- João Zilhão & Francesco d’Errico. (2003) An Aurignacian «garden of Eden» in southern Germany? An alternative interpretation of the geissenklösterle and a critique of the Kulturpumpe model. Paleo. Revue d’archéologie préhistorique.
- Thomas Wynn, et al. (2009) Hohlenstein-Stadel and the Evolution of Human Conceptual Thought. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19:1, 73-83.
- Wulf Hein. (2013) Ivory Experimentation. Companion book to the exhibition The Return Of The Lion Man: History, Myth and Magic. Ulmer Museum.
- Wulf Hein. (—) Tusks & Tools. Private research manuscript to be published in l´anthroplogie.
§.00—The Comte de Buffon in his epigram Discours sur le style, declared, “Style is the man himself.” Schopenhaur echoed the sentiment in The Art of Literature, wherein he wrote, “Style is the physiognomy of the mind.” Which is to say: The philosophy of a designer is imbued in their constructions; whether a book or a building. Thus, the study of a work of art is also a study of its creator’s mind and the more immediate the apprehension of the style, the more forceful the character.
§.01—A prime example of this can be found amidst the 1934 concepts for the architectural competition of the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry (Narkomtiazhprom; NKTP) building, the finer examples of which, exhude order, precision, and sprawling, uncompromising potency. The NKTP was the successor to the VSNKh (which was split into three commissariats in 1932) and initiated the contest amidst a backdrop of industrial decentralization and administrative specialization. In total 120 entries were submitted.
The NKTP building was never constructed—some scholars contend the state never intended to see it built but only to tease out the avant-gardists from the neoclassicists—had it been, according to specifications, it would have occupied 40,000 square meters in built-out area and 110,000 square meters of usable floor area, along the Kitay-gorod (Great Possad) in Central Moscow.
§.02—Below is a small selection of some of the finer entries.
“I consider that the architecture of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral should be subordinated to the architecture of the Narkomtiazhprom [Commissariat of Heavy Industry], and that this building itself must occupy the central place in the city.” —Notes to the Narkomtiazhprom competition
- Arthur Schopenhaur. (1891) The Art of Literature.
- Dominique Dhombres. (2008) “The style is the man himself.” Le Monde.
- Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. (1753) Discourse on Style.
- Kathleen Kuiper et al. (2013) Stylistics. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Khlevnyuk, O. (1997). The People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. Decision-Making in the Stalinist Command Economy, 1932–37, 94–123.
- Robert A. Lewis. Science & Industrialization In The U.S.S.R.: Industrial Research & Development 1917–1940. Palgrave Macmillan.
“Taste is only to be educated by contemplation, not of the tolerably good, but of the truly excellent. I, therefore, show you only the best works; and when you are grounded in these, you will have a standard for the rest, which you will know how to value, without overrating them. And I show you the best in each class, that you may perceive that no class is to be despised, but that each gives delight when a man of genius attains its highest point. For instance, this piece, by a French artist, is galant, to a degree which you see nowhere else, and is therefore a model in its way.”
—Goethe to Johnann Peter Eckermann.
§.00 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a multifaceted German artist, scientist and statesman. He was the author of the influential novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, as well as numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. The date of the first production of Richard Wagner’s opera Lohengrin—August 28th—was chosen by Liszt in honor of Goethe, as it was the same date as the late-artist’s birth (August 28th, 1749).
§.01 Johnann Peter Eckermann was a German author, soldier, multi-linguist, artist, and close friend of Goethe and Soret.
- Johann Peter Eckermann; translated by John Oxenford (2010). Conversations of Goethe with Johann Peter Eckermann. HXA.
The Canadian snowstorm mask was a plastic (not glass) cone purposed for face protection during snowstorms. The hounskull-like design is peculiar and eye-catching but was doubtless effective for short trips in girding against nature’s savage increase (though, it strikes me as doubtful how useful it would be for extended low-temperature excursions, both because of the presumed discomfort it would engender and the increasing frigidity of the plastic).
There is little information pertaining to the invention and given this scarcity one can only speculate as to the type of plastic used. Those unfamiliar with the period may be surprised to learn that plastic existed in the 30s; one commenter online I spied while researching the device remarked on the photo above, declaring that, “Plastic of this type had not yet been invented in 1939 – i’m thinking this picture is a fake. Glass would have been quite heavy/fragile.” He’s right that glass masks of such a density would have been both heavy and fragile (as well as horrible insulators) but he is quite wrong about the question of plastics. Synthetic polymer was created in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt (designed as a substitute for ivory). The first fully synthetic plastic—Bakelite—was created not long thereafter in 1907 as a replacement for shellac by Leo Baekeland. By the 30s, the plastic age was well underway and pervaded everything from rope to body armour. One of the most fascinating and complex plastic constructs of the time was the 1939 Plastic Pontiac, a showcar manufactured by General Motors, Fisher Body and Rohm & Haas. As the name suggests it was composed almost entirely of plastic (plexiglas had just come into use) and was see-through.
My interest in the snowstorm mask lies not just purely in retro-aesthetic appreciation, but also in practical applications of prospective modulations of the design. One aspect of the mask which struck me after some rumination was its similarity to a bascinet visor.
The bascinet (alternatively, basnet) was a coned full-helm, composed of a conical or globular steel cap and pointed visor that first rose to prominence in the 13th Century and was widely used throughout Europe during the 14th and 15th Century. The helm was typically paired with a padded arming cap and mail coif. The bascinet’s pointed face-guard and conical cap offered a unique advantage over the great helm (pot helm) in terms of defense, as strikes would be more readily deflected by the design of the former, than the latter. Further, where the great helm came close about the face, the bascinet extended away from the face, meaning that, for a wearer of the latter, a crushing blow (such as from a mace, plançon or goedendag) was less likely to be be fatal.
A rigorous synthesis of both designs may prove fruitful in the formation of future weather and weapon resistant headwear. For example: A see-through bascinet composed of photochromic synthetics would provide considerable benefit for trekkers making angled ingress across high altitudes where light is blinding, snow is thick, ice-and-rock-fall is plentiful, and oxygen is sparse.
- Alex Goranov. (—) The 14th Century Bascinet. My Armoury.
- Geoffrey Hacker. (2011) 1939/1940 Plastic Pontiac – First Plastic Car In The World. Undiscovered Classics.
- Kelly DeVries. (1996) Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century : Discipline, Tactics, and Technology. Boydell & Brewer.
- Nationaal Archief (2009) Plastic sneeuwstormbeschermer / Face protection from snowstorms. Nationaal Archief.
- Phil Morris. (2013) Snow cone masks, Snowstorm Wear. Phil Morris.
- SHI. (—) The History & Future of Plastics. SHI.
¹ ‘(—)’ denotes sources whose date of publication was not available.
§.00 The first book known to have been printed in English-America is the Whole Book of Psalms (Bay Psalm Book, or, New England Version Of The Psalms) and was printed by Stephen Daye in Massachusetts, 1640 (20 years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth).
§.01 The New England settlers were partial to Henry Ainsworth’s version of the psalms, the first edition of which was published in 1612, titled The Book Of Psalms: Englished Both In Prose And Metre. With Annotations, Opening Words And Sentences, By Conference With Other Scriptures. However, Ainsworth’s Psalms, unsurprisingly, were not ubiquitous in their popularity; the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay favored T. Sternhold & J. Hopkin’s Psalms (featured in the Geneva Bible of 1569), yet Sternhold & Hopkin’s version was considered unacceptable by numerous nonconformists of the time (Cotton Mather, in his Magnolia Christi Americana, 1663-1728, described the Bay Colony Puritan’s opinions of the Ainsworth’s Psalms as a “Offence” to “The Sense of the Psalmist”). Thus, there was a desire for a book of psalms which was more true to the original Hebrew.
- (1903) The Bay Psalm Book: Being A Facsimile Reprint of the First Edition Printed by Stephen Daye. Dodd, Mead & Co.
- Cotton Mather. (1663-1728) Magnolia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of the New England, from its first planting in the year 1620, unto the year of Our Lord, 1698. In seven books. London. Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three crowns in Cheapside.
- John Josselyn. (1865) An Account of Two Voyages to New England: Made During The Years 1638, 1663. Boston. William Veazie. MDCCCLXV.
The interest in Charles Brockden Brown and his works arises largely from his ranking position among American Prose Writers. Hence, it is not expected that an estimate, somewhat extended and somewhat critical, of his writings is likely to become popular. No other than this, save very brief sketches of Brown and of what he has done, is known to the writer. It may be, then, that the student of American literature will find in this book, written five years ago, something suggestive, perhaps something usually called original.
—Martin S. Vilas, 1904; introduction to Charles Brockden Brown: A Study Of Early American Literature.
§.00 Martin Samuel Vilas’ Charles Brockden Brown: A Study Of Early American Literature (Burlington, VT., Free Press Association, 1904) is one of the better overviews of the work of the American gothique novelist Charles Brockden Brown I have ever come across. Its value lays chiefly in Vilas’ clear and forthright approach to literary criticism (“It has been said,—and rightly I think,—that to study literature correctly and determine the value of the work of each author, he should be studied with reference to himself alone first, next with reference to his place in the history of the literature,” Vilas, p. 66) despite his clear appreciation for Brown as a writer of considerable ability (“Brown is not lacking in invention or originality” p. 56), and praise for Wieland and Ormond, Vilas never allows his appreciation to deteriorate into feeble sentimentalism and excuse-making in relation to Brown’s lesser works (ie. “Brown had been trained a Quaker, but that in no sense excuses him for his inaccurate uses of ‘thee,’ ‘thou,’ and ‘thine'” p. 56).
§.01 As a consequence of Vilas approach (and good writing), the work retains an amusing character, while never compromising swiftness or comprehensiveness to entertainment, which is surprising for a corpus retrospective (cast your mind to any contemporary volume on literary history). The text examines Brown’s novels, Wieland (1798), Ormond (1799), Arthur Mervyn (1799-1800), Edgar Huntly (1799), Clara Howard (1801), and Jane Talbot (1801), in addition to Brown’s social background, philosophic and political influences, and his influence on other writers, all in the space of only 80 pages.
§.02 However, Vilas’ criticism, deft though it is, contains some flaws, as demonstrated in his analysis of Brown’s treatment of wild nature, “He could not describe a cavern, a precipice or a deep ravine without letting his imagination lead him into something that is gruesome. Thus nature becomes not an emblem of the bright and beautiful, but the representation of an infinite and awful power which hangs over and around all things” (p. 58). This characterization is accurate, but is held to be a failing in Brown’s works by Vilas, who notes that his contention with this “gruesome” portrayal of wilderness, is theological in origin. He writes, “[Brown’s descriptions of nature] never go back with a glad and cheerful heart to say,—I am of nature and of God. I exist as a part of it and of Him. If he is great and wonderful, aye, awful at times in his manifestations, I rejoice in it, for it exalts me that see in it an expression of myself. The Almighty is great and powerful, so am I in a small degree as a manifestation in one form of Him.” Vilas then writes, “… these optimistic feelings were not akin to the soul of Brown. His philosophy was the philosophy of darkness and distortion.” (p. 59) At the first, it should be noted that even if it were true that Brown’s philosophy was one of “darkness and distortion” this, in no way detracts (indeed, would enhance) the powers of his prose. I consider this criticism to be irrelevant in relation to Brown’s prose, precisely because it is a problem only in contradistinction to Vilas’ personal philosophy (of providential-anthropocentric unity), which, itself, is far less realistic, than Brown’s more cautious and skeptical view of nature’s savage increase (contemplate Leishmaniasis, or the black plague, cancer, the flesh-feasting botfly, the rivers of blood spilt by the man-eating tigers of India, or the thousands upon thousands who die to mosquitoes annually). That Brown long-suffered with health complications (chiefly consumption) was likely a factor which effected his outlook on ‘nature,’ and one which would predispose him towards a view of ‘the natural’ which was less than ideal (much to Vilas’ evident chagrin), in spite of his gentle yet sedulous religiosity.
§.03 Despite the reservations and harsh criticisms expressed in his text, Vilas’ view of Brown, both as a novelist and American, is ultimately favorable, as he concludes, “Within the limits of his strength, he did a great work. He realized his duty to his country and to civilization to contribute as much as within him lay and he never faltered though beset constantly by weariness and disease. His patience, his conscientiousness and his unfaltering devotion to the light that came to him led him ever on with a resolute heart and, even when disease was constantly preying upon him, his smile of affection always covered the deep-seated anguish. His pure and upright life was reflected in his writings, and if he could not write brilliant facts so that they would endure, all things of him exhibited the greatest of all truths that the highest virtue consists in ‘the perfection of one’s self and the happiness of others.’ It was then a courageous thing to be an American writer and especially to attempt to be the first American novelist, but Brown constantly displayed that courage. Had he not deserved to be first, the position would not have been accorded him. If he did not set the pace, he started the movement. It is with very great respect and considerable admiration that I have studied this ‘brief but blazing star’ that during his short and sickly life worked with such unfailing earnestness along lines that to him seemed best and highest.”
Sources (alphabetically, by author)
- Arkaprabha92. (2015) The Realm of Shadows & Chimera: Gothicism in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland or, The Transformation. JUSAS Online.
- Cheryl Spinner. (2010) Martin S. Vilas, Early 20th Cent. CBB Scholar. Electrically Speaking (Cheryl Spinner’s Research Blog).
- Martin S. Vilas. (1904) Charles Brockden Brown: A Study Of Early American Literature. Free Press Association.
- Memoir of Charles Brockden Brown (preface to Cornell University’s edition of Wieland).
- Rob Velella. (2010) Birth of Charles Brockden Brown. The American Literary Blog.
“The author’s city of the future consists of three triangular walls of 5000 living units apiece, the walls and base forming a tetrahedron; each unit faces the sky over a spacious terrace. The large cutaway drawing shows a huge public garden at the bottom of the interior of the superbuilding, which the sun pierces through broad openings at every 50th floor. Its transport system (in red) includes funicular as well as interior vertical and horizontal units. Though shown here on land, the city also can float. A drawing of the 200-story city superimposed on a photo of the outskirts of Tokyo vies for attention with Mount Fuji. The lowermost figure in the small cutaway drawing is at the back of the downstairs level of his duplex. Seven stories above him is a section of one of the three city centers that rim the structure. Here a transport system has a terminus at a community park, complete with lagoon, palms and shipping center in geodesic domes. Offices and maintenance facilities (in brown) line the transport tracks.”
—City of the Future by Buckminster Fuller in Playboy Magazine, January 1968.
In the 1960s, Japanese denizen, Matsutaro Shoriki (the father of professional baseball and nuclear power in Japan) commissioned a floating city from American architect, R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983). Fuller accepted and the project was dubbed Triton City and was to be a tetrahedronal, anchored floating, offshore residential structure, one fourth of a square mile, capable of housing 5000+ tenants that would be “resistant to tsunamis,” and “desalinate the very water that it would float in,” which would be located in Tokyo Bay. The city would be composed of hollow, box-sectioned, reinforced concrete which would provide buoyancy whilst the sheer size of the construct afforded it stability even in turbulent waters. The project was to be a proof of concept for a larger, pre-existing Fuller design dubbed Tetrahedron City, which was similar to Triton, save for its size (it was to be 200 stories tall and two miles from side to side) with a less jagged facade.
Shoriki died in 1966 after commissioning Tetrahedron City, but the modular test initiative of the project, Triton, lived on through the interest of the United States Department of Urban Development. Both the United States Navy’s Bureau of Ships and Bureau of Yards and Docks gave the project the green light. After the navy’s approval of the design, the City of Baltimore petitioned to have Triton built in Chesapeake Bay, a move which would prove fruitless, as protracted beauracratic complications caused the project to stall which in turn eventually caused Fuller to give up on the project.
There are three principal kinds of conceptual design, those: fictive-for-fiction (not possible in principal — ie. a perpetual motion machine), practicable-for-prospective (possible in theory, untenable at present — ie. a dyson sphere) and practicable-for-practice (presently possible — i.e. a add-on to a contemporary house).
Triton City was the latter and it was for this reason the project remains unique, for despite its seeming grandiosity and fantasticality, it was, and still remains, a imminently feasible (albeit costly and materially intensive) design.
Only a model and book detailing Fuller’s plan for the floating, unpatented, residential area remain of the Triton project.
The fact that Triton was never built, does not, however, mean that Shoriki and Fuller’s work was futile, indeed, quite the opposite, as today it serves as a valuable source of inspiration for seastead designers the world over. Such structures hold considerable promise in their potential to banish for a considerable length of time, the hyperbolic cries of overpopulation. As the surface of Earth is roughly 71% (rounded up) water and only 29% land and the majority of the human population (as of this writing) is concentrated upon approximately but 10% of that total landmass, it is objectively false to claim that the planet, as such, is ‘overpopulated.’ Yet, regardless of population concerns, the overriding object of design should be a increase in habitability precisely because such a increase in his powers is also a increase in survivability. Man is durable as a largely land-locked species and shall thus witness his durability increase whence he is equally able to live upon and under the whole depth and breadth of the ocean-vast.
- Atelier Marko Brajovik. (2010) Buckminster Fuller — Triton Floating City. Bubuia: The Floating Institute; Floating Architecture Research Network.
- Matt Shaw. (2016) Review: Parrish Art Museum’s “Radical Seafaring” Catalogue (How Art & Architecture Hit The Water in the 1960s & Beyond). The Architects Newspaper.
- NBC News. This Floating City Concept Is One Way To Cope With Climate Change. KSBY-6.
- nunno Koglek à. (2013) Triton City – the First Utopian Seastead. Utopicus.
- R. Buckminster Fuller. (1982) Critical Path. St. Martin’s Press.
- R. Buckminster Fuller. (1968) City of the Future. Playboy Magazine (Vol. 15, No.1, January).
- Tom Metcalfe. (2017) World’s First Floating Village To Breath New Life Into Old Dream. NBC News.
- Trevor Blake. (2009) The Lost Inventions of Buckminster Fuller (Part 3 of 3). Synchronofile.
The New Space Race
Since 1972, no human manned space mission has proceeded beyond near Earth orbit.
Now, numerous countries, including but not limited to the US, China, Japan, India and Israel, seek to change that. However, the most prominent efforts promoting space colonization are not coming from governments, but from industrialists.
September 27, Space-X founder, CEO and lead designer, Elon Musk, gave a talk titled Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species at AIC on his company’s plans to colonize Mars and the numerous technical challenges entailed by the venture.
May 9, Jeff Bezos of Amazon held a talk for Blue Origin, whereat he discussed the tantalizing prospects of space colonization and what he and his company were doing to advance that cause. The near-hour long talk was titled, Going to Space to Benefit Earth, and covered a considerable amount of ground (as one must when attempting to plot out a rough trajectory for the interstellar future of a entire species).
Bezos talked at length about Earth’s resources, growth versus scarcity, and Blue Origin’s reusable rockets; however, most interestingly (to me) was his brisk discourse on O’Neill Colonies (or O’Neill Cylinders). Unlike Musk, whose talk centered on Earth-to-Mars transit for prospective future colonies without remarking what those colonies might look like or how they might be built, Bezos waxed more conceptual regarding potential rough guidelines for colonial deepspace habitats.
O’Neill Colonies were developed out of J.D. Bernal’s space colony sphere concept (aptly titled Bernal Spheres) by the American physicist, Gerard Kitchen O’Neill in a series of lectures in 1975 to 1976 and also in his 1976 book, The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. In brief, a O’Neill Colony was conceived of as a massive cylinder, 5 miles in diameter, 20 miles long, constrained at each end with a bearing system, that would generate artificial gravity by spinning so as to be maximally conducive to human habitation. Until Bernal and O’Neil nearly all space colonization discourse was constrained to planetary surfaces due, at least in part, to what Issac Asimov called ‘planetary chauvinism’ (who borrowed the phrase from Carl Sagan).
The Promise of the Abyss
Whilst the theoretical archive of space habitation is dense and public support strong, the like archive of oceanic habitation is somewhat thinner with public support being considerably less strong as a consequence despite the fact that it is now wholly within the realm of technological feasibility. One of the likely reasons why can be found in a line from Mr. Musk’s previously mentioned talk wherein he noted that,
“Right now, on Earth, you can go anywhere in 24 hours. I mean, anywhere. You can fly over the antartic pole and parachute out, 24 hours from now, if you want. You can get parachuted from the top of Mt. Everest — from the right plane. You can go to the bottom of the ocean. […] So, there is no physical frontier on Earth anymore.”
He is correct, as far as the surface of the earth goes (the subterranean is another story entirely), but traversing a frontier and settling a frontier are two very different things. Despite the ease with which a contemporary advanced submersible may traverse the bottom of the ocean, no permanent human settlement has ever there been created.
In terms of intercivilizational development, space colonization is the more important trajectory, this much is incontestable, as, given a sufficiently long timeline, a species-wide extinction event will eventually occur (such as the death of the sun, which would entail the evaporation of all life on Earth), thus, moving out into the solar system is a way to hedge our species’ collective bets for continued existence. That being said, there are a number of promising benefits from oceanic colonization in the short term, including resource extraction, migration alleviation, scientific and architectural experimentation and many more, all of which have their own knock-on effects (both potentially positive and negative). To further develop concrete plans for oceanic colonization, then, it behooves us to engage in a perfunctory cost benefit analysis, for if the negatives are found to outway the positives no one will want to engage in the project and if the analysis is not conducted, no one will care because no one will know. However, if the benefits of mass underwater habitation construction are found to be generally positive, the knowledge thereof will further incentivize those preternaturally exploratory few who would invariably be at the vanguard of any prospective future abyssal ventures.
Bountiful Sanitary Water
The first and most obvious benefit of ocean colonization is that, with a sufficient filtration system, one will never run out of clean water, both for consumption and sanitation. In a deepsea habitation with a reverse osmosis desalination system, the supply of clean water would be endless and energy expenditure, minimal, as (provided sufficient depth) the pressure would perform the majority of the operational heavy-lifting.
High-Yield Aquatic Farming
Crustacean, fish and mollusc farms in addition to gardens, would be both easy to maintain and provide ample, nutritional vittles, both for consumption and exportation. The novelty of deepsea base cuisine itself will, in some quarters, will likely be such to generate considerable demand.
Mineral Mining & Hydrocarbon Extraction
Polymetallic nodules, manganese crusts, metalliferous sulphidic muds and massiveconsolidated sulphides all can be exploited for metals, whilst submarine phosphorite deposits can be harvested for elemental phosphorous, fertilizer, feed and industrial chemical supplements.
New Sovereignty — Conflict Mitigation
Crowding and demographic diversity engender and intensify inter-tribal adversity, spurring a desire for system exit by those unamenable to assimilation. To alleviate future inter-group conflict by separatist designs or over-capacity migrant flow, new, submarine sovereignties can be created whereby future civil wars (the most bloody, fatal kind of warfare) are mitigated.
Mitigation Of Complications Brought About Via Sea Level Rise
The fear of sea level rise could be completely mitigated by designing oceanic habitations around the coast, whether above water-level, below-water-level or architectures capable of both floatation and submersion whilst sustaining a amenable habitat.
Orienting Design Trajectories Toward Multivarient Domain Mastery
Beyond the immediate aesthetic and material benefits of ocean colonization, the single most important aspect of designing sustainable, durable human submarine habitation is in orienting design towards mastery of the inhospitable. In place of making previously habitable domains more habitable, the ultimate goal of colony design efforts should be to make all spaces habitable — whether that domain is the deep ocean, a distant planet, or the unlit and unpopulated expanse of void-space.
Past and Continuing Attempts At Inverse Arcology
Though ocean colonization has not been as feverishly pursed as space colonization (as can be gathered from the fact that every major industrial nation has a space program, but none have similar programs for sea-floor settlement), there have nonetheless been numerous past and continuing attempts to make the sea human habitable. Before we come to the various structures and plans for watery residence, it is important to note that though many of them were not forthright attempts at colonization (widespread, long-term settlement for large populations), there is no intrinsic reason why they could not in the future. Every metropolis in the U.S. was once but a scattering of small homesteads. In like fashion, the aquatic demenses of tomorrow can only arise from gradual, granular development.
The Conshelf I, II and III
In 1962, Conshelf I was set up off Marseilles at a depth of ten meters. The structure measured 5 meters long and 2.5 meters in diameter. Two men, Albert Falco and Claude Wesly, were the first ‘oceanauts’ to live in it, completely underwater, for a week.
In 1963, Conshelf II was deployed, it was designed to function as a small village, built on the floor of the Red Sea at a depth of ten meters. Like Conshelf I, the Conshelf II was developed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in conjunction with the French petrochemical industry.
In 1965, Conshelf III was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea, between Nice and Monaco, at a depth of 330 feet (100 m). Like stations I and II, Conshelf III was intended to function as a proof of concept habitat and pave the way for future designs of deepsea industrial bases.
Sub-Biosphere Project II
Begun in 1998, the Sub-Biosphere project (SBS2) is the brainchild of London designer and concept artist, Phil Pauley which lays out a potential submersible human habitation. SBS2 consists of 8 spheres affixed in a circle to a larger central sphere from which life support is monitored, all of which would function as biomes capable of floating or submerging beneath large bodies of water.
The Muraka, which means ‘coral’ in Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives, is a opulent villa located 16.5 feet beneath the waves of the Indian Ocean. Whilst not meant for private residence, it certainly could be used as such and shows the aesthetic allure of submarine architecture.
Project Ocean Spiral
“This is a real goal, not a pipe dream. The Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented – in the same way, the technology and knowhow we need for this project will become available.” —Shimizu Corp spokesman, Hideo Imamura on project Ocean Spiral
In 2014, the prolific Japanese architectural firm, Shimizu Corporation, announced plans for Ocean Spiral, a prospective underwater city which would accomadate approximately 5000 people and draw power from the water its via thermal energy conversion.
It is projected to be operational by 2030.
- Ahnert, A. & Borowski, C. (2000) Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery, 7: 299.
- Blue Origin. (2019) Going to Space to Benefit Earth. Youtube (Blue Origin).
- Boban Docevski. (2016) Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater Colonies From The 1960s. The Vintage News.
- Gerard K. O’Neill. (1976) The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. William Morrow and Company.
- Jeff Kelly. (2014) 10 Underwater Facilities You Could Actually Live In. Listverse.
- Jude Garvey. (2010) Sub Biosphere 2: Designs for a Self-Sustainable Underwater World. New Atlas.
- Julie Johnsson. (2017) The New Space Race. Bloomberg.
- Katharine J. Tobal. (2014) Japan Releases Plans For Futuristic Underwater Cities By 2030. Collective Evolution.
- Leah Crane. (2019) Elon Musk’s SpaceX or a Superpower: Who’ll Win The New Space Race? New Scientist.
- Lori Zimmer. (2014) Self-Sufficient Sub-Biosphere 2 Houses 100 People Under The Sea.
- Matthew Williams. (2017) The Future of Space Colonization — Terraforming or Space Habitats? PHYSorg.
- Richard Page. (2018) An Overview of Chinese Policy, Activity and Strategic Interests Relating to Deepsea Mining In The Pacific Region. DSMC.
- SpaceX. (2016) Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species. Youtube (SpaceX).
- von Rad U., Kudrass HR. (1987) Exploration and Genesis of Submarine Phosphorite Deposits from the Chatham Rise, New Zealand — A Review. In: Teleki P.G., Dobson M.R., Moore J.R., von Stackelberg U. (eds) Marine Minerals. NATO ASI Series (Series C: Mathematical and Physical Sciences), vol 194. Springer, Dordrecht.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Filed Apr. 7, 1955, Ser. No. 499,867 2 Claims. (C. 176-38)
The design of any power reactor requires that large amounts of heat be removed from the reactor core and the necessity of obtaining good heat transfer conditions often dictates the arrangement of the reactor. From a nuclear standpoint the reactor core is desirably arranged in a geometric pattern so as to have the smallest ratio of core bounding surface to volume in order to minimize neutron escape. Such considerations have caused some of the prior reactor cores to be constructed in the general form of a sphere. Other shapes that have been used are righ circular cylinders having a length to diameter ratio greater than one and polygons having a length greater than its major cross axis.
Almost all of these reactors have been designed for low power output and have utilized solid fuel. Solid fuel or heterogeneous reactors by their construction limitations can not have a high efficiency of neutron liberation, because the fuel cladding material and the coolant heat transfer surfaces interfere with the ecient transfer of neutrons for further ssion. In contrast, homogeneous type reactors, where the issionable material is in solution, have a high neutron efficiency and are more readily adapted to geometries which deviate considerably from the above mentioned sphere.
Mobile reactors have the overriding consideration that they must be relatively small in size to fit into the available space, .while releasing large amounts of heat, i.e., capacity to operate at high power densities. In units of this type the removal of heat is a major criteria for determining a design.` Factors aifecting the heat transfer such as uniform removal of heat throughout the core, characteristics of the heat transfer or coolant uid, and structural limitations, are more influential design factors than the nuclear requirements.
The nuclear reactor of my invention is particularly charv acterized by the construction of the reactor core or fuel chamber in the shape of a right circular cylinder having an axial length to diameter ratio of less than 0.75, and with the circular end portions of the cylinder serving as tube sheets for a multiplicity of small diameter, longitudinally disposed, spaced cooling tubes which pass through the core or fuel chamber. Within the cylinder and around the tubes there is a water solution of uranium sulphate or the like.
Another feature of my invention is the provision of inlet and outlet chambers on the outer side of each tube sheet which when filled with water act as reflectors.
A further feature of my invention is that the water which is used for a reector, can be the reactor coolant fluid and may be either boiled to generate steam or may simply be heated for a further heat transfer step in an auxiliary heat exchanger where the coolant fluid transfers heat to a vaporizable fluid for vapor generation.
A still further feature of my invention is the provision of a catalytic recombiner in which the dissociated water vapor from the fuel solution is externally recombined and then condensed by the vapor generator feed water in indirect heat exchange so as to constitute in effect a continuously refluxing condenser.
Another feature of my invention is in the use of the 3,127,3Zl Patented Mar. 31, 1964 ice 2 driving potential of the dissociated water vapor, vapor, and gaseous fission products which pass 0E from the liquid fuel solution, to drive a turbine which in turn drives a pump for the circulation of the fuel solution within the fuel chamber, thus increasing the heat transfer effectiveness of the fuel solution.
A further feature is in the provision of means for superheating the power plant working uid by passing the vapor generated in cooling relation with the primary shield heated by the gamma radiations of the reactor. This arrangement gives the steam a measure of superheat, thus guaranteeing that the steam is dry and also reducing the external heat loss of the primary shield.
The various features of novelty which characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claimsv annexed to and forming a part of this specification. For a better understanding of the invention, its operating advantages and specific objects attained by its use, reference should be had to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which I have illustrated and described a preferred embodiment of the invention.
Of the drawings:
FIG. l is a sectional elevation through a nuclear reactor embodying the invention;
FIG. 2 is a transverse section taken on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an isometric drawing of the exterior of the reactor with the shell removed; and
FIG. 4 is a view of the reactor as mounted in a locomotive.
The nuclear reactor illustrated utilizes a homogeneous solution of uranium sulphate in light water, with the reactor being cooled by heating light water under forced circulation at a vaporizing temperature. The reactor has a fuel chamber 10 formed by a cylindrical pressure wall 12, a pair of spaced circular tube sheets 14 and 16 arranged to close the ends thereof, and a multiplicity of small diameter coolant tubes 18 extending between and opening through said tube sheets. Disposed at opposite ends of the cylindrically shaped fuel chamber are a cylindrically shaped fuel chamber are a cylindrical coolant inlet chamber 20 and a cylindrical coolant outlet chamber 22. Directly above the fuel chamber 10 and in communication with it, is a catalytic recombiner chamber 24.
Adjacent the recombiner chamber 24 is a separate external steam separator 26 which has a riser 28 in communication with the outlet chamber 22, a downcorner Sil connected to the coolant inlet chamber itl, and a vapor outlet line 32. Subjacent the cylindrical fuel chamber is a coolant pump 34 arranged to force-circulate the coolant fluid from the outlet chamber 22 via the suction line 3d to the coolant inlet chamber Ztl via line 3S. Disposed adjacent to but spaced from the outer sides of inlet and outlet chambers are two parallel steam superheater sections 4@ and 42, each being formed in a sinuous tube bank in thermal contact with a vertical end wall 44 of the primary shielding structure 45, formed of steel, e.g., 8 thick. The shielding 45′ is completed by a U-shaped side wall 47 and and roof 49 connected to the end walls 44, and the entire reactor is disposed within the shielding.
Within the fuel chamber lil are a pair 0f spaced vertically arranged fuel circulation bafiies 46 which assist in guiding the circulation of the liquid fuel. Arranged to take suction from the liquid fuel contained between the baffles 46 is a fuel circulating pump dit. rhis pump is driven by a turbine 50 which receives its driving energy from the dissociated water vapor, vapor, and ssion gases which rise off of the liquid fuel surface indicated at 52 and pass into the recombiner chamber 24. Immediately upon entering the chamber 24 the dissociated water vapor first passes through a body of catalyst 51 which may be activated platinum, where the hydrogen and oxygen is recombined in an exothermic process. The released heat superheats the ssion gases and water Vapor. The condensible vapor is then partly condensed by a condenser coil 53 in the upper end of the chamber 24. The cooling fluid for the condenser coil is the vapor generator feed water which enters the recombiner chamber by the line 55 and is discharged by the line 54 into the reactor inlet coolant chamber 20. The condensed water is carried out of the recombiner through the line S6 and returned to the fuel chamber l to maintain the liquid fuel level therein. Disposed within the fuel chamber are emergency cooling heat transfer tubes 58 having their opposite ends connected to inlet and outlet headers 60 and 62. On the occurrence of a predetermined condition, an emergency cooling fluid can be forced through the cooling loop 58 from an external source (not shown) in order to remove the reactor decay heat.
The reactor is controlled to maintain a predetermined fuel temperature, thus changes in this temperature would change the power output. Control rods 64 are adapted to be reciprocably moved according to the proper control signal by any of the presently known control systems for reactors.
In the operation of this reactor control rods 64 are moved until the reactor goes critical. The reactor coolant circulating pump 34 is started so that the light water coolant is circulated from the inlet chamber 20 through the tubes llS into the outlet chamber 22 and then back to the pump, until a steaming condition is reached. Then a control valve (not shown) on the outlet 43 of the superheater 40, 42 would be opened. The steam which is generated as it passes through the reactor coolant tubes 18 passes up the steam riser tube 28 into the steam and Water separator 26. The separated water passes down the downcomer into the inlet chamber 20 and the separated steam passing into the superheater sections 40 and 42. As the steam passes through the superheater, which is in contact with the primary shielding 44, the steam picks up a small degree of superheat in cooling the shield end walls 44, which in turn receive heat from the gamma radiations from the reactor. Thus there is generated steam for the prime mover in a homogeneous type boiling reactor.
In FIG. 4 there is shown a speciiic application of my mobile reactor as used as a power source for a railway locomotive. The reactor, which is Within the primary shield 45, is centrally located within a large shielding chamber formed by the secondary shield 66. The reactor is arranged therein with the fuel chamber major axis in a plane coincidental with the longitudinal axis of the locomotive underframe 68, thus providing the maximum shielding distance between the primary shield 45 andthe secondary shield 66. The reactor and the primary shield are supported on the pedestals 70 which in turn rest on the secondary shield 66. The secondary shield, also being of 8 thick steel, constitutes a center panel of a heavy duty bridge truss 72 which allows the weight of the reactor to be transmitted to and carried by the traction assembly 74. The secondary shield is also arranged to utilize to a maximum extent the allowable width of the railway car underframe, the outer sides of the shield being in substantial vertical alignment with the side edges of the underframe. In one such case, the outer dimensions of the secondary shield were 10 feet wide, feet long and l5 feet high. The space between the inner primary shield and the outer secondary shield is filled with a shielding material, which is approximately one-half steel and one-half hydrogenous material of about unit density, which gives the shield a total weight of approximately 400,000 pounds. Under emergency conditions, such as wrecks, the presence of a shielding material of high viscosity between the inner and the outer shield structures is advantageous in effecting the deceleration of the internal or primary shield 45 within the secondary shield 66. Such a material would be a hydrocarbon which is high in hydrogen content.
The steam from the reactor flows from the superheated steam outlet 43 into a steam turbine ’76 which drives conventional railway electrical generating equipment and which in turn drives the electric traction motors of a well known type on the carriages 74.
By way of example, and not of limitation, one locomotive reactor of the character described was designed with a fuel chamber dimension of 3 feet diameter and 10 inches in length, and containing 10,000 1A; inch tubes. Table I shows the designed operating conditions of the locomotive.
TABLE I Operating Conditions Reactor heat generating (continuous) 30,000 kw. team pressure (saturated) 250 p.s.i. Reflector temp 405 F. Fuel solution temp 460 F. Turbine exhaust pressure 6″ Hg. Steam ow 120,000- lb./hr. Turbine power (continuous) 8,000 I-LP. Cycle efficiency 20%.
The reactor characteristics of the locomotive type is shown in Table II below.
TABLE lII Nuclear Operating Data (a) Homogeneous solution UO2SO4. (b) H/U255 atomic ratio 700. (c) H20/Um weight ratio 27. (d) U235 9.0 Vkg. (e) UO2SO4 weight 13.9 kg. (f) H2O required 243 kg. (g) Assumed densityl of solution 1.0 g./cm.3. (h) Solution circulation rate 500 g.p.m. (i) Reflector circulation rate 2000 gpm. (j) Solution pressure 650 p.s.i.g. (k) Reflector pressure 250 p.s.i.g. (l) Power generated 30,000 kw. (m) Excess reactivity 10%. (n) H2O decomposition rate 32 g./sec. (o) Solution temperature 460 F. (p) Reflector temperature 405 F.
The inlet and outlet chambers 20, 22 by their construction and arrangement are especially adapted to act as a neutron reflector, and by virtue of the described geometric arrangement of the fuel chamber they cover a large portion of the surfaces of the fuel chamber, thus contributing to the neutron conservation of the reactor.
The geometric configuration of the fuel chamber, being a right circular cylinder with a length to diameter ratio of considerably less than 0.75, makes possible the use of short longitudinally disposed cooling tubes so as to allow operation of the reactor at a high power density with the boiling cooling Water having a short flow path, thus holding the volume of steam generated in each tube during its traversing of the fuel chamber to a minimum. This allows the boiling Water to maintain its high heat transfer effectiveness without the large reactivity change which would occur with large amounts of steam in each tube.
The integral turbine and pump arrangement in the fuel chamber of the reactor provides for a forced circulation of the liquid fuel by utilizing the heretofore wasted energy of the dissociated vapor and fission gases as they travel to the catalytic recombiner and results in highly improved heat transfer conditions within the fuel chamber. The condenser part of the recombiner operates as an economizer for heating the feed water and thus increases the efliciency of the working cycle.
While in accordance with the provisions of the statutes I have illustrated and described herein the best form of the invention now known to me, those skilled in the art will understand that changes may be made in the form of the apparatus disclosed without departing from the spirit of the invention covered by the claims, and that certain features of the invention may sometimes be used to advantage without a corresponding use of other features.
1. A radiation shielding arrangement for a high energy nuclear radiation source in a railway vehicle comprising a railcar underframe, said radiation source in the form of a right circular cylinder of a length to diameter ratio of less than one and arranged with its major axis in a plane coincidental with the longitudinal axis of said underframe, a radiation shield vessel enveloping said source and mounted on said underframe with the vertical external sides of said shield being in vertical alignment with the side edges of said underframe, a second fluid-tight radiation shield vessel closely surrounding said source internally of and spaced from said first named shield vessel, a high viscosity uid iilling the space between the shield vessels having the ability to decelerate any movement of said internal vessel, and a hydrogenous material placed in said high viscosity liquid to increase the shielding effect of the liquid.
2. A radiation shielding arrangement for a high energy nuclear radiation source in a railway vehicle comprising a railcar underframe, said radiation source in the form of a right circular cylinder of a length to diameter ratio of less than one and arranged with its major axis in a plane coincidental with the longitudinal axis of said underframe, a radiation shield vessel enveloping said source and mounted on said underframe with the vertical external sides of said shield being in vertical alignment with the side edges of said underframe, a second uid-tight radiation shield vessel closely surrounding said source internally of and spaced from said first named shield vessel, a vapor superheater in heat transfer relationship to the interior surface of said second radiation shield, means for passing vapor through said superheater to remove heat from said shield surface and efect the superheating of said vapor, a high viscosity uid lling the space between the shield vessels having the ability to decelerate any movement of said internal vessel, and a hydrogenous material placed in said high viscosity liquid to increase the shielding eiect of the liquid.
References Cited in the le of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Fermi et al May 17, 1955 OTHER REFERENCES ABCD-3287, February 7, 1952, 17 pages, Technical Information Service, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Nucleonics, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 78 and 80. March 1954.
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission AECD-3065, September 19, 1945, pp. 1-28.
Applied Atomic Power by E. S. C. Smith et al., Prentice- Hall, N.Y., 1946, pp. -169.
Business Opportunities in Atomic Energy. Proceedings of a meeting March 15 and 1’6, 1954, Biltmore Hotel, New York, N.Y., pub. by Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc., 260 Madison Ave., New York 16, N.Y., May 1954. (Editors of report: Oliver Townsend, Edwin Wiggins, pp. C2 to C15.)
The Effects of Atomic Weapons was a joint project of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Atomic Energy Commission which sought a “quantitative approach to atomic bomb phenomenology.”
The book was published in 1950.
A PDF of the book is provided below:
In a January 26, 1952 edition of Collier’s Magazine, Captain Richard P. Taffe released a article entitled ‘Im Not Afraid of the A-Bomb,’ a personal account of the live demonstration of a atomic bomb; the entire article is provided (without textual modification) below.
I’m Not Afraid of the A-Bomb
By Captain Richard P. Taffe
In a firsthand report, an Army officer says that troops can attack through the ravaged area immediately after the blast.
I walked through an atom-bombed area. I didn’t get burned, I didn’t become radioactive, and I didn’t become sterile. And neither did the 5,000 guys with me. Furthermore, I wasn’t scared—either while taking my walk through the blasted miles, or while watching the world’s most feared weapon being exploded seven miles in front of me.
But, I’ve been asked a hundred times since the Desert Rock maneuvers at Yucca Flats in the Nevada atomic test site, “What was it like?”
The question was asked by both soldiers and civilians. It was asked by persons with an honest desire to learn, firsthand, some information about the A-bomb, and the frequency with which the question was asked indicated that the American public knows very little about this subject.
Before we go any further, it might be well to explain that I am neither a scientist, an engineer, nor a highly educated military specialist. I’m a onetime newspaperman who has spent just about half of his adult life in the Army. I can’t explain the A-bomb in technical terms. I can’t even spell the terms. And I don’t know much about high-level tactics. But I do know what this new era of warfare looks like to me.
And I’m convinced that even a small amount of basic information about atomic energy—from a soldier’s point of view—will do the public a lot more good than all the fear-producing technical talk I had heard up to the time I was permitted to attend the Nevada tests as an observer. . . .
For many days prior to the test, combat troops and observers poured into the temporary tent camp at Desert Rock by plane, train and bus. The group ranged from privates to generals and represented every branch of the service. After a security clearance, we were assigned to tents in a very well organized camp. After the many observers had been fully oriented on the rudiments of atomic warfare, we were placed on an alert status. This was the night before the blast. . . .
With each mile the apprehension grew. What would it be like? How big was the bomb? We had been warned that the show could be called off by the Atomic Energy Commission right up until the last minute. Rumors flew along the column of trucks.
A desert floor at dawn is a deceiving thing. Distance means nothing. Mountains 25 miles away seemed to be within easy walking distance. A dried lake was realistic enough to provoke wagers that it was actually water—despite a cluster of buildings in the center of it—and another dried lake turned out to be our parking lot.
As we scrambled off the trucks, our names were checked again. While we were forming into lines, the drivers opened all windows and laid the windshields flat against the hoods of their vehicles. This was to keep them from shattering when the bomb burst.
Truckload by truckload, the thousands of troops shuffled through the dust to the observation point.
The test officials had thought of everything. We were first lined up shoulder to shoulder and then spread out so that we were separated by several yards, the MP with the truck number tied to his back at the head of each line. There was plenty of room on the flat desert.
The major who had briefed us back in Camp Desert Rock was speaking from a platform to our rear. It was six thirty—about an hour to the scheduled time of the explosion. He reviewed everything we had been told before, while we searched the sky for the several planes cruising high above.
About half an hour before “H hour” a preliminary TNT explosion was touched off to test the many scientific instruments. We were told it was 300 pounds of explosive. It gave us our first real conception of distance on the desert.
The test blast raised only a tiny spiral of dust two miles down the desert floor and the noise was barely audible.
The voice on the public address system described Ground Zero (the point directly under which the bomb was to explode) as being near a road junction and asked us to locate it. It was difficult to spot from our location seven miles away; the best most of us could do was to pick out the road junction.
With nothing between us and it but sandy desert, Ground Zero looked uncomfortably close.
Some of the observers asked if they could look directly at the blast with special sunglasses. The officer in charge explained which glasses could be used and which could not. We were particularly warned not to view the spectacle with field glasses.
With 10 minutes to go, the tension increased. We were told that the plane that was to drop the bomb had made its last wind run. We could see the sun reflected from its side as it flew high over the mountains to our right.
Then came the command, “By order of the commanding general, all personnel will face away from the blast area and be seated on the ground, with the exception of those equipped with AEC-issued 4.2 density glasses.”
Why face away from the blast? Because we might get hurt? Because we might suffer permanent eye damage? No! The initial flash of light from an atomic bomb has been described as being 1,000 times as bright as the surface of the sun. At seven miles, looking directly at it would not have caused any permanent eye damage—but it would have blinded us long enough to cause us to miss the rest of the amazing show. We turned our backs and sat down.
Some Risked a Quick Peek
Those last few minutes were interminably long. All talk ceased. Some of us tried to sneak a peek over our shoulder, but we were afraid the bomb would go off at that particular instant and we didn’t peek long.
The seconds were being counted over the public address system. Then came a clear, steady voice from the plane over the public address system, “Bomb away.”
Involuntarily we hunched our shoulders and tensed.
Suddenly it came. A gigantic flash of white light, bright as a photoflash bulb exploding in our eyes—even with our backs turned. The order “Turn” screamed over the public address system and 5,000 soldiers spun and stared. As we turned, it was as though someone had opened the door of a blast furnace as the terrific heat reached us. There, suspended over the desert floor, was the fireball which follows the initial flash of an atomic bomb.
Hung there in the sky, the tremendous ball of flame was too blinding to stare at, and suddenly there was much more to see.
Sucked into that fireball were the tons of debris from the desert floor. Almost at once dust clouds climbed hundreds of yards off the ground for miles in each direction. Then the familiar column of dirty gray smoke formed and started to rise.
Up to this point we had seen, but we had not heard and we had not felt, the explosion.
But then came the shock wave. The ground beneath us started to heave and sway. Not back and forth as you might expect, but sideways. The earthquakelike movement of the ground rocked us on our haunches and, had we been standing, it could have knocked us down.
About that time, our heads were snapped back with the force of the terrible blast as the sound finally crossed those seven miles and reached us. The tremendous crack was a louder one than most of us had ever heard before. And right behind it came another crack—there seemed to be some debate as to whether this was an echo or another chain reaction in the fireball.
From the throats of everyone there came noises. Noises, not words. I listened particularly for the first coherent statement, but, like myself, few people could voice normal exclamations. It was not something normal and words just wouldn’t come out—only unintelligible sounds.
The first words I did hear came from a caustic corporal behind me, who said, almost calmly, “Well, I finally located that damned Ground Zero.”
Our roar of laughter broke the tension, but the spectacle was far from over.
The horror turned to beauty. It isn’t difficult to associate the word beautiful with such a lethal exhibition, because from this point on, the atomic blast became just that—beautiful. A column rose from where the fireball had dimmed, crawled through the brown doughnut above the fireball, and boiled skyward. The dirty gray of the stem was rapidly offset by the purple hues and blues of the column. Then came the mushroom—the trade-mark of an atomic bomb.
Capped in pure white, the seething mushroom emitted browns, blood orange, pastel pinks, each fighting its way to the surface only to be sucked to the bottom and then back into the middle of the mass of white. Within minutes, the top was at 30,000 feet and then the huge cloud broke loose from the stem and drifted in the wind toward Las Vegas. . . .
This explosion had three lethal qualities. They were: blast, heat and radiation. The greatest fear the public has today in connection with the atom bomb probably is radiation. People forget that it caused only 15 per cent of the 140,000 deaths at Hiroshima.
One second after an air burst of an atom bomb, 50 per cent of the radiation is gone. All danger of lingering radiation has disappeared after 90 seconds.
As to the other two qualities, blast caused 60 per cent of the deaths at Hiroshima. Heat and the accompanying fires accounted for the other 25 per cent. . . .
As we moved up the road in the trucks, the effects of the blast became more apparent. About two miles from Ground Zero—and incidentally the bomber dropped his lethal egg in the proverbial bucket, right on the target—it became obvious that a terrible force had been at work.
At one of the closest positions we again left the trucks and walked through the charred area. Despite the devastation, there was no doubt that a successful attack could have been made by friendly troops directly through the blasted area—immediately after the explosion.
Here we couldn’t help but notice that every blade of grass was burned, every cluster of sagebrush bent away from the center of the blast. Had there been any buildings in the area, they would have been demolished.
In the nearest positions, both the blast and burn effects of the bomb were pointed out to us. The burns were peculiar ones—almost a photographic effect. A rock in front of a board resulted in the board being charred completely with the exception of a perfect outline of rock. “Just like a quick sunburn,” the briefing officer had said. “Either a first-, second- or third-degree burn, depending on how close you are.”
However, nothing below the surface of the ground appeared to be damaged to any great extent. And most of the equipment aboveground could still be used.
But nothing could have lived aboveground in those first few seconds after the explosion.
Close enough to Ground Zero it would have been a case of “how dead can you be?”—as all of the bomb’s lethal qualities would have been working at once.
Concrete Proves Invulnerable
Below ground, a different story. The sheep were scared, and burned in spots where they were exposed, but they were living. I heard many soldiers express pleasure at the protection offered by a simple foxhole—and the absolute safety afforded by concrete or heavily reveted emplacements.
The next day, we read a newspaper headline which said, “Troops Survive First Atom Bomb Test.” We laughed. Most of us were quite positive we would have “survived” even had the distances and safety factors been considerably lessened. Providing, of course, we had been underground at the time of the blast. Another newspaper quoted a soldier-witness to the explosion as saying, “I would trust the atom bomb as a tactical weapon.” So would I!
As for two of the bomb’s properties—blast and heat—I learned at Desert Rock that with proper shelter, and it need not be elaborate, a soldier can be perfectly safe at an incredibly short distance from Ground Zero.
As to the third property—radiation—I have been told that it consists of alpha rays, beta rays, gamma rays and neutrons. The briefing officer put that into understandable language by saying, “a hunk of helium, a hunk of electron, a hunk of X ray, and, as for the neutron, a hunk of something that does something to something else.”
To be sure, the Geiger counter clicked madly in the area. It will also click madly when placed near the luminous dial of my watch. To be sure, there is lingering radiation in the area after an atomic bomb blast. But not enough to cause injury.
The safety limits at Desert Rock were such that if we multiplied by 1,000 the amount of radiation we picked up during our walk through the area, a doctor could barely detect it in our bodies. Only if we multiplied it by 10,000 would we require medical treatment. . . .
Having had all this explained to me by persons who know, having walked through a blasted area within a short time after an atomic explosion, and having realized that the safety precautions taken at Desert Rock were far in excess of those necessary under combat conditions, I no longer worry about becoming radioactive because of the blast I watched.
As the man said, if you are close enough to be hurt by radiation, it won’t make too much difference—you’ll also be dead from about six other causes. . . .
Observers drew several conclusions at Desert Rock. First, factual and simple orientation can eliminate most of the fear and apprehension concerned with atomic weapons. Secondly, properly covered, a soldier need have no fear of the effects of an atomic bomb air burst, from either blast, fire or radiation. Thirdly, properly warned and protected, troops could attack through an area ravaged by the weapon immediately after the blast.
I heard a general emphasize a well-known military fact the other day. He said: “You can’t research the infantry out of business.”
The atom bomb will not put the foot soldier on the shelf. Rather, it adds another weapon to his stockpile.
Much more about atomic warfare will be learned at future tests. And when all the information is evaluated, new doctrines will be written to help the infantryman survive an atom blast and still do his job.
As the briefing officer had told us before we witnessed the awesome spectacle, “Of course you can’t minimize the tremendous power of a bomb which killed 140,000 at Hiroshima—but you can put it in its place.”
Then I scoffed. Now I believe it.
The recording below, Tri-C Community College radio recording, consists of a fantastic collection of sound poetry. ‘Sound poetry’ broadly defined, is poetry which is typically characterized by wild and often non-standard linguistic exclamations, intended to invoke a thematic mood or feeling. As with noise-music, contemporary sound poetry can be traced to the Italian Futurists.
Most notably, the recording features a energetic reading (in Italian) of Futurist Founder F.T. Marinetti’s sound poem, Dune, parole in libertà (1914).