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Censorship United States Technology

"H-Bomb Secret" Now Online 502

Posted by michael
from the we'll-try-to-stay-serene-and-calm dept.
DrDNA writes "In 1979, the US Government sued Howard Morland, Erwin Knoll and Sam Day at The Progressive Magazine for prior restraint over the planned publication of 'The H-Bomb Secret: How We Got It--Why We're Telling It,' citing national security. Six months later, a Federal appeals court vacated the restraining order on publication, and the article was published. There's an interview about the case with George Stanford, of Argonne National Lab, Illinois, a technical adviser for the Progressive Magazine. After all this time, the Progressive article is now online (4Mb pdf)."
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"H-Bomb Secret" Now Online

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  • by Shky (703024) <shkyoleary@@@gmail...com> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:33PM (#7781871) Homepage Journal
    Someone set them up the bomb.
    • All your base are belong to us!
    • Tsk tsk (Score:5, Informative)

      by mongbot (671347) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:34PM (#7782232)
      People always get that quote wrong.

      Captain: What happen?
      Operator: Somebody set up us the bomb.
      Operator: We get signal.
      Captain: What!
      Operator: Main screen turn on.


      I know it doesn't sound right, but that's how poorly translated it was.
    • by TedCheshireAcad (311748) <ted@NOSpAM.fc.rit.edu> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @08:28PM (#7782553) Homepage
      All your joke are old to us.

      ...but nice revival.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:34PM (#7781874)
    For the Orange alert. Thanks for helping the terrorists!
    • Re:Just in time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick.The.Red@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:58PM (#7782016) Journal
      Just in time? I've had a paper copy of this article for 24 years (I bought the magazine when it was first published). Believe it or not, re-publishing something on the internet does not mean it was previously un-available.
      • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:57PM (#7782350)
        The trouble is, now these terrorists will know that they can hogtie the FBI and who knows how many government lawyers in a colossal waste of time simply by threatening to publish news!

        We do not need this calamity confounding our precious givernement custodians of truth and prosperity. This is a windfall for the terrorists and a sad day for true Americans everywhere.
        • Free Speech is terrorism, YOU JUST SAID IT!

          Holy freakin' crap, I knew the day would come!
        • I am constantly amazed at the people who are quite willing to destroy the Constitution in order to save it. They are also often the same people who use the term "true Americans" a lot to define anyone who disagrees with them as being un-American. Strangely enough they are often horrible spellers as well.

          Claiming this article is an aid to terrorists is silly. Does anyone really think the rest of the world lives in grass huts and only the US has physicists and engineers? All this bomb-making information i
      • And the publication of the PDF by The Progressive was actually months ago. The only thing that's just in time is /. actually noticing it. For that matter, The Progressive sold a t-shirt with the design on it back after the article was published. It had the updated design on it.
  • FYI (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:34PM (#7781879)
    FYI Americans, we are now at Orange Alert. There is a higher level of indication now than ever that SOMETHING is going to happen. Before, we were on Yellow Alert, so it was possible that something was going to happen, but now we are Orange, meaning that it is slightly more likely that something is going to happen. When something happens, we will go to Red Alert, indicating that something has happened, but until that time, we will remain at Orange alert.

    Be Prepared Americans, Something May Happen Today!
    • Re:FYI (Score:5, Insightful)

      by goon america (536413) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:56PM (#7782007) Homepage Journal
      The terror alert system is just a way for politicians to protect themselves. Issuing vague warnings that will not do anything to prevent an attack does nothing but give whomever's ass is on the line the ability to say "I told you so / it's not my fault" if something actually happens.

      Which is why we are probably never going to be at anything other than orange or yellow alert. Because if we ever go to some "reduced" alert level and there is an attack then whoever is in charge of the alert system will get in trouble for not vaguely warning us.

      • Re:FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

        by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Sunday December 21, 2003 @09:22PM (#7782836)
        Actually, the alert system matters alot.

        If you are a policeman, an "Orange" alert means that you now have a nearly unlimited amount of easy overtime (paid for by Uncle Sam) available to you. These overtime hours are used to provide security for monuments, bridges, reservoirs, etc, and provide a great opportunity to grab some Z's and get away from the wife.

        The alert system was put in place when idiots in the mainstream press began screaming about how the government refused to warn anyone about the 9/11 attacks. It's a great example of how stupid questions (or problems) lead to stupid answers (or solutions).
      • Re:FYI (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy (216950)
        The terror alert system is just a way for politicians to protect themselves.

        While I do not necessarily disagree with your view of politicians, there are other uses. It may confuse/distract/prevent some actions from happening. It may create some voice traffic and give them some information. It may not. But it does serve more that just cover ass for politicians, or at least it _can_.
    • Re:FYI (Score:5, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @08:37PM (#7782621) Homepage Journal
      Let me know when we reach brown alert.
    • If it wasn't for the ability to distill information about imminent danger into a series of colored lights, the government would be forced to release specific information about upcoming terrorist threats, which could eliminate the advantage [cbsnews.com] they have over less important Americans in personally avoiding those threats.
      • by whovian (107062) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @09:25PM (#7782850)
        I would think Red == (chatter about specific targets with a timetable | attack in progress). I think that's fair. I think genernal vigilance for the color level is fair.

        What I don't find fair (to the public) is the indignant way Mr. Ridge handles the press. His responses serve to propagandise and/or scare the public, IMO. To wit:

        http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/12/ 20 031221.html


        OK. Back to our regularly scheduled topic....
    • by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @11:18PM (#7783325) Homepage
      We're not worried - we have our trusty anti-terrorism fridge magnets [ag.gov.au] to protect us!
  • Online? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Silvers (196372) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:35PM (#7781880)
    "After all this time, the Progressive article is now online"

    Not for long.
  • Is it just me.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stigmata669 (517894)
    or does it seem seriously questionable to make a direct link to a 4MB file from a magazine that relies at least partially on advertising to pay for the bandwidth?

    It's one thing to crush the server, but the least we can do is look at some ads while we do it.

    • Re:Is it just me.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Davak (526912)
      No, it's just you...

      If you post a 4 meg file on your site, you gotta be ready to get it slapped around a bit.

      The magazine should break it up, place it on several ad covered pages, and enjoy the slashdot traffic.

      Data files are different... it's harder to manipulate those.

      PDF is just a big ass text file... there is very little reason to keep it in that format.

      • Re:Is it just me.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Stigmata669 (517894) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:47PM (#7781964)
        well by the look of it, the PDF is actually a scan of the original article. I know people flame about deep-linking complaints, but it still seems like we could link to the download page rather than to the file.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:35PM (#7781884)
    If you read only the first page of only one article posted to Slashdot this year, make it this one. I don't think I've ever seen a more eloquent, and relevant, defense of the First Amendment.
  • Head in the Sand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Davak (526912) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:35PM (#7781885) Homepage
    Somebody will eventually post that we should not publish this information because other countries will get it and thus be able to create nuclear weapons.

    Of course, this is bull. But I found this quote from the article puts it best:

    GS: It should by now be clear to everyone that in the past we
    relied far too much on secrecy. We arrogantly assumed that we
    were the only ones who could develop nuclear weapons, and that
    therefore we could retain our monopoly. That kept us from
    pursuing international arrangements that might have held the
    nuclear arms race under some sort of control.


    I don't wanna dive into a political rant here, but I think the balance of power, combat, and international discussion is vital to keeping the world safe from the threat of nuclear war.
    • by whovian (107062) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:49PM (#7781975)
      Re-tooled as an introduction to Microsoft's linux survey:

      It should by now be clear to everyone that in the past we relied far too much on secrecy. We arrogantly assumed that we were the only ones who could develop computer operating systems and software, and that therefore we could retain our monopoly. That kept us from pursuing international arrangements that might have held the upsurge on linux under some sort of control.

    • Somebody will eventually post that we should not publish this information because other countries will get it and thus be able to create nuclear weapons.

      Of course, this is bull. But I found this quote from the article puts it best:


      You know I can understand this point for other things such as supercomputing or various technologies which have some purpose other than full-scale annihilation but I just don't know why people need this information.

      Who gains what from publishing this?? I'm willing to be educa
      • by Davak (526912)
        Information like this is already known to all the governments that want it.

        If you think mp3 are easily traded, 30 sheets of text/information has been traded and sold a million times over.

        To hide behind this information prevents countries from forming the deals and treaties that really protect us.
      • Re:Head in the Sand (Score:5, Informative)

        by HeghmoH (13204) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:13PM (#7782110) Homepage Journal
        RTFA, because this is fairly well covered there.

        First, censorship is bad. Period. It is something where you can very easily and without any sort of a stretch apply the 'slippery slope' principle. As soon as you censor anything, you're well on the way to censoring everything. Unlike, say, automatic assault rifles with clips that hold over ten rounds, 'bad' speech is impossible to objectively define.

        Second, the secrecy around the techniques for constructing nuclear weapons makes a lot of things secret as a byproduct, because of the incredible paranoia and perceived fear by the censors. To keep people from guessing the most secret techniques needed to construct a nuclear bomb, by extension you need to keep secret even the materials and quantities required for construction. From there, you have to make secrets out of a lot of what's involved in mining, refining, processing, and manufacturing. From there, it's very easy to do things like making accident statistics or radiation exposure documentation for the town where the reactor is secret.

        It is also very easy to declare independently-created works as secrets, even though they were not derived from any government program. Imagine doing some heavy research in your local library, constructing a few tests, saying the wrong things to the wrong people, and shortly the FBI shows up and carts off all of your work. This has happened. In the article, they give the example of a member of the House who wrote a letter to the Department of Energy, asking some rather pressing questions about changes in their nuclear program. In their response, they said that not only were the responses secret, the very questions themselves were of a sensitive nature and were now classified. This very highest elected official was therefore not legally allowed to distribute these questions that only came from his own mind!

        In the end, it comes down to something very simple. Freedom of speech is nearly an absolute, and it is also the most important freedom we have. Giving it up is foolish no matter what the reason.
        • by Isldeur (125133)
          Second, the secrecy around the techniques for constructing nuclear weapons makes a lot of things secret as a byproduct, because of the incredible paranoia and perceived fear by the censors. To keep people from guessing the most secret techniques needed to construct a nuclear bomb, by extension you need to keep secret even the materials and quantities required for construction. From there, you have to make secrets out of a lot of what's involved in mining, refining, processing, and manufacturing. From there,
    • I hope this is not taken as flame-bait.

      Perhaps the nuclear arms race might have been avoided or blunted by allowing openness in nuclear technology.

      I wonder if interpersonal violence might be avoided or blunted by allowing open access to personal weapons?

      Does allowing anyone to have a (nuclear/personal) weapon work better than trying to deny everyone (nuclear/personal) weapons?

      Should we support the right to keep and bear nuclear arms?
    • by kavau (554682)
      This is so very, very true. Building bigger and better bombs will hardly make the world safer in the long run. I don't know how other people feel about this, but when the senate failed to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty in 1999, I lost a lot of my faith in the United States in just one day.

      Not only on moral grounds, but also on practical grounds, I believe this was the stupidest decision ever made in American politics: The data already collected in past test would have been sufficient to keep America's

  • A Good Read (Score:5, Interesting)

    by precogpunk (448371) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:36PM (#7781888) Journal
    Speaking of the history of the H-Bomb, a great read on the subject is the mammoth Pulitzer Prize winning book The Making of the Atomic Bomb [amazon.com] by Richard Rhodes. He also wrote Deadly Feasts [amazon.com] which I enjoyed even more.
  • by twoslice (457793) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:38PM (#7781896)
    Check it out! [voyager.net]
  • Now we'll have some smartass high school student making an h-bomb in his toolshed, just to show how smart he is. Some things are better left secret, and I think this is one of them. I'm all for the freedom of information in most cases, but I do not believe my neighbors and the billions of people across the world that hate the United States should have access to this kind of information. I know everyone will have nukes eventually, I just hope it doesn't happen until my (future) children can grow up and le
    • You are ?15? years too late. That movie has been done...

      Best use of dishwashing detergent and remote control cars that I have ever seen...

      Anybody remember all the mutant clover?

      http://www.uselessmoviequotes.com/umq_m005.htm

    • by adrianbaugh (696007) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:52PM (#7781986) Homepage Journal
      Yeah. Your neighbour is probably just itching to do something with the 3kg of weapons-grade plutonium that he doubtless has kicking around in his back yard, not to mention his ample supplies of tritium and carefully shaped high explosive.
      Telling ordinary people how a bomb is made presents negligible threat; it's impractical for them to make one themselves but does give insight into the most significant arms race of the last century. As for other nations and terrorist groups, they have spies to obtain such information for them, and it's still very difficult to obtain the relevant amounts of bomb-grade material.
    • by aepervius (535155) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:53PM (#7781988)
      Can you really stop people thinking ??? Do you really take the rest of the world that retarded that no other physicist than the US could come up with the "recept" ? If you read the article you might see that *FOUR* nation came up *INDEPENDANTLY* onto the recept.

      Frankly once you know this *IS* feasible, as a physicist then you can come up with a solution. that then the engineereer can work upon and come up with an effective device.

      Secrety is worthless in nuclear weapon run. Only experience and engineering is somethign worth.

      As the article author I wish US , France , Russia and China would have worked together on stoping nuclear proliferation thru treaty , because as we may now observe every country which have money to spend on engineering can get the bomb (Pakistan, India, N-K maybe and whoever else).
      • In fact, it was the U. S. S. R. that developed the first deliverable hydrogen bomb. However, as is often said, the devil is in the details and some secrecy is wise as it often takes a great deal of time for people to figure out the details.
    • by mpoulton (689851) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:58PM (#7782023)
      Come on, now. Anyone who has taken a college class in modern physics has most of the know-how to build a fusion bomb. Anyone with a degree in physics is more than capable of doing all the necessary calculations to design one. This article provides very little assistance really. The difficult part is not the theory -- it's fairly simple. The challenge lies in the practicalities of actually making one. Obtaining the materials is nearly impossible for most nations, never mind for an individual! This precludes just about everyone except major governments from building them, and it's hard even for them. Successfully assembling one without dying of acute radiation poisoning requires advanced manufacturing facilities and equipment beyond the reach of any but the wealthiest experimenter. It's just not a hazard. *Think* before you decide to restrict information.
      • Frankly, your assertion is very unlikely. Sure, basic physics teaches how to build a fission bomb (although getting the material is really tough unless you have a reactor).

        The invention of the hydrogen bomb was done independently at least twice, both by extremely smart specialists, not your BS physics grad.

        However, the basic design of the Teller-Ulam fusion bomb is now readily available, including many of the relevant equations. A less detailed source is here [nuclearweaponarchive.org].

        Because the article is slashdotted, I can't j
  • Google Cache (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stigmata669 (517894) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:40PM (#7781907)
    of the preface to the article [216.239.57.104].
  • This reminds me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meridian (16189) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:45PM (#7781944) Homepage
    Of the Radioactive Boyscount [dangerousl...tories.org] who built a nuclear reactor in his shed from uranium paint you find on antiques
  • by Jonathan (5011) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:49PM (#7781972) Homepage
    GA: At the end of the trial, the Progressive magazine lost a
    small fortune, even though it managed to get the Morland article
    published without censor. Essentially, it was a case of limited
    private funds versus a bottomless pot of Government gold


    I'm not sure where I stand on the article and its attempted censorship, but I am somewhat amused that one of its authors said the above. Doesn't it sound *exactly* like a typical right-wing diatribe against the government? The article in question was in the well known *leftist* magazine "The Progressive".
  • by phr2 (545169) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:51PM (#7781985)
    In 1979, The Progressive publishes an article on how to build H-bombs, and our courts hold that our right to free speech is so strong that the government can't do anything to stop the article. Barely 20 years later, Dimitri Sklyarov is arrested for publishing a program that reads copy-protected PDF files. Clearly, copyright infringement is a greater threat to humanity--or at least to politicians' campaign contributions--than H-bombs are.
    • The problem, and even calling it a problem is a subject of some debate, is that currently in American jurisprudence (and in many other jurisdictions, from what I understand) the status of source code in relation to speech is ambiguous at best. If source code is speech, then it is entitled to first amendment protections (as interpreted and understood through the framework of the various and sundry opinions of the Supreme Court, of course). Even what "speech" consists of in the traditional 1st amendment
  • Interesting Timing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Colymbosathon ecplec (729842) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:55PM (#7781998) Homepage
    Edward Teller, the Father of the H-Bomb, just died this September. From Wikipedia: "He also proposed many peaceful uses of nuclear technologies, including a project to carve out a harbor in Alaska by detonating a hydrogen bomb on the sea floor. While working for the Atomic Energy Commission in the late 1950s and 1960s, he proposed "Project Chariot", [wikipedia.org] in which hydrogen bombs would be used to dig a harbor more than a mile long and half a mile wide to provide a deep-water harbor for coal fields near Point Hope. Various factors, including opposition from the Inupiat people living near Point Hope and the fact that the harbor would be ice-bound nine months of the year, doomed the project."

    Alaska Bugs Sweat Gold Nuggets [alaska-freegold.com]

  • by SuperDuG (134989) <be.eclec@tk> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:58PM (#7782014) Homepage Journal
    BUT!

    After actually downloading the article and reading the forbidden pages it seems to me that there are many things that need to be made a little clear to those who will comment without ever reading an iota of the article itself.

    First off, Osama Bin Laden does not celebrate christmas. Christmas is a christian holliday in which the Muslim community does not celebrate. This does not mean that all Muslims are terrorists just as it means not all catholics are repbuclicans. While Osama Bin Laden himself has been behind some of the worlds worst acts of terrorism, this should not reflect on all Muslims, and a bit of respect for other religions should be in place, but that would be a matter of decency and humanity.

    Secondly the article itself states that this is in no means a "how-to". Reading this article will do nothing in comparison to going to school to learn about physics and chemistry. The article helps put in lamens terms what exactly is done with the creation of such devices. If you notice this article was supressed during the peak of the cold war. At a time when the US Government was playing shadow games by providing tidbits of information for mass consumption but never enough meat to chew on.

    The government supressed this to make it seem that there was a large amount of complicated procedures and research being placed in their weapons of mass destruction and that they could load these weapons on the same rockets that sent men into space and ahniliate an entire Soviet city at will. Fair to say that creating an H-Bomb is in fact something that is not at all an easily accomplishment to undertake. While it may be possible to obtain the parts neccessary it still requires someone with a vast amount of knowledge to place all the ingredients together.

    I don't think that Al Qaeda or any other terrorist faction will ever be able to design such weapons. I do however think that with the fall of the soviet union and other countries in massive recession that are in fact nuclear that they may be able to purchase said nuclear weapons of mass destruction. So did this article send us to code level orangish red? Nope, but something sure did.

    I am not a sympathist by any means for terrorists or freedom fighters who surpass diplomatic measures to accomplish their goals by bringing death and destruction in its place. These people have lost a sense of equality and humanity and are in fact extremely horrible evil people. Should science be supressed because of fears, should we stop manufacturing cars because they are accessories to crimes (bank robberies, car bombs, etc.) NO.

    Scientific innovations can be used for good or can be used for bad, it is a matter of the beholder of the information as to what will happen with it. This article meerly suggests that there is a procedure and massive science behind weapons of mass destruction, which is apparent that they are not meant to be used for good, yet will be used for killing and destruction. Think of the good the reasearch itself could be done if only the knowledge was used for good, and not as a weapon to bring death and destruction.

    I think this is a prime example of how science for the sake of death is not good, but without the nuclear program we wouldn't have nuclear power. Without a means to deliever said weapons of mass destruction, we wouldn't have a space program. How a redundant communication line for launching said weapons could be used to create the network which has become the worlds internet. There is obviously positive ramifications for the research and design of these technologies, but does that excuse the original intent of the death and destruction even if it was never used to date for such a thing?

    Short of WWII with Japan there has never been a nuclear attack on anyone from anyone in the world. Yet we as americans with our democratic control are responsible for this destruction of property and life, and we did it through our research and science.

    Will our children forgive us, or curse us?

    • by arkham6 (24514) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:28PM (#7782206)
      Short of WWII with Japan there has never been a nuclear attack on anyone from anyone in the world. Yet we as americans with our democratic control are responsible for this destruction of property and life, and we did it through our research and science.

      Let us not forget that during WWII the targeting of cities and civilians was the norm, starting with Japan's bombing of Shanghi, and the German bombing of Rotterdam and London. Later in the war, with air superiority virtualy allied, huge waves of bombers pounded axis cities day and night. The Americans, with their superior Norden bombsites were able to do daylight bombing, while the British had to resort to nightime city bombing. Attack the workers while they work, and attack them while they sleep. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was only different in that one bomber commited all the destruction, as opposed to hundreds of bombers. Indeed, the two bombings using atomic weapons killed less than some of the other bombings of the war, such as the firebombings of Dresden, Hamburgh and Tokyo.

      I always get a bit irritated by people who demand that the U.S. appologise for using atomic weapons, because they don't know their history. The invasion of Okinawa cost 48,000 American casualties, and close to 200,000 Japanese casualties (Including civilians). And that was just the begining. The human cost of an invasion of Japan was estimated to be over a million lives. While the loss of 100,000 lives in the two bombed cities was bad, it would have been much much worse for the Japanese had the United States NOT used the bomb.
      • by Richard_at_work (517087) * <richardprice&gmail,com> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @08:38PM (#7782624)

        The human cost of an invasion of Japan was estimated to be over a million lives. While the loss of 100,000 lives in the two bombed cities was bad, it would have been much much worse for the Japanese had the United States NOT used the bomb.

        And therein lies the issue. An invasion of Japan would have cost lives on both sides, many more than were lost by using two atomic bombs. Noone in the longterm learnt from it, noone had to deal with the many dead that would have resulted from an invasion. The lessons that were presented by the 100,000 dead were easily forgotten, precisely because the deaths were all on one side, and were easily dealt. Two bombers dropping two bombs killed 100,000, and it was all too easy.

        The victory over Germany was earnt, precisely because we had to fight them all the way to Hitlers doorstep. Now please do not get me wrong, I understand that a great many people died in the pacific front fighting for our freedoms, and I sincerly thank all the surviviors and the fallen, but the victory over Japan was far too easy to learn any long term lessons from. We now have the bomb, killing a large population is now easy. We tend to forget the people involved, and go after anti ballistic missile systems, so we can throw our bombs at them while they cant throw theirs at ours. We try and regain the same advantage that we had when we dropped the bombs on Japan, lack of the ability to retaliate, so there is no kick back on using these weapons.

        Attacking Afghanistan, Iraq, threatening North Korea, Iran and god knows who else is easy to us western nations because there is little kickback. The US people got to know a bit about civilian casualties when the WTC was hit, and they didnt like it one bit. 3000 people died that day, and the voice of America that day was one of retaliation. And they got it.

        Why do the people who back these wars think Germany, France and other nations were against hte invasion of iraq? Because they have felt the ramifications of war first hand, and fairly recently. They have knowledge that the US, the UK and others are sorely lacking, that of oppression and internal strife. They know that it is better to resolve difficulties through diplomatic channels, however long it takes, rather than in battle. Hitler would never have come about if Germany had been better treated after World War 1. World War 1 would never have taken place if the European royalty had sat down and talked about the assassination of a minor political figure, rather than square off against one another.

        I applaud the current stance taken by Libya. They held secret talks with potential enemies, talks that had to be secret so there was no pressure to deliver. They discussed their problems, and settled on a solution. Some could say they did this because of Iraq, but if this was the case, then Iraq has had a net negative effect on the world. Its a case of the play ground bully making an example of one of his victims. They didnt pay up, you could be next.

      • by JohnsonWax (195390) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @09:34PM (#7782897)
        Well, there was never going to be an invasion of Japan. Japan began suggesting surrender as early as Feb 1945 - the main sticking point later in the negotiations being that we wanted something unconditional whereas the Japanese were insisting that the Emperor retain a non-political title.

        The bombs did force an unconditional surrender, but more importantly, it stopped Stalin dead in his tracks, who we had recognized as a grave threat who was now moving aggressively toward Japan. The worst-case scenario here was that Stalin, weakened but holding far more control of Europe and Asia than he could have hoped, could move for a year-round port city on the Pacific. He was clearly willing to commit his citizens to the last man - his ability to send hundreds of thousands of soldiers, including women to their deaths scared the hell out of the other ally leaders. Stalin could move against Japan from the north and take territory from Japan that would be extremely valuable to Russia against a US enemy (Russia entered the war against Japan on Aug 8 by easily invading Manchuria). Stalin realized that the US was the only other power to escape WWII with any resources, and that the two would be in conflict.

        Stalins best scenario was to move against Japan after a successful US invasion - both US and Japanese forces would be weak and the US would not be prepared for an invasion from the north. Russia could more easily bring forces to the location than the US, and Russia could win most or all of the island. Stalin realized that the US would buckle under the scale of the Russian army, particularly since the US public would oppose defending real estate given that the real enemy (Japan) was defeated.

        The US position was difficult. We couldn't afford to invade given that scenario - Japan could be lost to Russia regardless of whether we defeated Japan or not. Quite possibly the bombs were viewed as the solution to both problems - first, we could quickly end the war with Japan without giving Russia time to become entrenched, and avoiding any further invasions. Second, we send a message to Stalin that we can defeat his armies without committing US soldiers, and that we can bring resources to bear much more quickly than he can (how long does it take to hopscotch a B-29 across the Pacific vs. mobilizing hundreds of thousands of troops). Stalin knew nothing about the bombs until they were dropped but FDR certainly made it clear to him throughout the war that US resources were as limitless as the US wished them to be, so he had to assume the worst. Stalin made it clear to FDR that the number and commitment of his troops were as limitless as he wished them to be, so we had to assume the worst as well.

        It's not pleasant to think that the bombs were used against the Japanese as a demonstration to the Russians, but that's quite likely to have been the case. The only possible upside to this is that Japan had a much brighter future not being an iron curtain nation.
        • Your comments are highly speculative and most mainstream historians with extensive access to Japanese, American and Russian archives from the period would not agree with your conclusions.

          I suggest you read "The Last Great Victory" by Stanley Weintraub. It gives a very good and balanced account of the last days of WW II.

          A few points:

          Stalin knew about the atomic bomb from his spies within Los Alamos. Truman also told him about the bomb at Potsdam before they were dropped.

          Stalin was asked by the US and Br
      • by Chagrin (128939) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @10:38PM (#7783155) Homepage
        ...and don't forget that in the fire bombing of Tokyo and of Dresden, Germany there were 100,000 and 150,000+ casualties, respectively.
    • by squarooticus (5092) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:49PM (#7782300) Homepage
      Will our children forgive us, or curse us?

      There's another choice, you know: they might thank us.
  • by Avihson (689950) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @06:58PM (#7782018)
    With all the whining about national security, I was expecting to see detailed blueprints. But instead we get poor quality diagrams. Hell, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, real plans for tested models are probably available on the international arms market for the right price, or even surplus parts. Or you can just pick them up from France, Sudan, or on the black market in Iraq.

    I saw better diagrams in highschool textbooks from that era. Go to a use book store. The theory has been out there, but the precision parts and the highly toxic and radioactive components are just a trifle hard to come by.

    I know that you alarmists believe that the local militia is going to hurry over to Ace Hardware and get all the supplies tonight to be the first one on the block to have their own H-Bomb. Can't let those Pinkoes and Furriners beat them to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Slashdot did what the gov't couldn't, they've censored the site. The site is down now, is the document mirrored anywhere?
  • What to publish... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snuffub (173401) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:24PM (#7782178) Homepage
    One of my professors was sued by the riaa for trying to publish a paper on SDMI. When they were threatening to sue he would always joke that he should have just been a physicist and published a paper on how to build a nuclear bomb, because we all know that at least that is legal.
  • by adrianbaugh (696007) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:34PM (#7782230) Homepage Journal
    Even if this particular article hasn't previously been available you could always visit nuclearweaponarchive.org [nuclearweaponarchive.org] to find out the principles behind a Teller-Ulam bomb (and much else, besides). It won't give you the non-deducible R&D results, but neither does this article (in fact, even the Progressive argues that these should not be publically divulged).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:37PM (#7782252)
    is this:
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/12/29 /235522 5&mode=thread&tid=99
    which references www.portchicago.org
    The howtos of thermonuclear are all out there in userland; this _old news_ Progressive article doesn't help much. The above links are _FAR_ more useful, IYAM(AIAAP). (If You Ask Me, And I Am A Physicist.)
  • Torrent... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nate Eldredge (133418) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @07:56PM (#7782339)
    The file is slashdotted. Here [ucsd.edu] is a .torrent so all you bittorrent users (that should be all of you by now) can get it.
  • by LinuxIsStillBetter (536524) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @08:03PM (#7782385)
    Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger took to the telephone to warn editors of leading newspapers that they should not rise to the defense of the First Amendment in The Progressive's case. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown delivered the same message in person. There was probably no need for them to go to all that trouble: Many of the mass media (though not all) proved themselves pathetically eager to support Government censorship. Their notion was that the First Amendment stopped where "national security" began.

    Thank God those days are behind us. The 21st century is a much more enlightened time.

    Sadly, consolidation of the media and reduced competition will make them more likely to roll over on things like this in the future.

    • by Slur (61510) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @10:48PM (#7783196) Homepage Journal
      Take a look around and see how many American newspapers and other news outlets reported the fact that Colin Powell's presentation to the U.N.S.C. prior to "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was plagiarized from a 12-year-old thesis paper. You'd think this salacious bit of news would have been splattered all over every front page. Instead it appeared in only a few local independent newspapers. It was published almost immediately in the U.K., feeding the groundswell of opposition to the US position. In the US very few people even know about it now! Whenever I hear Monday morning quarterbacks talking about the reasons why the intelligence was bad or why we shouldn't have jumped in without planning, etc., they never bring this glaring bit of bad intelligence up. Either they don't know about it, or they believe it would be blasphemy to disparage the character of Colin Powell. At least Gen. Powell, to his credit, was very much against taking the case he did to the U.N., but in the end he did what a good soldier does.
  • Double Standards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saikatguha266 (688325) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @08:43PM (#7782650) Homepage
    We always say security through obscurity is bogus. Case in point -- closed source software, squlching of bug/expolit reports, use of the DMCA to silence hackers instead of fixing the exploits et al.

    When it comes to national security, what makes people think secrecy makes the nation any more secure?

    • Re:Double Standards? (Score:4, Informative)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmai l . c om> on Monday December 22, 2003 @01:21AM (#7783870) Homepage
      When it comes to national security, what makes people think secrecy makes the nation any more secure?
      Because bitter experiences shows that it *does* work.

      In WWII we slightly improved our Fleet submarines to dive 150 deeper than prewar and kept that change secret. Many a sailor owes his life to the fact that Japanese never set their depth charges deeper than the publically known pre-war depth. (And many a ton of Japanese shipping was sunk by those sailors.)

      During the Cold War the broadcast frequency to our SSBN's was kept busy 24/7, if there was not enough official traffic, then messages were repeated, or other filler material was broadcast. As a result, our SSBN OPTEMPO could not be derived from the volume of traffic. (Traffic volume is an important indicator in COMINT, increased traffic almost always means Something Is Up.)

      These are two of many examples. Security by obscurity (real security, not the bogus examples you provide) is a valuable part of a security toolbox, the error most amateurs make is to depend on it standalone. (Another example is a burgular who cannot dodge a camera he does not know about, nor can an interloper devise a counter to a measure he does not know exists.)
  • by HEMI426 (715714) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @09:44PM (#7782937) Homepage

    The government looked in to how hard it would be for people to cull together a working nuclear weapon design from available information years ago.

    "Interestingly enough, the United States government conducted a controlled experiment called the Nth Country Experiment to see how much effort was actually required to develop a viable fission weapon design starting from nothing. In this experiment, which ended on 10 April 1967, three newly graduated physics students were given the task of developing a detailed weapon design using only public domain information. The project reached a successful conclusion, that is, they did develop a viable design (detailed in the classified report UCRL-50248) after expending only three man-years of effort over two and a half calendar years. In the years since, much more information has entered the public domain so that the level of effort required has obviously dropped further."

    From The Nuclear Weapon Archive: a Guide to Nuclear Weapons [membrane.com]

    That was back in 1967, a bit more than thirty-six years ago. It probably takes a lot less digging nowadays.

  • "The H-Bomb Secret" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @10:41PM (#7783169) Homepage
    If you're into this, there's a book, "The H-Bomb Secret", which contains the Progressive article, the story of the lawsuit, and more technical details. The government embarassment around the story came from the fact that it was put together from unclassified information.

    There are ongoing rumors that a way exists to build a fusion bomb without a fission trigger. Efforts were made to develop such a weapon, the "pure fusion" bomb, in the 1950s. The "neutron bomb" was an outgrowth of that effort, although it is not a pure fusion weapon. There's a whole conspiracy theory on this, revolving around Sam Cohen, who developed the neutron bomb, and "red mercury".

    The "red mercury" thing is probably disinformation, but given the amount of work LLNL has put into pulsed fusion, there may be a way to do this by now.

  • by Sir.Cracked (140212) * on Sunday December 21, 2003 @10:59PM (#7783235) Homepage
    If you read the original article and the articles published with it, you may notice something that jumped out at me. It was later made moot by the government giving up the ghost on the injunction, but before they did, they made a claim that "technical" information was different from other forms of speech and therefore not afforded First Amendment rights.

    Does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone from a more recent case? Perhaps I'll jog your memory. In the DeCSS case, it was argued that Code is not protected because it has functional value. In effect it is technical rather than political or other speech. In this case, it doesn't seem to be the government making the assertion, rather an organization. But that would be misleading. The DMCA represents a restraint on speech just as broad as the Energy Act used against this article. The identity of the party pushing for the censorship is irrelevant. It's the laws with over broad, sweeping generalizations on what we can, and cannot say, as well as the idea that there is protected and unprotected speech that are truly dangerous. Surely some forms of speech are distasteful in the extreme, and prompt a gut reaction that they should not be allowed. But once you establish a form of speech that is officially "not OK", The worst of your obstructions as a censor are over.

    What part of of this is confusing?

    "That Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    It's straight forward, black and white. Our nations third grade students can easily understand it. But once you add even ONE exception, however well meaning it might be, the floodgates have opened, and the end result is the muddle we have today. Sufficiently muddled, the citizenry are too afraid to use the rights they might have, for fear of a costly lawsuit, and then they basically don't have those rights. Then we require people like The Progressive, 2600, Penthouse and Lary Flint, and anyone else willing to put their livelihoods and privacy on the line for our freedom.

    The base point is this. As soon as something I can personally say out loud becomes Illegal, the whole of my freedom of speech is gone. As soon as something I could sit down and write with my own pen becomes illegal, my freedom of press is gone. Be it technical specifications, computer code, poetry, a political indictment, a story about rape, or a shopping list, If one of those things is illegal, eventually fear will make them all impossible. And once our freedom of speech is gone, Our ability to claim to live in a free society will be a farce.
  • by Oriumpor (446718) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @11:42PM (#7783456) Homepage Journal
    [quoteblock]A graduate student at the University of Alabama, who knows people who work in Oak Ridge, told me...[/quoteblock]

    Lemme tell ya, I would have omitted that source.
  • by billstewart (78916) on Monday December 22, 2003 @07:08AM (#7784904) Journal
    It's nice to see this posted. Various politicians keep trying to censor the Internet, demanding that bomb-making information be illegal. Dianne Feinstein is the most prominent offender. By contrast, back when I was a kid, our standard school fieldtrip was to go to the colonial-era duPont gunpowder mill museum and learn how they made gunpowder and ground flour using water wheels. (Hint: build your mill buildings with big heavy stone walls on three sides and a wimpy wood wall facing the river so that when it explodes, the explosion will blow over the river and not set the other mills on fire...)

    • When you talk about the First Amendment and the Internet and bombs, people like DiFi say "Oh, no, the First Amendment doesn't protect dangerous information, it's about things like pornography."
    • When you talk about the 1st, the Internet, and pornography, they say "Oh, no, it's not about that, it's about protecting non-obscene speech".
    • When you talk about tobacco advertising, they say "Oh, no, it's not about commercial speech, it's about protecting *political* speech."
    • But when you talk about campaign finance reform, they say "Oh, no, elections are *way* too important to let anybody actually fund the political speech they believe in, why that would let *money* corrupt politics."
    And all that was just with liberals in charge - wonder what Ashcroft will come up with next.
  • by freality (324306) on Monday December 22, 2003 @02:25PM (#7787666) Homepage Journal
    I just happened to write an article about atomic weapons [freality.com] recently (though not quite as good as this one ;). I'd appreciate correction and contributions, esp. facts about economic costs and radiological wastes and sicknesses.

    - There was a betting pool at the Manhattan Project over whether or not the Earth's atmosphere would be consumed in a planet-wide fireball during the first atomic test explosion (Trinity).

    - The second explosion of an atomic device was over the mainly civilian target of Hiroshima, Japan, later that year. President Truman, upon hearing of the successful explosion, said it was "the greatest day in history." 70,000 people died instantly, 200,000 died in total. At Nagasaki, 3 days later, 40,000 people died instantly, 140,000 died in total. Contrary to the initial reports by the U.S. Government that the attacks had shortened the war considerably, it has come to light that Japan's Emporer had agreed to contional surrender before these attacks. The only condition was that he remain Emporer and so the Japanese state remain intact. However, with the awesome destuctive will and power of the U.S. demonstrated, we emerged from the attacks as the sole nuclear power in the world, and largely determined the shape of the post WWII world, in which we later came to be the sole great power.

    - As mentioned in the linked PDF, the second h-bomb test (Bravo) went awry, with a yield of twice what was thought possible, 15 megatons. The plume was 62 miles wide, 40 miles high. The exclusion zone after the test was 850 miles wide, or about 1% of the Earth's surface. The fallout cloud reached a distance that would, in comparison, cover the entire U.S. North-Eastern Seaboard.

    - Testing was expanded to high atmospheric explosions, where h-bombs were exploded in the ionosphere. They variously disrupted, destroyed and created new layers in the Van Allen Belts, the natural magnetic layers that shield the Earth from solar and cosmic radiation. Those belts have been changed ever since.

    - The U.S. nuclear power monopoly ended with a series of Russian tests that yielded the largest explosion yet, at 50 megatons. The shockwave rounded the Earth 3 times. The Russian program had discovered a 3rd stage fusion mechanism, which could have led directly to 100-150 megaton weapons, and virtually unlimited theoretical maximums.

    - The U.S. underground testing in Nevada has exploded nearly 1000 devices, turning a large region there into a pockmarked surface, much like the face of the moon.

    - At last count, there are 12 countries (U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, South Africa, Israel, Iraq, Iran) who are known to have, or reasonably suspected of having had, active nuclear weapons programs, 7 of which have demonstrated capability (the first 7 of those). This does not include the probable fragmentation of the Soviet stockpile after the collapse of the U.S.S.R, smaller NGOs, or describe the liklihood of nuclear arms being sold. There were reports, just before the recent reversal of M.E. policy by the Bush Administration (i.e. to no invade Syria and Iran) that Russia and China had deployed nuclear missiles along the northern borders of those countries, likely pointed at Israel, the strongest nuclear power in the M.E..

    - The combined (known) stockpiles of the U.S. and Russia (including former states) is estimated to be around ~3 Gigatons accross ~10k warheads each. At a total of about 6 Gigatons of explosive force, we're plenty close to the 75-100GT energy of the (K-T event) asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, thank you very much.

    - The U.S. has resumed manufacturing the nuclear trigger devices. Maintenance and testing is now almost fully virtualized, being done mainly in simulation, using the U.S.'s most powerful computers provided by IBM.

    - Ironically (or perhaps obviously), Japan, the only victim of nuclear warfare, is using what is now the most powerful supercomputer in the world for a completely different purpose: to simulate the natural processes of the Earth.

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz

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