Posts Tagged ‘Weapons & War’

Nazi Scientists Proposed Creating a Giant Space Mirror to Burn Enemy Nations

03 Dec

An issue of Life magazine published on July 23, 1945 includes an article about a secret weapon proposed by some Nazi scientists toward the end of World War II. It was a huge mirror that, if placed in orbit, would focus sunlight on enemy nations and burn them:

Plausible schemes to build a station in space were engineered on paper long before the war. European rocket enthusiasts, including Dr. Hermann Oberth, who may have been the designer of the V-2, had planned to use the space station not as a weapon but as a refueling point for rockets starting off on journeys into space. … The only major obstacle: constructing a rocket powerful enough to reach a point where a space station could be built. If the modern German scientists had been able to make such a rocket, they might have ben able to set up their sun gun. Whether the sun gun would have accomplished what they expected, however, is another matter.”

The German idea of using the sun as a military weapon is not new. There is an ancient legend that Archimedes designed great burning mirrors which set the Roman fleet afire during the siege of Syracuse, in which Archimedes later died. This legend, and the German plan for building may be proved physically impossible by a simple axiom of optics. This is that light cannot be brought to a sharp, pointed focus with lenses or mirrors unless it comes from a sharp, pointed source. Since the sun appears in the sky as a disk and not as a point, the best any optical system can produce is an image of this disk. At very short focal lengths, the image is small and hot but as the focal length is increased the image becomes progressively bigger and cooler. At the distance the Germans proposed to set up their mirror (3,100 miles) the image of the sun cast on the earth would be about 40 miles in diameter and not hot enough to do any damage.

Link via blastr | Image: Life


The Miniature Guns of Michel Lefaivre

22 Jul

Michel Lefaivre is a gunsmith who makes miniature, functional firearms. Pictured above is one example of his work, a 1/4 scale Gras rifle model 1874. Lefaivre writes about how he does it:

Each part starts from a raw piece of material, reduced in size with a milling machine or a precision lathe. The biggest part of the work is made with a file in the fitting vice. At a quality of manufacture and finish equal to the full size, it is more difficult to make a functioning piece reduced to 1/3 scale. The more minute the detail, the more time it takes, and the more risk of making a mistake. Few pieces were successful the first time round. All those not strictly in conformity were scrapped without pity.

To perfect the work and to give it its final touch, the best specialist of our country have been called upon for the engraving, inlaying, gilding, checkering and the wood carving.

Mandatory tooling includes a toolmaker’s lathe, a clockmaker’s lathe, a precision milling machine and hundreds of needle files of all shapes and grades. Burrs and polishing tools of all shapes, pertaining to clockmakers, jewellers, dentists, chisellers and sculptors are used. Very good eyesight and an infinite reserve of patience, tenacity and elbow grease are also required.

Link via Hell in a Handbasket | Photo: The Craftsmanship Museum | Previously: The World’s Smallest Gun


Mapping Nuclear Bomb Explosions

09 Jul

Quick question for you: how many nukes have ever been detonated? A few? A couple dozens? How about over 2,000.

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto created a video clip mapping every single nuclear explosion from 1945 to 1998:

A metronomic beep every second represents months passing, and a different tone indicates explosions from different countries. It starts out slowly, with the Manhattan Project’s single test in the US and the two terrible bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II.

After a couple of minutes or so, however, once the USSR and Britain entered the nuclear club, the tests really start to build up, reaching a peak of nearly 140 in 1962, and remaining well over 40 each year until the mid-80s.

It’s a compelling insight into the history of humanity’s greatest destructive force, especially when you remember that only two nuclear explosions have ever been detonated offensively, both in 1945. Since then, despite more than 2,000 other tests and billions of dollars having been spent on their development, no nuclear warheads have been used in anger.

Wired has the video clip: Link (it starts off slow, but then it picks up frighteningly fast) – via Fark