back to article US govt talks up $2B X-ray photobooth to check its nuke weapon sims are right

What to do when you want to perform physical tests of the plutonium in your nuclear weapons and you've pretty much told the world you won't set off any more nukes in these kinds of experiments? If you're the US government, you can do what's called sub-critical tests, the results of which can help scientists understand what …

  1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Pays for itself, really

    When it's not running nuke simulations, just mine cryptocurrencies!

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Pays for itself, really

      Man, tough room.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Pays for itself, really

        It's a laser not a supercomputer

        It only pays for itself if you threaten to blow up a city unless they pay <pinkie finger> ONE MILLION DOLLARS </pinkie finger>

        1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

          Re: Pays for itself, really

          I'm sure there's quite a bit of computing power available to catalogue those 80 nanosecond X-Ray pulses over a 3 microsecond window. Just beware of overexposing the film ---->

        2. Andy Non Silver badge

          Re: Pays for itself, really

          ONE MILLION DOLLARS? That's more money than exists in the entire world!

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    But so large?

    How will they strap it to a shark?

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: But so large?

      There's a separate programme to grow REALLY BIG sharks.

  3. Unoriginal Handle

    Nanosecond imaging is so old school . . .

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      They took photos with 10ns aperture times in the 1950s shown atom bombs actually exploding:

      More famous images (as unclassified) were of bullets passing through light bulbs or playing cards, etc, for demonstrations of the camera's capabilities.

      1. Tom 7

        love some of those shots

        never quite got exactly what it was that caused the hawsers holding the weapon steady to evaporate faster than the fireball - was it photonic or particle radiation? Looked kinda neat spiky stars though!

        1. Killfalcon Silver badge

          Re: love some of those shots

          Theory is that the wires are being (very rapidly) heated by light-speed radiation from the explosion, which is obviously faster than the shockwave, as the effect vanishes if the wires are given a reflective coating.

      2. Tom 7


        merely needed to read your referenced link! Just stunning what they could do with those cameras - the shots are ethereal and a simultaneously fantastically revealing physically!

  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Demon Core

    The El Reg side-bar on the Demon Core incident is a fraction too simple.

    The Demon core was two hemispheres of Plutonium. The experiements were to bring the two halves almost together to understand criticality.

    Unfortunately, the process for ensuring the two hemispheres remained far enough apart was crude: LIke holding a stick or screwdriver between the two halves.

    Guess what? The stick slipped. Twice.

    The radiation doses killed some of the people in the room.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: Demon Core

      Pardon the correction (see icon), but the demon core itself WAS a sphere.

      The first incident used reflector blocks -- one of which got dropped right on top -- not the hemispherical beryllium reflectors of the second incident. The screwdriver was only used as a non-standard/non-approved method by a cocky S.O.B. that paid for it with his life; the approved method used shims.

      Wikipedia > Demon Core has all the facts, including validating that Feynman coined the phrase. (Could this have inspired J.K. Rowling's motto for Hogwarts, "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus" / "Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon"?)

  5. Alan J. Wylie

    Tickling the dragon's tail

    The term "Tickling the dragon's tail" was coined by Richard Feynman, the experiment itself was designed by Otto Frisch.

  6. garwhale Bronze badge

    Cheaper to scrap all nuclear weapons, please. The money needed to maintain nuclear deterrents can be better used elsewhere.

    1. DanDanDan

      Get rid of all nuclear weapons and kickstart World War 3? No thank you. 20 years separated WW1 and WW3. By the same timeline we'd be on WW5 by now without the invention of nuclear weapons and the game theoretic solution of them (Mutually Assured Destruction).

  7. jvf

    better ue

    Too bad all this effort isn't going into something more useful-like figuring out how to deprogram zombie trump supporters.

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