"Sound Beats Print ... Pictures Beat Sound"

Monday, September 04, 2006


One of the fellows who worked on The Manhattan Project, I forget which one, came up with interesting idea. It was later in the "Nuclear Age" when things were really getting cranked-up with Soviets, and we were locked into a real thermonuclear pissin' contest with them, and the Commies tested a 50 megaton device named Tsar Bomba. It was capable of 100 megatons, but they dialed back it's power shortly before the shot. Even as fired, it was capable of producing 3rd degree burns at 100 kilometers {60 miles}. This was the largest man made explosion in history. This all took place on Oct. 30, 1961, just under one year before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Today, when those times are put up on TV, lazy producers go to the vault and pull out that stupid "Duck and Cover Turtle" clip to show what things were like. I was 12 years old when this thing was tested. I never saw that goofy turtle, but I remember this bomb. And I remember what happen the following Oct..... As both sides worked on "improving" these things, there was an on going struggle to limit their testing in those years, with a partial test ban being ratified in 1963. It banned their testing in the air, sea, or space. But that was a year in the future that Oct. day in 1962 when I got out of 7th grade football practice.

The high point of my afternoon was just ahead of me, an ice cold root beer from the Coke machine in the Owens grocery store. It was a real twofer, the air conditioned comfort of Owens, and a Coke machine turned down so cold that ice formed in the root beer as soon as the cap came off. But as I stood there taking my first gulp, the cheap AM radio behind the cashier was rattling out something about President Kennedy addressing the nation later that day about missiles in Cuba. A wave of fear washed over me as I headed home thinking the flash of gamma ray radiation might get me before I saw my mom again. We all know now how close we really were, and I wasn't being "alarmist" swillin' that root beer and heading out the door home. What I didn't know then was that the architect of the fire raids on Japan, General Curtis LeMay was urging Kennedy to strike the Soviets in Cuba. What LeMay didn't know was that the Soviets had tactical nuclear warheads in Cuba and the orders to use them if we attacked.

Which brings us to that interesting idea the old Manhattan Weaponeer came up with. When he heard that there would be no more above ground tests of these terrible things, he proposed an exception to the ban. He saw into the future, and that as time pasted the fear that those above ground tests had put into me would be lost in us all. His idea was really simple, every 5 years in some remote location, the leaders of the world would be brought together. There they would be forced to strip to their underware, and a small atomic device be fired off so the all might be reminded of just what we're talking about. I think that the time, the old weaponeer foresaw, has come. These things are not just a bigger boom. I think we've all maybe forgotten that. I think I'll have a root beer.

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