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On 22 September 1979, sometime around 3:00am local time, a US Atomic Energy Detection System satellite recorded a pattern of intense flashes in a remote portion of the Indian Ocean. Moments later an unusual, fast-moving ionospheric disturbance was detected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and at about the same time a distant, muffled thud was overheard by the US Navy’s undersea Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS). Evidently something violent and explosive had transpired in the ocean off the southern tip of Africa.
Examination of the data gathered by satellite Vela 6911 strongly suggested that the cause of these disturbances was a nuclear device. The pattern of flashes exactly matched that of prior nuclear detections, and no other phenomenon was known to produce the same millisecond-scale signature. Unfortunately, US intelligence agencies were uncertain who was responsible for the detonation, and the US government was conspicuously reluctant to acknowledge it at all.
The United States established the Vela satellite network in the 1960s for the specific purpose of monitoring compliance with the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty. Though each satellite’s intended lifespan was only eighteen months, the units continued to detect detonations for years thereafter. Prior to the mysterious event of September 1979, the orbital surveillance system had successfully recorded forty-one atomic detonations, twelve of which were spotted by satellite Vela 6911.
Though the Vela satellites were bristling with atom-bomb sensing equipment, their most effective apparatus was each unit’s pair of aptly-named bhangmeters. These photodiode arrays were tuned to detect the one-millisecond burst of intense light created by a nuclear fireball, and the subsequent secondary light caused by the hydrodynamic shockwave of ionized air. The sensor’s engineers had been skeptical of its potential— hence their decision to name it after the Indian variation of cannabis called “bhang”— but the predictable pattern of bright flashes proved to be an extremely effective method for detecting atomic explosions from orbit. In over a decade of operation, the network of unblinking electronic eyes had yet to record a single false positive with the atomic-bomb signature.
Due to the satellites’ design and their distant orbit of 70,000 miles, technicians were not furnished with the exact location of nuclear events; the sensors could only narrow the area down to a 3,000 mile radius. Available data suggested that the 1979 Vela incident occurred near Bouvet Island, a frozen scrap of earth famous as the most isolated isle in the world. The tiny island was home to a Norwegian automated weather station, and in 1964 an abandoned lifeboat of unknown origin was found there, filled with supplies. But presumably the island was completely uninhabited at the time of the energetic event, meteorological automatons and enigmatic castaways notwithstanding.
When the technicians at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) first received the detection signal, they were not aware of the related observations from SOSUS and Arecibo. But the Vela report was strong evidence on its own: the signature was too unique to be explained by other phenomena, the flashes were orders of magnitude brighter than any non-nuclear source on earth, and the likelihood of both bhangmeters artificially producing the same specific pattern was vanishingly small. US intelligence concluded that a 2-4 kiloton nuclear device had likely been exploded between South Africa and Antarctica. No nations admitted responsibility for the covert test, but intelligence reports indicated that the most probable perpetrator was Israel, possibly working in cooperation with South Africa.
Upon receipt of the intelligence docket, President Carter called an urgent meeting in the White House situation room. His administration had placed considerable emphasis on nuclear non-proliferation, therefore the US would be expected to respond harshly to any confirmed atmospheric test. If Israel were linked to the covert explosion, the resulting trade sanctions— or the refusal to impose them— would be politically precarious for the President, particularly while campaigning for re-election. Though there was no reason to doubt the detection, President Carter ordered the creation of an advisory panel, with a special emphasis on seeking non-nuclear explanations.
In the subsequent weeks, the AFTAC findings and the resulting intelligence report were buried in a shallow grave of reasonable doubt. Although both bhangmeters on Vela 6911 had observed the alleged atomic event, they had recorded the flashes at distinctly different intensities. The elderly satellite’s electromagnetic pulse (EMP) detector had long ago failed, therefore it was unable to corroborate the observations. Vela 6911’s sister satellite hadn’t detected anything at all, though its working condition at that time was unknown.
In the days following the event, the US Air Force had deployed several research planes to scour the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean for telltale fission products. The mission didn’t detect anything unusual, but for reasons that are not entirely clear, the flights didn’t penetrate the low-pressure air mass where the explosion was thought to have occurred.
In spite of the lingering ambiguity, most experts still believed that a surface nuclear burst was the most probable explanation for the Vela alert. During the months of investigation, the committee was made aware of the SOSUS hydrophone recording of the blast, which had been found to be consistent with a small nuclear explosion at or near the Indian Ocean surface. Scientists at Los Alamos also made the connection between the Vela detection and Arecebo’s fast-moving ionospheric disturbance, though the researchers were not convinced that the coinciding events represented a nuclear test.
An additional item of interest was a flash of auroral light that appeared over Syowa Base in Antarctica a few seconds after the Vela event, reinforcing the possibility of an EMP burst. Nuclear bursts have been known to cause patches of artificial aurora, though these colorful displays are more often due to solar energy mingling with the atmosphere. Further circumstantial evidence appeared in the weeks that followed, including reports from a doctor in Western Australia who detected trace amounts of iodine-131— a short-lived radioactive fission product— in the thyroid glands of local sheep.
The committee investigating the Vela incident absorbed numerous presentations from defense organizations and scientists. In the summer of 1980, after convening on three occasions, the panel produced their final report to the president. Owing to the lack of radioactive fallout and the inconsistent bhangmeter data, the investigators were unwilling to conclude that a nuclear bomb was responsible for the alert. Instead, they suggested that a micrometeorite had struck the satellite, dislodging particles which had reflected light back onto the photosensitive instruments. Another theory they considered was that a lightning “superbolt” had mimicked the distinct nuclear bomb pattern. They ultimately rejected this notion, however, since the Vela flashes had 400 times more energy and 100 times longer duration than the most intense lightning ever observed. The panel declined to address the Arecebo and SOSUS observations, executing a nimble leap of logic whose subtlety and elegance was second only to sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and going “la la la la.”
Panel member Luis Alvarez, a distinguished physicist, later defended the panel’s reasoning in discarding data that corroborated a nuclear bomb:
“…a scientific detective’s main stock-in-trade is his ability to decide which evidence to ignore. In our [Defense Intelligence Agency] briefings we were shown, and quickly discarded, confirming evidence from a wild assemblage of sensors: radioactive Australian sheep thyroids, radiotelescopic ionospheric wind analyses, recording from the Navy’s sonic submarine-detection arrays that supposedly precisely located the blast from patterns of sound reflected from bays and promontories on the coast of Antarctica.”
As is often true when a committee is urged toward a particular outcome, it seems that the investigators may have exaggerated the evidence that supported their goal and ignored all else, an unfortunate human shortcoming known as confirmation bias. Subsequent analysis by Stanford Research Institute scientists found that the probability of a meteoroid impact mimicking a nuclear bomb flash pattern was roughly one in one hundred billion. In short, the president’s committee had reached a conclusion that was about as credible as the notion that a passing alien spacecraft had triggered the bhangmeter. The panel’s findings were accepted by the administration, however, and since trade sanctions were generally ineffective against rogue meteoroids, the US government was able to justify inaction.
In the intervening years, a few new Vela-related details have surfaced. With the collapse of the South African apartheid in the early 1990s, much of the information regarding their nuclear weapons program was made public. Among these revelations were documents indicating that their first functional nuclear weapon wasn’t constructed until November 1979, two months after the Vela incident. Some have hypothesized that France or Taiwan may have instead been responsible for the covert test, but evidence for either scenario is scant and circumstantial.
In 1994, convicted Soviet spy Dieter Gerhardt claimed that the flashes were the result of “Operation Phenix,” a joint Israeli/South African weapons test conducted under the cover of bad weather. “The explosion was clean and was not supposed to be detected,” Gerhardt claimed, “but they were not as smart as they thought, and the weather changed – so the Americans were able to pick it up.” He did not claim to be directly involved with the operation, stating instead that he had learned of it though unofficial channels. Gerhardt’s description of the explosion as “clean” suggests that, if his account is accurate, the device may have been a neutron bomb: an atomic device with increased neutron radiation and decreased fallout. Israel has never openly admitted to possessing nuclear weapons, but in 1986 a former Israeli nuclear technician named Mordechai Vanunu furnished a London Times reporter with photographs and descriptions of Israeli atomic weapons. Shortly before that article was printed, Vanunu was abducted by undercover Israeli Mossad agents, and imprisoned for his treason.
Today a mountain of Vela-incident intelligence remains classified, but a few heavily redacted reports have been released by the US government. Although these documents indicate considerable internal disagreement regarding the cause of the double-flash signal, they offer little new evidence. In his 2006 book On the Brink, retired CIA spy Tyler Drumheller wrote, “My sources collectively provided incontrovertible evidence that the apartheid government had in fact tested a nuclear bomb in the south Atlantic in 1979, and that they had developed a delivery system with assistance from the Israelis.” Unfortunately he does little to elaborate on the event or on his evidence, except to state that the South African bombs employed a “highly accurate delivery system using gliders.” One factor which casts doubt on the South African covert test theory is the conspicuous lack of South African scientists disclosing their participation, even after the fall of the apartheid.
Perhaps one day, when the redactions have receded and declassified documents are disseminated, further light will be shed on the Vela incident of 1979. If the distinct double-flash pattern was not a nuclear detonation, the Vela event would represent the only instance in history where a Vela satellite incorrectly identified an atomic blast— in which case the true cause may forever remain unknown and/or irrelevant. In any case, the flurry of falsifications and artificial investigations churned up in the wake of the incident clearly demonstrated governments’ unwavering willingness to renegotiate reality for political purposes, even in the shadow of a mushroom cloud.
Update, September 2018: Scientists have conducted a modern analysis of records of radioactivity found in the thyroids of sheep in Australia during the time of the Vela incident, and the study “removes virtually all doubt” that the Vela detection was a nuclear explosion. Specifically, it was likely a small 2-3 kiloton nuclear artillery shell (compared to the 15-16 kiloton Hiroshima bomb), similar to the United States’ “Atomic Annie”.
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Always love your pieces.
“In any case, the flurry of falsifications and artificial investigations churned up in the wake of the incident clearly demonstrated governments’ unwavering willingness to renegotiate reality for political purposes”
Why does it seem like that was not changed even after 3 decades?
And yes I did read it before. DI Alan, as usual. Must have been the aliens, though. We all know that when government committees meet they ALWAYS get the right answers and would never lie to us.
About as corrupt as you can get, really. Or, How to Learn Science from The Man.
PS – DI as ever, but “or the refusal to impose them– would be would be politically precarious” might need its own redaction.
Damn Interesting Alan! Good Choice of an article.
What if the government has never lied to us and it is all in our head?
Of course.. what if the sky falls….
I honestly believe that Nuclear Testing is over with. Information is the newest weapon in a society that is constantly changing. The age of the bomb is over.
D’oh! Fixed. Thanks.
“highly accurate delivery system using gliders.”
Now thats DI in istelf! Great article Alan.
Wow, I never even heard of the Vela satellite before. DI!
I’m curious, Alan. Do you know where we might find more info on this accurate glider delivery system?
Very interesting! Gotta love the bending over backwards of politicians to achieve the “desired” result..
DI! Did the weather station report anything unusual on the day? ”Cool frosty morning with short periods of nuclear fallout in the afternoon?”
Very Interesting ! I have heard for years, rumors that Isreal was capable of a nuclear strike. I even have a few ‘shady’ friends who claim to be in the know. But this is the first report I have heard that puts some solid evidence to all of those rumors.
I think I also read (maybe on this site) that Isreal may have sunk a US battle ship, while pretending it was done by one of their Islamic enemies. They sunk the US battle ship to try and get the US to commit to helping them in some local millitary conflict. (sorry, to lazy to dig up citation)
Most Jews are good people with slightly above average art, style and intellegence.
But the country of Isreal sucks!
Everyone knows that Jews like to think of themselves better than average people (doesn’t everyone?), but to state it clearly and plainly is another thing. Do you atleast realize that such a statement is very similiar to say nazi ideologics?
Not to mention that, rather ironically, intelligence is misspelled…
When I read this, the name Dr. Wouter Basson immediately came to mind. For those of you that don’t know here in South Africa he was known as “Dr. Death” and his name is usually always connected to anything weapon related during apartheid.
He was put in charge of “Project Coast” which was put in place to research, design and even implement all things death related. As far as I know the main focus was chemical and biological weapons and they developed many toxins and poisons that were tested on political prisoners. He did however state during his trial in 1999 (he was cleared of all charges by the way) that he learned all about nuclear weapons from Saddam Hussein’s government.
It is believed that he was only put in charge in the early 1980s but I’m sure he had started his work several years before that. I would be willing to bet he was somehow involved in this.
I am not Jewish.
I can’t say anything about art or style since those are subjective, but Ethnic Jews are on average more intelligent. To deny this claim is like denying the claim that Kalenjin runners are on average faster. The disproportionate number of Nobel prizes is evidence for the former and the even greater disproportionate number of long distance running records for the later.
Not all humans are created equal. Some individual are larger, smarter, faster, etc. The same trends can be applied for races. Height and skin color are the most obvious. Intelligence has been heavily sexually selected for throughout human evolution, and is it such a leap to logic to state the selection pressure for intelligence might have been different depending on different geographical and cultural conditions?
The science of eugenics was perverted by the Nazis and turned into a social science that wasn’t based on evidence. But here is something the history books lied to you about. Before the Nazis made it unpopular, most of the scientific community agreed that the fundamental principles behind eugenics are true. Evolution and selection process theories don’t state what is better or what ought to be, they simply state what is. If you consider yourself rational and believe in evolution and selection, then you can’t make a special exception for humanity.
yeah, apart from this discussion following the natural course of declining into a flame war kindled by someone’s nazi-ideology related remark (why hasn’t anyone so far likened the apartheid gov. to the nazi gov. and wondered about israel of all countries having such close relationship to (excuse me must do this) S.A.?) — apartheid from that, what about the most obvious, the norwegian weather station data? ‘‘Cool frosty morning with short periods of nuclear fallout in the afternoon?’’ — ‘‘High winds with an intermittent brief lull; sudden 180° turnaround as winds recuperate.’’ — ‘‘Instruments temporarily inoperative due to a sudden rise in atmospheric ionized gases.’’ — ‘‘An overcast and gloomy early sub-antarctic autumn morning with brief, extremely sunny intervals in the first three hours after midnight.’’
Btw, the books (depending on which ones you read) do not lie *that* much: ‘‘Before the Nazis made it unpopular, most of the scientific community agreed that the fundamental principles behind eugenics are true.’’ Well, before we realized it was bad, it seemed OK for authorities like the US DoD and CDC to try things like atomic bombs and live viruses on actual nig^H^H^Hpeople. Looks like some universally cherished beliefs of the 20th c have suffered a tad since then. But fear not, your most desired offspring maybe just a few years and a test tube away. We already have miracle crops and a hungry world, so what could be more important than weapons and eugenics. And yes, you’re right, i positively know that germans are much better car drivers than south koreans, who however produce more top violin players per capita, so it does make sense to me that some groups of people should share common traits. While we’re at it, anybody here who knows how to terminally weed out (believers in) eugenics?
Have we gotten off track and invoked Godwin’s Law or reductio ad Hitlerum?
And before we get too far into a discussion of eugenics, I wish to refer you to Better for All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America’s Quest for Racial Purity by Harry Bruinius (www.betterforalltheworld.com). Bruinius pretty much says everything that needs to be said on the subject (it was all because fine, upstanding, god-fearing American Christians wanted more people like themselves…).
Wow, someone is a little defensive there, and a little straw-manish.
I never said I believe in the morality of Eugenics. Get this, I do NOT BELIEVE in the wholesale selective breeding of populations as decided by government or anyone. I don’t have nearly enough wisdom to even attempt to make such a claim about the direction that humanity should take.
The science behind Eugenics is the science of evolution and selection (natural, sexual, artificial). Eugenics applied human morality to the science. I believe in the science, which states what is. The science doesn’t make claims about what’s best or what ought to be.
Having said that, these selection forces have been at work throughout all of human existence and way before, certainly before Eugenics came along. I blame Eugenics for making it so un-PC to think that humans aren’t above the rules that every other living organism on Earth is subject to.
The world is the way it is. We are certainly more alike than we are different, but to say that all groups of people are identical in every aspect is denial.
Awesome article: DI. Anything satellite-related reminds me that we maintain lots of technology in space, and we have been for over 50 years. Amazing.
Question: what system takes the place of the Atomic Energy Detection System now?
Getting back to the topic. It’s ironic how science has been politicized back then and even now. First it was the Church, then the governments, and basically anyone with influence has sought to use science to its own advantage. It’s sad that the way science is taught in schools now is mostly by lazy teachers who teach through dogma rather than the actual scientific process of finding evidence, testing through experimentation, and coming to rational conclusions.
I see so many “science” majors in college that know the scientific process only in name. Without it, it’s no better than some book telling you a flying spaghetti monster created the world.
nah… its just another conspiracy…
Now this is what I call fascinating. And like I said before, this is why I have DI bookmarked, and why I check the site for new texts with borderline-obsessive ;) regularity.
My fav quote: “a nimble leap of logic whose subtlety and elegance was second only to sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and going “la la la la.”” Hahahahaha…..
Interesting article, and side stepping the emotive aspects of the subsequant debate, some DI information there too. I am now reading an article of sports physiology relating to the Kalenjin, and the one posted by Richard Solensky – both DI.
I love this site!
In reading, “the South African bombs employed a “highly accurate delivery system using gliders.” I’m reminded of the UAV’s or unmanned drones now used by the US in the Mideast and, if memory serves, first used by the Israelis in the 6 day war. Though technically not gliders, UAV’s purpose is quiet, personnel-safe penetration of enemy airspace for covert, and overt ops. I’d say nuclear glided munitions would fall under overt ops.
I suppose the possibility of a small asteroid strike was considered?
Interesting how things made a leap from a bomb explosion to Eugenics.
1) I do not believe in Eugenics – people need to be free.
2) I do believe in Natural Selection.
3) I believe Natural Selection continues to apply to humans – the question is, which pressures are being applied: whether intelligence is an evolutionary advantage or not depends on the environment (there has been some interesting research there).
4) The natural variation between individuals swamps differences between races.
5) The Jewish community generally puts a heavy emphasis on good education – which leads to Jews, on average, being better educated. That says little about natural intelligence, or even that every Jew is well educated – just that the median of their education curve is a bit to the right of the curve for the general population.
Saying someone is intelligent implies the person can learn quickly and better than someone else. Being knowledgeable is something else entirely. Knowledge can be taught to everyone with the right tools and enough time. Culturally speaking, I feel knowledge is what is being carried, not intelligence. One can have one without the other since intelligence is derrived from genetics while knowledge is environmental experiences.
One who says they believe in eugenics and not in evolution is confusing for me. Eugenics doesn’t equal hitler and all things evil automatically. Eugenics has been done with farming for centuries. Eugenics has been done with practically all dog breeds. Personally, I feel those far outweight the abuse of knowledge Hitler carried out. If anything eugenics is a great tool for advancing our race as a whole. Besides, not believing in eugenics is like not believing in trains. We can see and study eugenics, unlike say a noncoporial entity.
Mr. Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, once said that Iran “that Iran aspires “to have a nuclear weapon as America, France, Israel and Russia.”
Here’s my crackpot theory:
The phototubes are not cameras. A laser, properly focused on the satellite, could produce the right waveform and possibly spoof the sensors. Conventional explosives, coordinated with the pulsing laser, could have been used so that SOSUS picked up a signal at the same time that vela did.
The Soviets would obviously have been interested in probing our sensor networks and reducing confidence in our nuclear detection capability. Assuming no conclusive evidence of nuke-induced radioactivity in the region, this seems to be a reasonable alternate explanation. We can only guess how difficult it would have been to spoof the system, but I’ve got to wonder why it wasn’t suggested or considered publicly by the committee… unless the secrecy behind it all is really to hide the fact that the soviets DID understand and penetrate our nuclear detection systems well enough to spoof a nuke. How embarrassing that would be!
I wanted to point out that the link for “Bouvet Island” (above) on the NASA website states “A nuclear bomb was detonated between Bouvetøya and Marion Island in 1979.” under the “A few interesting events regarding Bouvet Island.” So, It would appear as if NASA accepted this “conspiracy” as fact. Damn, Interesting indeed!
The article seems to be missing what to me is an important detail: What happened to the Norwegian automated weather station on Bouvet Island island after the incident? Was it still running, and if so, were the electronics of a type that would have been affected by an EMP?
I assume you mean meteor striking the Earth, and it wouldn’t produce the precise flashes needed to trigger the bhangmeters. (By the way, “bhangmeters”, great word to learn, and fun to say!)
While technically true, I don’t think there was any technology in 1979 for aiming a laser so precisely from the ground to a satellite so as to be able to mimic the two particular flashes of a nuclear explosion. Keep in mind that the precise position of the satellite, let alone its bhangmeters, was unknown, so hitting a target so precisely, from such a long distance, for the time necessary is highly improbable. Add to that the nearly simultaneous sounds of an explosion and other details, and you’re in the “passing alien spacecraft” levels of probability again. ;-)
How so? If a turtleneck sweater is locked in place by a tumultuous rocket banana, won’t it remove the placid truck from under the limitless gecko hernias? I must protest, for each time the luminous cocktails lurk towards the flurries and speckles associated to the great Vela harvest, the sounds it makes just makes me feel so nostalgic. DI indeed ! proof: I just shat myself.
I beg to differ. First off, “the time necessary” is on the order of several milliseconds, and by ’79 satellite tracking was technologically quite feasible. The explosion only needs to be in sync with the laser to the same degree that the satellite and sonar array are time-sync’d. Considering that they were most likely managed by two separate entities (AF and NAVY, generally) , it is not likely that we could have verified simutaneous occurances to any better than a few seconds accuracy at best.
Hobbyists track today’s super-secret spy satellites for fun with backyard telescopes and shareware programs. The satellites are constrained to specific orbital behaviors because of physics, so the accurate tracking of a not-so-secret treaty-verifying satellite in 1979 is not improbable at all, expecially for a team of evil Soviet rocket scientists. As far as hitting the sensors, you can’t expect the beam of a laser to look like a laser pointer from miles away. The beam diameter would likely be wider than the satellite itself after travelling through the atmosphere, so if you can hit the satellite, you are hitting the bhangmeter. The challenge then is to supply enough power to the laser to make it appear as bright as a nuke from orbit. This is still a stretch, but not an “alien spacecraft” stretch.
I imagine you’re thinking of the USS Liberty incident – the Israeli attack on a U.S. spy ship in international waters.
It’s not really clear if the attack was deliberate or not. Well, the attack was obviously deliberate – the question is whether or not it was intended as an attack on a U.S. ship or was the result of a misidentification as an Egyptian one.
No kidding. And wouldn’t a “clean” neutron bomb leave a significant radiation signature on the island? Did anyone ever go check for radiation? That’s missing, too.
Maybe, but there was an explosion in the Pacific between Hawaii and the Left Coast around 2001 that was initially feared to nuclear and about the size of the Hiroshima bomb. A big chunk of rock entering the atmosphere, very fast, generates a lot of similar signals including xrays, gamma rays, etcetera. The Pacific explosion was determined to be a meteorite by infrasound analysis – which wasn’t around back then.
Move along. Nothing to see here. La la la la la………
So far so obvious.
I think you got these accidentally reversed: I believe in evolution and not eugenics.
See the definition of Eugenics I quoted: it specifies human hereditary traits. The term Eugenics does not refer to farm animals, even when the principles are the same. There is a world of difference between, putting two animals in a paddock together and eliminating people with traits you don’t want.
I presume “advancing our race” refers to the human race?
If you want to do Eugenics with a purely incentive based, non-governmental program (a’la the program that created Lazarus Long in the Heinlein stories), that’s fine by me. As soon as you start being coercive or government advocated, you have crossed the line.
Again, you are ignoring the definition: “Eugenics … advocates … intervention.” I believe in Natural Selection, I decidedly do not advocate intervention.
The term is “non corporeal” – I know we can’t study God directly, but IMHO we learn about Him through His creation.
The satellite and hydroacoustic data were/are analyzed by one entity, AFTAC as well as seismic and other data. The only light source that mimics the double-hump signature of a nuke is a lightning strike and the analysts are quite good at differentiating.
Yes you could hit the bhangmeter with the ground-based laser but the sensors are tuned to specific frequencies and only trigger when several criteria are met, to avoid scads of false triggers. If a beam of light were to cause a trigger it would produce a ramp like signature from diffuse intensity, which is clearly different and quickly discarded. To mimic the required frequency and amplitude with a laser would have been impossible.
I side with HiEv on the fooling the satellite theory, it is exceptionally difficult; when coupled with the data from other systems, impossible. Not alien spacecraft stretch, then Star Trek stretch perhaps?? ;0)
I wonder if you can roast marshmallows over a flame war…
committee (n) – the only known organism with 100 legs, 50 bellies and no detectable brain.
“Uhh, huh, he said bhangmeter! huh,huh”
If enough people join in, we’ll have quite a nice bonfire going! *pulls out marshmallows and chocolate*
Unfortunately, we’re all intervening in “Natural” Selection all the time. Every time modern medicine saves someones life, or allows them to breed when infertility prevents them, we’re intervening in Natural Selection.
While I do NOT advocate outside intervention in peoples breeding choices, nor letting people just die, what modern medicine has done is stop us selectively breeding out susceptibility to various diseases and genetic problems.
This can give a pretty strong argument to the case for Eugenics.
If you want a good example of what happens to a species with enough time and no medical intervention, look at Crocodiles. According to a documentary I saw a couple of years ago, their immune system is just incredible, there’s practically nothing that it can’t kill. I believe they even managed to use it to kill AIDS virus cells.
Perhaps we need a DI article on eugenics. I believe that Sweden had a secret eugenics program running until about the 60’s. Doctors would secretly sterilise women considered to be ugly or stupid. That is a terrible thing. Apparently even now it isn’t talked about. A friend of mine went over there some time ago and went to a museum where he found all this out. When he spoke to his Swedish friends, there was much denial and shaking of heads.
I’m going to be doing my own bit for the human race, by having as many kids as possible, because obviously I’m awesome. :-)
Oh, and when I say “Unfortunately, we’re all intervening” I mean, Unfortunately for your argument, not for the people being saved. Just in case someone was about to leap on me in a flurry of righteous fury.
Can you explain to why it would be impossible to modulate such a laser to replicate the waveforms expected at the detectors? Also, what kind of frequency are you refering to? The frequency of the laser? Or the modulation? A pulse of light is not comprised of a single frequency… Once again, I don’t know why it could not be done, provided the expected signature was known in the first place.
On the argument of not being able to replicate the power density of a nuclear blast on the detector, I cannot tell. You have to take into consideration that the incident power from the nuclear blast will decrease approximately as r^2 with distance while the laser will have a much lower decrease rate due to its collimated nature.
Also, anyone else find it strange to see a graph in log-time axis?
It hasn’t and never will people want power and money and if they have to do anything out of the way to get it they’ll just alter everything till they don’t have to do it.
An article on eugenics would be very interesting…might get the longest list of comments ever recorded on DI.
1. No, Dr. Basson was not involved in this. It was outside his field of expertise. Dr. Basson is a brillaint doctor, who was recruited by the government for some research. He continues to this day to be a brillaint doctor – he is my father’s cardiologist. He is, and never was a Dr. Mengele, do not fall for the media hype surrounding him.
2. For those who may find this interesting, South Africa’s ARMSCOR and Denel were the pioneers of UAV technology. Longgggg before the Americans! :-)
Uh… What? The fact that it’s entering the Earth’s atmosphere at a high rate of speed would only heat it up (due to ram pressure, not friction) and cause some ionization in the atmosphere. I can’t think of any reason why that would produce high-energy radiation like x-rays or gamma rays. I looked around and I can find no corroboration for your claim.
I came upon this email today, attributed to comedian Mel Brooks. Eugenics at work?
Mel Brooks on being a Jew:
I may be angry at God or at the world, and I’m sure that a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility…It comes from a feeling that as a Jew and as a person, I don’t fit into the mainstream of American society.
Feeling different, feeling alienated, feeling persecuted, feeling that the only way you can deal with the world is to laugh — because if you don’t laugh you’re going to cry and never stop crying — that’s probably what’s responsible for the Jews having developed such a great sense of humor. The people who had the greatest reason to weep, learned more than anyone else how to laugh.
Based on the accomplishments of individual Jews, Nobel Prize winners and heroes of modern culture, as well as the amount of attention Jews get in the media, you’d never believe the correct answers: There are little more than 13 million Jews in the world, comprising less than 1/4 of 1% of the world’s population !!!!
You think it’s just a coincidence? Twenty-one percent of Nobel Prize winners have been Jews, even though Jews comprise less than one-quarter of one percent of the world’s population. Choose any field, and you will find that Jews have excelled in it.
Think of the names of many modern-day figures most responsible for the intellectual turning points in history – MARX, FREUD, EINSTEIN – and you will find proof of the Biblical verdict: “Surely this is…a wise and understanding people.” There simply is no way to deny it.
Jews really are smart. There must be a reason – and I can give You three:
HEREDITY, ENVIRONMENT and A UNIQUE VALUE SYSTEM:
HEREDITY – Historians have pointed out a fascinating difference Between Jews and Christians. In Christianity, as well as in many other religions, holiness was identified with asceticism, great spirituality with the practice of celibacy. For centuries the finest minds among Christians were urged to join the church and become priests. That effectively condemned their genetic pool of intelligence to an untimely end.
Jews, on the other hand, took quite seriously the first commandment to mankind – to be fruitful and multiply. Sex was never seen as sinful, but rather as one of those things created by God that he surely must have had in mind when he declared, in reviewing his work, that “Behold everything was very good.” Among Jews, the most intelligent were encouraged to become religious leaders. As rabbis, they had to serve as role models for their congregates as procreators and “fathers of their countries.” Brains got passed on from generation to generation, and Jews today are still reaping the benefits of the frequent sexual activities of their ancestors.
ENVIRONMENT – If challenge and response are the keys to creativity and achievement, it’s no surprise that Jews are smart; they’ve been challenged more than anyone else on earth. The school of hard knocks is a wonderful teacher. Jews had no choice but to learn to be better than anyone else since the odds were always so very much stacked against them.
When you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you tend to get fat and lazy. When you’re born with the lash of a whip on your back, you quickly learn to become crafty, street smart, and knowledgeable in everything that will help you make it through life.
A UNIQUE VALUE SYSTEM – We still haven’t touched on the most important reason of all. Jews are smart because they have been raised in a tradition that treasures education above everything else, that considers study the highest obligation of mankind, and that identifies the intellect as part of us created in “the image of God. “To be illiterate was unheard of in the Jewish world, not only because it was a sign of stupidity, but, more significantly, because it was a sin.
Jews are obligated by law to review the Bible in its entirety every year, dividing it into manageable weekly sections. The widespread custom when a child turned three years old was to write the letters of the Hebrew alphabet on a board in honey and have the child learn them as he licked them off, equating their meaning with the taste of sweetness.
Jews studied the Midrash, and it taught them: The Sword and the Book came from Heaven together, and the Holy One said: “Keep what is written in this Book or be destroyed by the other.” Jews studied the Mishna and it taught them, “Say not when I have leisure.”
Philosophical Tevye , that delightful creation of the Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem and the star of Fiddler On The Roof, explained that Jews always wear hats because they never know when they will be forced to travel. What he didn’t say, which is probably more important, is that they always made sure to have something under their hats and inside of their heads – because physical possessions could be taken from them, but what they accumulated in their minds would always remain the greatest” merchandise” a Jew possesses.
Hmm… I guess you’re right. I know I read somewhere that such an energetic event would produce all kinds of radiation but I can’t find an exact reference to anything other than thermal radiation.
The closest I can find, without spending way too much time on it, is:
“Researchers assume the blast of heat generated by a cosmic collision would be similar to nuclear bomb detonations.”
Catastrophe Calculator: Estimate Asteroid Impact Effects
“What would happen if a 10-kilometer-diameter asteroid penetrated Earth’s crust at a speed of 15 to 20 kilometers per second? The kinetic energy of such an asteroid (more than 6 miles in diameter) would equal the energy of 300 million nuclear weapons and create temperatures hotter than on the sun’s surface for several minutes.”
Modeling an asteroid impact by Maureen Oakes
I thought I made it pretty clear that I meant government and coercive intervention. I’m fine with people saving lives and improving fertility, I just don’t want the government saying who can and cannot marry or killing off ‘undesirables’.
ruskus: I think I may have to revise my opinion: perhaps the median for education is more than “a little to the right” (anybody have any statistics?), and after a few thousand years of Natural Selection the hereditary intelligence curve may have moved a little too.
Super cool Article- love the subject. Thank you for sharing your passion for digging up this type of information. I really appreciate reading these articles and the comments because it truly stimulates my mind a lot. Another thing to question besides is this or is this not a nuclear test would be how many nuclear tests could we have missed? How much iodine-131 could presently be floating around in sheep’s thyroids and/or my glass of tap water? I am curious less about who done it with regard to this test and more curious as to possible stats out there regarding how all nuclear tests have affected humans globally, and how covert testing impacts existing numbers out there on lasting consequences either good or bad for both the environment and humans of nuclear testing.
Is it just the television slant these days or are there more birth defects, conjoined twins, multiple births out there? If so could these covert tests be contributing to that? Also, another thing to think about with regard to fighting nations and peoples who despise each other enough to go to war and kill each other etc…. if this earth gets hit with a lot of nuclear explosions we are all going to look damned ugly with our three legs and five eyes. Fall out from a nuclear war will hurt everyone and will not discriminate based on who you are. Everyone will suffer.
I found this great story about Chernobyl by Roberta C. Barbalace online here:
The passage in the article that fascinated me most I am copying here because it relates to a lot of your comments as well:
Forget Eugenics– our DNA could already be corrupted and we may all be pawns in subsequent generations of mutations as a result of ongoing (for all we know) undisclosed nuclear testing.
I learned a long time ago to put little faith in emails circulating around the Internet that put all sorts of words in the mouths of famous people. This one looks like it contains a grain of something Mel Brooks actually said, but it quotes it incorrectly and out of context, and the rest appears to be someone else’s words falsely appearing to be in his name.
Part of the quote above apparently comes from The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America by Lawrence J. Epstein (see here). Discussing why Mel Brooks often makes Jews harmless and funny in his films Mel is quoted saying, “I think that, unconsciously, there’s an outrage there. I may be angry at God, or at the world, for that. And I’m sure a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility. Growing up in Williamsburg, I learned to clothe it in comedy to spare myself problems — like a punch to the face.” Only the italicized parts are quoted above. Not that “for that” was omitted”. I don’t know where the last part of the emailed version of that quote comes from, but I suspect Mel Brooks didn’t say it.
I also found what appears to be the original version of that emailed text (see here), and it clearly indicates that only the part I quoted from the email above was supposed to be attributed to Mel Brooks. Somewhere along the way, however, it has been “re-edited”, much of the text was removed, and the quotation marks were dropped, making it look like Mel Brooks wrote the whole thing. In other words, it’s a copy-and-paste hoax, probably re-written a couple of times by several people, and it’s now dishonestly using Mel Brooks’ fame to help get it spread around.
I don’t know how much of the rest of it is true, regardless of who said it, but that’s certainly a bad start in the “honesty” category.
– HiEv, doing the work that Snopes hasn’t gotten to yet ;-)
The above line: Not that “for that” was omitted”.
Should have read: Note that “for that” was omitted.
I am beginning to regard television as the freakshow of our time. I doubt that there really are any more birth defects, etc. today, but there is probably a much higher survival rate and those afflicted are not “hidden away” like they used to be. One might want to make the case that there are more birth defects these days due to nuclear whatever, oddball chemicals, new drugs, etc., but I cannot see a good way to measure that for comparison.
Yeah, I agree. Until there is science or hard stats behind something like that it is hard to know anything for sure, but it does pose a good question to ponder.
You can, but they aren’t kosher…
Am I the only one who thinks this is extremely similar to the TV show LOST? Remote volcanic island with research facility dating back to the 70’s, a station in Antarctica and satellite pick up and an anomaly and extremely bright flashes of light?
It’s worth noting that the Vela satellites discovered what turned out to be Gamma Ray Bursters – http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/ast19sep97_2.htm. The satellites had picked up several bursts of gamma rays coming from outer space. Stumped, the DoD and NASA decided to throw open the curtain of secrecy over the satellites and share the data with the astronomical community. It was quickly realized that this was an entirely new type of extragalactic object.
This wasn’t the only time the military shared its work with astronomers. When the astronomical community was trying to figure out how to account for atmospheric distortions in their latest telescopes, the DoD freely handed over their information on adaptive optics rather than see millions of dollars of taxpayer money be spent on something they had already perfected.
Interesting enough that I wrote a musical piece about the Vela Incident.
If it was launched from South Africa it was probably launched from here:
Help me understand this. How is it that people of a certain belief are “on average” more intelligent than people with different beliefs.
The fact you said ‘ethnic jews’, which describes people with Jewish parents that do not actively practice Judaism also has me somewhat baffled.
Since being Jewish is a religious belief choice….emphasis on choice, I’m not sure how you can say that “on average” Jews are more intelligent.
If I convert to Judaism tomorrow will I suddenly become smarter?
The shred of evidence you provided to support your ‘Jews are more intelligent’ theory is this…
That one statement seems to help prove that Jews are more intelligent, more intelligent than some anyway.
Your confusion stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the term “ethnic Jews”. An “ethnic Jew” refers to a person who has Jewish ancestry. The term is meant to differentiate from “religious Jews”, which are people of the Jewish religion. Whether you’re an “ethnic Jew” depends on whether your biological parents are of Jewish ancestry and won’t change. Whether you’re a “religious Jew” depends on your current religious views and therefore can change. It is possible to be either one of those things, or both, or neither.
Donlaudanny was speaking about people of Jewish ancestry, not people who follow the Jewish religion.
P.S. Your ending insult to him is quite ironic considering the ignorance you displayed in that post.
A friend of mine was a former South African naval inteligence man in the 1980s. He talked to me over dinner once about this test blast. He confirmed that the bomb was South African, but that USA was so outraged at the test blast that diplomats discreetly warned South Africa that CIA would stop supporting the Fretalin anti communists in Angola, unless South Africa withdrew from Angola and abandoned their nuclear bomb project. USA twisted South Africa’s arm because the Soviets were threatening to get involved. That was the inside story I got.
What most strikes me about the excerpt from Luis Alvarez’s response to criticism, is that he led with the radioactive sheep first. I guess it’s only natural – radioactive sheep _are_ ridiculous, after all, and bringing them up first makes it that much easier to dismiss the rest of the evidence because you’ve already put your reader in the proper frame of mind.
This, in and of itself, doesn’t prove anything of course. Persuasive writing is used by the right and the wrong. However, I think it is a rather cheap tactic.
Old post, but still an interesting read.
22 September 1979 was the 1st of Tishri of 5740, Rosh Hashanah. Are you sure the Israelis were not saying “hello” in a rather nuclear way? Just asking.
Note to self: Finished.