The effects of nuclear weapons. Credible nuclear deterrence, debunking "disarm or be annihilated". Realistic effects and credible nuclear weapon capabilities for deterring or stopping aggressive invasions and attacks which could escalate into major conventional or nuclear wars.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Big bang and supernova analogies ...

‘Dr Edward Teller remarked recently that the origin of the earth was somewhat like the explosion of the atomic bomb…’

– Dr Harold C. Urey, The Planets: Their Origin and Development, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1952, p. ix.

‘It seems that similarities do exist between the processes of formation of single particles from nuclear explosions and formation of the solar system from the debris of a supernova explosion. We may be able to learn much more about the origin of the earth, by further investigating the process of radioactive fallout from the nuclear weapons tests.’

– Dr P.K. Kuroda, ‘Radioactive Fallout in Astronomical Settings: Plutonium-244 in the Early Environment of the Solar System,’ Radionuclides in the Environment (Dr Edward C. Freiling, Symposium Chairman), Advances in Chemistry Series No. 93, American Chemical Society, Washington, D.C., 1970.

The fractionation of fallout particles (which have a core of refractory material - i.e., high melting point material - surrounded by material with a lower melting point which has condensed at a later time in the fireball history), and their spherical nature, is similar in a way to planets. Obviously there are many differences.

One of the main ones is that a typical fallout particle, 1 millimetre in diameter or smaller, is drawn into a spherical shape by electrical attractive forces called surface tension - similar to the reason why water forms droplets. But planets are held together by gravity, not surface tension. The main difference is that surface tension acts on the outer surface area which in turn causes internal compression.

Gravity, however, is not due to a surface compression but instead is mediated through the void between fundamental particles in atoms by exchange radiation which does not recognise macroscopic surfaces, but only interacts with the subnuclear particles associated with the elementary units of mass. The radial contraction of the earth's radius by gravity, as predicted by general relativity, is 1.5 mm. [This contraction of distance hasn't been measured directly, but the corresponding contraction or rather 'dilation' of time has been accurately measured by atomic clocks which have been carried to various altitudes (where gravity is weaker) in aircraft. Spacetime tells us that where distance is contracted, so is time.]

This contraction is not caused by a material pressure carried through the atoms of the earth, but is instead due to the gravity-causing exchange radiation of gravity which is carried through the void (nearly 100% of atomic volume is void). Hence the contraction is independent of the chemical nature of the earth. (Similarly, the contraction of moving bodies is caused by the same exchange radiation effect, and so is independent of the material's composition.)

Since most of the mass of atoms is associated with the fields of gluons and virtual particles surrounding quarks, these are the gravity-affected parts of atoms, not the electrons or quarks themselves.

The mass of a nucleon is typically 938 MeV, compared to just 0.511 MeV for an electron and 5 MeV for a quark. Hence the actual charges of matter aren't associated with much of the mass of material. Almost all the mass comes from the massive mediators of the strong force fields between quarks in nucleons, and between nucleons in nuclei heavier than hydrogen. (In the well-tested and empirically validated Standard Model, charges like fermions don't have mass at all; the entire mass is provided by a vacuum 'Higgs field'. The exact nature of the such a field is not predicted, although some constraints on its range of properties are evident.)

Getting back to the topic at the top of this post, every type of force is nuclear in a broad sense. Gravity is basically nuclear because it depends on mass, which is concentrated in the exchange radiation between quarks in the nuclei of atoms. (If gravity was like electric charge, it would depend presumably on macroscopic surface area, which is not the case: in a charged metal sphere, the net electric charge involved in long range forces resides on the surface of the sphere not throughout its volume.) Electromagnetism in the form of the Yang Mills exchange-radiation U(1) symmetry has been unified with the weak nuclear force isospin symmetry SU(2) to produce the electroweak portion of the standard model, SU(2) x U(1), which has 4 gauge bosons that cause forces: the massive charged W+ and W- particles, the uncharged but massive Z particle, and the uncharged and light velocity (no 'rest mass') force causing photon.

The reason why only one (the photon) of the four electroweak gauge bosons operates outside nuclear distances is simply that the other gauge bosons are attenuated by the vacuum at low energy. At high energy collisions (ie, near the charge core, assuming the particles have are able to hit hard enough to break through the vacuum shield) there is attenuation and the weak nucelar force is experienced.

The quark is like a steel cored, rubber coated ball. Throw it gently (low energy) and all the interactions are soft, because the rubber shield is able to prevent the steel core from experiencing any direct interaction. But if you hit nuclear matter together very hard, the rubber is less effective at insulating the core and metallic interactions occur. It is really almost as simple as this; this is not a completely fraudulent analogy. Vacuum polarisation and shielding cause much of the 'rubber' type insulation. There is however some additional complexity which I've recently described on another blog, here, but as stated there it is not as complex as the supersymmetry formulation of the Standard Model.

The strong nuclear force is described in the Standard Model by colour rotation symmetry, SU(3). It has 8 massive gluon mediators, twice as many as the electroweak force. The observed effective colour charge of quarks falls off with increasing collision energy, while the observed electromagnetic force increases with collision energy. These facts suggest that energy may be conserved between all types of gauge boson; the fall of the coupling for the strong force is accompanied by an increase in the coupling for the electromagnetic force.

Conservation of energy of gauge bosons would suggest that when the polarised vacuum is completely broken down (at short ranges/high energies) and the electromagnetic force is maximised, the strong nuclear force will have fallen to the same value (not less than that value). Hence, including conservation of energy for the sum of gauge bosons of the fields automatically does what SUSY (supersymmetry) sets out to do, but instead of inventing unobserved imaginary superpartners like SUSY, we are utilising including a well-established physical principle (conservation of mass-energy) to do the same job.

Of the four usually distinguished elementary forces of the universe (the strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetic and gravitational), some 50% at first glance appear to be nuclear in origin (i.e., the strong and the weak forces). However, as we have shown, electromagnetism has been unified with electromagnetism - and this electroweak unification predicted the masses of the W+, W-, and Z massive weak gauge bosons discovered at CERN in 1983, so it is hard real science. Hence on this basis there are three fundamental force categories (electroweak, strong, and gravity) of which near 67% are nuclear (electroweak ad strong). When you include the fact that gravity depends essentially on the nuclear mass between quarks as discussed above, you then see that 100% of the fundamental forces of the universe are intimately nuclear in origin.

Back to the nuclear weapons and supernova analogy. Successive neutron captures in the explosion create very heavy elements like uranium which make the Earth radioactive today. See the previous post on this blog for the evidence for the 15 natural nuclear reactors in Gabon which occurred on Earth 1.7 billion years ago emitting 100 kW for 150 million years, when the ratio of U-235 to U-238 in uranium was higher than today (U-235 has the shorter half-life), and evidence of how nature contained the vast amount of intensely radioactive fission products for two billion years in perfect safety without any fancy concrete domes or expensive burial schemes!

More on the Oklo natural nuclear fission reactor in a comment on Louise Riofrio's blog here.

Radioactivity lingering in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

'Long-lived neutron activation products,Co-60, Eu-152, Eu-154 and Cl-36 ... are still detectable today [in Hiroshima and Nagasaki] using modern analytical techniques...' - Nezahat Hunter and Monty W Charles, An update on the discrepancy between calculated and measured neutron-induced radioactivity levels in Hiroshima, J. Radiol. Prot. , v. 22 (2002), pp. 345-356.

In a previous post I mentioned the long-term effects of neutron radiation:

'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. (Published in Radiation Research volume 146:1-27, 1996.)

'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 (mainly natural), which is just 428 more than the unexposed control group. Hence, the total increase over the natural cancer rate was 9 %, spread over 40 years.'

All the 89 leukemia victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (leukemia is important since it is generally considered the worst type of cancer, the hardest to treat effectively), were caused by the initial nuclear radiation which lasted for a few seconds. The residual doses were completely trivial by comparison. But people don't accept this without seeing the evidence that air bursts don't produce significant residual radioactivity on the Earth. So this post presents the evidence.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still radioactive! Why aren't they evacuated? Well, the chief problem with detecting the nuclear bomb radiation using conventional equipment for the past 60 years has been the problem that it is swamped with something called natural background radiation, which stems from the supernova that created the matter - including potassium-40 which 'pollutes' the oceans, uranium which 'pollutes' the land, and many other nuclides like radon-222 which 'pollutes' the air naturally - found on a planet called Earth some 4,540 million years ago, not to mention the continuing short-lived induced activity in the atmosphere caused by nuclear radiation from the sun and from other nuclear reactors in space.

Should I even mention natural nuclear reactors that 1,700 million years ago emitted an average of 100 kW of power over 150 million years, and safely stored the resulting massive quantities of 'hazardous' fission products in the uranium ore seams of Gabon, Africa: 'Fifteen natural fission reactors have been found in three different ore deposits at the Oklo mine in Gabon, West Africa. These are collectively known as the Oklo Fossil Reactors. ... The radioactive remains of natural nuclear fission chain reactions that happened 1.7 billion years ago in Gabon, West Africa, never moved far beyond their place of origin. They remain contained in the sedimentary rocks that kept them from being dissolved or spread by groundwater.' Just notice the lies from the anti-nuclear lobby which thinks radioactive waste is somehow unnatural and 'polluting nature' and that 'nobody knows how to safely store the waste for 24,000 years because the 'nuclear age' is just over 60 years old.' Also notice that the nuclear industry has gone from spewing out pathetic pro-nuclear propaganda to 'working with' these nutters, and cannot present to the public the facts about radiation without either being condescending and patronising with authority, or on the other hand being so over-technical that nobody wants to listen. Those people are all 'professional wallies', like string theorists. More on Earth's natural nuclear reactors here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tadashi Hashizume and others in a paper published in Health Physics, v. 17, (1969), p. 761, found that the total neutron-induced gamma dose (from Na-24 and Mn-56) at ground zero in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were 80 and 30 R, respectively (falling to 18% of this at 0.5 km from ground zero, and to 0.07% at 1 km). This is measured data, you simply measure the remaining activity in the soil from the few very long-lived nuclides, then you irradiate the soil sample with neutrons in a laboratory to replicate that activity, and you can then measure the short-term Na-24 and Mn-56 hazards accurately.

'The residual radiation levels in Hiroshima and Nagasaki about the time of occupation troop arrival are fairly well-documented. As discussed in more detail subsequently in Section 3, a scientific group organized by the Manhattan Engineer District conducted radiological surveys in Nagasaki from 20 September to 6 October 1945, and in Hiroshima from 3 to 7 October 1945. Later surveys were conducted in Nagasaki (15-27 October 1945) and Hiroshima (1-2 November 1945) by a team from the Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI). The NMRI surveys were supplemented by measurements made by Japanese scientists at even later dates.' - DNATR805512F.

That report contains residual radiation contours for neutron-induced activity (concentrated on ground zero, as in all air bursts) and fallout (trivial deposits occurring some distance downwind). For Hiroshima, the measured neutron-induced activity gamma dose rate of 0.1 mR/hr on 3-7 October 1945 had an average radius of 230 m from ground zero. This does not include natural background radiation (generally 0.01-0.02 mR/hr). Fallout produced a small 'hotspot' of 0.045 mR/hr (not including natural background) at a distance of 3.6 km west of ground zero (downwind) in Hiroshima, measured on 3-7 October 1945.

In Nagasaki, although the bomb had a higher yield the high explosive around the core absorbed more of the neutrons so the neutron induced activity was less extensive: 0.03 mR/hr out to an average radius of 210 m from ground zero was measured in surveys between 21 September and 4 October 1945 (not including natural background). However, the fallout was more heavy downwind from Nagasaki than from Hiroshima; the fallout 2.6 km east (downwind) of ground zero in Nagasaki that these times was about 1 mR/hr (not including natural background).

Because the neutron induced activity peaks something like 6-7 cm deep in the soil, there is a lot of self-shielding by the topsoil which reduces the dose rate, that must be taken into account in converting from the activity in the soil to the dose rates in the air above it.

From a previous post on this blog:

Above: typical composition of representative soil types for calculating neutron induced activity, given 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.Above: decay rates of the different soil neutron induced activities, given 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.
Above: neutron induced activity dose rates, decay rates, and doses for Hiroshima and Nagasaki air bursts where fallout was negligible at ground zero ("DS02" indicates 2002 dosimetry system, the latest data).

'Some related field manuals with data are publically available, however, like chapters 1 and 7 of FM 3-3-1 also on line here as a better quality PDF file (this reproduces the table of neutron induced activities in soil from TM 23-200 and DNA-EM-1). Note that the various FM 3-3-1 neutron induced activity illustrations of the dose rates for a given weapon and soil type are contradictory and useless; Dolan's manual makes it clear that the gamma dose rate at 1 hour after burst due to neutron induced activity can vary by a factor of 4,540 depending on the amounts of manganese and sodium in the soil.

'The minimum rate corresponds to clean Pensacola sand (99.982% pure silicate) which is 0.001% sodium, 0% manganese, and 46.65% silicon by mass. For such almost pure silicate sand, silicon-31 becomes a significant gamma contributor although it is trivial in all other soils (containing higher manganese or soldium levels). Because there is so little sodium-24 in this soil, Si-31 stands out initially (at 1 hour after burst, 52% of the gamma dose rate would be due to Si-31 with a 2.62 hr half life, and 48% to Na-24 with a 15.0 hr half life).

'The worst danger, 4,540 times more intense, would come from Hawaiian lava clay soil, since that is 2.94% manganese by mass resulting in a massive amount of Mn-56 (2.58 hr half life), although no other significant gamma emitters. The hazards from most soils and also from sea water fall between these two extremes. The dose rate variations due to the type of soil far outweigh possible variations due to the design of the nuclear weapon used. Hence a reasonable prediction is possible provided that the target is known. The peak neutron induced activity generally occurs at a depth of 6-7 cm so there is considerable self-shielding by the soil which makes the hazard far less than you would naively expect if assuming the activity is in the top surface layer of soil.'

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Revised Edition of Sam Cohen's book Shame is free online

'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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.'


'... 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 dropped Shame. Moreover, 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, now carries Shame again. To their credit, 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:

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…’ (I identify with all this; I had a bad hearing problem which caused a speech defect that neither my parents nor the health system cared about for five years. In that time I couldn’t hear properly, be understood properly and therefore couldn’t communicate properly. The adult solution to this is to treat you as stupid - identical to the childish playground attitude of the other kids. Most people don’t grow up. It really exposes you to the complete rubbish that is dressed up as profundity by teachers and other professionals who really do not care about anyone or anything except massaging their own massive egos by criticising others without first ascertaining the facts. Those who praise these people in the expectation of receiving thanks or business in return should remember that sycophants are universally despised and hated.)

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.)

President John F. Kennedy was asked by his foreign policy assistant (Dodd) to meet Cohen in early 1961:

'The specific purpose of this letter is to suggest you might find it advantageous personally to receive the very carefully prepared neutron bomb briefing that Mr. Sam Cohen, RAND Corporation physicist, has recently given to top Defense Department officials and to key members of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.' - Senator Thomas Dodd (D-CT)

Kennedy was too busy to see Cohen, but at least he did authorise the testing of the neutron bomb at the Nevada test site in 1962. It worked.

'"The initial symptoms [from radiation] are similar to those common in radiation injury [for example, intense radiation treatment for cancer, hopefully to save your life], namely nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (and other distressing effects)." After these initial effects occur, sometime later, depending on how severe the radiation exposure is, "there is a return of symptoms, including fever, diarrhea and a step-like rise in temperature..." Quoted from the official government manual The Effects of Nuclear Weapons.

'Sounds sickeningly familiar? Probably so to most of us who have gone through most or even all of these discomforts sometime in your life; from overdrinking, influenza, food poisoning, emotional distress, experiencing a Washington summer when the air conditioning has gone out, etc. As for myself, as I’ve complained here, I experienced all these symptoms during my childhood ...' (Shame, online edition, p. 58.)

Cohen describes the normal effects of neutron radiation (from a criticality accident, involving a a nuclear bomb core going supercritical briefly) on his Los Alamos friends Louis Slotin (killed by acute radiation sickness) and Alvin Graves (who survived a massive dose and lived another 20 years finally dying from a regular heart attack in 1966). He adds on pages 207-8:

'In June 1974, a radiation worker at an industrial plant in New Jersey accidentally received a whole body dose of approximately 600 rads ... The victim exhibited prodromal symptoms (specifically nausea and vomiting) of acute radiation sickness, commencing some 30 to 60 minutes postexposure. During the 2 ½ to 3 hours that elapsed between the exposure and the victim’s arrival at the hospital emergency room, he experienced 10 episodes of vomiting. He was described as concerned, but not unduly anxious, about his condition [being the calmest individual in the hospital emergency room]. In the days following his admission to the hospital, his white blood cell and platelet counts steadily decreased. During the 22nd to 35th days post-exposure, his blood count had dropped so low that only [transfusions] maintained his life. After the 35th day, his condition improved rapidly; he was discharged from the hospital on the 45th day and subsequently returned to full-time work.'

Cohen also has anecdotes about Herman Kahn's exaggerated Soviet missile assumptions:

'Herman had completed a massive and eloquent analysis of the consequences for U.S. security, indeed survival, were the Soviets to achieve a relatively modest ICBM capability and one day attack our SAC bomber bases out of the blue. The consequences were horrendous enough to ruin your day. ...

'My questions and Herman’s answers went something like this:

'First question: "Herman, you have given the Soviets a couple of hundred operational ICBMs by 1954. I’m not aware of any hard evidence to back up this number, but maybe I’ve missed something. Do you know something I don’t know? If you do, would you please explain to me how you used this information to come up with this number of missiles?" Well, he thought, but didn’t know, this was a reasonable estimate, but admitted he couldn’t back it up with hard data. (As it turned out there was no way the Soviets could have this number of missiles at that time.)

'Second question: "Okay Herman, so you can’t back up your numbers, but you must have gotten your intelligence input some place. Surely, you wouldn’t just make this up. Now I’ve had access to official intelligence estimates of Soviet nuclear capabilities and I assume you have too. I don’t ever recall seeing your numbers come out in official form. Or maybe again I’ve missed something. Just what estimates did you use to come up with this number, which I assume you’ve used for your study?" Well, he hadn’t quite based his study on government estimates but rather on his own personal assessment. He did take the government data into account, but didn’t bank on them for his calculations.

'Third question: "Herman, we’ve always had reliability problems with new weapon systems and it takes a while to work out the kinks. Would you please tell me how you came by your reliability estimates for Soviet ICBMs when we haven’t even observed any test flights so far, to get a handle on how well they’re doing?" Well, we had been doing pretty well with some of our short range missile testing (which had no meaningful relationship to testing ICBMs at a hundred times the range, which we had yet to do at this juncture; in fact we hadn’t even seriously begun our ICBM program at this juncture) and there’s no reason why the Soviets, who were very serious about short range nuclear rockets for battlefield use, can’t do well at longer ranges. (He also might have said, more honestly, there were good reasons why they could do worse. He knew this, he knew practically everything, but there was no point in rubbing it in any more than I was.)

'Fourth question: "Herman, you’ve assigned a delivery accuracy to Soviet ICBMs that’s pretty good, but you know there’s a lot of argument over how well we can do. How did you arrive at this accuracy for the Soviets?" Well, it seemed technically possible (he was right) and since the issue is so critical (right again) it seemed responsible to assume this accuracy. (In the way of reminiscing, I remember having dinner with Pat Hyland, then president of Hughes aircraft, an old hand at developing missiles who was on the advisory board to the U.S. ICBM program, who was willing to bet that the first U.S. ICBM wouldn’t be able to come with 20 miles of the target. Shortly afterward, when the U.S. tested its first operational ICBM, Pat turned out to be way off base, by some 20-fold. Our missiles were landing about a mile from ground zero. So Herman deserves some credit here, even though his estimate was spun from whole cloth.)

'Fifth question: "Herman, you’re giving the Soviets the capability to develop thermonuclear warheads for their ICBMs that will have a pretty big bang. (I forget what it was.) Considering that to the best of our knowledge (and here our knowledge was pretty good, for by now, scared to death of what the Soviets might be up to, we had developed nuclear test monitoring equipment that gave a reasonably good idea of what kind of bombs the Soviets were testing, especially the big ones, and how big the big bangs were) the Soviets have yet to explode a thermonuclear warhead that can be adapted to an ICBM, how did you come to this conclusion?" More of the same. (About ten years later the Soviets broke a three year nuclear test moratorium by setting off the biggest series of thermonuclear explosions in history and more than caught up with us in this area. Then, a couple of years later, we signed a treaty with them banning tests in the atmosphere. Ever since, our knowledge of their warhead capabilities has been woefully insufficient. This hasn’t stopped us from making official estimates anyway. Knowledge or no knowledge, the intelligence community is obliged to furnish estimates to military planners, even if they’re worthless and very possibly misleading. If you are one of those strange ducks trying to understand what this nuclear business is all about and read the "respectable" journals the CIA leaks information to, please don’t get the idea this makes you a more respectable arm chair analyst than anyone else. ...

'Although Herman couldn’t prove he was right, I sure couldn’t prove him wrong. Neither of us knew what the facts were and where the truth lay. It was a matter of judgment and mine really didn’t differ all that much from his, except I wouldn’t have put on such an elaborate snake oil act to express mine. If I had done things in my own simple minded way, nobody would have taken me seriously. The only times I’ve been taken seriously were when I had something to say that someone wanted to hear, in which case they couldn’t care less whether I had done an elaborate analysis, full of shaky or unfounded assumptions, or made some calculations on the back of an envelope.' (Shame, online edition, pp. 66-9.)

I've already shown how false assumptions by Herman Kahn on the nature of real radioactive fallout particles of specific activity to create danger areas made a mess of American civil defence. Kahn in his 1958 RAND Corporation Report on a Study of Non-Military Defense recommended building fallout shelters and buying millions of radiation meters, showing no understanding of the true low energy of gamma radiation from real fractionated fallout for thermonuclear weapons which is very easily shielded compared to the energy assumed by Glasstone and others (real fallout had low energy due to fractionation and in addition always contains a lot of low-energy gamma ray emitters Np-239, U-240, and U-237 from non-fission neutron captures by U238 in thermonuclear weapons), and the visibility of fallout (fallout in a surface burst is always about 1 % of the crater mass, which means that even allowing for fractionation with particle size, life-threatening fallout is always visible to the naked eye and you don't need a geiger counter). The result was that Kahn started off a very expensive and scientifically unsubstantiated shelter and geiger counter frenzy in civil defense, which is not the way to deal with the many different kinds of nuclear attack (air bursts, etc.) likely. Cohen however takes Herman Kahn's side on the radiation issue from testing:

'I’m talking about a guy by the name of Linus Pauling, born and raised in Oregon in the good old days, around the turn of the century, who went on in life to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry, richly deserved, and another Nobel Prize for Peace, on the basis of the most fraudulent scientific behavior imaginable. As a chemist he obviously contributed mightily to mankind’s understanding of nature. As a politically biased antinuclear ideologue, he was barely interested in the scientific facts of nuclear weapon issues and almost always managed to fault the U.S. far more than the Soviets when bemoaning the nuclear arms race.

'For a guy whose scientific brilliance was beyond compare, he managed to ignore or make up the scientific facts surrounding the issues of nuclear war and the testing of nuclear weapons. As for the dangers of nuclear war, regardless of his fabrications and prevarications, there’s little doubt this is a dangerous business and most people, especially politicians, tended to go along with him. As to the scientific factuality of his contentions, spun largely from whole cloth, no one could care less. As for the dangers of nuclear testing, this is when we were testing in the atmosphere, this was a matter open to reasonable debate and even though the debate was not reasonably conducted, there was a large amount of scientific data indicating that unless both sides were bent on testing the most horrendous weapons imaginable the world could readily survive. However, as far a Pauling was concerned it couldn’t. He argued mightily, and dishonestly, to prove this point, to any audience available.

'One guy he argued with was my pal Herman Kahn, who could have won any number of Nobel Prizes, except for peace, had he stuck with science. Instead, like Pauling, he tried to save the world, especially his country, from the effects of a nuclear war he was willing to see fought. In many ways he behaved almost as disingenuously as Pauling, but always with his country uppermost in mind. I remember, many years ago, watching the two of them on TV debating the effects of atmospheric nuclear testing. Time after time Herman would nail Pauling to the wall for outrageous scientific distortion. On each occasion Pauling would shift gears and glibly change the subject, leaving poor Herman gasping for breath. As to who won the debate, intellectually, Herman, hands down. Politically, Pauling won in a walk.' (Shame, online edition, p. 94.)

More on the testing of clean tactical nuclear weapons as low air bursts here (for true air bursts there is no early fallout at all, apart from thunderstorms when it goes straight down the drain anyhow and is shielded underground - it is better to have the fallout underground than people sheltering underground!), surface bursts here, here and here, and shallow underground bursts (for earth-penetrator effects; destruction of buried targets without collateral blast and thermal radiation) see here (scroll down on to section headed 'ARE EARTH PENETRATORS A CLEAN ALTERNATIVE TO HIGH YIELD SURFACE BURST NUCLEAR WEAPONS?'). For it's inclusion by Philip J. Dolan in Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons EM-1, and by Samuel Glasstone in an article in Encarta 97, see here.

For long-term effects of neutron radiation: which says,

'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. (Published in Radiation Research volume 146:1-27, 1996.)

'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 (mainly natural), which is just 428 more than the unexposed control group. Hence, the total increase over the natural cancer rate was 9 %, spread over 40 years.'

On the neutron-transparent casing of the neutron bomb, Wikpiedia says:

'Neutron bombs, also called enhanced radiation bombs (ER weapons), are small thermonuclear weapons in which the burst of neutrons generated by the fusion reaction is intentionally not absorbed inside the weapon, but allowed to escape. The X-ray mirrors and shell of the weapon are made of chromium or nickel so that the neutrons are permitted to escape. Contrast this with cobalt bombs, also known as salted bombs.

'This intense burst of high-energy neutrons is the principal destructive mechanism.

'The term "enhanced radiation" refers only to the burst of ionizing radiation released at the moment of detonation, not to any enhancement of residual radiation in fallout.

'A neutron bomb requires considerable amounts of tritium, which has a relatively short half-life. The neutron bombs that existed in the United States arsenal in the past were variants of the W70 and the W79 designs.'

Wikipedia says of Cohen:

Samuel T. Cohen (born 1921 in Brooklyn, New York) is a physicist who is known for inventing the W70 warhead, the "enhanced neutron weapon" or neutron bomb, the blueprints of which were allegedly stolen by the Chinese [1]. He has three children. In the 1990s he advocated investigation of terrorist threats like red mercury and nuclear isomers.


1 Background
2 'Clean' nuclear tests and Cohen's revolutionary invention
3 Official U.S. Department of Defense manual on the neutron bomb
4 Alleged support from the Pope for low yield tactical nuclear bombs
5 References
6 See also


Samuel Cohen's parents came from London but he was brought up in New York. He received his physics PhD from UCLA. In 1944 he worked on the Manhattan project in the efficiency group and calculated how neutrons behaved in the Nagasaki weapon, Fat Man. At RAND Corporation in 1950, his work on the intensity of fallout radiation first became public when his calculations were included as a special appendix in Samuel Glasstone's book The Effects of Atomic Weapons. Cohen was personally responsible for recruiting the famous strategist Herman Kahn into the RAND Corporation [2].

During the Vietnam War, Cohen argued that using small neutron bombs would end the war quickly and save many American lives, but politicians were not amenable to his ideas and other scientists ignored the neutron bomb in reviewing the role of nuclear weapons [3]. He was a member of the Los Alamos Tactical Nuclear Weapons Panel in the early 1970s. President Carter delayed the neutron bomb in 1978 [4], but during Reagan's presidency, Cohen claims to have convinced Reagan to make 700 neutron bombs, 350 shells to go into the 8 inch (200-millimetre) howitzer and 350 W70 warheads for the Lance missile [5].

'Clean' nuclear tests and Cohen's revolutionary invention

In 1956, President Eisenhower announced the testing of a 95% 'clean' (2-stage) fusion weapon, later identified to have been the 11 July Navajo test at Bikini Atoll during Operation Redwing. This weapon had a 4.5 megatons yield. Previous 'dirty' weapons had fission proportions of 50-77%, due to the use of uranium-238 as a 'pusher' around the lithium deuteride (secondary) stage. (The fusion neutrons have energies of up to 14.1 MeV, well exceeding the 1.1 MeV 'fission threshold' for U-238.) The 1956 'clean' tests used a lead pusher, while in 1958 a tungsten carbide pusher was employed. Hans A. Bethe supported clean nuclear weapons in 1958 as Chairman of a Presidential science advisory group on nuclear testing [6]:

"... certain hard targets require ground bursts, such as airfield runways if it is desired to make a crater, railroad yards if severe destruction of tracks is to be accomplished... The use of clean weapons in strategic situations may be indicated in order to protect the local population." -Dr Hans Bethe, Working Group Chairman, 27 March 1958 "Top Secret - Restricted Data" Report to the NSC Ad Hoc Working Group on the Technical Feasibility of a Cessation of Nuclear Testing, p 9.

In consequence of Bethe's recommendations, on 12 July 1958, the Hardtack-Poplar shot on a barge in the lagoon yielded 9.3 megatons, of which only 4.8% was fission. It was 95.2% clean. It was the clean Mk-41C warhead.

Cohen in 1958 investigated a low-yield 'clean' nuclear weapon and discovered that the 'clean' bomb case thickness scales as the cube-root of yield. So a larger percentage of neutrons escapes from a small detonation, due to the thinner case required to reflect back X-rays during the secondary stage (fusion) ignition. For example, a 1-kiloton bomb only needs a case 1/10th the thickness of that required for 1-megaton.

So although most neutrons are absorbed by the casing in a 1-megaton bomb, in a 1-kiloton bomb they would mostly escape. A neutron bomb is only feasible if the yield is sufficiently high that efficient fusion stage ignition is possible, and if the yield is low enough that the case thickness will not absorb too many neutrons. This means that neutron bombs have a yield range of 1-10 kilotons, with fission proportion 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 then 10-15 times greater than for a pure fission implosion weapon or for a strategic warhead like a W87 or W88 [7].

Official U.S. Department of Defense manual on the neutron bomb

Cohen's neutron bomb is not mentioned in the unclassified manual by Glasstone and Dolan, The Effects of Nuclear Weapons 1957-77, but is included as an 'enhanced neutron weapon' in chapter 5 of the declassified (formerly secret) manual edited by Philip J. Dolan, Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of Defense, effects manual DNA-EM-1, updated 1981 (U.S. Freedom of Information Act).

Provided that the weapon was not used in a thunderstorm, no fallout effects would occur from the use of a neutron bomb according to that manual, 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.

Cohen's backing of investigations into these controversial ideas won him some media attention after many years of being ignored. In 1992 he was featured on the award-winning BBC TV series Pandora's Box episode, To the Brink of Eternity, discussing his battles with officialdom and colleagues at the RAND Corporation. Cohen controversially argued: "When we started this systems analysis business, we stepped through the looking glass where people did the weirdest things and (used) the most perverse kind of logic imaginable and yet claimed to have the most precise understanding of everything." [8]

Alleged support from the Pope for low yield tactical nuclear bombs

Cohen stated that he "worked in France on low-yield, highly discriminate tactical nuclear weapons in 1979-1980".

"In 1979, Pope John Paul II conferred on one of the authors (Sam Cohen) a peace medal for his invention, the neutron bomb. This was a small nuclear weapon designed to do its work, killing enemy military forces, without destroying a country’s infrastructure." (Cohen, March 11, 2003)

Independent evidence for the Pope's support of the neutron bomb: "With some pride he showed me the Medal of Peace that he had received from the Pope in 1979." - Charles Platt (Journalist) [9].

The Pope, John Paul II, was from Poland and knew that Warsaw Pact forces had a massive tank superiority in Europe (though NATO maintained an overall strategic superiority), and that a deterrent which was designed to minimise civilian casualties was a step away from the risk of indiscriminate warfare. The neutron bomb's killing by neutron radiation is different from from the fallout of a normal high yield thermonuclear weapon because it can be controlled more precisely, restricted to military targets and kept away from civilians.

In 1981, the Christian Science Monitor reported that 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." (Joseph C. Harsch, "Neutron Bomb: Why It Worries The Russians," Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 1981, p. 1.) [9]

The speed of modern warfare meant that the civilian population would be unlikely to withdraw from combat zones and would suffer a large number of deaths in a nuclear war where the blast yields and fallout were significant. Because neutron bombs do not produce the indiscriminate blast (only 6 psi at ground zero from a 1 kt blast yield detonation at 500 m altitude, and only 1 psi at 2 km distance), heat and fallout damage of other nuclear weapons, they were more credible as a deterrent to Soviet tanks. However, many people believed that the very deployment of the neutron bomb threatened an escalation to full scale nuclear retaliation, thus canceling out the supposed benefits. Advances in precision anti-tank weapons ultimately made the neutron bomb redundant tactically in its original objective. The debate over clean low yield nuclear weapons continues with earth penetrator technology, however.


Hans A. Bethe, Working Group Chairman, originally Top Secret - Restricted Data Report of the President's Science Advisory Committee, 28 March 1958, defending on pages 8-9 'clean nuclear weapons tests', online
Terry Triffet and Philip LaRiviere, Characterization of Fallout, Operation Redwing fallout studies, directly comparing contamination from two 'dirty' tests (Tewa and Flathead) to two 'clean' tests (Navajo and Zuni), online
Christopher Ruddy, Bomb inventor says U.S. defenses suffer because of politics, June 15, 1997 online
Charles Platt, Profits of Fear, August 16, 2005 online here and here in other formats
Sam Cohen and Joseph D. Douglass, Jr, "The Nuclear Threat That Doesn't Exist – or Does It?", March 11, 2003, online; Red mercury, fusion-only neutron bombs, Russia, Iraq, etc
---- North Korea's Nuclear Initiative, April 28 2004 online
---- Development of New Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons, March 9, 2003, online
---- The Rogue Nuclear Threat, April 26, 2002, online
Joe Douglass, The Conflict Over Tactical Nuclear Weapons Policy in Europe (1968)
William R. Van Cleave & S. T. Cohen, Nuclear Weapons, Policies, and the Test Ban Issue, 1987, ISBN 0275923126
Samuel T. Cohen, We Can Prevent World War III, 1985, 2001, ISBN 0915463105
---- The Truth About the Neutron Bomb: The Inventor of the Bomb Speaks Out, William Morrow & Co., 1983, ISBN 0688016464
---- Shame: Confessions of the Father of the Neutron Bomb (2000), ISBN 0738822302, memoir
---- & Marc Geneste, Echec a La Guerre : La Bombe a Neutrons, Copernic, 1980 [10]
Sherri L. Wasserman, The Neutron Bomb Controversy: A Study in Alliance Politics, Praeger, 1983 [11]
Review of Shame published on Amazon: [12]
Thomas Powers, Trying to Save Zilchburg, New York Times, May 1, 1983 online [13]
RAND Corporation unclassified reports authored by S. T. Cohen, 1948-75 (includes neutron bomb studies) [14]