[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V3 #49

arms-d@ucbvax.ARPA (06/24/85)

From: The Arms-D Moderator (Harold Ancell) <ARMS-D@MIT-MC.ARPA>

Arms-Discussion Digest Volume 3 : Issue 49
Today's Topics:

          Questions on Submarine Launced Ballistic Missiles
                Nuclear Terrorism & Doomsday Machines
                      SDI (Fossedal commentary)
       Turning swords into plowshares, marches into folk-dances

Date:     Fri, 21 Jun 85 23:05:33 PDT
From:     msev%phobos@cit-hamlet.arpa
Subject:  Re: Questions on SLBMS

Without doing the orbital mechanics, I think it's safe to say that
SLBMs leave the atmosphere.  The atmosphere is only 30-100 km high,
depending on your definition, and the SLBM range is normally much
greater.  (Even for a possible shorter range target, you would expect
the maximum altitude - apogee - to be 100s of km.)

So, on one hand, the missiles climb high enough for space-based ABMs
to detect and attack.  (Remember spaced-based systems are only part of
layered ABM package.)  On the other hand, short-range trajectories
compress the time between boost, mid-course, and re-entry phases, so
that the defense has much less time to act.  (As little as 5-10
minutes, compared to 30.)  But on the third hand, Russian subs seem to
be keeping closer to Soviet territory these days, presumably because
of good US ASW.  This makes flight times longer, more like ICBMs.

-Martin Ewing

P.S. Did you see the scene in the Superman movie, in which Superman
tries to catch the ICBM flying horizontally at low altitude?  I
thought that showed just a little lack of understanding.  (Missiles
aren't good airplanes.)  Of course, once you believe in Superman,
anything is possible.


Date: Sun, 23 Jun 85 01:03:11 EDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN@MIT-MC.ARPA>
Subject:  Questions on Submarine Launced Ballistic Missiles

Soviet SLBMs have never been tested on depressed trajectory; thus,
they do leave the atmosphere, and are vulnerable to space based


Date: Sun 23 Jun 85 15:04:42-EDT
From:  Wayne McGuire <mdc.wayne%MIT-OZ@MIT-MC.ARPA>
Subject: Nuclear Terrorism & Doomsday Machines

     From _The New York Times_, 6/22/85, p. 28, by Richard Halloran:


     Specialists on terrorism and nuclear arms say that terrorists
could obtain nuclear explosives with relative ease and that it may be
only a matter of time before they do so.

     ``There is very little that can be done to prevent a skilled,
determined, well-organized terrorist organization from setting off a
nuclear detonation on United States territory,'' says Bernard J.
O'Keefe, chairman of EG&G, a Cambridge, Ma., company that makes
advanced timing and triggering devices called krytrons.  It was
reported recently that Israel had purchased 800 krytrons, apparently
through another company, without EG&G's permission or a valid export

     In a paper prepared for a conference here on nuclear terrorism,
Mr. O'Keeefe asserts that smuggling nuclear explosives is not
difficult.  ``A very powerful device will fit into a small trunk and,
properly disguised, would be much easier to handle than a bale of
marijuana, to which our borders are virtually transparent,'' he says.

     Mr. O'Keefe, author of the book ``Nuclear Hostages,'' an
examination of nuclear war and nuclear terror, says, ``I believe that
the greatest threat to civilization today is the prospect of a
terrorist-implemented nuclear explosion.''

     ``Simultaneous explosions in Moscow and Washington would be duck
soup for a skilled, determined well-organized terrorist group,'' Mr.
O'Keefe says.

     The conference on nuclear terrorism, scheduled for Monday and
Tuesday, has been arranged by the Nuclear Control Institute, a
nonprofit organization that deals with issues related to nuclear
proliferation.  The institute made available the papers to be
discussed at the meeting.

     Mr. O'Keefe's contention was reflected in other papers to be
presented at the conference.  A physicist at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Bernard T. Feld, said in a comment on Mr.
O'Keefe's report, ``I believe this possibility is bound to become a

     Brian Jenkins of the RAND Corporation, a research organization in
California, asserts in another paper, ``If terrorists had a nuclear
capability, they would be more likely to brandish it as a threat than
detonate it without demand.''

     But Mr. Jenkins, an authority on terrorists, says he could
``conceive of a more emotional use of a nuclear weapon as the ultimate
instrument of revenge, or a `doomsday machine' by a desperate group.''


Mr. O'Keefe's remark, that ``a very powerful device will fit into a
small trunk and, properly disguised, would be much easier to handle
than a bale of marijuana, to which our borders are virtually
transparent,'' seems to undercut a comment made a few months ago on
Arms-d (was it by Herb Lin?) that a small nuclear crazy state would
find it difficult, if not impossible, to strike out in desperation and
rage at the entire world.

Perhaps we should be worrying a good deal more about the potential
behavior of small crazy states and groups, especially those motivated
by religious extremism and apocalyptic belief systems, and somewhat
less about the plans and actions of the superpowers.

Wayne McGuire <mdc.wayne%mit-oz@mit-mc>


Date: Fri, 21 Jun 85 21:26:54 EDT
From: Herb Lin <LIN@MIT-MC.ARPA>
Subject:  SDI (Fossedal article)

      "Star Wars and the Scientists"

    by Gregory A. Fossedal

    Supporters and critics alike were taken aback recently when James
    Fletcher, the former head of the space program, assessed the Star
    Wars defense idea in an article in Issues in Science and
    Technology.  His conclusion: The U.S. can defend, in the 1990s,
    between 90% and 99% of its "population and infrastructure," with
    more exotic technologies providing a "near perfect" system
    shielding 99% or more of our people from an all-out nuclear

If it is the article in the first issue of IST, this claim I think is
wrong.  I don't think that Fletcher quoted numbers at all in that article.

    Head of a 1983 panel that evaluated Star Wars technologies, Mr.
    Fletcher has the respect of supporters and oppenents alike.

Not true.  Fletcher has a reputation among some as a person who will
say anything to get a program funded.  This may or may not be a true
assessment, but it is not true to suggest that he is respected by

    Mr. Fletcher is part of a broad emergence--in some cases a
    shift--in thinking among scientists since Ronald Reagan called for
    a defense to make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete."  Of
    course, when one says "scientists," one means chiefly theoretical
    physists at MIT or Cornell.

Does this suggest that theoretical physicists at MIT and Cornell are
"coming around"?  Ask them.  I have, and it is quite false.

    The typical Boeing engineer or applied-electronics man in Silicon
    Valley--who probaly has more expertise in this area than, say,
    Carl Sagan--supported Star Wars all along.

Would they do so if their firms had no financial stake in Star Wars?
I suspect the jury isn't in on that one yet.

    Two scientists who generally support strategic offensive programs,
    but had initial doubts about defense, are Reagan adviser George
    Keyworth, and Dartmouth physicist Robert Jastrow.

True.  Presidential science advisors have to mouth the adminstration
line, or they get fired.  As for Jastrow, he is a plain fraud.  I can
substantiate this claim for anyone who wishes me to do so.

[Note from the Moderator: I asked Mr. Lin to give his substantiation,
which follows below:

I define a fraud as a person who make claims that are patently wrong,
who ought to know that they are wrong, and who has been informed
exactly how they are wrong.  Jastrow has a PhD in theoretical physics,
and he has made the claim publically that shielding a multistage
rocket against a laser with a weight X of shielding decreases the
payload by the amount X.  This is patently wrong; he has been told
this, and I have a written document from him in which he asserts this.

    Mr. Jastrow, too, came to Star Wars via the Reagan buildup, which
    he defended in a March 1983 article for Commentary.  Mr. Jastrow
    had questions about strategic defense after the program was
    assailed by leading scientists.  Then he began to check their
    calculations "on my own and with the help of colleagues."

As far as I can tell, Jastrow has not made a single correct
calculation on his own relevant to Star Wars.  Anyone have any
evidence otherwise?  If so, please share it.

    Pans Before Analysis

    Other substantial supporters abound but simply are not mentioned:
    Fred Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences,
    and Bill Nierenberg, director of the Scripps Institute for
    Oceanography and the head of Jason's panel that debates key issues
    of defense science for the government.

Seitz I know nothing about.  Nierenberg was on the Reagan transition
team for science and technology -- hardly unbiased himself.  I haven't
seen calculations of his either.

    Then there are the heroic young entrepreneurs--Lowell Wood,
    Gregory Canavan and others--who are carrying out the actual
    research on Star Wars.

Lowell Wood we have heard from in this digest -- his comments speak
for themselves; commentary on them welcome.  Gregory Canavan is plain
wrong on the result of his that is getting so much publicity; more on
this later. 

    Mr. Nierenberg says: "The fact that Garwin says something won't
    work is very little evidence.  Historically scientists are the
    worst at predicting scientific advances," he says, citing experts
    who ruled out the airplane, the intercontinental missle and, of
    course, the nuclear bomb that Mr. Reagan would try to make

Engineers also pushed the nuclear powered airplane in the 1950s.
Nuclear scientists never ruled out the nuclear bomb.

    To their credit, Star Wars critics have made major concessions.
    The most famous of these is on the "constellation issue," i.e.,
    the question of how many satellites it would take to knock down a
    given Soviet attack.  Office walls in the Pentagon now sport a
    chart detailing how, over time, Mr. Garwin and the Union of
    Concerned Scientists (the chief lobby against Star Wars) have
    reduced their original estimate of 2,400 satellites, to counter
    the present Soviet force, to fewer than 100.  The plunging line is
    know as "the Garwin curve."

Even DoD estimates that 144 are required; their estimate is within 10%
of the OTA estimate of 160.

    Then there is the "square root law" derived by Mr. Canavan.  This
    asserts that as the Soviets expanded their missle force by, say, a
    factor of four, the U.S. can meet that threat by expanding its
    defense only, by, roughly, the square root of four--or two.  The
    intuitive proposition is that there are economies of scale in
    knocking down Soviet attacks, as in most other enterprises.  Mr.
    Canavan started with papers by Star Wars critics, corrected for
    some flawed modeling, and derived the square-root low.  If he is
    right, Star Wars defenses would be ruinously expensive not for the
    U.S., but for anyone who tried to counter then with an offensive

This piece of nonsense is just that; the square root law holds ONLY
for a situation in which missiles that are distributed uniformly over
the entire SU, and for satellite at zero altitude.  You can derive
this result easily yourself with two years of undergraduate
physics  .For realistic heights (e.g, couple of hundred km), and the
*actual* distribution of missiles, doubling the number of missiles
increases the satellites required by 1.8X or so.

    On the technical side, by contrast, Mr. Wilson says, "I'm sure we
    can make some kind of defense work....  Star Wars is sound and
    moving ahead fast technically, but we need to be careful in
    approach....  I'm mostly concerned about all those nuclear
    weapons."  And if we build up defense?  "Oh, that would be a good

What is the goal of the defense?  Sure we can build some kind of
defense.  No one argues that we cannot.

    Many colleagues still respect the critics--particularly Mr.
    Bether--as scientists.  "They've acknowledged it" when they make
    technical errors, says Jonathan Katz, who participated in a
    National Academy study of nuclear winter.  "Bethe is a great
    scientist.  But the debate is over the assumptions you make about
    the Soviets, and the criterion you use to judge a defense: How
    selective does it have to be?  There's really no scientific
    question ... it's a strategic and political judgement."

The GOAL is a political one.  The likelihood of achieving it is a
technical question.  State the goal clearly, and you can get answers. 

    The debate, Harvard's Ashton Carter told The Economist recently,
    should be over the utility of less than perfect defenses, which
    Mr. Carter agrees are plausible.

But that is not what the Adminstration is pushing.

    Even such imperfect defenses, Mr. Carter wrote last year, could
    render nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete"--if they can knock
    down nculear weapons for less money than it costs the Soviets (or
    Libya, China, Syria ...) to build them.

A big IF.  Even then it is not true, because if the other side hides
missiles successfully, he can overwhelm you because your defense
cannot cope with the additional stress.

    Probably, the press should spend less time with the "political
    scientists" both for and against Star Wars.  And a little more
    time talking to the people, such as Messrs.  Fletcher and Canavan,
    who haven't said much about Star Wars--because they have been too
    busy actually studing it.

While they are at it, it would help if the press took some freshman
physics.  Then people like Jastrow couldn't get away with


Date: 1985 June 22 14:21:39 PST (=GMT-8hr)
From: Robert Elton Maas <REM@MIT-MC.ARPA>
Subject: Turning swords into plowshares, marches into folk-dances

Many of the marching tunes are really good music, for example "Stars
and Stripes Forever" by Sousa. It's really a shame that to date the
only thing anyone has ever done to such music is march lock step LEFT
RIGHT LEFT RIGHT wearing snazzy uniforms and carrying weapons of war.
I plan to change this by choreographing folk dances to existing
marching tunes. While taking a shower this afternoon I came up with
some polka steps that fit Stars&Stripes Forever rather nicely, and
that is my major goal. Unfortunately I don't have the classic
recording, just a watered-down "Stars&Stripes" recording from WW2. (If
anyone in Palo Alto area has the original S&S F on record or tape,
please loan it to me so I can copy it to my tape?) Meanwhile I'll try
my hand at choreographinc my copies of my father's WW2 records. (Any
folk dancers interested, send me your net mailbox and I'll send you
what I come up with and you can try them with your favorite partner in
the case of the couple dances and see if you think they fit. Hmmm, how
do I solve the problem that you don't have the music that I have and I
don't have Multi-Media Mail by which I could send you the music over
the net?

Anyway, this is my contribution to world peace in the immediate future.

[End of ARMS-D Digest]