Thursday, October 13, 2005

At a Loss of Words, Well, Not Really

Yeehaaaa!On Wednesday I was to give a three minute talk on my stance on the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) II conclusion for my Science, Technology and International Affairs class. I knew everyone was going to argue along the lines of policy, since liberal arts majors as a whole abhor science and mathematics, so I chose to delve into the science of nuclear weapons, to understand what is behind the creation of those unique and pretty clouds.

I spent hours looking over frighteningly detailed FAQs on nuclear weapons online, seeking to understand how the weapons work, along with pouring over the case study on SALT II we were assigned, striving to understand the different points of view on the American side of the talks. My proposal concluded something that was mentioned numerous times in the case study, though was something totally ignored by both sides for they desired broad limits which would allow for room R&D flexibility. I my conclusion was that limits shouldn’t have been set so much as equal aggregate ceilings, but more around the lines of nuclear missile throw-weights, which in a nutshell is the weight of weapon minus the weight of all the devices that carry it to the target. By limiting throw-weights, you limit either the number of missiles that can be created or how powerful they can be. To reach desired yields (or how hard the warhead goes boom), you need enough nuclear material to cause that sort of fission or fusion reaction. With a ceiling set on throw-weight, the superpower in question must then decide on whether to sacrifice number of weapons to maintain higher yields, or sacrifice yields to maintain high numbers. Unfortunately, this approach wasn’t in the best interests of either party, seeing as they sought to maintain first and second strike capability first and foremost.

Fast forward from that chilly conflict to yesterday, the day of presentation. Dr. Brecke gets up, and gives a 15 minute spiel, and I’m distraught. He then asks the class if he had treaded on anyone’s presentation, after which I give an audible anguished cry. Brecke asks me what was wrong and my response was that he gave two of my three minutes already. The professor asks me then if I want to go first, leading me to think to myself that this was great, he wasn’t going to even allow me to go second or third and allow me some time to fill up two minutes. I asked, “Should I even bother?” The professor said yes, so I stood in front of the class, crushed that I hadn’t expected this. I gave the one minute describing my stance and he asked if I had two questions for the class that each presenter was supposed to have. I looked at him and told him that he had answered the questions I had thought of the night before. I hand my paper to him and begin walking to my seat, somewhat startled by the applause I hear. I sit in my seat in shame and take delight in the fact that the two other presenters are torn to pieces and are not offered applauses for a condolence. **sigh**
“Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost, if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, EH?”
Movie of the Moment: Dr. Strangelove


At Thu Oct 13, 09:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger Don't Panic said...

I had a parking ticket that went something like that.

At Thu Oct 13, 10:05:00 PM EDT, Blogger Jack and Coke said...

Did you just read the post? I mean, did the cop park in the spot before you and take away 66% of your fine? I don't understand.

At Thu Oct 13, 10:44:00 PM EDT, Blogger Dave/Scott said...

I'm confused...very confused...

At Fri Oct 14, 12:58:00 AM EDT, Blogger nathan said...

so you got an applause out of it


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