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Half Science and Hafnium Bombs

Article #274 • Written by Alan Bellows

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

In the latter half of 1998, a small clutch of researchers and students at the University of Texas embarked upon a groundbreaking experiment. Within a large outbuilding marked with a slapdash sign reading "Center for Quantum Electronics", the team powered up a makeshift x-ray emitter and directed its radiation beam at an overturned disposable coffee cup. Atop the improvised styrofoam platform was a tiny smear of one of the most expensive materials on Earth: a variation of the chemical element hafnium known as Hf-178-m2.

The researchers' contraption-- cobbled together from a scavenged dental x-ray machine and an audio amplifier-- bombarded the sample with radiation for several days as monitoring equipment quietly collected data. When the experiment ended and the measurements were scrutinized, the project leader Dr. Carl B. Collins declared unambiguous success. If his conclusions are accurate, Collins and his colleagues may have found the key to developing fist-sized bombs which can deliver destruction equivalent to a dozen tons of conventional explosives. Despite considerable skepticism from the scientific community, the US Department of Defense has since spent millions of dollars probing the physicist's findings.

Hafnium-178-m2 is a nuclear isomer-- an atomic state where the particles of the nucleus are "excited" by higher than normal amounts of energy. Most such isomers are unstable and extremely short-lived, instantly ejecting their excess energy as gamma radiation in order to return to the ground state. But a handful of varieties such as hafnium-178-m2 have a constitution which prevents this release from occurring immediately, which places them in the category of nearly-stable.

This interesting property causes nearly-stable isomers to act as "energy sponges", allowing them to absorb a massive amount of energy which bleeds out very slowly. Hafnium-178-m2 has a half-life of thirty-one years, meaning that it takes a little over three decades for half of the isomer's stored energy to be emitted as gamma rays. Hafnium is also notable for having the highest excitation energy among the nearly-stable isomers; half a teaspoon of pure Hf-178-m2 contains about the same amount of potential energy as one ton of TNT.

The purpose of Dr. Collins' experiment was to explore the possibility of wringing all of the energy from these isomers on demand. He theorized that properly applied x-rays might prompt the nuclei to dump all of their energy at in a short amount of time, a process referred to as induced gamma emission (IGE). To test this theory a few of Collins' enterprising students procured a second-hand dental x-ray machine, married it to a commercial-grade stereo amplifier, and trained the radiation-emitting apparatus upon a precious smudge of hafnium-178-m2 for several weeks.

Dr. Carl Collins in his laboratory at the University of Texas
Dr. Carl Collins in his laboratory at the University of Texas

Dr. Collins then digested the data and logged his conclusions.

According to the paper Collins published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters, his experiment successfully "triggered" the hafnium isomers into an enhanced decay rate. His sensitive instrumentation had apparently registered a small yet unmistakable increase in gamma ray levels during the test. The implications were clear: if one can accelerate the energy release rate of an isomer to a small degree, it follows that there is probably some set of conditions where the atoms can be coaxed to belch all of their energy very rapidly.

Dr. Collins' credibility was soon battered by a storm of skepticism and ridicule. Many scientists were uncomfortable with his outlandish claims and his experiment's large margin for error. Indeed, his findings were somewhat at odds with the laws of physics given that nuclei are thought to be practically unaffected by electromagnetic radiation. However a small minority of researchers were moved to curiosity by the unorthodox idea, prompting a series of independent efforts to reproduce the findings.

The concept also piqued the Pentagon's interest. Since an isomer bomb would represent a new class of non-fission weapons, it would neatly circumvent the limitations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. Furthermore, a working hafnium device would tend to deluge its target area with absurd amounts of penetrating gamma radiation during the explosion, liquefying the flesh of any persons nearby-- even those protected by bunkers. But the most appealing aspect of isomer triggering was its potential to shoehorn yet more death and destruction into convenient "fun size" packages.

Sometime in the late 1990s a rash of "I believe in isomers" buttons began to appear on defense department lapels. Peter Zimmerman-- the chief scientist of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency at the time-- had been exposed to absurd notions of isomer triggering while earning his PhD in nuclear physics, so he was reluctant to dignify the farfetched idea with funding. But it was his responsibility to ensure that the US stayed abreast of emerging technologies. To address his dilemma, Zimmerman opted to consult "the Jasons." Named for the mythical hero of ancient Greek fame, the Jason Defense Advisory Group was established in 1960 to advise the government in matters of scientific controversy. The panel consists of physicists, biologists, chemists, oceanographers, mathematicians, and computer scientists who are hand-picked by existing members from among the nation's best and brightest.

After a very brief investigation, Jason's assessment of the isomer triggering efforts was far from favorable. The circumspect group of elite scientists concluded that the x-ray experiment had not successfully demonstrated an enhanced decay rate. In addition, the Jasons determined that a successful triggering event would not start the necessary chain reaction due to energy dissipation. Isomer enthusiasm was further diluted by the observation that such weapons would require bulky shielding to protect handlers from the be extreme radioactivity of hafnium.

Experiment producing induced gamma emission from a sample of Hf-178-m2
Experiment producing induced gamma emission from a sample of Hf-178-m2

Even as Collins continued to report success in his experiments, physicists at the Argonne National Laboratory employed their own powerful x-ray emitter in an attempt to squeeze the stored energy from a dab of hafnium-178-m2. During the test the fourteen Department of Energy scientists detected no increase in gamma radiation, a failure which Dr. Collins blamed on their x-ray emitter's energy level. Though skeptical, the Argonne scientists repeated the experiment within the designated parameters, yet once again their tests yielded nothing. The steadfast Collins again ascribed the problem to experimental minutia.

In spite of the Jason findings and the Argonne results, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) poured millions of dollars into various hafnium experiments amidst rumors that foreign governments were conducting their own isomer weapon research. The Pentagon's Military Control Technology List even described hafnium-178-m2 as having the potential to "revolutionize all aspects of warfare." But their Stimulated Isomer Energy Release experiments found that even under the best of circumstances, the coveted isomers would cost approximately $1 million per gram assuming a minimum $30 billion investment in production facilities. The investigations also underscored the fact that radioactive hafnium would not be totally consumed even by a successful triggering-- so any such bomb would produce a profoundly "dirty" detonation by scattering radioactive material over the blast area.

Even with all of the setbacks, the prospect of using induced gamma emission as a weapon has not fizzled altogether. A few subsequent experiments have indicated that hafnium triggering may actually be possible. An x-ray test at Louisiana State University appeared to corroborate Collins' results, and an independent team at DARPA called TRiggering Isomer Proof (TRIP) reported their experiment as "successful." Some non-bomb weapons concepts are also under investigation, including a device which could funnel the deadly gamma radiation into a coherent death ray: a gamma-ray laser. Nonetheless, DARPA cut much of its future funding for hafnium-baked weapons research in 2004 due to lack of confidence in the technology.

Back in Dr. Collins' science barn at the University of Texas, the original styrofoam test platform/coffee cup is preserved for posterity in a glass case, labeled "Dr. C's memorial target holder." Dr. Collins remains optimistic about the future of isomer triggering, though his theories are not limited to devices of destruction. He has suggested that pre-measured doses of hafnium isomers might one day provide gamma radiation for the treatment of cancer tumors.

Ordinary Hafnium
Ordinary Hafnium

A more moderate, non-explosive release of the stored energy might also allow the material to act as a high-capacity energy storage medium.

Whether or not x-ray triggering of hafnium-178-m2 is feasible, experiments with the energy-soaking isomer may yet turn up some interesting applications. As James Carroll-- one of Dr. Collins' former students and a contractor with DARPA-- pointed out, "Maybe you can never make anything practical out of it [...] but in the meantime, we will learn a lot about how the nucleus responds to people banging on it."

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 31 May 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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95 Comments
uninspired
Posted 31 May 2007 at 06:25 pm

"If his conclusions are accurate, Collins and his colleagues may have found the key to developing fist-sized bombs which can deliver destruction equivalent to a dozen tons of conventional explosives."

Here's to hoping Collins' theory holds no water!


buttered_toast
Posted 31 May 2007 at 06:39 pm

Wow...lets hope people decide that killing other people is wrong before anyone can use this...


Tex
Posted 31 May 2007 at 06:50 pm

hehe
death and destruction into convenient "fun size" packages...

DI


Old Man
Posted 31 May 2007 at 06:52 pm

Great innovation, Collins. Just hope it's you who gets to experience the fruits of your labour.

DI all the same.


middlenamefrank
Posted 31 May 2007 at 06:54 pm

"Laser" is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". A bunch of atoms inside a ruby crystal are 'pumped' into an excited state by a flash tube, and then the passing of a ray of light stimulates each atom in turn to release its stored energy, which contributes to the light ray, thus amplifying it coherently and in phase. Who's to say hafnium atoms can't similarly influence each other into releasing their energy simultaneously?


Tink
Posted 31 May 2007 at 07:30 pm

Atop the improvised styrofoam platform was a tiny smear of one of the most expensive materials on Earth: a variation of the chemical element hafnium known as Hf-178-m2.

How much exactly is a smear? How much did it cost?

The ordinary Hafnium in the picture looks alot like fools gold,a solid rock or blob of metal, how did they smear it? Was it powdered, or has it a low melting point?

And my last questions, is the smear still on the cup, under the glass, emitting gammas; if not, where did it go?

DI! Alan.
You can now call me,

"Wishing I had a clue".
LOL ~;>)


clarkbhm
Posted 31 May 2007 at 07:35 pm

You ever hear that phrase "it's something that we wish we could un-invent"? This sounds like it would fit that category nicely...


Fírinne
Posted 31 May 2007 at 07:55 pm

Oh, God! That's awful! I think I was too busy being horrified to appreciate any sort of damninterestingness there may have been.

Arghhhhhhhh...

I bet this sets us to one minute before midnight on that Doomsday Clock thing.


Rick
Posted 31 May 2007 at 08:30 pm

Of course the biggest backers are going to be military, however there was a statement at the end that suggested a possible energy storage technology from it. I'm completely daft on what that would entail, but alternate energy is something I'd like to see pursued .. of course 1 billion an ounce and radioactive does make it a less acceptable source ...


Alan(notbellows)
Posted 31 May 2007 at 09:05 pm

First time post, long time reader.

Nonetheless, DARPA cut much of its future funding for hafnium-baked weapons research in 2004 due to lack of confidence in the technology.

I particularly liked that one. Also, I didn't know that nuclear isomers was the term for that, I guess I always thought isomers were limited to geometric isomers, stereoisomerism, etc. But that's more my chemistry knowledge (rather limited, at that).


ExperimentNo6
Posted 31 May 2007 at 10:47 pm

Interesting article! Also, if this substance is as radioactive as the article seems to imply, how did a bunch of students manage to get a sample and use it in such an slapped-together experiment without the scientist or anyone else raising concerns?

"But it was his responsibly to ensure that the US stayed abreast of emerging technologies." Sp: Responsibility?


GigsTaggart
Posted 31 May 2007 at 10:52 pm

Tink, that's regular hafnium, which is a lot less expensive (though not cheap). The radioactive isomer isotope is a completely different thing.

Carbon dating uses Carbon-14, which is a radioactive isotope of carbon, for example.


Alan Bellows
Posted 31 May 2007 at 10:56 pm

ExperimentNo6 said: "Sp: Responsibility?"

Oops, I hadn't noticed that. Thanks.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 31 May 2007 at 11:47 pm

"This interesting property causes nearly-stable isomers to act as "energy sponges", allowing them to absorb massive amounts of energy which bleeds out very slowly" (from the article-- btw, how do I quote from the article? I'm a bit of an idiot when it comes to this techological wizardry stuff)

Does this mean (assuming of course that a rapid release of energy is possible) that this material has propeties that make it the perfect dial-a-tonnage- of-tnt explosive device? The concept of a bomb that could be prepared for specific target sizes seems to be the obvious next step in warfare (I know nuclear weapons and other, conventional, weapons already have this capability, but the possible outputs are predetermined). How much energy could this material (potentially) absorb? With a half life of 30 years, the shelf life of such weapons would be shortened considerably, but it's still an interesting concept.

In a more realistic line of questioning, how is this halfnium isomer created? In a lab or naturally?


systmh
Posted 01 June 2007 at 12:09 am

man, everyone is so dismal and dreary about the prospect of producing such a technology. yeah, it'd be a horrific weapon. but there's already lots of horrific weapons. so far we've managed to go all genocidal on people plenty well enough without them. such an energy source would also mean great potential for the human race. let's not forget that most of our technological wonders started out as crude weapons, in some way or another.


Floj
Posted 01 June 2007 at 12:20 am

Wow, Imagine how fast you could bake a pie! Bam! and you've got yourself a fine slice of pie... and melted skin. mmmhmm

That's Damn Interesting! I haven't heard much aobut isomers before, so now I have a whole new topic to research! Sweet! Now, would the bomb be destructive or would it just emit an absurd amount of gamma radiation? That would clear the area without taking down the structures... hmmm. I'll have to look into this after I finish my work.


Silverhill
Posted 01 June 2007 at 02:01 am

tednugentkicksass said: "btw, how do I quote from the article? I'm a bit of an idiot when it comes to this techological wizardry stuff"

Just use the Quote tags, such as are automatically supplied when you click the "Quote this »" link in a post. Copy the desired text, type [ quote ], paste in the text, type [ /quote ]. (Except that you must leave no spaces within the 'quote' and '/quote' tags; I put in spaces to disable the transformation function, so the tags could be seen.)


Dr. Evil
Posted 01 June 2007 at 02:08 am

is it gonna take until we destroy ourselves to figure out that killing eachother is a bad idea?


misanthrope
Posted 01 June 2007 at 03:16 am

DI Alan!

Dr. Evil said: "is it gonna take until we destroy ourselves to figure out that killing eachother is a bad idea?"

Yep, but you're assuming that figuring it out will be the end of it - that we won't forget the lessons learned by the time we're capable of doing it again. History suggests that this is unlikely to be the case. Of course, that's what someone who labels themselves as a misanthrope would be expected to say... (and yes, I am aware I'm answering a rhetorical question.)

middlenamefrank said: Who's to say hafnium atoms can't similarly influence each other into releasing their energy simultaneously?"

DARPA? Then again, I suppose in this case 'millions of dollars of research' doesn't necessarily mean 'lots of research' - it could mean "yeah, I fiddled around with a couple of grams for half an hour, it didn't do much" ;)


fvngvs
Posted 01 June 2007 at 03:20 am

Hoho! This kind or article brings us back to the wonderful idea of nuclear hand-grenades. Have I got a deal for you!

I like the idea of developing a gamma ray laser, though. I think our friends at Intel would pay big bucks for that - use it to etch the next generation of chips small enough to fit on your finger....

BTW: Is this you Floj?

http://pdos.csail.mit.edu.nyud.net:8080/~rsc/ahealy/pi_small.jpg


justjim1
Posted 01 June 2007 at 06:05 am

Oh boy! This is all we need nopw... an newer better way to blow the shit out of each other!


justjim1
Posted 01 June 2007 at 06:05 am

Whoops spelled that one wrong now the world will be out to get me this this new bomb.


txkent
Posted 01 June 2007 at 06:49 am

OH GREAT. I'm sure this guy was doing these tests here at the University of Texas J.J. Pickle Research center / Balcones Research Center. This campus isn't that large, and is surrounded by the citizens of Austin. Major roads wrap around this thing. Grr. They should go out to West Texas to mess with unstable elements! (Not to mention they have a small nucular (yeah, nucular, the President calls it that...) reactor at the center.

Good times... until the sirens go off.


aic4ever
Posted 01 June 2007 at 07:28 am

I'm always intrigued by the studies of these massive outpourings of energy from small sources and the fact that the first idea that comes to mind from something like this is to use it as an explosive. It would seem to me that if we could harness such a technology such that we could control it's decay and energy output that it ought to be used for energy purposes rather than explosive purposes. At the rate that we're bleeding the planet of oil that cannot be replaced, and more or less ignoring solar and wind energies, we need all the energy sources we can get.


elifint
Posted 01 June 2007 at 07:47 am

"Hafnium-178 is a nuclear isomer– an atomic state where the particles of the nucleus are "excited" by higher than normal amounts of energy."

Small correction: Hf-178-m2 is the excited isomer. Plain Hf-178 is the ground state.

"Indeed, his findings were somewhat at odds with the laws of physics given that nuclei are thought to be practically unaffected by electromagnetic radiation."

Nuclei are practically unaffected by electromagnetic radiation at low frequencies, but at higher frequencies (gamma ray energies) they interact with radiation just fine. The decay of the isomer to the ground state is electromagnetic in nature (you can tell because it releases a photon; it's a gamma emitter), and the inverse process whereby the ground state absorbs a really high-energy photon is also possible. The physics that's being proposed would appear to be stimulated emission, the same phenomenon that drives lasers. It's a well-known result, not at all at odds with the known laws of physics, that if an excited state can spontaneously de-excite by emitting a photon, you can stimulate it to de-excite by hitting it with photons of that same energy.

So I don't think it's a fundamental problem so much as it is a problem of scaling (which is supported by the quoted results from the Jasons). If the thing normally de-excites in 31 years, you need an awful lot of photons hitting it at once to have a good chance of de-exciting it in a matter of microseconds, which is what you'd need to make a bomb. Moreover, to get the chain reaction, you'd need each photon produced to yield on average more than one stimulated emission before it's absorbed. My intuition says it's not gonna happen with photons making single passes through the material; you'd have to confine the radiation in a resonant cavity (again, just like in a laser). The real problem is that there aren't any gamma ray mirrors good enough to make such a resonant cavity. If you somehow could make the cavity (which is impossible with any technology I've ever heard of, and would most likely be extremely bulky and expensive if it's even possible), and if you could get the reaction started, then I suppose you could in principle get a good fraction of the isomers to de-excite.

Then it's like, congratulations, you just spent a billion dollars on a few-kiloton bomb (estimating using numbers in the article, and only counting materials and not R&D and infrastructure).

In short, it sounds like one of those ideas that sounds clever (and potentially terrifying) but that can be shot down with a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

Interesting article, by the way.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 01 June 2007 at 07:54 am

aic4ever said: " At the rate that we're bleeding the planet of oil that cannot be replaced, and more or less ignoring solar and wind energies, we need all the energy sources we can get."

Never mind productive energy, when we have destructive energy! We can skirt treaties with peaceful objectives and gain POWER out of this. Get your priorities straight!


InterestedOne
Posted 01 June 2007 at 08:26 am

middlenamefrank said: ""Laser" is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation". A bunch of atoms inside a ruby crystal are 'pumped' into an excited state by a flash tube, and then the passing of a ray of light stimulates each atom in turn to release its stored energy, which contributes to the light ray, thus amplifying it coherently and in phase. Who's to say hafnium atoms can't similarly influence each other into releasing their energy simultaneously?"

I agree with you Frank. A quick search should reveal that many other types of waves, including microwave, X-ray and yes even gamma, are currently being studied for potential use in LASER type applications. As the wave we know as (visible) light is now postulated as both a particle and a wave (heretofore thought impossible) I believe other wave energies previously consider as (only) waves such as gamma may be found in the same category - dependent on the conditions (of the medium) and properties of the wave (frequency, amplitude, wavelength, etc.) as noted by elifint (great explanation, btw). We already know a lot about how sound waves travel in air and water (think SONAR), and how microwaves travel in different media like air (think RADAR) so it's really just another step (that's already being taken) to determine how other waves travel through other media. I also agree with elifint re Hafnium-178 not being economically suitable as a bomb. Now, it use as focused energy (death ray) is different as the article only states that idea was being examined, not the costs of its use. (Not that I'd like yet another weapon of mass destruction available on my favorite planet.)


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 01 June 2007 at 08:28 am

tednugentkicksass said: "

The concept of a bomb that could be prepared for specific target sizes seems to be the obvious next step in warfare (I know nuclear weapons and other, conventional, weapons already have this capability, but the possible outputs are predetermined).

That's what I'm saying...if we "have" to use bombs (and we have all established we know we should not) let's try to put money towards developing some that can take out one building instead of 4 or 5 at a time. Less civilian casualty. And speaking of, if this "fun-size" package is going to melt everyone in a 2 mile radius and create God only knows what side effects for people 5 miles outside of that(hypothetical numbers of course), maybe we need to think about all the civilians who would die as a result of radiation. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were necessary evils to stop a war, but look at what it did to a lot of innocent people and the long term affects therein. That's tough to grapple with considering we had intended to inflict a lot of damage, but we have to figure the radiation thing out because we inflicted damage that would affect those areas for years to come, not just for the short term result we were looking for.

aic hit it on the head...use this for more resourceful purposes, alternative energey sources for mankind, quit trying to blow stuff up!


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 01 June 2007 at 08:36 am

BTW I'm not saying I actually agree with what the US did to Japan in WWII, but it happened and it's a done deal now, I was just using it as an example of how dangerous radiation is.


JAB
Posted 01 June 2007 at 09:02 am

misanthrope said: "DI Alan!

DARPA? Then again, I suppose in this case 'millions of dollars of research' doesn't necessarily mean 'lots of research' - it could mean "yeah, I fiddled around with a couple of grams for half an hour, it didn't do much" ;)"

lmao!


adastra
Posted 01 June 2007 at 09:03 am

While reading the article (which was DI BTW) my brain kept trying to make a connection to the massive gamma ray bursts that puzzle the heck out of astronomers.


drTexas
Posted 01 June 2007 at 10:53 am

The answer might be the styrofoam coffee cup! Next, we can look for ways to turn disposable diapers into a food source!

Txkent, Please stay out of West Texas. Austin needs to be remodeled.


Techno-Kid
Posted 01 June 2007 at 12:59 pm

So how much hafnium do we need to turn Bruce (not David!) Banner into the Incredible Hulk?


Silverhill
Posted 01 June 2007 at 02:33 pm

InterestedOne said: "As the wave we know as (visible) light is now postulated as both a particle and a wave (heretofore thought impossible)"

I take it that "heretofore" means "in the modern era" -- Louis de Broglie advanced the notion in 1924. In the time of Newton and Huygens, there was conflict over whether light should be considered as a train of waves or as a stream of particles, since either aspect could be observed with the correct equipment. In the era of quantum physics, it was realized that both particles and electromagnetic radiation must be considered as having both aspects.

"I believe other wave energies previously consider as (only) waves such as gamma may be found in the same category - dependent on the conditions (of the medium) and properties of the wave (frequency, amplitude, wavelength, etc.)"

See the Wikipedia articles on Compton scattering, first observed in 1923, and the Mossbauer (or Mößbauer) effect, first seen in 1957, for some fascinating info on this.


Tink
Posted 01 June 2007 at 02:52 pm

GigsTaggart said: "Tink, that's regular hafnium, which is a lot less expensive (though not cheap). The radioactive isomer isotope is a completely different thing.


Carbon dating uses Carbon-14, which is a radioactive isotope of carbon, for example."

Thank you Dear GigsTaggart!


1c3d0g
Posted 01 June 2007 at 04:04 pm

uninspired: Why? Can you imagine throwing a grenade from a grenade launcher several hundred meters away and not having to deal with pesky insurgents anymore? Unless you've been shot at in combat, do not say such things.


Spike
Posted 01 June 2007 at 04:15 pm

"Furthermore, a working hafnium device would tend to deluge its target area with absurd amounts of penetrating gamma radiation during the explosion, liquefying the flesh of any persons nearby– even those protected by bunkers. But the most appealing aspect of isomer triggering was its potential to shoehorn yet more death and destruction into convenient "fun size" packages. "

DI, Alan and also, you should win some kind of award for the above statement, totally bone chilling and humorous all at the same time. You have a way with words, you sweet talker you.

All in all, though, some great and terrifying discoveries come from such a start. The old, "I wonder what would happen if I connect... oh, I don't know...an old dental xray machine and my old amplfier and maybe a can of spam...and what if I make it "fun size"..."

There is nothing so creative and possibly dangerous as a bunch of smart guys with time on their hands and some duct tape. (This is a description of my house on an average weekend) Thank goodness the researchers at UT didn't decide to put it in the microwave for good measure.

fvngvs said: BTW: Is this you Floj?

http://pdos.csail.mit.edu.nyud.net:8080/~rsc/ahealy/pi_small.jpg"

Nice find, but not our elusive, pie loving Floj...Viva la revolution, pie lovers of the world unite!!!


Floj
Posted 01 June 2007 at 04:19 pm

fvngvs said: "


BTW: Is this you Floj?

http://pdos.csail.mit.edu.nyud.net:8080/~rsc/ahealy/pi_small.jpg"

Hahaha! That's awesome! I wish it were... or atleast that I could get that on my car! A man can dream...

txkent said: "
Good times… until the sirens go off."

Atleast the experiment would be a success.

Anyway, If we have more effective weapons, perhaps we are actually sparing more lives as technology progreses. By getting the enemy with less risk to our guys, we get to see more of our soldiers come home saftely. Those are my thoughts. It's too bad we just can't share some pie. *sniff*


Spike
Posted 01 June 2007 at 04:24 pm

All together now..All we are saying is give pie a chance


Jeffrey93
Posted 01 June 2007 at 05:31 pm

The concept also piqued the Pentagon's interest. Since an isomer bomb would represent a new class of non-fission weapons, it would neatly circumvent the limitations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. Furthermore, a working hafnium device would tend to deluge its target area with absurd amounts of penetrating gamma radiation during the explosion, liquefying the flesh of any persons nearby– even those protected by bunkers. But the most appealing aspect of isomer triggering was its potential to shoehorn yet more death and destruction into convenient "fun size" packages.

What I don't get...and this is similar to the problem with that Davey Crockett Weapon System. If a small hand-held weapon can unleash such energy....how exactly are you going to get it to kill the enemy and not you? Unless some type of tennis ball sized bomb is going to be dropped from an airplane....I quickly assumed it would be carried by a soldier before being unleashed. Unless he's got an arm like Uncle Rico and can "throw a pig skin a quarter mile", I'd imagine there would be some ill affects on the weapon delivery boy.

If it were launched another way...I could just picture the soon to be victims laughing at the device, "Hey Ahmad....come look at what the Yanks are lobbing at us! It looks like camel dung! What could something as small as a pellet of camel dung do to us? Silly Americ........."


Jeffrey93
Posted 01 June 2007 at 05:34 pm

Floj said: "http://pdos.csail.mit.edu.nyud.net:8080/~rsc/ahealy/pi_small.jpg"

Hahaha! That's awesome! I wish it were… or atleast that I could get that on my car! A man can dream…
Atleast the experiment would be a success.
Anyway, If we have more effective weapons, perhaps we are actually sparing more lives as technology progreses. By getting the enemy with less risk to our guys, we get to see more of our soldiers come home saftely. Those are my thoughts. It's too bad we just can't share some pie. *sniff*"

I think more effective weapons would just get used more. The less danger there is to your own troops...the less reluctant the government would be to use them.


elifint
Posted 01 June 2007 at 06:25 pm

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "aic hit it on the head…use this for more resourceful purposes, alternative energey sources for mankind, quit trying to blow stuff up!"

Won't work as an energy source. There's no Hf-178-m2 to be mined. So you'd have to expend the energy to make it and get some fraction of the energy back when you use it. At best it's an energy storage medium, and a very inconvenient one at that.

Kinda like hydrogen.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 02 June 2007 at 04:31 am

Is anybody else reminded of the "Holy Hand Grenade" from Monty Python? To bad there aren't any murdurous, flying bunnies in the real world. Did DARPA or the CIA ever look into that? A killer rabbit just might be the ultimate weapon. So cute, so furry, so deadly.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 02 June 2007 at 07:45 am

Never saw Monty Python, which amazingly continues to bite me in the ars when people say "You remember that part in Monty Python....".

Well that sucks elifint, than I change my my original stance and say if hafnium so dangerous its energy properties can't be used for any good, they need to quit messing with it. America couldn't be lucky enough to have those asses in the government playing with hafnium and just blow themselves up, they would probably take out a high school or a college instead.


Secret Ninja
Posted 02 June 2007 at 01:20 pm

elifint said: "Won't work as an energy source. There's no Hf-178-m2 to be mined. So you'd have to expend the energy to make it and get some fraction of the energy back when you use it. At best it's an energy storage medium, and a very inconvenient one at that.

Kinda like hydrogen."

Thats what I was thinking. There is no such thing as free energy in the world of physics we as humans know. Loading halfnium up takes energy. But this could eventually lead to efficient electric transportation, as no huge batteries would be necessary, adding weight and reducing efficiency.


another viewpoint
Posted 02 June 2007 at 04:40 pm

...I just don't get it...why can't you get hafnium-178-m2 at half price? Seems like in the future you ought to be able to just run down to the nearest Wal-mart, Kmart or Target store!


dogu4
Posted 02 June 2007 at 04:49 pm

There may be no free source of energy but there are sources of energy which would be far more benign and abundant that either the hydrocarbon or nuclear fission path yet fit into the current energy distributon infrastructure. Emerging research in IECF, Inertial Electrodynamic Confinement fusion, using deuterium and boron-11, is showing some promise and garnering the attention of venture capitalists and other funding. The U.S. Dept of Energy is totally commited to the Tokamak and comments about fusion energy "still being 20 years in the future, as always", is not far off the mark for the Tokomak, but IEC fusion, in particular as being developed by Dr Robert Bussard (wiki) and his company, EMC2, takes an old idea which dates from the 50s and has applied new understanding to the task.

Those interested in these new developements and with even a rudimentary understanding of nuclear processes might find the following "damned interesting": The Google video entitled "Should Google Go Nuclear?", or the wikipedia entry for Polywell, or M.Simon's blog "Power and Control" for an overview.
http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2006/11/easy-low-cost-no-radiation-fusion.html.


Floj
Posted 02 June 2007 at 09:30 pm

elifint said: "Won't work as an energy source. There's no Hf-178-m2 to be mined. So you'd have to expend the energy to make it and get some fraction of the energy back when you use it. At best it's an energy storage medium, and a very inconvenient one at that.


Kinda like hydrogen."

AH HA! There was a major break through last month in hydrogen production. They found that when aluminum is mixed with a little gallium it will spontaneously react with water to produce hydrogen! It works because the gallium prevents the aluminum from creating it's protective oxide layer. It was discoverd by accident when Purdue researchers were rinsing materials from a semi-conductor project and the residue started to bubble in the water. Gallium is expensive but with the proper motivation that industry caould expand, and the galium can be recycled as it does not react with the water.
Here is an article on the topic:

http://www.physorg.com/news98556080.html

It also discusses the economy of using this fuel. Perhaps hydrogen still stands a chance after all. We'll find out soon enough. Oh, I think penicillin was discovered by accident too, that turned out pretty well.
Pie however, is still the best. MMMMPI

Oh sorry for the spelling errors in my previous post.


CptPicard
Posted 03 June 2007 at 05:30 pm

A quick search should reveal that many other types of waves, including microwave, X-ray and yes even gamma, are currently being studied for potential use in LASER type applications. As the wave we know as (visible) light is now postulated as both a particle and a wave (heretofore thought impossible) I believe other wave energies previously consider as (only) waves such as gamma may be found in the same category - dependent on the conditions (of the medium) and properties of the wave (frequency, amplitude, wavelength, etc.)

It's not as complex as you make it seem; as was pointed out before by Silverhill, wave-particle duality is way old news already, and most importantly, all types of electromagnetic radiation you mention simply differ by frequency, so we already know too that all of them quantize into photons just fine... it's just that IIRC for a higher-frequency wave you get higher-energy photons, as you need to be able to deliver the increased power...


ChrisW75
Posted 03 June 2007 at 11:55 pm

I love the fact that governments say things like "We need to develop this incredibly lethal and portable weapon to stay ahead of the terrorists/scary unstable countries" when the weapon costs billions to develop and millions to build. The terrorists/scary unstable countries could NEVER afford to create this, in fact the only way they could get this is to wait for the government of some disgustingly rich country to develop and build it, and then steal it, or buy it from some unscrupulous insiders. In fact, I believe that this is how most of the countries which are worrying us now got their hands on the weapons that they are threatening us, themselves and each other with...
Oh yeah, we is smart.


misanthrope
Posted 04 June 2007 at 03:48 am

Floj said: Oh, I think penicillin was discovered by accident too, that turned out pretty well.

More discoveries are marked by the exclaimation "That's odd..." than by "Eureka!" ;)


SmartChild
Posted 04 June 2007 at 03:58 am

DI It's a good article. it is interesting that the only real role the government played was in a military fashion, it has been mentioned if it is capable of storing and releasing such great amounts why didn't we try and use it as an energy source. The milatary was willing to spend billions yet I didn't see it mentioned that anyone else had much interest in it. Either the military was desperate and didn't need muhc to sway them into investigating it or we are ignoring a very important chance to improve our energy sources


Hoekstes
Posted 04 June 2007 at 06:24 am

Furthermore, a working hafnium device would tend to deluge its target area with absurd amounts of penetrating gamma radiation during the explosion, liquefying the flesh of any persons nearby– even those protected by bunkers.

Coooooooool.... CH, uhm no, EJ... no, DI!


Hoekstes
Posted 04 June 2007 at 06:27 am

ps I'm very impressed that you spelled liquefying correctly Allan Belows ;-), because I wouldn't.


elifint
Posted 04 June 2007 at 10:58 am

Floj said: "AH HA! There was a major break through last month in hydrogen production. They found that when aluminum is mixed with a little gallium it will spontaneously react with water to produce hydrogen! It works because the gallium prevents the aluminum from creating it's protective oxide layer. It was discoverd by accident when Purdue researchers were rinsing materials from a semi-conductor project and the residue started to bubble in the water. Gallium is expensive but with the proper motivation that industry caould expand, and the galium can be recycled as it does not react with the water.


Here is an article on the topic:

http://www.physorg.com/news98556080.html

It also discusses the economy of using this fuel. Perhaps hydrogen still stands a chance after all. We'll find out soon enough. Oh, I think penicillin was discovered by accident too, that turned out pretty well.

Pie however, is still the best. MMMMPI

Oh sorry for the spelling errors in my previous post."

I did know about this. But even if this technology is scalable, it still is an energy storage medium, not an energy source. You get the energy in this case by oxidizing the aluminum. Aluminum is created in the first place by spending huge amounts of energy to reduce (i.e. "un-oxidize") it.


InterestedOne
Posted 04 June 2007 at 12:25 pm

Thanks for the updates Silverhill and CptPicard. I'd been dinged in the past for being too specific in certain posts so I was more general, expecting either interested parties to dig it out for themselves or to be corrected/updated by other bloggers like you guys. And thank you Silverhill for the compton scattering info. I'd read up on the Mossbauer effect awhile back, but not compton scattering - which puts the whole wave?/particle?/both? discussion much more clearly than I could have. As always, very interesting reading.


Floj
Posted 04 June 2007 at 12:33 pm

elifint said: "http://www.physorg.com/news98556080.html


It also discusses the economy of using this fuel. Perhaps hydrogen still stands a chance after all. We'll find out soon enough. Oh, I think penicillin was discovered by accident too, that turned out pretty well.

Pie however, is still the best. MMMMPI

Oh sorry for the spelling errors in my previous post."

I did know about this. But even if this technology is scalable, it still is an energy storage medium, not an energy source. You get the energy in this case by oxidizing the aluminum. Aluminum is created in the first place by spending huge amounts of energy to reduce (i.e. "un-oxidize") it."

Yeah, I looked into that and it takes about 1.50 a kilogram. That's like 75 cents a pound, the article placed it around a dollar a pound. Gallium is a problem too. Oh well, it won't garuntee hydrogen fuel soon, but it gives it a better chance.

Jeffrey93 said: "I think more effective weapons would just get used more. The less danger there is to your own troops…the less reluctant the government would be to use them."

That's a good point. Makes me think of this article:
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=494
I suppose that it's the values of the people holding the gun that makes the difference. Perhaps we'd have to learn not to balance out that risk.

I'd have to agree with Spike on the quote from the article. "deluge its target area with absurd amounts of penetrating gamma radiation during the explosion, liquefying the flesh of any persons nearby" coupled with "fun size packages" makes me laugh. It fits the article like whip cream on pie. mmmhmm


Bryan Lowder
Posted 04 June 2007 at 05:41 pm

Indeed DI, Alan. However, I'm still not convinced that hafnium acts as an "energy sponge". I thought that, in almost all cases, the energy in excited hafnium comes from decay from an ancestor element to the quasi-stable Hf-178-m2. Is there solid evidence to the contrary?

elifint said: ...
"Indeed, his findings were somewhat at odds with the laws of physics given that nuclei are thought to be practically unaffected by electromagnetic radiation."

Nuclei are practically unaffected by electromagnetic radiation at low frequencies, but at higher frequencies (gamma ray energies) they interact with radiation just fine.

elifint, this one's my bad. While reviewing the article, I suggested Alan add something along these lines, coming from a half-remembered quotation by a naysayer.

The original quote might have been referring to the low probability of a gamma ray actually interacting with a nucleus; gamma rays are penetrating precisely because they pass through most stuff.

And about low frequency EM, well, what about NMR? I guess the science is just complex enough to trip up summarization attempts.

Your point about population inversion is well-taken. If you're a real expert on the topic, I've got some earnest questions for you....

Points others made:

Hf could come with the energy already stored. Just mine it as some element that decays into the excited isomer.If one could make it decay all at once (particle bombardment), then maybe you'd have a population inversion for a laser....

As for hydrogen from aluminum, you'd be far better off just oxidizing the aluminum in a battery. Al refining is a directly electrical process; an aluminum bar represents stored electrical energy.

Finally, it seems everybody thinks this technology (if it's legit) is only for killing. New Scientist apparently did an article speculating about Hf-powered aircraft. Hey, no CO2...
-BJL


ConcernedCitizen
Posted 04 June 2007 at 11:13 pm

@Bryan: apparently this isomer was "discovered in the 1970s, created inadvertently by neutron irradiation of a nuclear reactor's Hf cladding." wouldn't that suggest that the ordinary hafnium is "absorbing" the neutron radiation as energy? note: IANAP (i am not a physicist).

source: http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-57/iss-5/p21.html


tednugentkicksass
Posted 05 June 2007 at 12:21 am

SmartChild said: "DI It's a good article. it is interesting that the only real role the government played was in a military fashion, it has been mentioned if it is capable of storing and releasing such great amounts why didn't we try and use it as an energy source. The milatary was willing to spend billions yet I didn't see it mentioned that anyone else had much interest in it. Either the military was desperate and didn't need muhc to sway them into investigating it or we are ignoring a very important chance to improve our energy sources"

As I am not in any way a research scientist, this is only a supposition, but I'd think that any physics, robotics, or many other -ics researcher would try to add a militray factor their research (not to add to the destruction in the world, but rather to add to the budget of their own experiments). Just a thought.


SmartChild
Posted 05 June 2007 at 01:11 am

tednugentkicksass said: "As I am not in any way a research scientist, this is only a supposition, but I'd think that any physics, robotics, or many other -ics researcher would try to add a militray factor their research (not to add to the destruction in the world, but rather to add to the budget of their own experiments). Just a thought."

You have a good point but I still believe it to be an interesting thing that no energy researchers had but much into finding out if it's potential.


Dr. Evil
Posted 05 June 2007 at 03:49 am

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "Never saw Monty Python, which amazingly continues to bite me in the ars when people say "You remember that part in Monty Python….".

Well that sucks elifint, than I change my my original stance and say if hafnium so dangerous its energy properties can't be used for any good, they need to quit messing with it. America couldn't be lucky enough to have those asses in the government playing with hafnium and just blow themselves up, they would probably take out a high school or a college instead."

You have no idea what you've missed out on you poor deprived soul...you get my sympathy for today


ggnutsc
Posted 05 June 2007 at 06:45 am

I'm a newbie.... I've been lurking and reading articles for a month or so now and fianlly decided maybe I should create and account.... So to all of you already here.... Hello!! and Yes I'm finding this all DI.

Now on to my comment. It's too bad halfnium is so precious and expensive. It seems to me that it's greatest value to mankind would be it's ability to store large quantities of energy. It could provide a means by which to purchase a teaspoon of stored energy and heat your house for life. It would be like locking in an energy price that would never go up. Who wouldn't love to have a bunch of gas, or electricity purchased back in the 70s and 80s at those prices and still have it available to use today?


tednugentkicksass
Posted 05 June 2007 at 10:34 pm

Dr. Evil said: "You have no idea what you've missed out on you poor deprived soul…you get my sympathy for today"

I second that notion... you'll never see anything as funny as several guys in armor yelling "run away!" when faced by a vicious rabbit. I must warn you though, I've tried to get my buddies to watch the flying circus and they quickly lose interest, unless the ministry of silly walks is on.


Bryan Lowder
Posted 06 June 2007 at 01:13 pm

ConcernedCitizen said: "@Bryan: apparently this isomer was "discovered in the 1970s, created inadvertently by neutron irradiation of a nuclear reactor's Hf cladding." wouldn't that suggest that the ordinary hafnium is "absorbing" the neutron radiation as energy? note: IANAP (i am not a physicist).

D'oh!

Hunh. That would explain why I couldn't find it on a parent nuclide chart. Ok, you win. Spongelike energy absorption and you can't get it directly from an ancestor element. My apologies to Alan as well.

Well, clearly, I'm not a physicist either. But that's a nice ref, thanks.

However, this supports my guess that the energy for halfnium "charging" could be mined. Just dig up some uranium, set up a reactor and bombard the Hf with neutrons. Efficiency? Heck, I dunno. Sounds like you need neutrons in a narrow energy range... maybe a Farnsworth Fusor... but that would waste even more energy... Sigh.


Jeffrey93
Posted 08 June 2007 at 04:39 am

Bryan Lowder said: "D'oh!

Hunh. That would explain why I couldn't find it on a parent nuclide chart. Ok, you win. Spongelike energy absorption and you can't get it directly from an ancestor element. My apologies to Alan as well.
Well, clearly, I'm not a physicist either. But that's a nice ref, thanks.
However, this supports my guess that the energy for halfnium "charging" could be mined. Just dig up some uranium, set up a reactor and bombard the Hf with neutrons. Efficiency? Heck, I dunno. Sounds like you need neutrons in a narrow energy range… maybe a Farnsworth Fusor… but that would waste even more energy… Sigh."

Don't worry about fretting over energy sources, we don't need this stuff to help us meet our energy needs. The oil is plentiful! We might have to take over the rest of the world to meet our own needs...but that keeps the oil industry going as well as the US war machine. Win win! After all, if these halfnium bombs were developed...what do you think they'd be used for!?!? They'd be used to wage wars that are for oil, but aren't for oil, but still kind of are for oil even when they aren't.


wargammer
Posted 08 June 2007 at 08:13 am

it would be useful as a power source for space ships


Blake
Posted 25 June 2007 at 09:05 am

aic4ever said: "I'm always intrigued by the studies of these massive outpourings of energy from small sources and the fact that the first idea that comes to mind from something like this is to use it as an explosive. It would seem to me that if we could harness such a technology such that we could control it's decay and energy output that it ought to be used for energy purposes rather than explosive purposes. At the rate that we're bleeding the planet of oil that cannot be replaced, and more or less ignoring solar and wind energies, we need all the energy sources we can get."

I think that it's just easier to use it as a weapon than anything else. It's less difficult to let a chain reaction run wild than to control the output of the reaction and harness the energy.


joefyn
Posted 10 July 2007 at 03:41 pm

When I consider the amount of money spent on stuff like this - and I'm not prescribing how money should be spent (that is a different debate) it reassures me that with the right intention we do have the potential to bring human poverty to an end. If world peace is ever found, then all the money that is today pored into 'defence' programs can be diverted to solving mankinds real problems. This is the day I look forward to.

For now, thanks for another damn interesting article. I hope they don't discover how to use this before America feels safe again.


MaxBlogs
Posted 29 July 2007 at 06:41 am

Despite the highest aspirations of Mankind, there will always be somebody who wants to invent a bigger club.


Hayley
Posted 07 August 2007 at 11:37 am

I dunno...sounds pretty nifty for things like cancer treatment. Terribly expensive, but nifty, all the same. Paired with some yet-to-be-developed nanosensors or nanorobots (the real ones, not the science fiction type) that might be feasible.


rabidmonkeychick
Posted 07 August 2007 at 01:12 pm

wait, so people are dumb enough to try this?? how much hafnium is there in the world?? doom doom dooooooooom!!! i don't trust our government (american, that is). *dons my tinfoil cap* they're always plotting against people.


Kao_Valin
Posted 10 October 2007 at 01:22 pm

Hf just sounds like a 5,000 dollar AA battery that wont fit in any of my remotes.

That was a neat article about the Aluminum Gallum mix that broke the H2O. I can see Aluminum bombs that rip open rivers then set fire to the hydrogen (devilish look) :). See everything peaceful can be a weapon. Just give me some oreos and free time then I'll evil-up anything you want.


davida123
Posted 02 November 2007 at 10:12 am

Halfium. Actually if anyone can put me in touch with these folks reply on this page with a comment. While "hafnium-178-m2" maybe a bit exotic here, from "where I am from" it is as nearly common as your fossil fuels, although I need a bit to get going again (a bit of a repair so to speak.) In the meantime; I am here in Omaha living it up in 2007! If Oliver visits here as instructed please consult the L&K Scrap Metal (where we put the last of it in '10, although a little to the north this time.) A quick note to John T., Allie K., and Jessie Zappa---if you can read this you are the greatest e-archaeologists in all the world. Peace and Love in 2039!


timtimes
Posted 19 November 2007 at 07:01 am

Who is to blame in what country?
Never can get to the one
Dealing in multiplication
but they still can't feed everyone.

Somehow we can find the money to fund all manner of creative destruction, no matter how unnecessary or hair brained. If you don't think we're being lied to by the powers that be concerning our country's ability to fund things like Social Security or National Health care then you don't know the hafnium of it.

Enjoy.


mallums
Posted 09 December 2007 at 06:30 pm

I am a little bit confused. I think someone (possibly me) has mixed up the meaning of "isomer" and "isotope". I think that throughout the article, isomer was used when isotope was meant. An isomer is a molecule than can take several forms, such as left- and right-handed sugar: dextrose and levolose. [sp?] An isotope is an element with one of several different atomic weights, and differing degrees of radio-active stability, such as U-238 and U-235. I think that in the story about halfnium, what is going on is the choice of a rare and highly radioactive *isotope*.


Anthropositor
Posted 12 April 2008 at 12:22 pm

The same molecular formula can be put together in more than one way. Each different configuration in which the atoms can join one another is an isomer. The structural differences will often change other characteristics of the molecule. A more complex variety of isomers have levels of excitation in the mix as well.

Isotopes differ in the number of neutrons in the nucleus of the atom, changing the mass of the atom without changing the name of the element. Hydrogen is an element with three isotopes. Plain hydrogen, with only a proton in the nucleus; deuterium, with a proton and a neutron, and tritium, with a proton and two neutrons. From my perspective, deuterium is one of the most interesting isotopes.


Anthropositor
Posted 29 September 2008 at 12:53 am

It is fitting that my new blog "Anthropositor's Posts" commences on this day, as the sun sets on the world as we knew it.The details are not clear, and won't be for a while, but the impending disaster that we face is completely unprecedented in scope, depth, and probable duration.

The American Taxpayer will almost certainly be forced to bail out, to the tune of $700,000,000,000, financial giants which have played fast and loose for decades on several deregulated fronts. Forced I say, because the alternative is the meltdown of the entire world economy. Forced I say, because whatever the final provisions hastily thumb tacked together, we will also elevate an appointed official to heights which, in terms of raw power, are greater than those of whatever new President takes office.

And the worst of it is, there is a vanishingly low likelihood that it will work. The only argument that it will work is this: It must. Sorry folks, that argument is not persuasive. The truth is that it is unlikely to work even for weeks or months. The security for this bailout is virtually entirely worthless. The notion that valueless securities and mortgages will somehow gain value when the panic subsides is ridiculous. The panic is well justified by the facts.

So that you will have some distractions from this disaster, I have put the archives of my previous blog up here to divert you to a certain extent while I reorganize and make this blog more effective. It remains to be seen if the changes I have planned will do the job, but they have a better chance than this economic bail out.

Let me be more succinct. This economic bail out cannot work. It will ultimately make matters much worse.


Watcher
Posted 29 September 2008 at 08:48 am

Greetings Anthropositor. We may finally have a debate on our hands!

You say "the alternative is the meltdown of the entire world economy". You later argue that the bailout more likely than not won't work - which means that the entire world economy will melt down. I am not debating the bailout - its your money. I am debating the premise that unless the US financial system is saved, the world is doomed. Why so? Could it not perhaps be argued that IF the US financial system, as it now stands, is saved and thus perpetuated instead of re-structured and reformed as it seems to need to be, THEN the entire world is doomed?


Anthropositor
Posted 30 September 2008 at 08:15 am

Well the bail out bill failed for now. And in the market, sellers outnumber buyers by a very. very large margin The big winners today? The superstitious. The market closed 777 points down, an all time record. But look at all those sevens! Lucky. Can you imagine the freaked out people if the loss had been 666?

So Secretary Paulson, the monetary Czar-in-waiting comes out to to make a statement. He basically said they were going to try again and try harder.

Speaker Pellosi gave a speech held to be partisan, and is even held to be the cause of the defeat of the measure. What nonsense! Here was the vote. You decide. HR 3997 (I like to call it the Reverse Robin Hood bill, because it takes from the rest of us and gives to the richest, and most powerful, the key and most consistant theme of the current Administration.) Democrats: yea 140, no 95. Republicans: yea 65, no 138, present 1

Since there is an abundance of bullshit on both sides if the aisle, one must measure the size of the piles.to see who is currently taking the biggest dump on the taxpayer. In this case, the Republicans currently have, collectively, a much higher pile. I say that even while agreeing with their vote, if not their rhetoric or their logic.

Roughly a trillion dollars in stock value went missing today, not counting the foriegn exchanges. It is possible that they too collectively, will take similar damage. That would be a two trillion dollar loss day, world wide. Unprecedented. Meaning that the bail outs we have already seen did no real good at all, huge though they were. But so far the bail outs have only gone to financial entities too big to allow to fail.

Oddly enough, I have heard none of the pundits and talking heads say how heavy a hit China, a nominally Communist country, is going to take. Or the disaster areas of the third world. Fertile ground globally for newer and even more virulent dictatorships to form. Many of them will be in democratic countries I fear.

I am a bit in my cups. Home fermented wine, while somewhat lower in alcohol content, lends itself to overconsumption. It tastes like a sparkling juice, but it certainly wouldn't be prudent, even for someone with normal eyes to drive after three glasses. And for me, well even with my cataract monocle in, I wouldn't drive after one glass. And since arriving home from my weekly group chess class, I have had four or five glasses, maybe six.

So to sleep, perchance to dream. I'll look at this and try to catch most of my typos before I post it in the morning.

I like to harvest the Shmooo while I drink my first morning mug of coffee and eat Muscadine grapes. Absolutely excellent with fresh raw Shmooo. I am now cutting a couple of pounds a day, until it goes to seed. Then I will really have my hands full. Cutting, threshing the seed, shredding and drying the fresh greens for winter dining. Sort of odd for a carnivore like me to worry about running out of Shmooo before spring. It is certainly the most versatile and highly nutritious food I have ever encountered.


Anthropositor
Posted 30 September 2008 at 02:16 pm

Watcher said: "Greetings Anthropositor. We may finally have a debate on our hands!

You say "the alternative is the meltdown of the entire world economy". You later argue that the bailout more likely than not won't work - which means that the entire world economy will melt down. I am not debating the bailout - its your money. I am debating the premise that unless the US financial system is saved, the world is doomed. Why so? Could it not perhaps be argued that IF the US financial system, as it now stands, is saved and thus perpetuated instead of re-structured and reformed as it seems to need to be, THEN the entire world is doomed?"

Apologies Watcher. Being tipsy, I completely missed your post. But perhaps you state my case even more vigorously on my behalf tha I stated for myself. I remember saying something about the sun setting on the world as we knew it (and actually only talking about the extremely interconnected and convoluted world economy). Then I followed with the phrase "the impending disaster that we face is completely unprecedented in scope, depth, and probable duration." I said, "...there is a vanishingly low likelihood that it will work." And finally I said " This economic bail out cannot work. It will ultimately make matters much worse."

But DOOM? Even peering through my best cataract monocle, I am unable to find where I used it. But I will leave that word aside as being poetic license on you part.

It would certainly be chauvinistic on my part to imply that even an economic disaster of these proportions in the United States, would necessarily mean ruin for the entire rest of the planet. The economic and political implosion of the USSR resulted in extreme hardship for hundreds of millions of people. It also meant extreme instabilities which continue to reverberate still. But all the new billionaires out of that chaos are probably pretty content with developments.

The central fact is this. At the turn of the century, the benchmark currency was still the American dollar. That is no longer the case. I won't enumerate the reasons. They are many and they are complex, and I can think of no straightforward answers except to say the seismic shifts we are now undergoing, make life considerably more difficult for most people throughout the world. In general, most people are going to be poorer, and have to work harder, for more years of their lives. And a few will get rich, or a lot richer. For many years, the chasm between rich and poor in America has been widening as fast as in the worst of the Banana Republics.

But to close quoting you:
"Could it not perhaps be argued that IF the US financial system, as it now stands, is saved and thus perpetuated instead of re-structured and reformed as it seems to need to be, THEN the entire world is doomed?"

Ignoring the D word, I agree, this would be the bigger disaster in the long run.

While I do not remember our previous conversations, since the hackles on the back of my neck did not rise, I suspect they were mutually constructive and beneficial. My favorite kind.


sid
Posted 30 September 2008 at 02:17 pm

Anthropositor,

Are you in favor of the bail-out, or against it? I thought you were against it, since you said it cannot work. But you say the Republicans are "taking the biggest dump on the taxpayer" by voting against the bill in larger numbers than the Democrats. That seems to imply the Republicans are doing something wrong by voting against it. Then you go on to say you agree with their vote (those in opposition, I presume). Maybe it's the homemade wine talking, but it seems you are sending a rather mixed (or at least very unclear) message. How can the Republicans be doing something negative to the taxpayers if, in your opinion, they are voting the way you would want them to vote? Or is it your view that a vote against the bill will hurt taxpayers, but it is still the right thing to do?


Anthropositor
Posted 30 September 2008 at 11:23 pm

In a Ponzi scheme, the last and largest group to be brought in takes the biggest part of the losses. Now, both sides of the aisle say we have to do this. The thinking is, it has to work because it can't not work. And the notion of increasing the insurance limit on deposits from its current level to $250,000 is another costly, purely cosmetic, useless giveaway.

I am an independent. The great volume of waste I mentioned is not relating to the bailout so much as to eight years of extra production of doctrinal dung, political poop, moral manure, strategic shit and scatological schemes. I haven't seen such a serious case of national runs since LBJ. He was a Democrat.


Anthropositor
Posted 03 October 2008 at 05:25 pm

Let me see. First we had a three page $700,000,000,000 which failed. Our esteemed representatives of every stripe immediately had a feeding frenzy, adding hundreds of pages and bloating the amount to a whopping $810,000,000,000. Or at least this is what I heard on the Fairly Unbalanced News Network. Now, I walk in the door and the first thing I see is that the $700,000,000,000 bill has passed, but no information how this bill shrunk down again to the precise original figure, or how many hundred new pages were added to accomplish this purpose.

I think the market was up well over 300 points when the bill passed. Now a few hours later, the market is tanking again, down 150. Where is all that bolstered confidence we were going to get?


Watcher
Posted 04 October 2008 at 03:05 am

Anthropositor, we've met earlier on p 830 and some others. Yes the word "doomed" was mine; I was not quoting you then, just presenting the alternative view that the bailout is not only likely not to solve the problem but could in fact exacerbate the situation by not forcing a cold a hard look at what happened to bring the financial sector to its knees. I've refrained from commenting over the last few days as I waited to see how it would play out. The bailout is now fact. I confess I have not invested the time to read the bill in detail and I do not know all of its provisions and safeguards. I hope against hope however that there will be the wisdom at least to declare the financial model which led to the collapse as dead, that there will be a post-mortem and that whatever new financial model results from the bailout will be entirely new and improved.

The paradigm of lending and how corporations are funded has clearly started to show its failures. It is not consumer debt or consumer confidence that has been the problem this time. It has been that banks were too willing to accept the outrageously optimistic scenarios presented to them by corporations, and too greedy to exercise due diligence and to develop sufficient knowledge of what they were investing in. The world's military spending spree of the last 8 years is unprecedented and military spending by definition does not build anything, its all about blowing things up after all. The supply jolts in energy and the global crisis in food have not been sufficiently analysed and we've been too happy to accept whatever 15 second dissimulation was presented to us by the BBC or CNN. Today, the markets are NOT allowed to operate efficiently. Government and business are far too intertwined and this is DANGEROUS. Who put up the trillion or so spent by the government and military in the last 8 years on national security and in various armed conflicts around the world by the US alone? How do they get their money back? Yes the multipler effect appeared to bouy the economy - if you worked for Blackwater or for Haliburton and you were being paid $100,000 a month, when you got home you would buy a house or go on vacation, and so housing looks good and so does tourism, but where did that money that you were paid come from in the first place? Some bank somewhere lent it. Usually on the understanding that they would get paid back through more government spending and more contracts. But these contracts do not construct anything. War is about blowing things up. (I said that already, what I mean is they do not result in fundemental or core growth in an economy). Reconstruction is a gravy train and a way to shuffle the money back around. We live in a command economy or an oligarchy at best. The signs have been clear to anyone interested to look. Why so much reconstruction funding for Iraq where only big contractors or those with close government ties have ventures, and relatively, so little for Louisiana? What is the story about oil prices? Who benefits the most from that? This one in particular has really confused me because try as I could, I never saw where there was a supply shortage. Yes, there were refinery shortages and capacity shortages and that can certainly raise the price at the pump but why would that raise the price of crude? If there's insufficient processing capacity then doesn't that normally drop the price of the raw material? But I'm beginning to rant so I shall stop. My hope now is that $700 billion is put to good use. Catching a few scapegoats and firing a few bank CEOs will have a palliative effect on public opinion, but this time, for once, I hope, a champion will stand and say we will not fall for it.


Anthropositor
Posted 04 October 2008 at 03:19 pm

Well said Watcher. Once again we find ourselves in virtually full agreement on every central point. As to finding a champion to bring us through this, there is a more likely probability. We will elect a leader and representatives who will, even in the aftermath of this unprecedented economic chaos, continue our ongoing march of folly.

Great heroes rising out of the ashes of executive, economic, military, judicial, legislative and ecological disaster, (now all occurring simultaneously) tend to bake toxic waste into the cake of power-elite entrenched bureaucract, iced by legislators orgiastically involved with lobbyists, carpetbaggers and other influence peddlers of every stripe. This includes powerful deregulated bank/investment/mortgage giants.

And let us not forget the military industrial complex. Here is the most especially virulent cancer, which pervades our nation now, more greatly than even at the height of the cold war.

The first real alarm was sounded in President Eisenhower's Farewell Speech to the nation a half century ago. It is worth reading in its' entirety. It was a prophetic warning of what could happen. It is for this particular speech that I hold Ike in esteem That and his opposition to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when Truman was President.. You could find this speech in my blog archives, but it is quicker just to use a search engine. President Eisenhower's words need no amplification from me. It is too bad that he also did little to put an end to the McCarthy Witch Hunts, another particularly excruciatingly virulent period in American history.

If this were not enough, we also have an educational system entwined like a gordian knot with governmental power and patronage. It is the puppet of policy handed down by faceless bureaucrats. It is that facelessness of so many of those wielding significant powers, with no real scrutiny or restraining mechanisms that may threaten us most.

It is not the learning, the discovery, the invention, the skills we develop that come first. First is the labyrinth of funding, the student grants, or the loans loading the student with debt for many years.

And then there is the medical/pharmaceutical/government/insurance cabal. That too is of too great a scope to comprehend, and constitutes an almost insurmountable danger to the body politic.

And we are about to put a new cherry on this half-baked, fallen down cake. Which ever one we choose, he will fight for unprecedented powers with which to cope with the whole array emergencies he inherited. Both favored this bailout. Neither suggested anything creative, like suspending trading in America while having an extraordinary session of the congress which went on nonstop until a True Bill was crafted. One that was short, succinct and free of ambiguity. That may be the hardest thing for our legislators, most of whom are under the serious handicap of being lawyers.

Then I would give Congress a week to go back and face their constituents. After which I would call them back into another marathon session to simplify, shorten the codes, and establish real regulatory safeguards that could be both understood and enforced, and that would assure fairness and equity to all parties. They would revamp entire codes from stem to stern, with the emphasis on transparency and clarity. The goal would be to shorten the Codes by half, and to get better law in the process.

And earmarks and other pigtails, including all riders unrelated to the specific intent and purpose of the law, would be rejected by line item veto, or the entire measure would be rejected by veto. That is what I would do if I were the new cherry on top of this this crumbling, collapsing cake. Then I would continue on with similar refurbishment and simplification in all the other codes, This is not something that can be done piecemeal. No accumulation of slight changes will do the job.

All debate would be televised and archived as permanent evidence of who did and said and voted for what. That way, the more interested and informed electorate would be better able to make wiser judgements and vote accordingly.

Of couse there woud be some national security exceptions to the ban on closed debate and secret votes. But it is clearly the combination of secrecy and chicanery in our public officials that has brought us to this lowest point in our national life.

And last, I would use the bully pulpet to expose and challenge those who most obstructed these policies. I would recruit and train a special staff of interlocuters for the task of debating and exposing the defects of these least constructive representatives or senators, broadcasting the hearings to their constituencies. And for their part, those legislators under this unusual Executive scrutiny would be able to defend their actions, with only their own constituents deciding the matter, not at the end of their term, but right at the conclusion of the public session if the approval vote were negative.

And perhaps there should be some provision for even a President to face a Vote of Confidence, not just Impeachment. We really can't afford to let obvious, clear cut bumbling and incompetence, or clearly ruinous key policies continue for four or eight years. The Bush Doctrine alone should have triggered some mechanism of this sort.


sid
Posted 07 October 2008 at 06:50 pm

Anthropositor,

Can you answer any of my questions from #82?


Anthropositor
Posted 12 October 2008 at 01:12 am

For reasons I have not yet fathomed, the blog AnthropositorsPosts is stuck in limbo somewhere. Sorry about that. For now, eurekaideasunlimited.blogspot.com will have to do.

To #87: See 83 & 84. That will have to do. I intend no more endless, pointless dialogues with you. I have not yet seen an original idea pass your lips, and I am not betting it will happen anytime soon, if ever. If memory serves, you evade direct questions whenever it suits you.


sid
Posted 12 October 2008 at 06:45 am

Seems like limbo is an appropriate location, based on its creator.

If memory serves, you lost your last go round with poor little me, based on your own curious challenge and the rather few responses to the same. I can understand your reluctance to engage in another dialogue with me.

#s 83 and 84 do seem to address my question about where you stand on the bail-out, but that question wasn't really in question. It was pretty clear you were opposed to it. That question was more lead-in for clarification regarding your illogical comments apparently blaming Republicans for killing a bill you personally opposed. That just doesn't make any sense.

I'm not really interested in how you want to classify your political leanings. I'd wager most people who feel they are intelligent try to say they are independent/moderate when it comes to politics. That tends to be the response considered appropriate for the intelligent. But whether you are independent, Dem., Rep., Lib., Green, whatever, that doesn't really clarify your confusing posts. And throwing in the LBJ comment is simply pointless.

Now, if you're blaming all Rs for the last eight years of rhetoric, then you must conveniently ignore the fact that Ds have not been silent, not to mention the fact that Ds have been in charge of Congress most recently. The rhetoric, regardless of who is in charge, comes from both sides of the aisle.

You seem to refuse to address direct questions when doing so would undermine whatever message you hope to transmit. The trouble is, unless you get more direct, I fear whatever is your message will be lost on most of those whose mental abilities are not in line with yours.


Anthropositor
Posted 12 October 2008 at 07:48 am

Classic Troll, you sought out this and every other interchange we have had, not I. Everything I have done has been to put any communication with you to rest. Your illogic is manifest. Be clear, I do not hold you in low esteem. I hold you in no esteem whatsoever.


sid
Posted 12 October 2008 at 11:36 pm

Actually, I've been here on this site longer than you. I post comments or engage in dialogues/debates when I see fit. I hardly seek you, or anyone, out. Your posts just seem to rise to the level of being easily questionable. If your best defense is to call me a Troll, when all I've done is ask you a direct question or two, then I guess that speaks volumes to your abilities and character.

I guess I'll just have to rest on the laurels of my last exchange with you, since you don't want to attempt to explain the post I originally questioned this time around.


Anthropositor
Posted 05 November 2008 at 02:11 pm

Continuing to ignore the troll gleefully playing with his self-awarded laurel wreath, I find that Watcher and myself are, in the bold strokes, in essential agreement.


sid
Posted 05 November 2008 at 11:13 pm

Anthropositor said: "Continuing to ignore the troll gleefully playing with his self-awarded laurel wreath, I find that Watcher and myself are, in the bold strokes, in essential agreement."

No, ignoring would result in no reference to this humble "troll." And the award was bestowed upon me by yourself, when you decided to run your silly poll/trial that few cared about but yourself. The result was you lost. So I thank you for the award I neither sought nor wanted. It looks good on my imaginary mantel. But I'm sure the world is thrilled you have declared yourself in essential agreement, in the bold strokes, with Watcher.


johnb3491
Posted 31 March 2010 at 05:25 pm

This is an excellent reason for persuing non violent communication and The Department of Peace.


Cyrana
Posted 20 July 2012 at 01:32 pm

[b]What the hell is a debate about the economy doing on this page?![/b]
Really, Anthropositor, all sid wanted was to know whether or not you supported the bailout. It's off-topic and irrelevant, sure, but no more so than you.

Interesting article. I, too, would like more information about the creation of this... thing.
I can't figure out if hafnium-178-m2 is an isotope or an isomer. The article refers to it as an isomer, but up until this point I had assumed that that term was used to described molecules, not atoms. Perhaps there is another definition of which I am not aware?

BTW Alan, think you meant "dump all of their energy (with)in a short amount of time."


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