Monday, September 23, 2013

Shit Yourself Monday

The 1996 film, Broken Arrow, was an entertainingly stupid caper flick about a stolen nuclear weapon. John Travolta, Christian Slater, and (memorably) Howie Long chewed scenery for 108 minutes before Slater, the ever-cute Samantha Mathis (so great in The Thing Called Love), and good triumph over evil and the free world (or at least Salt Lake City) is saved.

Recently declassified documents tell a story of a far more terrifying 1961 incident involving American nuclear weapons. We're talking Travolta-in-Battlefield-Earth terrifying. Say goodbye to the Eastern Seaboard terrifying. Ted Cruz as President terrifying.

According to a 1969 report authored by a Pentagon safety expert obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by author Eric Schlosser, a B-52 was forced to jettison a pair of Mark 39 nuclear bombs over North Carolina. The Mark 39's were 250 times more powerful than the bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945.

While this seems scary on the face of it, nuclear devices are equipped with a number of redundant failsafe systems designed to mitigate against accidental detonation, even when dropped from aircraft. These systems obviously worked, or the annual OBFT would be held in coastal Asheville.

Well, one of them did, anyway. Mark 39 bombs featured four separate failsafe mechanisms. In the case of one of the two munitions dropped from the faltering B-52, three of the four failed. The only backstop that performed as designed was a single toggle switch - a simple electrical circuit. The author of the 1969 report deems the failure of that switch "a postulate that seems credible".

Such a failure would've loosed 4 megatons of destructive force, sending lethal fallout as far north as Philadelphia. Setting aside the fact that losing the City of Brotherly Love might be a net positive, millions of other lives would've been jeopardized.

Writing in slate.com about Schlosser's forthcoming book, Command and Control, Will Oremus offers us this comforting conclusion:
Here’s the scary part: We still have thousands of nuclear warheads, many of which are ready to be launched at a minute’s notice. In an interview with Mother Jones, Schlosser says it’s remarkable—no, “incredible”—that a major city hasn’t been destroyed since Nagasaki. But he doesn’t think our luck will last. His prediction: “If we don’t greatly reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, or completely eliminate them, a major city is going to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon.”
Hey, have a great week!

16 comments:

Danimal said...

there is an atom bomb off of tybee island near savannah. in a training exercise a plane accidentally "dropped" one. the pilot didn't even know it happened until he returned to the base. whoopsy! the good news is it did not detonate. the bad news is they never found it. saw this on a discovery or history channel special a few years back.

zman said...

What's the worst that could happen if someone secretly finds it?

zman said...

They haven't tried Sean Taylor's killers yet?!

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/17/3632450/oct-15-new-trial-date-in-sean.html

Danimal said...

lots of action here today heh.

my mouth dropped when i saw that the taylor murder happened 7 years ago. not b/c it hasn't gone to trial, but b/c it was 7 years ago. if you had asked me i would have guessed 3 and no way more than 4. i would have bet any amount on that. 'tis cliche, but jiminy xmas time is moving too fast.

Marls said...

Much to Mrs. Marls' chagrin, I watched a C-Span book discussion on this very topic a few months ago.

Interestingly, while the NC event and the Savannah accident referenced by Danimal were both "broken arrow" incidents (ie. an accidental event that involves nuclear weapons, warheads or components, but which does not create the risk of nuclear war), the 1997 Nic Cage tour de force actually depicted what the military would call an "empty quiver" (ie. the seizure, theft, or loss of a functioning nuclear weapon).

Empty Quiver would also describe F:GTB Derek's amourous attempts with a certain W&M lady hoopster.

zman said...

As opposed to "Blazing Arrow," which you should add to your record collection, and which might also describe the aftermath of amorous attempts with Chlamydia Chick.

Marls said...

Chlamydia is not a flower.

rob said...

shit - there goes my wife's birthday present.

Squeaky said...

Um the paint doesn't really hide much. Lot of side and front boob. How does SI keep this video on the web?

http://swimdaily.si.com/2013/09/20/body-painting-outtakes/?sct=hp_bf4_a3&eref=sihp

Marls said...

It is a gift that keeps on giving.

Mark said...

Blazing Arrow is terrific. Unfortunately that's the last Blackalicious album that was worth a shit.

T.J. said...

Jacoby Jones getting hit over the head with a champagne bottle by a stripper named "sweet Pea"? Nice work. And of course Bryant McKinnie was involved.

Marls said...

Wimpy and Bluto were unavailable for comment.

I will gladly pay you tuesday for a lappy today.

zman said...

That only flies at the PUSC.

Shlara said...

so, Peyton...he's kinda good...

Girlyngdicky SuckerGoogy said...

Having Sex Is Good for Your Health. Lets Talk About Sex.