[fa.arms-d] Arms-Discussion Digest V3 #18

arms-d@ucbvax.ARPA (03/29/85)

From: Moderator <ARMS-D@MIT-MC.ARPA>

Arms-Discussion Digest Volume 3 : Issue 18
Today's Topics:

	Stellar guidance of ICBM's
	SDI Foolishness
	"Actually, this would explain a lot of things"
	Increased Lethality & SDI
	Share SDI technology ?
	Magnetic poles and missiles

Date: 26 Mar 85 10:11 EST
From: Herb Lin <LIN@MIT-MC.ARPA>
Subject:  stellar guidance of ICBM's
To: ihnp4!islenet!scott@UCB-VAX.ARPA

to my knowledge, no current operational missile has stellar guidance.
If you know of one, pls tell us about it.


From: Charlie Crummer <crummer@AEROSPACE.ARPA>
To: arms-d@MIT-MC.ARPA
Subject: SDI Foolishness

> Date: 23 Mar 85 17:39:22 EST
> From: Hank.Walker@CMU-CS-UNH.ARPA
> Subject: Will SDI Ever Work?
> To: Arms-D@MIT-MC

> It seems rather foolish to me to make statements like "technologically SDI
> is foolishness of the highest magnitude."  It is unlikely that an SDI system
> can be made to work in 10 years, but what about 20, 30, or 50 years?  By
> saying that the SDI will never work for technological reasons, critics are
> setting themselves up to get discredited if a technical solution is found.
> Any legitimate non-technical points that may have been raised will be swept
> away too.  A sounder approach is to say that lots of research is needed
> before an SDI system could possibly be built.  Therefore doing development
> (that $26 billion isn't all research) now is foolish and a waste of money.
> And besides there are all these separate issues like cost and survivability.

There has been some discussion about the time-translation invariance of the
laws of physics.  If the laws of physics do change then maybe SDI can be 
made to work.  One of the most compelling arguments in favor of SDI is the

    1st premise:  They said Fulton could never make a steamboat but he did.
    2nd premise:  They say that "Star Wars" will never work.
    Conclusion:   "Star Wars" will eventually be made to work.

When I hear this kind of reasoning from those who should know better, my
stomach hurts.  Yes, Virginia, there are some things that will never be done.
Here is alternative iron-clad proof that SDI will NEVER work:

   1st premise:  They said that the U. S. would build a nuclear airplane.
   2nd premise:  They were wrong; the U. S. will NEVER (a long time) have one.
                 (See the literature beginning in the late '40s and tapering
                  off at the end of the '50s.)
   Conclusion:   SDI will NEVER work.
Hans Bethe, in a lecture at Cal Tech last week, very conservatively estimated
the cost of deploying the space-based laser alone, even after the outrageous
assumption that they would operate at all, would cost between 2 and 6 
TRILLION dollars. (1 trillion dollars = $1,000,000,000,000)  This estimate
is somewhat larger than one hears from our "conservative" executive branch.
Of course one could say, "No, in 5 or 10 (or 20 or 50 or 1000) years it 
will not cost more than 37 cents."  This can not be disproved either.
There is some value to common sense, however.

In the world of weapons system acquisition, yes, acquisition not research,
requirements are judged as to their feasibility.  (There are some things
that are not feasible.)  Strictly speaking no one can prove that something
can be done except by doing it and by that token, it can never be proved that
anything is impossible!  People that lead their lives this way in every aspect
are either dead or on a funny farm, however.  The way to con one who claims to
be rational is to appeal to his flawed or non-existent basic assumptions the
most useful of which is, "I am completely rational."  Here is an example:

    1st premise: I am completely rational.
    2nd premise: I have no rational argument that disproves theorem A.
    Conclusion:  If someone CLAIMS that A is true, I am at his mercy.

When someone offers to sell you the Brooklyn bridge at a discount price, you
don't let your decision to part with your hard earned cash hinge on your
ability to disprove his ownership, now do you?


(There's no fool like a rational fool, sometimes called a nerd.)



Date: Tue, 26 Mar 85 12:13 EST
From: MJackson.Wbst@Xerox
Subject: "Actually, this would explain a lot of things."

For those of you who did not see the comic strip "Bloom County" for
Saturday (3/23), the scenario is that Oliver Wendell Jones, the
seriously subteen computer hacker and scientific prodigy, has just won
his school's science fair by building a small thermonuclear device.

[Frame 1:  Little girl, ~ OWJ's age, rushes up to him with arms

LG:	"You!  You're the fellow who built this *wild* little atom bomb,

[Frame 2:  She clutches him about the neck and leans against him]

LG:	"Oh, it is *so*. . .so risky!  So outrageous!  So. . .*deliciously

[Frame 3:  She lifts him by the lapels and looks into his eyes]

LG:	"Ya know, handsome. . .just between you and me, some of us happen
	to find men who make nuclear weapons simply *irresistible*!!"

[Frame 4:  He stands with glasses awry, she gazes in the direction of
the bomb]

OWJ:	[thinks] "Actually, this would explain a lot of things."

LG:	"Oh, build *another* one!"




Date: Wed, 27 Mar 85 15:37:57 mst
From: jlg@LANL.ARPA (Jim Giles)
To: arms-d@MIT-MC.ARPA
Subject: Increased Lethality

> A colleague of mine just attended a (nonclassified) conference on the use of
> the Denelcor HEP, a new parallel computer.  An Air Force officer gave a
> talk, in which he cited the uses of parallel processing for SDI.  At the
> bottom of the slide, which was taken from another talk, were listed the
> benefits of SDI.  One benefit: "Increased lethality."  (The officer skipped
> over that part of the slide.)

I have seen this term used also, but in the meetings I've attended it was
discussed at length.  The term 'lethality' here refers to the attrition
rate of incomming missiles.  In the present situation without any ABM
system this attrition rate is due entirely to missile malfunction, which
is assumed to be rare (some simulations allow the attrition rate to be
large in order to account for many theoretical conjectures that missiles
would fail due to EMP and other effects in a full nuclear scenario). If
SDI works, then increased lethality would indeed be a benefit, but there
are no sinister connotations associated with the word (unless you are
rooting for the incomming missiles).  Your friend should have asked about
the term I he was concerned.  It probably meant that the SDI system would
work better with parallel processing as a part of the system.

J. Giles


From: ihnp4!mgnetp!ltuxa!tty3b!mjk@UCB-VAX.ARPA
Date: 27 Mar 85 16:59:14 CST (Wed)
To: ltuxa!mgnetp!ihnp4!ucbvax!arms-d@UCB-VAX.ARPA
Subject: Re: Arms-Discussion Digest V3 #17

 >From: ericson@NYU-CSD1.ARPA (Lars Warren Ericson)
 >	Asked about the prospect of sharing defensive weapons with the
 >	Soviet Union, as proposed by President Reagan in his re-election
 >	campaign, Mr. Ikle said such a development was "unlikely" until
 >	the Russians had agreed to abolish most of their offensive weapons.
 >I believe this is a retraction of the policy.

This isn't the first time some off the wall thing said by the President
is later corrected with the now-familiar explanation "The President misspoke."

Of course there is no intent to share SDI technology.  It will be one of
the most advanced weapons systems we have ever constructed, if it ever is
approved, and will be treated as such.  Can anyone explain to me why this
shouldn't be viewed as an offensive/defensive system?  Anything that can
shoot down missiles can shoot down satellites, blinding the Soviets 
intelligence in preparation for a first strike.  Of course, the Soviets
can protect their satellites, and we can develop means to counteract the
protection, and ....  wheeeee!   Here we go, an arms race in space...

Mike Kelly


From: ihnp4!utzoo!henry@UCB-VAX.ARPA
Date: 27 Mar 85 23:57:47 CST (Wed)
To: arms-d@MIT-MC.ARPA
Subject: magnetic poles and missiles

> Henry Spencer's worries about missile guidance near magnetic poles doesn't
> seem relevant to modern missiles, which are inertially guided, some of them
> with stellar guidance as well.

The issue is not disturbance of guidance systems -- as far as I know,
nobody has ever used a magnetic compass for missile guidance! -- but the
possibility of accuracy being reduced by imperfectly-understood factors.
The gravitational effect of the *moon* would be enough, if not allowed
for properly, to spoil "silo-killing" accuracy.  This particular effect
undoubtedly has been noticed and dealt with, but it illustrates just how
tiny a perturbation can be and still mess things up.  The significance
of the North Magnetic Pole is simply that it is a slightly atypical part
of space, somewhat unlike what is found on East-West low-latitude missile
ranges, and nobody knows just what effect this might have because nobody's
ever tested a missile there.  Please don't tell me that there is no way
it could affect accuracy; the whole point of this discussion is that we
have no way to be confident that we *know* all the things that affect
missile accuracy, in the absence of thorough flight testing on realistic

Polar-orbiting satellites, unfortunately, are not following missile-like
trajectories, nor are their materials or internal systems missile-like.
They presumably do help, but it's not enough for complete confidence.

I repeat an earlier query to Herb Lin: all-azimuth testing of SLBMs is
news to me, and I'd like to know what test range it is done on.  It's
not enough to launch the things, you have to watch where they land, and
as far as I know the US has no North-South test range at all.  (The
Vandenberg facility can launch due south, but as far as I know there
are no tracking facilities very far downrange.)

				Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology

[End of ARMS-D Digest]