samuel T. Cohen (January 25, 1921 – November 28, 2010), inventor of the neutron bomb, has died
Above: the target for Sam Cohen's neutron bomb was these T-54/55 Russian main battle tanks, which had the highest production run of any tank ever made (over 86,000 were manufactured). They were manufactured chiefly for the invasion of Western Europe, once tactical nuclear weapons had been removed by political lobbying of Western disarmament activists via the Kremlin-controlled World Peace Council based in Moscow.
Seen in 1999, Sam Cohen holds up a peace medal given to him by Pope John Paul I. He designed the neutron bomb with just pencil, paper and a slide rule. (San Jose Mercury News)
“The neutron bomb, so-called because of the deliberate effort to maximize the effectiveness of the neutrons, would necessarily be limited to rather small yields - yields at which the neutron absorption in air does not reduce the doses to a point at which blast and thermal effects are dominant. The use of small yields against large-area targets again runs into the delivery problems faced by chemical agents and explosives, and larger yields in fewer packages pose a less stringent problem for delivery systems in most applications. In the unlikely event that an enemy desired to minimize blast and thermal damage and to create little fallout but still kill the populace, it would be necessary to use large numbers of carefully placed neutron-producing weapons burst high enough to avoid blast damage on the ground [500 metres altitude for a neutron bomb of 1 kt total yield], but low enough to get the neutrons down. In this case, however, adequate radiation shielding for the people would leave the city unscathed and demonstrate the attack to be futile.”
- Dr Harold L. Brode, RAND Corporation, Blast and Other Threats, pp. 5-6 in Proceedings of the Symposium on Protective Structures for Civilian Populations, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Symposium held at Washington, D.C., April 19-23, 1965.
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2010
LOS ANGELES TIMES, Samuel T. Cohen dies at 89; inventor of the neutron bomb
... President Reagan ordered 700 neutron warheads built to oppose the massive Soviet tank force that had been strategically positioned in Eastern Europe. He viewed the bomb as the only tactical weapon that could effectively stop the tanks without also destroying much of the continent. The weapons were later dismantled in the face of widespread protests and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. ...
Samuel Theodore Cohen was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 25, 1921, to Austrian Jews who migrated to the United States by way of Britain. When he was 4, the family moved to Los Angeles, where his father worked as a carpenter on movie sets. Young Samuel suffered allergies, eye problems and other ailments, and his mother put him on a rigidly controlled diet, regular purges and daily ice-water showers to toughen him up, and fed him so much carrot juice that his skin was often yellow.
A brilliant student, he studied physics at UCLA, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1943. After joining the Army, he was posted to MIT for advanced training in physics and math, then selected for work on the Manhattan Project. Although he never received a doctoral degree, he calculated neutron densities on Fat Man, the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
After World War II, he joined the RAND Corp. in Santa Monica and spent most of his career there. He said the inspiration for the neutron bomb was a 1951 visit to Seoul, which had been largely destroyed in the Korean War. In his memoir, he wrote: "If we are going to go on fighting these damned fool wars in the future, shelling and bombing cities to smithereens and wrecking the lives of their inhabitants, might there be some kind of nuclear weapon that could avoid all this?"
He designed the neutron bomb using pencil, paper and a slide rule given to him by his father for his 15th birthday.
See also the New York Times,
Samuel T. Cohen, Neutron Bomb Inventor, Dies at 89
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Published: December 1, 2010
Samuel T. Cohen, the physicist who invented the small tactical nuclear weapon known as the neutron bomb, a controversial device designed to kill enemy troops with subatomic particles but leave battlefields and cities relatively intact, died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89.
... He insisted that many critics misunderstood or purposely misrepresented his ideas for political, economic or mercenary reasons. ...
A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Mr. Cohen was recruited while in the Army in World War II for the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, N.M. After the war, he joined the RAND Corporation and in 1958 designed the neutron bomb as a way to strike a cluster of enemy forces while sparing infrastructure and distant civilian populations.
Fired via a missile or an artillery shell and detonated a quarter-mile above ground, his bomb limited death to an area less than a mile across, avoiding wider indiscriminate slaughter and destruction. ... its neutrons dissipated quickly, leaving no long-term contamination that could render entire regions uninhabitable for decades. ...
“It’s the most sane and moral weapon ever devised,” he said in September in a telephone interview for this obituary. “It’s the only nuclear weapon in history that makes sense in waging war. When the war is over, the world is still intact.”
Samuel Theodore Cohen was born in Brooklyn on Jan. 25, 1921, to Lazarus and Jenny Cohen, Austrian Jews who had migrated to the United States by way of Britain. His father was a carpenter and his mother a housewife who rigidly controlled family diets and even breathing habits (believing it unhealthy to breathe through the mouth). The boy had allergies, eye problems and other ailments, and for years was subjected to daily ice-water showers to toughen him up.
The family moved to Los Angeles when he was 4. He was a brilliant student at public schools and U.C.L.A., where he graduated in 1943 with a physics degree. He joined the wartime Army and was posted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for advanced training in mathematics and physics.
In 1944 he was tapped for the Manhattan Project to analyze radioactivity in nuclear fission. He worked on Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, days after Little Boy destroyed Hiroshima.
Mr. Cohen joined RAND in Santa Monica in 1947 and 11 years later designed the neutron bomb as a consultant to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
His books included “Tactical Nuclear Weapons: An Examination of the Issues” (1978); “The Neutron Bomb: Political, Technological and Military Issues” (1978); “Checkmate on War” (1980); “The Truth About the Neutron Bomb” (1983); “We Can Prevent World War III” (1985); and “Nuclear Weapons, Policies and the Test Ban Issue” (1987). His memoir, “Shame: Confessions of the Father of the Neutron Bomb,” was published on the Internet in 2000.
Above: President John F. Kennedy at the Nevada Test Site on 8 December 1962. Kennedy was the president who authorized the first Nevada test firing of Samuel T. Cohen's neutron bomb.
Above: the leaking of the Teller-Ulam X-ray radiation coupling mechanism began in 1966 with Dr Edward Teller's article on the hydrogen bomb in Encyclopedia Americana, which shows a cutaway view of the hydrogen bomb in which a physically separate spherical fission "primary" stage and a prolate spheroid-shaped fusion "secondary" stage are arranged with the "primary" stage nearest the curved end of the outer bomb casing. In a letter to his biographer (Energy and Conflict: The Life and Times of Edward Teller), Teller stated that his major contribution at Los Alamos was calculating the opacity of materials to radiation, which led him to replace Ulam's idea of compressing a fusion capsule using the physical blast (case shock) of a fission bomb with dense "hydrodynamic lenses" for the same scheme using X-rays and plastic X-ray mirrors. Dr Ralph E. Lapp's article on the H-bomb in the World Book Encyclopedia (which unlike many misleadingly illustrated discussions of nuclear weapons effects, contains a sequence of photos of the first hydrogen bomb explosion, indicating how the physical phenomena from a single explosion completely change with time, from a hemispherical fireball to a rising fireball surrounded in Wilson condensation clouds caused by the negative pressure phase behind the blast wave in humid air, to the expanding mushroom cloud) shows a higher yield nuclear detonation in which multiple primary stages surround and simultaneously compress a single prolate spheroid fusion capsule containing a "spark plug" of fissionable material to heat the fusion capsule from the inside when it has been compressed and heated by X-ray ablation of the outside.
Herbert York illustrated the design cross-section of a fusion stage capsule in a Scientific American article, with a core rod or "spark plug" of fissile material, surrounded by a thick layer of fusion material (lithium deuteride, containing the isotope lithium-6), and with an outer "pusher" or ablation layer of dense uranium-238 (the X-ray induced ablation of which causes the recoil which compresses the fusion capsule by Newton's 3rd law of motion). Then on 15 October 1976 Uwe Parpart published an article in New Solidarity showing how hard (high energy) X-rays from a fission primary stage are absorbed by a thin layer of plastic foam, which heats up and efficiently re-radiates the energy on to the fusion stage as softer (lower energy) X-rays.
Above: On 30 July 1975, Suzie Lovato had accidentally declassified secret report UCRL-4725, thus placing in the public library of Los Alamos National Laboratory a brief summary of all of the June 1956 Livermore Laboratory nuclear weapons design work and the evaluation of test results for the Bikini and Eniwetok H-bomb tests during Operation Redwing. After copies of this report were mailed to the media by student Dimitri Rotow and published in newspapers around the world, Pat Oliphant drew a cynical cartoon in the Washington Star, showing a line of "student" spies and bomb-building subversives queuing up in the Los Alamos Library and asking to be shown the secret reports. Senator John Glenn of the Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Federal Services then held hearings on the leak, during which Dr Theodore Taylor testified: "we have a price to pay for the fact that we have come to depend on these weapons. One price of that is, I am afraid, freedom of information. We can't have both."
In the media Howard Morland (a disgruntled U. S. Air Force pilot who had been discharged for questioning American tactics during the Vietnam War) compiled a "mosiac" of the various leaks to form one horrific Progressive magazine article, which the U. S. Government tried to suppress in a failed court case. The publication was attacked by critics on the Phil Donahue Show, who invoked the example of the justified denial of freedom to openly publish the dates of sailing for troopships in the Near vs. Minnesota court case (in reply, the remark by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs fiasco was quoted, that he wished the New York Times had leaked the date of the invasion and caused it to be called off). Morland then wrote a 1981 Random House book, The Secret that Exploded, which removed the genie from the bottle for once and for all.
On page 201, Morland describes how he was sent the article "The Secret of Laser Fusion" from Fusion magazine, which stated: "Why are soft X-rays classified? The usual answer given to this question is that they play a similarly important role in the compression and heating used in the ignition of a hydrogen bomb." Morland continued on page 202: "The X-rays were seen as heating a solid substance [the outer surface of the dense U-238 pusher surrounding the fusion stage] which then exploded, setting up a shock wave that compressed the fusion fuel; there was no mention of radiation pressure. ... I assumed the editors of Fusion were slightly confused." So Morland's article falsely asserted that X-ray pressure compresses the secondary state directly. Individual X-ray photons carry energy E = hf and thus momentum p = vm = cE/c2 = E/c if absorbed, and thus impart twice that much momentum if they are literally reflected back, which doesn't happen (the equal second impulse which doubles the momentum transfer is the recoil when the momentum is reversed, i.e. Newton's 3rd law of motion). Because light velocity c is so great, this momentum transfer and thus radiation pressure is trivial compared to the force of recoil F = dp/dt given when X-rays ablate or "explode off" the surface layer of dense metal in a brief period of time.
The defendants (Morland and Progressive) brief in the U. S. Government vs. Progressive 1979 court case was classified secret, since their attorneys obtained security clearances in order to read the secret documents that the U. S. Government was showing to the judge. That brief was declassified on 24 September 1979 and stated on page 47: "Essentially, the X-rays produce a plasma of energized matter [dense uranium/lead/tungsten metal pusher ablation recoil matter] which pushes on the fusion fuel tamper in much the same way that boiling water produces steam which pushes on the blades of a turbine. But Morlands discussion of the role of radiation coupling is as inaccurate as if he said that boiling water turns the blades of a turbine - he leaves out the steam ... Morland's discussion of the role of radiation pressure is entirely incorrect." Morland then suggested in an Errata to his article that plastic foam, which is Teller's X-ray radiation mirror, absorbs X-rays, explodes and thereby compresses the fusion stage. Actually, Teller's plastic foam is a "radiation mirror", i.e. just a lining of the outer case, which absorbs primary hard X-rays, heats up, and then re-radiates or "mirrors" the X-rays (with a softer energy spectrum) on to the fusion stage.
In his finally published November 1979 Progressive article and Errata in the subsequent issue, Morland mistakenly reverses the roles of uranium-238 (which he thinks is the X-ray mirror, but is actually the ablator in high-fission weapons, while lead or tungsten used as the pusher in clean weapons like Redwing-Navajo) and plastic foam (which he thinks is the ablative pusher, but is actually Teller's X-ray mirror). Richard Rhodes gave detail explaining Morland's error in interviews with the Ivy-Mike H-bomb design team in his 1995 book, Dark Sun: the Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, and in 2001 official British Government historians Lorna Arnold and Katherine Pyne published a technical summary of British 1950s H-bomb designs and test results in their book, Britain and the H-bomb. Secrecy didn't stop Russia getting the bomb blueprints from spies even before the first nuclear test of 16 July 1945. Security through secrecy proved an illusion. Civil defense in combination with ABM, not "head in the sand" secrecy, is the only sure way of achieving some security, and it covers some natural threats as well as war and terrorism.
In fact, certain nuclear weapons details are needed in civil defense against low-yield nuclear explosions, where initial nuclear radiation, EMP, and the composition of neutron-induced actinides in the fallout, are all a strong function of the weapon design. Nuclear weapons effects only become reasonably independent of weapon design for the case of high yield air bursts, not low yield terrorist attacks!
Above: the neutron bomb is a small Teller-Ulam hydrogen bomb, the basic principles of which were leaked and declassified as a result of journalist Howard Morland's article on The Progressive in 1979 which resulted in a court case to protect the X-ray coupling secrets. However, Morland did not understand the basic effects of the density of material on the re-radiation of X-rays by materials, as opposed to energy use in shock wave formation (which favors high density not low density materials). Richard Rhodes clarified the role of Teller's X-ray "radiation mirrors" in an interview with the designer of the first full-scale H-bomb (Ivy-Mike, Eniwetok Atoll, 1952) designer Harold Agnew, in his 1995 book Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (Simon and Schuster, N. Y., 1996):
"The flux of soft X-rays from the primary would flow down the inside walls of the casing several microseconds ahead of the material shock wave from the primary. ... the steel [outer] casing would need to be lined with some material that would absorb the [soft X-ray] radiation and ionize to a hot plasma which could [re-]radiate X-rays [towards the secondary stage, like a mirror] to implode the secondary." (Rhodes, 1996, p 486.)
"I remember seeing the guys hammer the big, thick polyethene plastic pieces inside the casing ... They hammered the plastic into the lead [a lead layer was used between the outer steel case and the polyethene plastic] with copper nails." (Howard Agnew, Ivy-Mike bomb designer, quoted by Rhodes, 1996, p 510.)
Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam confirm this mechanism for X-ray mirroring on page 7 of their originally secret (now declassified) report LAMS-1225 on the principles of the staged hydrogen bomb, On Heterocatalytic Detonations. I. Hydrodynamic Lenses and Radiation Mirrors, dated 9 March 1951 (linked here), by pointing out that when shock waves do form in low density radiation mirrors (such as plastic foam), they are at a high temperature, radiating more energy as X-rays, unlike high density materials which at the same shock strength give lower temperatures and thus less X-ray emission (less mirroring):
"... the same shock strength will produce a lower temperature in a material of higher density since in each material the given energy density is distributed among more particles."
The basic physics of the mechanism of the hydrogen bomb (Teller's X-ray mirroring, i.e. the difference in density between plastic foam and metal reduces shock wave formation and thus makes plastic into a relatively good radiation mirror) is therefore not secret and is necessary for understanding clearly certain effects of nuclear weapons. The way to counter nuclear proliferation threats is to increase widespread civil defense understanding of nuclear effects and their countermeasures (which are also applicable to various natural disaster scenarios), and to limit the acquisition of fissile materials and delivery systems by irresponsible nations. You can't pretend to be safe when in fact the basic physics has been published already.
The "radiation mirrors" concept is the Teller contribution: this is the key to the whole breakthrough. Ulam's hydrodynamic lenses never worked for the shock wave from the fission primary, which is too dense and slow to focus efficiently. Claims about plastic foam filling the radiation channel completely, are really Ulam's idea of hydrodynamic shock being used to compress the secondary, i.e. they falsely claim that X-rays are converted into plastic plasma shock waves which compress the secondary stage, precisely the failed mechanism of 1946 classical superbomb idea!
Rhodes on page 492 of Dark Sun, claims plastic foam "would expand rapidly and deliver the necessary shock [to the secondary stage]". This is disproved by a consideration of the time taken for the expansion of plastic foam using scaled fireball data from Brode's 1968 model: the "shocking up" time takes far longer and exerts far less pressure than the delivery of X-ray energy at light velocity. Agnew knew what he was talking about: the plastic foam is not something that fills the entire radiation channel. If you fill the radiation channel with plastic foam, the X-rays will be slowed down from reaching the secondary because they will be absorbed by the plastic nearest the primary, and will diffuse through the plastic slowly and in a random direction due to absorptions and re-emissions. This will be slow and ineffective, arriving in a time similar to the hydrodynamic shock from the primary.
The advantage of the plastic foam for a radiation mirror on the inside of the weapon case is that it allows the X-rays to penetrate more deeply than they can in metal. On metal, X-rays ablate the very outer surface. On lower density material like plastic, they penetrate more deeply, reducing the deposited energy density (J/m3) in the material, so that energy transfer into surface ablation and shock by recoil is reduced. The radiation mirror, like air at high altitude, is less subjectable to shock wave formation and more subjectable to heating and re-radiation.
Plastic foam is Teller's X-ray mirror because re-radiates X-ray energy more efficiently than uranium or dense metals. The lower density and lower mass per atom mean that shock waves form more slowly in plastic than in uranium. This reduces the formation of a shock wave in the outer casing, so that more energy is then available to be radiated as X-rays from the heated plastic foam. The plastic heats up and re-radiates X-rays on to the secondary stage, instead of losing the energy by ablating and forming shock waves as efficiently as a metal would do.
The X-rays are mirrored (Teller's "radiation mirror" idea of 1951) by low-mass number, relatively low-density plastic foam because they heat it up until it re-radiates X-rays, unlike relatively high-density, high-mass number uranium in which absorbed energy is converted into material kinetic energy (ablation and associated shock effects by Newton's 3rd law).
Glasstone and Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd ed., 1977, paragraph 1.36 on p10 and 7.90 on p315 and also Dr Brode, Ann. Rev. Nuc. Sci., v18, 1968, both point out in unclassified publications how this operates for the case of X-ray emissions from a fission bomb as a function of the variation of air density with altitude.
At low altitudes, the air is relatively dense so the mean-free-path of soft X-rays (1 keV or so mean energy) is small, and they are absorbed within a few cm radius in cold air. The high density of the sea level air means that air molecules are nearby and collide with one another rapidly, which allows energy to be transferred effectively by collisions of molecules (or rather ions), so a shock wave develops which contains much of the energy.
At high altitudes, the mean free path of soft-X-rays is greater because the air density is so low. Therefore, the radiation spreads out over a larger volume of air at high altitudes, and the air molecules have to travel large distances before colliding, because there are fewer air molecules per cubic metre than at sea level.
The result is that blast/shock waves form more slowly at high altitude, due to the lower air density. At high altitude, therefore, the blast partition falls and most of the fireball energy is radiated as thermal radiations.
Applying this basic physics to the Teller radiation mirror, the plastic foam is a just a layer inside the outer case (the part which has to mirror and focus X-rays from the primary to the secondary stage). There is no plastic foam layer on the secondary stage: that has a metal surface to maximise shock compression due to ablation and its recoil.
The plastic foam lining layer (2-3 cm thick) delays the metal surface ablation impulse, recoil, and rapid outward expansion of the dense outer casing, allowing much of the X-ray energy which absorbed by the plastic lining to instead be re-transmitted and focussed on to the secondary (fusion) capsule. Although plastic foam will ablate, its lower density creates a smaller impulse and less of the energy gets converted into shock wave formation than would occur for a dense metal. This maximises the coupling of X-ray energy from the primary (fission stage) to the secondary (fusion) stage, compressing and heating the latter efficiently. The existence of polystyrene or polyethylene foam inside the casing of a thermonuclear weapon was declassified in 1975 with the release of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory monthly progress reports on the Redwing and Hardtack nuclear test devices, UCRL-4725 (Weapons Development During June, 1956) and UCRL-5280 (Weapons Development During June, 1958), describing the use of plastic foam in weapons like the 3.5 Mt “Bassoon” bomb tested in 1956 as Redwing-Zuni.
Howard Morland, “What’s left to protect? The journalist who fought to reveal the ‘secret’ of the H-bomb says there are, in fact, no secrets left”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2000, Vol. 56, No. 6, pp. 51-55:
“I am told that there is still at least one non-trivial piece of the basic H-bomb design concept that has eluded publication in the open press ... something that makes the feat of the 1951 design team seem legendary and that gives each insider a grave responsibility to avoid being the one who lets this last kitten out of the bag. But this icon of nuclear secrecy, if it exists, is known to thousands of people in the bomb labs, the federal energy bureaucracy, congressional committee staffs, and defense contracting firms, and to their counterparts in Russia, Britain, France, and China. Somehow, after nearly 50 years, it seems implausible that one big secret remains. Whatever it is, it can’t be very important. We know that in the spring of 1951, the idea of a two-stage, radiation-implosion device was first placed on the design table. Eighteen months later, in November of 1952, the first 10 megaton explosion was set off.
“If it took less than two years to go from novel concept to full-scale demonstration a half century ago, the task would surely be easier with today’s technology. The channel codes that taxed the limits of the earliest electronic computers can probably run in the background on a modern laptop, ... It is simply not possible that the field of high energy density physics was more advanced in 1951 than it is today. ... In 1970, a blue-ribbon Task Force on Secrecy stated in its final report to the Pentagon: ‘Security has limited effectiveness. One may guess that tightly controlled information will remain secret, on the average, for perhaps five years. But on vital information, one should not rely on effective secrecy for more than one year.’
“The report illustrated that statement using the H-bomb as an example: ‘Certain kinds of technical information are easily discovered independently, or regenerated, once a reasonably sophisticated group decides it is worthwhile to do so. In spite of very elaborate and costly measures taken independently by the [United States] and the [Soviet Union] to preserve technical secrecy, neither the United Kingdom nor China was long delayed in developing hydrogen weapons.’ [Source: Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Secrecy, Task Force Chairman Frederick Seitz, Office of the Director of Defense Science Research and Engineering, July 1, 1970.] In 1979, Edward Teller told me he was the author of that passage.”
Morland is justified in quoting Teller on the illusion of trying to keep secret the basic physics of energy partition between heat and shock in X-ray irradiated foam. If you want to protect yourself against nuclear weapons and aggressive actions that could otherwise escalate to a situation in which nuclear weapons are necessary, you need all the technology available for civil defense and ABM, for shoring up a credible deterrent posture which deters not just direct nuclear attacks, but also Munichs and Pearl Harbors, which escalated through ever more terrible conventional warfare to end with the use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“The first objection to battlefield ER weapons is that they potentially lower the nuclear threshold because of their tactical utility. In the kind of potential strategic use suggested where these warheads would be held back as an ultimate countervalue weapon only to be employed when exchange had degenerated to the general level, this argument loses its force: the threshold would long since have been crossed before use of ER weapons is even contemplated. In the strategic context, it is rather possible to argue that such weapons raise the threshold by reinforcing the awful human consequences of nuclear exchange: the hostages recognize they are still (or once again) prisoners and, thus, certain victims.”
- Dr Donald M. Snow (Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies, University of Alabama), “Strategic Implications of Enhanced Radiation Weapons”, Air University Review, July-August 1979 issue (online version linked here).
“You published an article ‘Armour defuses the neutron bomb’ by John Harris and Andre Gsponer (13 March, p 44). To support their contention that the neutron bomb is of no military value against tanks, the authors make a number of statements about the effects of nuclear weapons. Most of these statements are false ... Do the authors not realise that at 280 metres the thermal fluence is about 20 calories per square centimetre – a level which would leave a good proportion of infantrymen, dressed for NBC conditions, fit to fight on? ... Perhaps they are unaware of the fact that a tank exposed to a nuclear burst with 30 times the blast output of their weapon, and at a range about 30 per cent greater than their 280 metres, was only moderately damaged, and was usable straight afterwards. ... we find that Harris and Gsponer’s conclusion that the ‘special effectiveness of the neutron bomb against tanks is illusory’ does not even stand up to this rather cursory scrutiny. They appear to be ignorant of the nature and effects of the blast and heat outputs of nuclear weapons, and unaware of the constraints under which the tank designer must operate.”
- C. S. Grace, Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, Wiltshire, New Scientist, 12 June 1986, p. 62.
Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons. Part 1. Phenomenology. Change 1. Chapter 5. Nuclear Radiation Phenomena. 152 pages, July 1978, AD-A955389, 4.6 MB PDF file
This manual provides initial nuclear radiation predictions in detail for eight different designs of weapons including Samuel Cohen's neutron bomb, the detailed neutron induced activity from an air burst over various types of soil, the radiation dose prediction for 1 kt, 10 kt and 100 kt yield underwater nuclear explosions of various yields for various wind and ocean water current conditions, and the accurate prediction of fallout patterns for various wind speeds - the more detailed and accurate basis for the far more simplified and approximate scaling system provided in Glasstone and Dolan, Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1977. It also discusses rainout dose hazards from air bursts where part of the mushroom cloud encounters a rainstorm, which is particularly important in lower yield nuclear detonations below 60 kt, where the cloud height is not too high and so is more likely to mix with the rain-making parts of rainclouds or thunderstorms. The later updated August 1981 page changes to this chapter provide detailed quantitative predictions of rainout doses.
History of the deployment of the neutron bomb, amid controversy
President Nixon had initiated 1970s ‘peace’ initiatives in a cynical public relations attempt to get his Watergate scandal out of the newspapers. In 1975, America signed the Helsinki Act, for the first time agreeing to the borders of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact in Europe. This officially handed over those countries and people to Soviet control. After it was signed, the Chairman of the Soviet KGB (secret police), Yuri Andropov, stated in a letter to the Soviet Central Committee on 29 December 1975: ‘It is impossible at present to cease criminal prosecutions of those individuals who speak out against the Soviet system, since this would lead to an increase in especially dangerous state crimes and anti-social phenomena.’
On 12 July 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced his consideration of a plan to deploy the anti-tank neutron bomb to Europe to deter the 1,000,000 Soviet soldiers and 25,000 tanks amassed for an invasion. The co-ordinated Soviet response was for 28 communist parties to publish condemnations of the anti-tank neutron weapon. The Soviet ‘World Peace Council’ called an ‘international week of action’ in August 1977. The small yield and range of the neutron bomb (suiting only as a deterrent for massed tank invasions) was ignored, and the Soviet Union falsely portrayed it as a weapon which threatened people in general, not just the crews of 25,000 offensive Soviet tanks.
Within a year, Carter gave in to the false propaganda and demonstrations, and stopped deployment of the neutron bomb. Paul Mercer reports in his 465 pages long book 'Peace' of the Dead: The Truth Behind the Nuclear Disarmers (Policy Research Publications, London, 1986), page 96:
'[Soviet news agency] TASS reported during the campaign [against deployment of Sam Cohen's neutron bomb, 25 July - 14 August 1977] that: "Soviet Baptist leaders today condemned production of the neutron bomb as 'contrary to the teachings of Christ' and urged fellow Baptists in the United States to raise their voices in defense of peace." [Quoted in John Barrow, 'The KGB's Magical War for "Peace",' Reader's Digest (US Edition), October 1982, p. 226.] Jimmy Carter was, of course, a devoted Baptist, and this initiative had the effect of "peace" protesters in the United States taking the hint and disrupting services at his church, the First Baptist Church, in Washington, on three separate occasions.'
Above: Samuel Cohen's calculation of the gamma dose rate from deposited fallout formed Appendix D of Glasstone's 1950 Effects of Atomic Weapons. Cohen also contributed the analysis of dose rates to aircraft flying inside the mushroom cloud at various times after detonation. In his fallout calculations (Appendix D), Cohen ignored air scattered gamma ray contributions and just summed the direct gamma ray contributions from a smooth plane. It turned out that this approximation gave results which are accurate for typical rough ground if scattered gamma rays are included. For a smooth, infinite, uniformly contaminated surface including the contribution from air scattered gamma rays, 50% of the dose rate at 1 metre height comes from fallout within a 15 metres radius; for Cohen's approximation (ignoring air scatter) this radius is only 8 metres which is about the same as for rough terrain (where the terrain absorbs some of the radiation, particularly from great distances) where air scatter is included.
While he did not discuss Dr Samuel T. Cohen’s neutron bomb in The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, Glasstone in an article called 'Nuclear Weapons' for Microsoft's Encarta 97 critically argued that 95 % clean neutron bombs are the way forward, to totally avoid collateral damage in nuclear war (published by Microsoft Corporation in the Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopaedia CD-ROM, 1997):
‘If an H-bomb were made with no uranium jacket but with a fission trigger ... as little as 5 percent of the total explosive force might result from fission; the weapon would thus be 95 percent clean. The enhanced radiation fusion bomb, also called the neutron bomb, which has been tested by the United States and other nuclear powers ... is considered a tactical weapon because it can do serious damage on the battlefield [assuming a 1-kt air burst at 500 m altitude], penetrating tanks and other armoured vehicles and causing death or serious injury to exposed individuals, without producing the radioactive fallout that endangers people or structures miles away.’
Samuel Glasstone was well aware of the facts on the neutron bomb, for he had taught classified nuclear weapons design at Los Alamos until he retired and moved to Oak Ridge (Glasstone was co-author with Leslie M. Redman of the originally Secret - Restricted Data June 1972 report WASH-1038, An Introduction to Nuclear Weapons):
'When I arrived at the [Los Alamos] Lab 36+ years ago ... though I was a lowly postdoc, we took a course on nuclear physics (as did every new employee) and then a class on elements of bomb design both taught by Samuel Glasstone. This was required training. ... After that approximately 3 weeks of training, I understand what the Lab was about and why it was important to the nation. I'm certain it contributed to my wanting to stay on after my postdoc and has helped me in my work over the years. This was part of the "openness" despite the secrecy associated with the Lab. I believe we have lost this over the years ...' - Dr David Forslund
'During the Manhattan Project, classification was easy: everything in the project was classified. Then and later, information on nuclear weapons was "born classified" in the Restricted Data category. During the [Los Alamos National] Lab's orientation for new hires in the mid-1960s, Sam Glasstone, who had been a chemist in the Manhattan Project, drew one circle on the blackboard and another inside it. "Drawing concentric circles used to be classified," he joked. Fission bombs are designed in concentric circles.' - Dr Cheryl Rofer, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Part I - Historical Perspectives ['Cheryl Rofer is a chemist who worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years. ...'], Word Worth, September 2004, volume IV, No. 9.
Above (click on images to enlarge): the neutron bomb is included under the title 'enhanced neutron weapon' in Philip J. Dolan's originally secret manual Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1, U.S. Department of Defense, Chapter 5, Nuclear Radiation Phenomena, August 1981 revision. The yield ranges for each category of nuclear weapon given are taken from the declassified initial nuclear radiation computer program 'Weapons Effects', which was developed in December 1984 by Horizons Technology, Inc., of California for the Defense Nuclear Agency; some specific examples of yields and burst conditions are taken from some of the examples given in DNA-EM-1. According to the Medical NBC Battlebook, USACHPPM Tech Guide 244, May 2000, page 2-18, a 3 kt enhanced neutron weapon with a fission yield of 50% (i.e. 5% of yield as residual radiation, which is a trivial effect for the burst height of the neutron bomb) will release 30% of its energy as blast (trivial for the 720 metres height of burst for tactical use of a 3 kt neutron bomb), 20% as thermal radiation (again, relatively trivial even near ground zero, due to yield and burst altitude), and 45% as inital nuclear radiation. These ratios will be altered for other fission yields. At very low yields, there is a problem with using a small fission primary to ignite the fusion stage in a Teller-Ulam device because the fraction of yield released as X-rays by a very low yield fission device is small (it depends strongly on the yield to mass ratio of the primary stage), thus the fusion stage ignition-efficiency due to X-ray ablation induced recoil falls. Most of the energy from a low yield primary stage is in a relatively slow moving (compared to light-velocity X-rays) debris hydrodynamic shock wave, that delivers energy to the fusion stage slowly and without efficient focussing. Fortunately, the neutron bomb is not concerned with maximising Teller-Ulam efficiency, but with producing a small yield with a maximised neutron output!
The basic mechanism of the neutron bomb was discovered by Samuel Cohen of RAND Corporation in 1958 when studying the neutron outputs from two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory clean (low fission) bomb designs (Dove and Starling) of low yield devices for peaceful explosive uses like excavating harbours, canals, and mountain passes, and is simply that the case thickness needed by a Teller-Ulam device to channel X-rays from primary to secondary scaled as the cube root of the total yield. Hence the casing required is 10 times thicker for 1 Mt than for 1 kt, so in a 1 kt Teller-Ulam device, most of the neutrons can escape from the thin casing, while in a 1 Mt Teller-Ulam device the neutrons are mostly absorbed because of the much thicker casing required. Thus neutron bombs have a yield range of 1-10 kilotons, with fission yield varying from 50% at 1-kiloton to 25% at 10-kilotons (all of which comes from the primary stage). The neutron output per kiloton is 10-15 times greater than for a pure fission implosion weapon.Above: neutron attenuation in air according to energy, in Philip J. Dolan's originally secret manual Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1, U.S. Department of Defense, Chapter 5, Nuclear Radiation Phenomena, August 1981 revision (the simple geometric inverse square law of divergence of neutrons from a point source isn't included in the shielding curves above). Notice that over small distances in the air, the neutron fluence is higher than in a vacuum, because there is little attenuation by air over a short distance, but you get an additional large neutron dose from neutrons being scattered back at you which have gone past (and also through) you, and have then been scattered back at you, by large number of nuclei which are obviously located at greater distances (beyond your distance from the detonation!). This is also why tanks can't be protected with a relatively light weight shield on top of the crew compartment, as we shall see later on: it is not possible to protect tanks existing against neutron radiation without adding so much mass the turret would be retarded and the performance of the tank would be crippled. A tank designed to properly protect its crew against 14.1 MeV neutron bomb neutrons and with a big enough engine to perform reasonably well, would be so heavy it would be swallowed up by the earth and simply disappear into soft ground, being rendered useless (the shielding of 14.1 MeV neutrons has nothing to do - either in mechanism or in amount of shielding - with the easy-to-shield thermalized 0.025 eV neutrons by cadmium control rods in a nuclear reactor).
Above: neutron bomb doses compared to other weapons, in Philip J. Dolan's originally secret manual Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, DNA-EM-1, U.S. Department of Defense, Chapter 5, Nuclear Radiation Phenomena, August 1981 revision.
The enhanced neutron weapon or ‘neutron bomb’ is just a relatively clean very low yield two stage Teller-Ulam device; the low total yield means that only a very thin steel casing is required to reflect X-rays from the fission primary on to the fusion secondary stage. The thin casing of such a weapon ensures that most of the 17.6 MeV fusion energy from deuterium and tritium fusion into helium-4 escapes as neutrons: 80% of the energy is carried by neutrons, and 20% is carried by the helium-4 nucleus or alpha particle. This suppresses the amount of energy available for producing the blast and thermal radiation effects.
The primary strategic uses of clean, low fission yield enhanced neutron warheads are:
(1) to avert EMP collateral damage (due to low fission yield and low total yield) for ABM missiles by using the neutron output to melt and destroy plutonium cores in incoming ICBMs (neutrons have a long range in space);
(2) to deter massed tank attacks in cities or close to friendly forces. The deterrent here is the fact that neutron irradiated tank crews would be disabled within minutes and dead within hours to days; and
(3) to deter warship assaults by the threat of putting them out of action without nearby collateral damage or fallout.
Steel armour is resistant to blast and heat, but provides little shielding against fast fusion neutrons. The well-known neutron absorbers used in nuclear reactor control rods are little use against neutron bomb radiation, because they are good absorbers of 0.025 eV ‘thermalized’ neutrons in a nuclear reactor with a moderator, but useless against the 14.1 MeV neutrons from neutron bomb fusion, which have 560 million times more energy than thermal neutrons. Heavier armor, like that of the M-1 tank, employs depleted uranium which (although it is not significantly fissioned by low-energy thermal neutrons) actually increases the effectiveness of neutron radiation because it undergoes fission when hit by the 14.1 MeV high energy neutrons from neutron bomb, generating additional neutrons and becoming radioactive.
Because the blast and heat are suppressed in the neutron bomb, they have a similar damaging range to the lethal neutron radiation, so there is no collateral damage outside the target area. In some cases, a few broken windows can occur at greater distances, but there is no risk of dangerous blast-wind accelerated glass fragments, because the blast winds are trivial outside the neutron irradiate area.
Provided that the weapon was not used in a thunderstorm, no fallout effects would occur from the use of a neutron bomb, as the combination of 500 m burst altitude and low yield prevents fallout in addition to significant thermal and blast effects. The reduction in damage outside the target area is a major advantage of such a weapon to deter massed tank invasions. An aggressor would thus be forced to disperse tanks, which would make them easier to destroy by simple hand-held anti-tank missile launchers.
In 1979, Samuel Cohen was in Paris helping the French build neutron bombs, when presidential candidate Ronald Reagan came through on a European tour. Cohen met with Reagan to brief him on the neutron bomb. Reagan grasped the idea of neutron weaponry immediately, and made a pledge to Cohen that he would reverse Carter administration policy by building and deploying neutron bombs.
Sam Cohen's book, The Truth About the Neutron Bomb: the Inventor of the Bomb Speaks Out, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1983, on page 48 states that he referred to the two 1958 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory clean (low fission) enhanced neutron Plowshare (peaceful explosives) devices by their code names Dove and Starling:
'The first time I recall seeing the term "neutron bomb" was in U.S. News and World Report. This was in May 1959, when the magazine revealed that the U.S. was working on a "neutron 'death ray' bomb which would kill man with streams of poisonous radiation, while leaving machines and buildings undamaged.'
Cohen adds in a footnote on that page that the neutron bomb: 'never did catch on at RAND, which was far more of a campus department than an objective think tank. ... However, I did find out that a good-looking blonde down the hall had expressed interest in hearing my briefing. ... some months later I married her.' On page 61 he explains: 'From the very beginning of the neutron bomb saga there has been one thing that particularly impressed - better yet, depressed - me about renowned American scientists. This is their ability to be impeccably careful and responsible when working in their fields of specilization (if they're not, their colleagues will catch them and even punish them) but their sloppiness and irresponsibility when giving their scientific opinion on nuclear weapons when they have an ideological bias against them, because they know that their colleagues, who share their bias, don't give a damn when they do this.'
Above: Cohen's comparison of the destruction he saw first-hand in Korea from conventional war (1950-3), with the nuclear destruction in Hiroshima. The only difference is that Hiroshima had mainly wooden houses which were burned down, whereas Seoul had more brick and concrete buildings. The Hiroshima photo was taken on 12 October 1945 (U.S. Army Photo #SC 290666); the Seoul photo was taken on 1 November 1950 (U.S. Army Photo #SC 352260).
In 1961, Cohen briefed President Kennedy's national security advisor McGeorge Bundy on the neutron bomb (The Truth About the Neutron Bomb, 1983, pp. 72-3): 'His response was that if we had to use nuclear weapons to stop the Red Army from taking over Europe, he would favor hitting them with the biggest weapons we had. My riposte was: "On our allies' soil?" He didn't reply. ... He had gotten the point. That ended the meeting.' Consequently, President John F. Kennedy authorized the 1963 testing of the neutron bomb underground by Livermore scientists in the Nevada, which 'worked out extremely well' (page 83).
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev fanatically denounced the discriminate neutron bomb in his speech to the Romanian Party Congress in Bucharest: 'More and more frequently now, we hear from statesmen and military leaders, particularly in the United States, that they are working toward the creation of a neutron bomb. ... They are acting on the principle of robbers wanting to kill a man in such a way that his suit will not be stained with blood, in order to appropriate the suit. ... the bestial ethics of the most aggressive representatives of imperialism. ... Man to them is nothing. For them the main thing is to plunder, a quest for profit which prods the imperialists to the most horrible crimes.'
Cohen prints a Dunagin's people satire from 1977, showing a politician ordering physicists to modify the neutron bomb to fit Khrushchev's alleged morality:
'There are strong moral objections to a bomb that kills but doesn't destroy buildings. Fix it so it destroys buildings, too.'
On pages 91-2, Cohen explains: 'A discriminate tactical nuclear weapon is one whose effects can be confined mainly to the military target, minimizing damage to non-combatants and their property. So neutron bombs, which are intended to kill enemy soldiers but spare civilians and their towns, are, by this definition, discriminate weapons. For example, had they been available in the Korean War [which Cohen saw first hand] for use against enemy soldiers fighting in the city of Seoul, their application would have represented a highly discriminate attack - far more so than was the attack that actually took place using conventional weapons, and which pretty well levelled the city.'
He was inspired to invent and promote the neutron bomb by the vast civilian casualties from collateral damage due to the conventional weapons he saw in Korea, and by the NATO 'Carte Blanche' exercise of 23-28 June 1955, which predicted that the 268 nuclear explosions over 3 days in Germany which would be needed to defend Western Europe from Warsaw Pact forces would kill 1,500,000 civilians, and injure a further 3,500,000. By using neutron bomb air bursts (500-1,000 m altitude for 1-10 kt yields), all of these civilian casualties could be avoided. There would be no significant fallout, and the small area of neutron induced activity at ground zero decays very rapidly, as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The uselessness of conventional defences to stop massed tank invasions was clearly demonstrated by the French anti-tank Maginot Line, which failed in World War II when Nazi tanks bypassed it and went through the Ardennes Forest to invade France.
On 12 July 1977, President Jimmy Carter publically announced the development of a neutron bomb to deter massed Soviet tank invasions of Western Europe because the Warsaw Pact had 25,000 tanks in Eastern Europe, ready for an invasion. Cohen on page 109 points out that President Reagan in 1981 stated that the Soviet Union responded by pumping over $100,000,000 into an anti-neutron bomb 'peace' propaganda campaign. Premier Leonid Brezhnev offered to refrain from building the neutron bomb if America agreed to do likewise! President Carter responded (Cohen, p. 111):
'The Soviets know and President Brezhnev knows that the neutron weapon is designed to be used against massive and perhaps overwhelming tank forces. ... The neutron weapons are designed to equalize that inequality. ... The Soviets have no use for a neutron weapon, so the offer by Brezhnev to refrain from building the neutron weapon has no significance in the European theatre and he knows this.'
But Carter chickened out when the Soviet anti-neutron bomb propaganda assault on the media commenced. Moscow radio was followed by 28 different European communist parties statements denouncing the neutron bomb as an immoral weapon, and the Soviet funded 'World Peace Council' (similar to Hitler's '25-year-peace plan' propaganda spin before World War II) called a week of international anti-neutron bomb action in August 1977, lying that the neutron bomb was designed to kill civilians and leave cities intact for American invasions and plunder. The pro-communist left-wing media of the West, plus the anti-nuclear biased groups, lapped it all up. Grigori Gokshin, Secretary of the 'Soviet Peace Committee' from 1973-91, conducted war on the neutron bomb through the media to protect the Soviet tank advantage in Europe!
The media pressure, including continuing bias from the BBC, which still falsely claims that horrific fallout and collateral damage was a good thing because it allegedly increased deterrence (in fact, collateral damage potential reduced deterrence by making the threat totally non-credible: as proved by the fact that the Soviets were so fearful of the neutron bomb but were undeterred by nuclear weapons which would produce collateral damage and amassed a tank superiority in the Warsaw Pact for a possible invasion of Western Europe precisely because they knew that indiscriminate American weapons could not be used without millions of casualties, so that such indiscriminate threats had zero, nil, nada, zip credibility as a deterrent to war or aggression), forced President Carter on 7 April 1978 to delay his decision to produce neutron warheads, and although he ordered the production of the fusion capsules for neutron bombs in October 1978, he continued to delay making a decision on the production of the rest of the bomb! (Cohen, page 115.) The next month, Premier Brezhnev responded to Carter's half-hearted decision by telling a group of U.S. senators visiting Moscow that 'many years ago, we tested but we never started production of that weapon'. They didn't want or need low yield anti-tank tactical weapons, because they were the ones with the 4-to-1 tank superiority in Europe! They didn't want or need low yield collateral-avoilding neutron bombs, because they didn't give a damn about civilian casualties and collateral damage. But Premier Brezhnev pretended that the reason they did not have neutron bombs was because they were morally superior!
Carter continued to postpone his decision on the neutron bomb. Undeterred, the Soviet Union in 1979 invaded Afghanistan with tanks in what many considered a forerunner to an invasion of Western Europe and the rest of the free world. President Ronald Reagan was elected, and he ordered the production of 700 neutron bombs (350 nuclear 20-cm diameter shells for howitzers, and 350 W70 warheads for tactical Lance missiles) on 8 August 1981 to help to deter an invasion from the 19,500 Warsaw Pact tanks. Responding on 8 March 1983 to the Soviet 'peace morality' propaganda, Reagan pleaded: 'I urge you to beware the temptation to label both sides "equally at fault", to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a "giant misunderstanding", and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, and good and evil.'
The neutron bomb is efficient against massed tank invasions, thus an aggressor would be forced to disperse tanks; making them easy for troops to destroy or halt individually using simple hand-launched anti-tank rockets.
Dr Edward Teller and Dr Albert L. Latter were the first to suggest this solution on page 171 of their book Our Nuclear Future: Facts, Dangers and Opportunities, Criterion Books, New York, 1958:
'In a nuclear war it will not make sense to use massed manpower. Any such concentration will provide too good a target for atomic weapons. ...
'Any fighting unit in a nuclear war will have to be small, mobile, inconspicuous and capable of independent action. ...
'If an invader adopts extreme dispersion, it will become impossible to defeat him with atomic weapons. But a very highly dispersed army can be defeated by a determined local population [with hand-held anti-tank rockets, etc.]. Therefore the main role of nuclear weapons might well be to disperse any striking force so that the resistance of people defending their homes can become decisive. Nuclear weapons may well become the answer to massed armies and may put back the power into the hands where we believe it belongs: the hands of the people.'
On page 135 of The Truth About the Neutron Bomb, 1983, Cohen stated that the neutron bomb is inefficient against cities with civilians because: 'All they have to do is construct very simple radiation shelters and, as the eemy approaches, get into them. ... Because there is no blast to contend with ... all that is called for is piling several feet of earth over the shelter. And dirt is cheap.' Earth slows down neutrons efficiently (removing neutron energy) because it contains a lot of light elements, but the heavy iron nuclei in steel tanks don't absorb much energy when they scatter neutrons around, so tanks only have a protective factor of about 2 against neutron radiation (tanks have a protection factor of 10 against initial high energy gamma rays, which are better attenuated by scattering the many electrons in iron atoms).
This is simple physics, but chemist George Kistiakowsky falsely claimed in MIT's Technology Review that 'A 10-cm (about 4 inches) layer of a suitable hydrogenous material, say water in plastic bags over the crew compartment, followed by a thin sheet of cadmium metal, would reduce neutron radiation intensity by about a factor of 5.' A factor of 5 reduction only reduces the neutron range by 15-20% because the dose drops off sharply with distance. But the factor of 5 calculation is false anyway, as Cohen explains on page 142, because the majority of the neutron dose is not coming straight down, but is coming from all directions due to the scatter of neutrons by the air, the ground around the tank, and the remainder of the tank itself! Kistiakowsky's stupidity is like trying to shield gamma radiation from fallout by wearing lead-soled shoes, in the mistaken belief that the hazard is due to fallout under your feet:
'Shielding a tank crew against neutrons is an enormously complicated problem. It is not solved by simply placing the shield over the crew compartment. By the time the neutrons reach the tank, they are bouncing around in all directions, and to protect the crew properly, the shielding will have to be placed around the sides of the crew compartment as well. As a consequence, the shielding weight begins to pile up: to a much greater level than Kistiakowsky realizes. ... The tank's mobility would be cut appreciably, as would the ability to swing the turret around to fire at acquired targets. In fact, were the tank to be shielded to a degree where the radiation was no longer the primary threat ... the added weight would cripple the tank's combat effectiveness.'
Another wild claim against the neutron bomb, made by Dr Herbert Scoville, Jr., which Cohen debunks (page 140), is that tank crews who are lethally irradiated will fight a 'Kamikaze' attack even more efficiently that they were fighting before, despite having radiation sickness. Cohen points out that they will not know exactly what their neutron dose is in a combat situation, and in any case the symptoms of radiation sickness will prevent their efficient execution of military functions.
Cancer and genetic effects are another hoax which was levelled against the neutron bomb: lethally irradiated people don't get cancer (as we shall see, Cohen shows that the effects of radiation sickness are no worse than other lethal combat injuries in modern conventional warfare due to organ damage, burns effects, and so on). In any case, no excess of genetic effects occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as compared to a matched non-exposed control group. For all types of cancers, radiation has only contributed a small fraction of the cancer in survivors, most of which is natural cancer, as shown by comparison with the matched non-exposed control group. Claims that neutron bomb radiation is 'inhumane' ignore the comparison with the organ damage consequences by conventional nuclear weapons (as well as with conventional weapons, which rip organs to pieces, burn, crush and so on), and they ignore the primary purpose of the neutron bomb is to deter an aggressor.
Cohen further points out (pages 153-5) that two radiation accident victims who survived 400-600 cGy air doses (300-450 bone marrow doses): 'were back to normal some number of weeks [discharge from hospital at 2 and 6 weeks, respectively, and full recovery of strength at 10 weeks postexposure] after their accidents. They bore no scars from their mishaps (apparently not even emotional scars) and were able to pick up where they left off when they were irradiated. As to how these aftermaths compare with those resulting from being wounded by conventional weapons, if one so desires you can find out by visiting the nearest Veterans Administration hospital.'
On 11 November 1981, the Los Angeles Times printed an article called 'Neutron Weapons: an Agonising Death (I've seen it)', by Professor J. Garrott Allen at Stanford University Medical School, falsely claiming that the death of Dr Louis Slotin 9 days after a criticality accident in May 1946 indicates the radiation effects of a neutron bomb: 'The production of neutron weapons is probably as immoral a concept as human minds have yet devised.' Cohen debunks Allen on pages 156-7: Dr Slotin was touching a plutonium bomb core with his bare hands when he made it supercritical, so he got terrible localized exposures to his hands and arms, which were way higher than the doses you can get from a neutron bomb. This is why Dr Slotin had the painful radiation burns which Allen observed in treating him. Allen was dishonest in claiming that those radiation burns were analogous to neutron bomb exposures. In any case: 'Allen never mentioned the terrible burns that can result from ... the heat from fission battlefield nuclear weapons.'
On 10 September 1981, two months before Allen's notoriously inaccurate article was published, Cohen had written to the Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards, asking:
'Why is it, Mr Secretary, that after more than four years of intense, often acrimonious and almost always highly emotional, debate over the neutron bomb, the government has never put out an official statement to dispel the distorted technical charges which have been made about the weapon's effectiveness and alleged immorality? It seems to me that had this been done at the start, today we would not have the same anti-nuclear scientists making the same distorted charges; leaving the American people as confused as ever - and probably the Europeans as well.
'I would strongly suggest that DOE and DOD get together (as they did some 30 years ago, when they first issued The Effects of Nuclear Weapons to responsibly inform the American people what nuclear weapons were all about) and provide an official document spelling out the true facts of the issue.' (As we shall see, the declassification of Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons is a step in that direction.)
In December 1977, the 653 pages long revision of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons,, compiled and edited by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan, was published by the U.S. Department of Defense, and was a brief summary of some of the material from extensive data in the secret Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons.
Joseph C. Harsch, Neutron Bomb: Why It Worries The Russians, Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 1981, p. 1. (quoted here): '[there] are 19,500 tanks in the Soviet-controlled forces of the Warsaw Pact aimed at Western Europe. Of these, 12,500 are Soviet tanks in Soviet units. NATO has 7,000 tanks on its side facing the 19,500.'
FROM THE NEW EDITION OF SAM COHEN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
'... I [neutron bomb inventor Samuel T. Cohen] asked him a direct question: "Father, why don’t you like the neutron bomb?" His answer was equally direct: "Because it’s immoral." "Why is it immoral?", I asked. "Because it’s a nuclear weapon", he replied. "Why are nuclear weapons immoral?", I asked.
'And now came the answer I was hoping to get: "Nuclear weapons are vastly more destructive than conventional weapons." Now I had him.
'I proceeded to explain to him and the others, as I’ve explained to you, what the neutron bomb was all about, summing up by saying that the only thing "nuclear" about this weapon, as compared with other nuclear weapons, was that it derived its effectiveness and discrimination from nuclear reactions. I could have added, hypocritically in my mind, that it was God, not me, that ordained the Bomb to be nuclear and that it was also God who established the precepts of Just War theory I assumed he religiously subscribed to, but I couldn’t get myself to do that. Instead, I reacted emotionally and intemperately, and shamefully, for I never doubted the sincerity of his beliefs. I informed him in no uncertain terms that I held his views on the neutron bomb to be, in effect, immoral, grossly immoral. Where did he get off implying that I was, in effect, an immoral person for having devised and espoused a weapon that allowed a country to defend itself in a fashion having practically none of the grossly immoral features of conventional weapon defense he and his Harvard professors seemed to espouse?
'The father flushed in anger, as I had been doing, but did not respond. At this point, Casaroli finally opened his mouth to say he had just flown in from Rome, was dead tired, and badly needed some sleep to get ready for his UN speech the next day. He thanked me so much for coming, and left. So did the priest from Harvard, without thanking me. The others diplomatically stayed around for a while, I guess to let me know they weren’t as offended as the Harvard guy was.
'Some weeks later I received a medal from his Holiness, Pope Paul VI. ...
'About a year goes by. One day [in June 1979] while I was in Washington on some business, I got a call from Dick Cella. It was elevation time at the Vatican. The new Pope, John Paul II, had promoted a number of bishops to cardinalcy, one of them being Casaroli, who was also to become Vatican Secretary of State, Number Two on the church totem pole. A contingent from the U.S., headed by Cheli (who by now had been double-jumped in rank to archbishop), was heading off for the affair and I had been invited to join up. (Not invited was Father Hehir.) Could I drop whatever I was doing and get up to New York right away to join the party. ...
'I stopped what I was doing, participating on a Pentagon committee, put myself on unannounced vacation (and unpaid to stay honest) and took the first shuttle out of Washington National Airport. A few hours later I was on another airplane heading for Rome. We landed. Dick and I checked into a hotel, freshened up and headed off for the Vatican. There we met Cheli who escorted us to Casaroli’s Vatican apartment where he officially greeted us as his guests. We chatted amiably about almost everything but nuclear weapons and neutron bombs, after which Cheli escorted us around the Vatican showing us what I had seen 20 years back when I first visited Rome as a gaping tourist, plus a number other places tourists normally weren’t allow to gape at, where those in attendance gaped at my seersucker suit. The greeting formalities over, Dick and I left, strolled around the Eternal City for a few hours and spent a pleasant evening with some of his wife’s friends and relatives. As for my comportment around the dinner table, it was identical to the first hour or so at Dick’s restaurant; I sat there happily eating, saying nothing, while everyone else chatted away in Italian.
'The next morning was investiture time for the new cardinals. Off to the Vatican again, where we were met by Cheli who escorted us and the rest of the U.S. delegation to a huge auditorium where the ceremonies would take place. As we walked in and to our seats (way up front, probably due to Casaroli’s impending status), I had the feeling I was attending a U.S. presidential nomination convention, sans flags, banners, buttons, etc., representing delegations from the 50 states. The various contingents from the various countries whose archbishops were about to be promoted were assigned seats in certain sections of the auditorium and the place was abuzz with excitement.
'On stage were all the cardinals from all over the world, plus the cardinal designates. This was the first time I’d ever seen a cardinal, let alone all of them; and in seeing all this clerical brass together had me totally dumbfounded. Suddenly a tremendous roar went up. The Pope was coming on stage. When the cheering had died down, the ceremonies began and one-by-one, their contingencies whooping it up, the cardinals-elect rose, knelt at the feet of his Holiness (now John Paul II, Paul VI had died not too long after bestowing the medal on me), and received their scrolls. Casaroli, about to become the most eminent of their Eminences, was first to be called up. ...
'The first guy was a little Italian cardinal of such timid demeanor that if it weren’t for his priestly finery I would have guessed him to be a downtrodden clerk in a Charles Dickens tale. "Your Eminence," says Cheli, in English, "may I introduce you to Sam Cohen. He is the Father of the Neutron Bomb." ...
'It’s my last day in Rome (Cella had left the night before) and early that morning I grabbed a taxi and headed off to the Vatican again. There I met Cheli and a few others who had been invited to attend a special Mass given by the Pope honoring Casaroli. A few dozen people were there, including some of Casaroli’s relatives ... A few minutes go by and the Pope appears, stands a few feet in front of me and conducts Mass, in Latin.
'The Mass over, the Pope leaves the altar and starts mixing it up with the audience. I’m standing there off to the side, wondering what to do with myself, when Casaroli comes up to me and with a look of total innocence on his face (God forgive him) asks me if I had met His Holiness. ... I gave Casaroli an honest answer and said no I hadn’t met His Holiness. Whereupon he took me by the arm and led me to the Pope, introducing me in glowing terms as the Father of the Neutron Bomb. Unlike the little cardinal a couple of days before who had practically trembled in the presence of Satan, the Pope was one cool customer. He didn’t bat an eyelash.
'We shook hands, he expressed his pleasure over meeting me. I expressed mine. Then he looked me squarely in the eye (I’m not so sure how squarely I looked back at him) and asked me, "Mr. Cohen, I trust you are working for peace?" What could I say. I told him I was, as best I could, in my own way, and then poured it on by telling him how much I appreciated his own efforts for peace.' - How Cohen met Pope John Paul II in June 1979 (Shame, online edition, pages 216-8).
'Shame: Confessions of the Father of the Neutron Bomb (Sam Cohen)
'This second edition (2005) supersedes the previously printed (2000) version. This is the second edition of the controversial and myth-shattering book on national security that was turned down by every conventional publisher and agent that I contacted (despite Sam's previously successfully published books). [(PDF) (about 1.1 MB).]
'The second edition ... has all the original expletives fully restored. I've also fixed a bunch of typos and misspellings and updated the bibliography.
'Also see Charles Platt’s 2005 article about Sam Cohen, “The Profits of Fear”, and Sam Cohen’s 1998 article, “Needed: A Real ABM Defense”.
'Some publishing history: I converted the raw manuscript file (produced by Sam’s daughter) into standard book format, did the subsequent technical editing work, created the index, and made arrangements for print-on-demand publishing. (Please don't hold my amateur efforts against Sam.) The printed version of this book has now been available for many years, but soon after a (non-exclusive) publishing agreement was made, the greedy publisher quickly and drastically raised prices way above what many people were willing to pay. At the same time, to drive sales through their own web site, they reportedly lowered standard discounts to other outlets, so Amazon.com dropped Shame. Moreover, Amazon.com only showed the earlier planned World Scientific version of Shame (which the publisher inexplicably cancelled, while I was in the midst of making initially-requested editorial changes), which of course was marked as unavailable. At long last, years later, Amazon.com now carries Shame again. To their credit, BarnesAndNoble.com has carried it for the duration. In any case, with Sam's permission, I've put the new second edition of Shame online.
'After Shame was published, Sam Cohen’s daughter got another interesting book of Sam's similarly published. It's called “Automat: Jess Marcum, Gambling Genius Of The Century”. Jess was one of Sam’s many brilliant and peculiar co-workers at RAND.'
The free online edition of Shame is here: http://www.athenalab.com/Shame_Sam_Cohen_2005_Second_Edition.pdf
Despite the beautifully written narrative, it is unlikely to be rejoiced widely as a classic in Samuel Cohen's lifetime, or indeed until his ideas become mainstream. The world has an excess of bigotry, intolerance to radical ideas. The mainstream is a laggard by definition; if it was not laggard but ahead, then it would no longer be the mainstream. I reviewed Shame on Amazon some years ago, giving it the maximum possible rating. It is a frank and amusing book, the story of a scientist at RAND Corporation who finds a way to stop all wars using nuclear weapons technology, then finds nobody wants to stop all wars, and everybody wants to attack him for false reasons (claiming he is trying to start wars or whatever). It pulls no punches. It is filled with anecdotes ranging from the shameful to the outrageous conduct of famous characters. Oppenheimer, as Freeman Dyson discussed in his 1984 book Weapons and Hope, was a fan of deterring even small wars by the employment of tactical nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer said in a speech:
'I am not qualified, and if I were qualified I would not be allowed, to give a detailed evaluation of the appropriateness of the use of atomic weapons against any or all such (military) targets; but one thing is very clear. It is clear that they can be used only as adjuncts in a military campaign which has some other components, and whose purpose is a military victory. They are not primarily weapons of totality or terror, but weapons used to give combat forces help they would otherwise lack. They are an integral part of military operations. Only when the atomic bomb is recognized as useful insofar as it is an integral part of military operations, will it really be of much help in the fighting of a war, rather than in warning all mankind to avert it.' (Shame, online ed., p. 99).
Cohen was put through hell as a child at school. He was a reluctant physicist as he writes in his new preface: ‘I was in college against my will, for I would rather have been a gravedigger, which I was for a while...’
Shame is indeed an inspiring read; the sort of book that you keep returning to, a stunning testimony to the way the world really works. The world doesn’t work by group think and consensus. Even fashions and gadgets had hard-done-by, sneered-at, individual innovators behind them! Sneering ‘authority’ figures that edit and feverishly try to dominate the world through control the media pamper their egos by denying others a fair hearing. People I feel empathy with are those who are dismissed or even attacked by the fascist mob for any disability or shortcoming, but who do their best to defend themselves and to expose the hard unbiased facts behind the callousness of evil propaganda which saturates the world and causes suffering. I agree fully with the editor’s rather conservative highlight of the major selling points:
‘1. It’s an inspiring story of dogged triumph over considerable childhood psychological torment and medical adversity.
‘2. It’s a remarkable story of recognizing the right problem to solve, versus merely reinventing bigger conventional weapons in new technologies. The neutron bomb aimed at reducing the civilian slaughter that now characterizes large-scale war—conventional and otherwise. It makes the morally crucial and counterintuitive case that the neutron bomb is the most moral weapon ever invented, and is thus the best type of nuclear bomb ever invented. (Keep in mind the prior actual and continuing dependence on monster stockpiles of inherently indiscriminate civilian-slaughtering—and civilian life-support infrastructure destroying—city-obliterating bombs.)
‘3. It’s a one-man American Perestroika and Glasnost movement, which honestly shows how many high-profile credit-mongering "Cold Warriors" and Cold War institutions were generally groups of cynical political opportunists who actually (and often knowingly) undermined real national security in their greedy lust for power, glory, and profit.
‘4. It’s to the foreign policy, national security, and military-industrial establishments what Feynman’s myth-shattering activities were to NASA’s phony Challenger ‘investigation’ (doublespeak for ‘cover-up’). It’s an amazing chronicle of how a handful of remarkable people can sometimes prevail over enormously larger institutional packs of political animals dominated by self-serving groupthink. It puts on record the sort of ‘real world’ bureaucratic skullduggery that others will generally only speak about off the record, and often only after swearing you to secrecy.
‘5. It shows why George Washington’s foreign policy advice—far from being allegedly obsolete—is actually becoming increasingly more important with proliferating advances in smaller and more powerful weapons.’
What this brief list of highlights fails to mention is the witty humour that will crack you up repeatedly, the engaging personal anecdotes, and the sweeping saga of war and peace from 1944 to the present day. My favorite humor piece is the fact Cohen's greatest 'critic' was a Freudian analyst who claimed to be a specialist in 'treating UFO victims' who had been 'abducted by aliens'! That was a corker. But it is typical of the pseudoscience on radiation and nuclear weapons effects which dominates media. My favourite anecdotes are those concerning Cohen’s famous college friend, the strategist Herman Kahn, and General LeMay, and Edward Teller. Cohen was at the meeting where Teller put forward an early H-bomb idea, and Teller told the audience it would not start off a self-sustaining nuclear fusion of Earth’s atmosphere because the nuclear reaction rates would be too small by a factor of ten. As you can guess, Teller later had to admit that the calculation was only reliable to a factor of ten, so he really didn’t know what he was talking about when he said it was safe! (It actually is safe, by a massive reliable factor.)
Cohen points out that the neutron bomb doesn't have the collateral damage of fallout, blast and heat effects that occurred in Hiroshima, but enhanced neutron flash radiation: 'in about a thousandth of a second it will seriously irradiate enemy soldiers (in tanks, self-propelled artillery vehicles, armored personnel carriers, in field bunkers, and most other places where they may be) out to a distance of about half to three-quarters of a mile for a warhead yield of a kiloton... Roughly half will die, most rather quickly from shock to the central nervous system. ... What doesn’t it do? Well, for start-offs, when the war is over the civilian areas — villages, towns, cities — will be in just about the shape they were in before it started. There will be no lingering radioactivity [residual doses from neutron induced activity in soil are insignificant compared to the flash dose of neutrons, and it decays quickly as in Hiroshima] prevent occupation of these areas; in fact, they can be reentered almost immediately. (Compare this with every major war we’ve fought in this century, with what I saw in Seoul that affected me so deeply.)
'As for the enemy soldiers, the bad guys, who during a war we make out to be as barbaric as the troops of Attila the Hun (they usually are), those that die are dead; but that’s always been the main objective in battlefield conflict — to kill. As to how they die, which hasn’t been of real concern in conventional war, all I can say is I doubt whether the agony an irradiated soldier goes through in the process of dying is any worse than that produced by having your body charred to a crisp by napalm, your guts being ripped apart by shrapnel, your lungs blown in by concussion weapons, and all those other sweet things that happen when conventional weapons (which are preferred and anointed by our official policy) are used.' (Shame, online edition, p. 130.)
One other factor here: deterrence. Civil defense at the same time as replacing "unthinkable" (relatively indiscriminate) 300 kiloton strategic warheads with discriminate 3 kt neutron bombs for air burst at 500 metres (preventing local contamination, blast damage and thermal burns; see the previous post for the factual blast and thermal criteria and for the lack of hazardous fallout for two 500 metre air bursts over Japan) can deter dictators and aggressors more credibly while having some actual protection against terrorism.
The aim is not to kill people by radiation, but to avoid collateral damage and so credibly deter a wider range of threats than can be credibly deterred with today's Cold War era strategic deterrent. As Herman Kahn points out in On Thermonuclear War, disarmament propaganda efforts continued to help the fascist states by hindering deterrence and civil defense efforts right up to the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and America's pacifism towards fascists did not protect it against a surprise attack from Japan. It's no good having a deterrent which can't deter actions which will escalate to nuclear attacks. In order to reduce the risk of being attacked by nuclear weapons, you need to have nuclear weapons which the enemy fears as a credible threat. Collateral damage to civilians is not a deterrent option for an enemy which doesn't care less about its people. Disarmament is not an option: having no weapons did not save millions of people from extermination by the Nazis. Trying to "find common ground" with the Nazis was the appeasement policy tried by Chamberlain, which was helpful to the Nazis.
Cohen argued that neutron bombs would have been able to prevent both World Wars from beginning in the European theatres without the risk of immense civilian and collateral damage, by deterring the massed infantry and tank invasions which sparked off the wars. Nevertheless, propaganda based on lies is preferred by the media, which steadfastly avoids confronting the facts. Cohen also explained the health benefits from low dose rate radiations.
Above: neutron bomb supporter Dr Edward Teller of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory stated in the San Francisco KQED-TV television Fallout and Disarmament debate with Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling on 20 February 1958:
“I believe that the second world war was brought on by a race in disarmament. The peace-loving nations disarmed, and when the Hitler tyranny armed inertia was too great ... he got away with his army and he almost conquered the world. ... If there is war, if the terrible catastrophe befalls us, then next we must try to keep that war as small as possible, and at the same time we must try to be sure that no more people will unwillingly be subjected to the Russian yoke. ... If such should happen, then it would be of great importance that these weapons should do as little damage in human life as possible. If a war of this kind has to be fought, then the danger from radioactivity will be very great indeed. ... there should not be unnecessary, uncontrollable radioactive dust – radioactive contamination, which would kill friend and foe alike. ... It is even possible, to my mind, that there is no damage; and there is the possibility, furthermore that very small amounts of radioactivity are helpful. ...
“Here is a recent quotation from Nature - the British publication. This says that due to our wearing tight clothes, and due to the increased temperature of the sperm plasm, to the organs which make our sperm, there will be an increase in mutations. Then it goes on to say that since our modes of dress have been predominant for several centuries, it might explain almost half the present load of spontaneous mutations. So we see how modes of dress, based chiefly on sexual taboos, might present genetic hazards one hundred to one thousand times greater that those estimated from different sources of radiation. ... even in the terrible event of war, I believe that in this war, if it were fought with the highly flexible and highly mobile nuclear weapons, it would not be necessary to take so many young people away from their homes. I do not believe, if we can localize wars, that the casualties need be very great.”
Here are some extracts from Dr Orient's letter to FEMA about the continued use of the lying LNT theory of radiation for long-term effects propaganda:
Jane M. Orient, M.D.
President, Physicians for Civil Defense
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716
To Rules Docket Clerk
Office of the General Counsel
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Room 840, 500 C Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20472
RE: Docket #: DHS-2004-0029
Docket #: Z-RIN 1660-ZA02
We agree that flexibility is required in responding to incidents involving radiological dispersal device (RDD) or improvised nuclear device (IND). It is critical that actions taken do more good than harm. The dangers of panic, the shut-down of essential services, and disruption of the economy and social arrangements could vastly outweigh the supposed dangers of an increased exposure to radiation, particularly in the event of the use of an RDD.
We are disappointed that the document does not explicitly recognize that current radiation protection standards are based on the linear no-threshold (LNT) theory of radiation carcinogenesis. This theory calculates casualties based on collective doses. The assumptions are the equivalent of saying that if one person dies from ingesting one thousand aspirin tablets all at once, that one person will die if each one of the thousand persons ingests one aspirin tablet each. In fact, all actual evidence indicates that radiation, like most other potentially adverse exposures, exhibits a biphasic dose-response curve. While high levels are damaging or lethal, within a certain range at the lower end of the scale there is a seemingly paradoxical stimulatory or protective effect. Persons with accidental or occupational exposures within this “hormetic” range have a lower incidence of cancer and birth defects, and have had an increase in longevity as well. Thus, measures to “protect” people against exposures in this range may deprive them of a beneficial health effect, as well as harming them through excessive costs or deprivation of the other potential benefits of technology.
... It should be noted that the average background dose on the Colorado plateau is 600 mrem per year, and in some areas of the world, much higher than that. For example, in Ramasari, Iran, the average background is about 48 rems per year-that is 4,800 mrem per year-without noticeable adverse health effects. Forced resettlement, on the other hand, would cause many billions of dollars in damage to the economy as well as social upheaval. Because of widespread public fear of low-dose radiation, many people might choose to be resettled than face such increased exposure, but persons should not be forced to abandon their homes, personal property, and businesses based upon unfounded fears. ...
In appointing technical advisory committees, it would appear important to include persons whose reputation is not strongly invested in the linear no-threshold hypothesis, who would thus find it difficult or impossible to change their position. A full range of views must be heard and not suppressed by a “consensus” process that strongly pressures participants to approve a predetermined position and excludes those who do not.
We think it is critical that the United States government should not enable terrorists to destroy a large area of the country and cripple its economy by exploiting unwarranted fears. Instead, we need to be prepared to mitigate the damage should efforts at interdiction fail.