Thursday, November 06, 2008

Today in History: Boom!

On this date in 1971, the U.S. tested the Cannikin device under Amchitka island. The purpose of the test was... well, as best as I can tell, to see how cool it would be to set off a really big nuke under an island in the Bering Sea. The test was eminently successful, releasing as much as five megatons of fun, and pissing off hippies to no end. (If you had a crew cut, a slide rule*, and a PhD, this is what you used to do instead of setting off M-80s under your neighbor's trash cans.)

Unfortunate side effects included guaranteed employment for government eco-types through at least 2025, and the formation of Greenpeace, but little of the kind of fallout that makes your kids have three heads.
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*If you are even a tiny bit geeky, do not go read the Wikipedia entry on slide rules. You will fall down the rabbit hole and not come out for hours. You have been warned.

22 comments:

Cybrludite said...

(If you had a crew cut, a slide rule*, and a PhD, this is what you used to do instead of setting off M-80s under your neighbor's trash cans.)

Oddly enough, this sounds like a fairly good description of Project Orion.


wv: subdu, which is what you'd have to do to the locals anywhere near where you wanted to put an Orion lauch site...

Anonymous said...

I dunno, some of the Greenpeace types seem to have three heads.

Roberta X said...

Three heads, no heads -- the result is just the same if they're empty.

SteveO said...

Slide rules are so stinkin' cool. I went through high school just a year or so after slide rule competition was tossed into history's dustbin, but I own several, and in fact my Citizen Navihawk wristwatch has an über-geek circular slide rule. So yes, I look sharp AND I'm a geek.

Anonymous said...

Ditched my last slide rule in '74 when Texas Instruments came out with the 'scientific calculator', the TI-50 and never looked back.

Interestingly enough I had to take a class in how to use a slide rule at the school I was in at the time. The instructor and I got into a heated argument about whether or not I had to use my slide rule with me ending up in the Deans office. I simply pointed out that I could do complex functions on my calculator faster than he could use his slide rule. I dropped the class and it was dropped from the curriculum the next quarter.

Gmac

aepilot_jim said...

You typed Cannikin device, but I read Kenickie and I'm wondering what Grease had to do with the A-bomb?

Brian Dale said...

"*If you are even a tiny bit geeky, do not go read the Wikipedia entry on slide rules. You will fall down the rabbit hole and not come out for hours. You have been warned."

What geek can resist a warning like that? What next--are you going to build a giant, unfenced swimming pool inside the grounds of a day care center?

Hussy. ;)

Loki said...

Meh. They illustrated the article with a Pickett and a K&E. Where's the Post Versalog?

DirtCrashr said...

Slide-rule? Hell I can't even use a "scientific" calculator.

og said...

I still have my slipsticks. And the holsters for them.

I can also still read a vernier caliper, though that seems to be an utterly lost art.

Tam said...

"I can also still read a vernier caliper, though that seems to be an utterly lost art."

Not in the gunsmithery I just left. :)

og said...

Tam, you're not even on the bell curve of "normal". That is why we love you.

That, and the swimsuit pic i accidentally stumbled on looking for advice buying an AR-15.

Blackwing1 said...

Gee, from it's founding day, Greenpeace has been noted for it's accuracy in predictions:

"...Greenpeace member 000. He wrote that the test would cause earthquakes and a tsunami."

No tsunami. With a 38-year perfect record of predicting catastrophes, why does anyone listen to "the sky is falling" (or over-heating) now?

Anonymous said...

Bah!

Check this out:

http://www.sliderulemuseum.com/

I still have a VersaLog II somewhere.

Anonymous said...

The batteries have yet to crap out on my K&E Loglog Duplex Decitrig. :)

Art

Anonymous said...

Slide rules are fun and interesting to use, but I freely admit that I had an HP-35 that as a kid in school I could use. My sister had the first one at her university and I had the only one in my grade school. That HP35 is now in a museum my dad told me a few years back.

I still remmeber my teachers not liking me when I would answer fractions questions in decimals.

It was fun being a son of a scientist back then.

Ben said...

So, that test in the Bering Sea, how close was that to the perpetually fog shrouded Zhokov Islands?

Nathan Brindle said...

"I can also still read a vernier caliper, though that seems to be an utterly lost art."

Wow. I haven't even looked at a vernier caliper in nearly 30 years. But I think I'd remember how to use one. (I think I still have mine.)

I know I have Dad's K&E slide rule somewhere. By the time I got to high school, they were letting us use calculators for everything but tests. A few years later I heard they had even taken down the "no tests" rule.

No wonder kids today can't add and subtract, let alone recite multiplication tables.

Oldsmoblogger said...

I'm thinking about picking up a couple, and open to recommendations. They don't need batteries. :-)

And cybrludite: Project Orion? It's all right, but give me Project PLUTO (aka SLAM, if you must) for pure mad-science goodness any day.

Cossack in a Kilt said...

I have it on deep background that Dr. Benton Quest was involved in that test.

Verification: framb, which if spelled FRAMB! sounds a lot like a subterranean nuke.

Gewehr98 said...

I still use my Craftsman German dial-indicator vernier calipers every night at work. They even get sent off to our contract metrology lab once a year for calibration. Our CNC setup guys think I'm nuts, and urge me to get digital Mitutoyo calipers. No thanks.

I've been teaching my 9 year-old nephew how to use a Whiz Wheel (E-6B) over the last few months. I figure he'll drive his parents nuts on long road trips, updating their ETA, doing fuel consumption estimates, bugging his dad about the odometer enroute, and so forth. Wind triangles are reserved for a later date, and he'll probably end up getting his uncle's Citizen Navihawk someday...

On a Wing and a Whim said...

When I was very young, I informed my father that I didn't need to learn the multiplication tables (such was also the fad in the schools at the time: "children don't need to learn rote memorization.")

Dad pulled out his slide rule and told me he bet he could beat me on every big multiplication. He did, too. I lost. I did swear I'd never use a slide rule, though. Dad took me to the track where he ran laps to keep in shape after transferring to the reserves, and we recited the multiplication tables together as we ran laps.

These days, I'm a comparative whiz at inventory, cost estimation, budgeting, and holding large amounts of numbers in my head. Thanks, Dad.

Then I started flying, and realized to my horror that the device I was using - the E6-B - was a circular slide rule. I called home to dad, over two thousand miles away, and he laughed through the next half an hour of our conversation. He remembered, too.

Then I started working an inventory job, and found out absentmindedly sticking gel pens in my pocket without checking if they're retracted is a bad habit. One pocket protector later... Dad proudly asked if I wanted him to send one of his up to Alaska.

I love my dad.

When it comes to restoring a 1941 aircraft without blueprints - vernier calipers _rock._