Recently released video footage of once classified US nuclear tests

Monday, 20 March, 2017

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a US federal research facility based in California, has spent the last five years digitising thousands of film clips of nuclear bomb tests conducted by the US, between 1945 and 1962.

The footage had been classified by the US government, but now several hundred recordings of nuclear detonations have been made public. This is footage that you want to see, that you don’t want to see. Isn’t what we’re witnessing here – such as this explosion, that was part of Operation Teapot – terrifying?

Another sixty-plus videos of nuclear blasts can be found here.

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The Harappan Civilization… war free for two thousand years?

Thursday, 27 November, 2014

The people of the Indus Valley Civilization, or the Harappan Civilization, located in the region where India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are today, three to five thousand years ago, lived for near on two thousand years without taking up armed conflict, or going to war with themselves or their neighbours

Archaeologists have long wondered whether the Harappan civilization could actually have thrived for roughly 2,000 years without any major wars or leadership cults. Obviously people had conflicts, sometimes with deadly results – graves reveal ample skull injuries caused by blows to the head. But there is no evidence that any Harappan city was ever burned, besieged by an army, or taken over by force from within. Sifting through the archaeological layers of these cities, scientists find no layers of ash that would suggest the city had been burned down, and no signs of mass destruction. There are no enormous caches of weapons, and not even any art representing warfare.

I think we could learn a thing or two from these people, don’t you?

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Oh yes, let’s play global thermonuclear war…

Friday, 29 November, 2013

A time-lapse map showing the locations of nuclear explosions between 1945 and 1998, across the world, during which time there were over 2050 detonations.

I sure wish we could all just play chess instead.

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Naming military operations can be a campaign in itself

Monday, 26 September, 2011

Albion, Bison, and Desert Storm, are just few code names applied to military operations… but when did the practice of using such names commence?

By the end of the war, the practice was well-established on all sides, with code names given for everything from post-war Nazi insurgencies (Operation Werwolf) to psychological mail campaigns (Operation Cornflakes) to fake missions altogether (Operation Mincemeat). In most cases, names were chosen by mid-level officers in charge of planning, but frequent interventions took place when tagging significant campaigns.

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A knight’s shining armour was actually their worst enemy

Friday, 29 July, 2011

The metal suits of armour worn by knights and soldiers during medieval times, which weighed in at anywhere from 30 to 50 kilograms, often rendered wearers exhausted before they even reached the battlefield.

To study this, researchers asked four participants, who regularly re-enact battles for the Royal Armouries in Leeds, to don their exact-replica armour from England, Gothic Germany and Italy and get onto a treadmill. By recording how much oxygen they took in and carbon dioxide they produced, the team was able to calculate how much energy they were using. High-speed cameras also helped the researchers to study how the volunteers were using their limbs. Dr Askew, who carried out the research with colleagues from the University of Oxford and the University of Milan, said: “Our main finding was that it was extremely expensive in terms of the amount of energy used to move in the armour.” The team found that walking and running with the armour used up twice as much energy as doing the same thing without any armour.

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The Moon base garrison that never got off the ground

Thursday, 17 March, 2011

Many nations have probably given thought to establishing a military base on the Moon, but in 1959 the US Army issued a detailed specification, called “Project Horizon”, setting out the requirements of such a facility, which at the time, they hoped would be operational by 1965.

There is a requirement for a manned military outpost on the moon. The lunar outpost is required to develop and protect potential United States interests on the moon; to develop techniques in moon-based surveillance of the earth and space, in communications relay, and in operations on the surface of the moon; to serve as a base for exploration of the moon, for further exploration into space and for military operations on the moon if required; and to support scientific investigations on the moon.

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Would you believe they thought of a military base on the Moon?

Monday, 31 January, 2011

A chilling question… could Earth’s satellite, the Moon, have military value? Possibly, though tremendous effort would be required to realise any sort of advantage.

The moon also has two very important resources that would be useful for some country to control by military means, water and helium 3. Lunar frozen water, recently discovered in great abundance, can be used to sustain a lunar settlement and refuel space craft headed to other destinations in the solar system. Control the water and one controls access not only to the moon but to destinations beyond. Helium 3, an isotope not found on the Earth, is envisioned by some scientists as a clean burning fuel for future, fusion power plants. If and when fusion power becomes reality, control of the Moon becomes the rough equivalent of control of the Persian Gulf.

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Medieval warfare reveals much about life in the middle ages

Wednesday, 5 January, 2011

A study of the remains of soldiers found in mass graves near Towton, in the north of England, who fought in one of the War of the Roses most decisive battles in 1461, reveals not only just how bloody and violent the nature of medieval fighting was, but also dispels misconceptions about the overall health and constitution of people of the time.

This physical diversity is unsurprising, given the disparate types of men who took the battlefield that day. Yet as a group the Towton men are a reminder that images of the medieval male as a homunculus with rotten teeth are well wide of the mark. The average medieval man stood 1.71 metres tall – just four centimetres shorter than a modern Englishman. “It is only in the Victorian era that people started to get very stunted,” says Mr Knüsel. Their health was generally good. Dietary isotopes from their knee-bones show that they ate pretty healthily. Sugar was not widely available at that time, so their teeth were strong, too.

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As it happened, blogging the Second World War

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010

Martin Cherrett has embarked on an ambitious project… to blog significant events from World War II, on a daily basis, almost seventy years later.

This looks like a great history resource in the making.

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Revising the ANZAC story at Gallipoli, a new version of events?

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010

Hugh Dolan, currently an intelligence officer with the Australian military, has just published a book, “36 Days: The Untold Story Behind the Gallipoli Landings”, which significantly alters existing versions of what exactly happened at Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915, during World War I.

Dolan insists the three key Australian officers who planned the operation made ground-breaking use of military intelligence – including aerial reconnaissance photographs – to put together an almost flawless plan. But their triumph has been overshadowed by the disasters which happened after the landings, Dolan argues, completely distorting what was achieved on the original Anzac Day. ”The most glaring error is the fact it is always described as a dawn landing,” says Dolan. ”It wasn’t. A dawn attack is a daylight attack. This was a silent night attack. It took place in complete darkness.”

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