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  • #441
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    The recent testing of a rail gun by the US Navy got me thinking. The principle problem with the technology is the lack of a compact high yield power source for the magnetic accelerators. Enter Focus Fusion.

    Problem is that these things make missiles obsolete, since the rail gun bullets go faster then a speeding bullet or most missiles. This means cruise missiles are superceded in effectiveness by rapid fire rail artillery, whether land or naval based.

    Moreover, the ability to lay down heavy flak at incoming missiles means ICBM defense is suddenly practicable. One ABM shot is a lot less likely to hit then 5000 rail bullets per minute.

    Practical upshot is no more Mutually Assured Destruction.

    I’m not sure this is a good or a bad thing. On the one hand it means there’s no more chance of a general nuclear war, on the other hand it removes any ability of the US to prevent wars with the threat of MAD.

    #2977
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Duke Leto wrote: The recent testing of a rail gun by the US Navy got me thinking. The principle problem with the technology is the lack of a compact high yield power source for the magnetic accelerators. Enter Focus Fusion.

    Problem is that these things make missiles obsolete, since the rail gun bullets go faster then a speeding bullet or most missiles. This means cruise missiles are superceded in effectiveness by rapid fire rail artillery, whether land or naval based.

    Moreover, the ability to lay down heavy flak at incoming missiles means ICBM defense is suddenly practicable. One ABM shot is a lot less likely to hit then 5000 rail bullets per minute.

    Practical upshot is no more Mutually Assured Destruction.

    I’m not sure this is a good or a bad thing. On the one hand it means there’s no more chance of a general nuclear war, on the other hand it removes any ability of the US to prevent wars with the threat of MAD.

    Well, there’s always “Brilliant Pebbles” and dropping crowbars from orbit. A railgun is useless against kinetic weapons.

    #2978
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    Point taken, but you have to climb to the “high ground” for the little buggers to be at all useful. Which is no easy feat.

    I still think my basic point stands, that FF renders just about all military hardware that has been stockpiled obsolete and changes all geopolitical miliatary assumptions. But you are right, which ever nation-state is the first one to get a “Space Fleet” operational is going to have a huge advantage.

    In the meantime, if rapid fire ground/sea based rail guns are feasible and will work as I have outlined, then I think the following conclusions are valid.

    Conclusion 1) Conventional Air Forces have now become flying turkeys. No unstealthy fighter, bomber or gunship will be able to dodge a shotgun barrage of these little things going at escape velocity, and the stealthy ones will be in deep trouble too since the enemy only needs to have a general idea where they are to kill them.

    Concludion 2) Carrier Attack Groups are therefore every bit as worthless as Battleships were after the advent of Carrier Aviation.

    Conclusion 3) In fact, the only Naval Ship that will remain useful is the Submarine, which will have to mix its present role with that of the old style Battleship to make up the backbone of the new navies. Surface vessels are in even worse shape than planes, but subs can use the oceans to avoid detection, and as about the only armor that can possibly protect anything.

    Conclusion 4) The bigger the tank, the more danger it is in as a target. Armored columns have to be reduced in size and upped in speed a lot to remain effective. May have to scale down to “Motorcycle Cavalry”. Even that may not be fast enough.

    Conclusion 5) In ground warfare, you’re basically looking at a return to WWI conditions, artillery slugging it out with high accuracy and the infantry hiding underground.

    Conclusion 6) The artillery still has to be mobile to keep from getting slaughtered by counterbattery fire. It also has to be totally disposable. That means highly mechanized drones, ground or air based. But the air drones would have to stay way back, move really fast and be as small as possible, and stay below radar. For a self contained FF generating station with turret, this might mean a “Stealth Zeppelin”. Nuts as that sounds.

    The practical upshot of all this is in fact that space is the only place to be. Especially if you could use teh FF to turn one of these jobbies “up to 11”. http://space.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn9567&feedId=online-news_rss20

    #2986
    AvatarLerner
    Participant

    Again, I think military applications of FF are pure fantasy. Rail guns are certainly not a practical answer to nuclear ICBMs. ICBMs move at about the same velocity as rail gun projectiles or faster and they are tiny targets. As many people have pointed out, in space you can have thousands of decoys for each weapon and by the time the weapons enter the atmosphere, it is too late.

    For conventional warfare, there already exist missiles that can kill anything from a tank to an aircraft carrier.

    FF will not change anything militarily–except eliminating much of the motivation to go to war!

    #2987
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Lerner wrote:
    ..

    FF will not change anything militarily–except eliminating much of the motivation to go to war!

    Except in harem cultures, where the babes are picked up by the well-heeled, leaving the young surplus males nothing to do but play(! 😉 ) and fight with each other and whomever else they are programmed to resent.
    http://www.jsecjournal.com/JSEC_Kanazawa_1-2.pdf

    Funny that these are the very cultures that will be virtually bankrupted by the advent of FF …. :coolgrin:

    #2990
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    I REALLY want to think you’re right about eliminatibg the motivation to war Eric, but human nature and past history suggest otherwise. Remember what happened to poor Alfred Nobel’s Dynamite-Cleared road of good intentions.

    The reason I’m mulling this over is to prevent a “power vacuum” scenario where the US, EU and India rest on their Laurels building up the social benefits of the Fusion Industrial Revolution while the more “humanitarian-neutral” major powers such as China and Russia start making new guns instead of butter that the US/EU Military monopoly has no means of opposing. In other words I don’t want to see another WWII taking shape where the bad guys have the superior equipment and tactics at first.

    I’m taking that suspcious line towards the Russian and Chinese governments in their current forms, BTW, not the people of said countries. I’m also assuming that the Republican-Military Axis of Pentagon-Big Oil-Evangelical Christianity falls over and dies with Big Oil gone and that America has had enough of Imperialistic military horseshit for another half of a generation or so. That is that we’re going to see a 2nd Roosevelt in Obama, and consequently less of the crap that US Foreign Policy has consisted of for 60 odd years.

    Lot of assumptions there.

    I admit that my physics calcs are back of the napkin and will defer to Eric’s ballistics knowledge until such a time as I can make my own thorough study.

    #2991
    AvatarLerner
    Participant

    The Kanazawa piece Brian cites is an absolutely hilarious satire of evolutionary psychology. The only small problem with it is that, by all evidence about the author, he did not intend it as satire. Or maybe his whole work is satire and people are just not getting it. Anyway, it very funny.

    #2992
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    I had been aware of the hyposthesized polygymy-suicide bombing link but was not aware this paper was the source of the hypothesis. I’m not sure I agree with Eric that it is an object of ridicule, although the author certainly makes himself ridiculous in his presentation, his colloquial contempt for academic convention aside, but the premise seems reasonable enough. I’m certainly not impressed by his cavalier disregard for the need of some kind of experimental verification other than a superfical data mining. I’d say more research is needed but certainly Middle Eastern Gender Inequality is heinous enough to warrant change without any more indictments against it.

    I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater on Evolutionary Psychology because I associate it with the Richard Dawkins/Maynard Smith/Daniel Dennett school of Evolutionary Biologists who foray into Psychology rather than the Psychologists who try and cherry pick from Evolutionary Biology.

    Thus I see it as more of an example of Post-Modern Derridan self-indulgence. Put another way, it’s an example of my maxim: “Never send a Liberal Arts Major to do a Hard Scientist’s job.

    #2997
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Duke Leto wrote:

    his cavalier disregard for the need of some kind of experimental verification other than a superfical data mining.

    Having had the misfortune to graduate in Psychology, I’m very curious to hear your suggested “experimental” design to “verify” that sexually and socially frustrated young males in heavily machismo paternalistic honor-code cultures are readily persuaded to become suicide bombers. :coolmad:

    #3001
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    Let me make that more clear then, and for Full Disclosure I graduated in History so I was demeaning myself as well. He was making an argument for a historical interpretation by egregiously cherry picking his data. There’s no attempt at what the Freakanomics boys call regression analysis.

    At the top of page 15 we find that he says insurgency is a natural Muslim/polygynous response to foreign occupation, and that monogomous countries have no such response. He cites only the examples of Algeria, Angola and Oman, as insurgencies against occupation by polygynous societies, and only the postwar occupations of Germany and Japan as examples of monogomous societies being inclined to passivity. He did not try to anticipate the obvious counterargument that Vietnam is not particularly polygynous and the level of resistance there made Iraq look like a cakewalk, or that the Vietnamese on Vietnamese killing was much more horrific.

    He could have strengthened his case by reviewing the recorded history of occupations and insurgencies and setting certain variables describing the characteristics the societies involved in each case: the nature of the occupation, the amount violence exerted towards the populace, religious distinctions and attempts to force changes to the societies involved, and then showing that all other things being equal a polygynous society is more likely to violently resist occupation than one which is not. That methodology of assembling all historical data and analyzing it to death is the most effective method of experimentation in the “historical sciences”, cosmology and evolutionary biology included.

    He didn’t do this. One reference to someone else’s study was enough for him to prove a universal pattern. That reliance on other people’s work and habit of not considering potential counterarguments is a habit that permeates the piece. As I said above, the colloquial style doesn’t inspire confidence either.

    More than all this, he overreaches badly in his Conclusion. He does not make the eminently defensible claim that polygymous societies tend to be more unstable and violent than monogomous ones, he states “Maybe the Muslim suicide bombings are not

    #3003
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Let me make that more clear then, and for Full Disclosure I graduated in History so I was demeaning myself as well. He was making an argument for a historical interpretation by egregiously cherry picking his data. There’s no attempt at what the Freakanomics boys call regression analysis.

    At the top of page 15 we find that he says insurgency is a natural Muslim/polygynous response to foreign occupation, and that monogomous countries have no such response. He cites only the examples of Algeria, Angola and Oman, as insurgencies against occupation by polygynous societies, and only the postwar occupations of Germany and Japan as examples of monogomous societies being inclined to passivity. He did not try to anticipate the obvious counterargument that Vietnam is not particularly polygynous and the level of resistance there made Iraq look like a cakewalk, or that the Vietnamese on Vietnamese killing was much more horrific.

    He could have strengthened his case by reviewing the recorded history of occupations and insurgencies and setting certain variables describing the characteristics the societies involved in each case: the nature of the occupation, the amount violence exerted towards the populace, religious distinctions and attempts to force changes to the societies involved, and then showing that all other things being equal a polygynous society is more likely to violently resist occupation than one which is not. That methodology of assembling all historical data and analyzing it to death is the most effective method of experimentation in the “historical sciences”, cosmology and evolutionary biology included.

    He didn’t do this. One reference to someone else’s study was enough for him to prove a universal pattern. That reliance on other people’s work and habit of not considering potential counterarguments is a habit that permeates the piece. As I said above, the colloquial style doesn’t inspire confidence either.

    More than all this, he overreaches badly in his Conclusion. He does not make the eminently defensible claim that polygymous societies tend to be more unstable and violent than monogomous ones, he states “Maybe the Muslim suicide bombings are not

    #3007
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    As I said, I agree with the principle but think the writing and methodology are sloppy.

    That being said, it would depend on the society and the historical context. Where were the suicide bombers attacking Gheghis Khan? Why do old-line Mormon males not display the same violent tendencies as Islamic militants? Was the habit of Muslim militancy greater or lesser than that of the Christian, Hindu and Oriental societies prior to the modern period? Did they experience more or less social unrest?

    I invoked Freakanomics because these are the kind of things Levitt would have stopped to ask himself and Kanakawa clearly did not stop and try.

    #3010
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Brian H wrote:
    Lots of partial agreement and disagreements with the above, but I’ll limit myself to this: in the modern context, in societies (e.g., KSA) where the 4-wives rule DOES generate a large young male surplus, where and how do you think the frustration is expressed?

    “Large male surplus” is overrated. Another country with a large male surplus is China’s “one child” policy which has made folks abort females. I suspect their male surplus is much larger than KSA. Plus, the four wife thing I think only applies to wealthy people. You need the permission of your first wife to get the next. It only happens in the context of economic imbalance.

    We can also look at the fringe Mormon community. All those “lost boys”, as they call them, who are kicked out of their houses when they become teenagers. Do they blow themselves up?

    I live in Iran, and the only time the second wife thing comes up, outside of rich guy throwing weight around in villages, is generally in cases of infertility. First wife can’t have a kid, so the guy gets a second wife, with her permission. Always ends up badly. “trying to love two women is like a ball and chain”, as they say.

    Likewise, Iran. During the war with Iraq, many youth were recruited not with the promise of 72 virgins in the afterlife, but with motorcycles. You went to the recruitment office and got plastic keys to your heavenly bike. (This is the rumor. I haven’t seen documentation). Maybe the kids were that gullible, or maybe they just wanted to see some action. There’s not a lot to do out here in the desert.

    I think a more plausible way of looking at this is as a social trend. In “the Tipping Point”, the author theorized about how something becomes a trend. He said there was a small island somewhere, with an indigenous population, in which a kid killed himself by hanging over a love triangle. This was, of course, a big deal in the community. Everyone came to the funeral, both girlfriends. Many tears were shed, and it became a local legend. This perversely set off a rash of copycat suicides, so that proportionately, the suicide rate of this tiny island was greater than anywhere else by an order of magnitude or two. The idea was that the youth were captivated by this narrative, and were inspired to live it out as well. The author noted that for many, like teen drug use, it was just experimentation that ended badly. The kids didn’t really get what they were doing.

    Then there’s that book about “the madness of crowds” which had a chapter on dueling. Apparently, at some point, it was quite the trend to demand satisfaction, go and meet someone in a field, walk ten paces, turn around and shoot. Many fine young men died in this way, and everyone knew someone who was killed like this. Wait a minute, that’s an argument in favor of the “surplus male” theory. But certainly more focused on just taking out the surplus males.

    So, back to suicide bombing. We’re looking at this on two levels. The motivation of the people actually carrying it out, and the strategy being followed by the organizations that recruit and support them.

    For the organizations orchestrating the terror, the strategy sometimes backfires and sometimes doesn’t. An interesting book on the topic is “The sling and the stone”. The purpose of terror is, in some cases specific like the guy described in his article, but in others, it is simply to show unreasonable-ness and resolve. Revenge. And to create equivalence of status, since there’s no way you can match the wealth and power of the west.

    For the people doing it, perhaps it is a captivating narrative and has some sort of romantic appeal. Dying for something! How many films play that up. As for the killing all these other people, well, this world is an illusion anyway, and only the afterlife is permanent. They’ll be resurrected and tried for their sins like everyone else.

    Which reminds me about the value of life issue. My uncle the psychiatrist has no patience with suicides. If someone calls and they are threatening suicide, he calls the sherrif. Takes the person into lockdown, I think there’s a prescribed time. 36 hours? He sends a sherrif because if your estimation of the value of life is low enough that you’d take your own, then it’s low enough to take others. There’s no difference. Life has no value. This life.

    Well, I could just keep going here. About how in Iran, if you run someone over and kill them, you have to pay the family the amount described in the Quran: 40 camels. So, that’s how much a life is worth. It turns out to be a lot, but much less than you get in America in a lawsuit for wrongful or even accidental death. Much less than the airport insurance.

    But on the other side, how easy it is for western powers to overlook the death they cause. How many Iraqi lives were lost during “shock and awe” (true, now many Iraqi lives are taken by Iraqis, but does that excuse us?) I think the west just has it more mechanized and civilized, while this terror thing is much more personal and emotional. Both methods should cause outrage.

    And now, getting back on topic with this post,

    Conclusion 1) Conventional Air Forces have now become flying turkeys. No unstealthy fighter, bomber or gunship will be able to dodge a shotgun barrage of these little things going at escape velocity, and the stealthy ones will be in deep trouble too since the enemy only needs to have a general idea where they are to kill them.

    This seems to demonstrate the utility of suicide bombing as a military tactic. Expensive weapons systems are useless, but some unsuspected person, walking into a crowded place, blowing himself up with a cheap bombs, that will have an impact. Not on the military. On the people behind the military who order the military around, e.g., the national will.

    #3011
    AvatarDuke Leto
    Member

    I think my point can be summarized as “don’t dicount the idea, but don’t turn it into a catchall explanation either.” There are obviously more factors involved than just religion and sexual frustration.

    Rezwan wrote: This seems to demonstrate the utility of suicide bombing as a military tactic. Expensive weapons systems are useless, but some unsuspected person, walking into a crowded place, blowing himself up with a cheap bombs, that will have an impact. Not on the military. On the people behind the military who order the military around, e.g., the national will.

    Well, remember that the national will of the US et al is generally not willing to utilize the superior military technology to “suppress” the suicide bombing population to the extent they are capable of so doing. I cited old Ghenghis’s mayhem in Central Asia because he had a conscious method of heading off future intifadas… “Kill them all and let Allah sort them out.” I don’t recall the Chagatai dynasty having any problems in that area until Temur came along a few generations later, in spite of the persisting religious difference. I certainly don’t advocate that method, but if FF doesn’t get off the ground in time to take some the wind outta Peak Oil, I worry that some less ethical leaders in suddenly overpopulated areas might decide to put it back into practice.

    The analogy you make on my hypothetical Railgun flak system is a bit off. The monstrosity would be no less expensive than the present systems, it just renders the current ones useless. I think Eric might not have read the specs I posited: “Able to put up 1000s of projectiles per minute at escape velocity in a small target area.” By a small target area I mean a few fractions of an Arc second of sky. That’s an immense amount of concentrated electrical power and targeting software we’re talking about. FF makes it practicable, not cheap. Think Rommel driving a Panzer Division around back of the Maginot line and mooning the French, not IEDs. (What’s wrong with me that I typed IUDs at first?)

    #3016
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:

    But on the other side, how easy it is for western powers to overlook the death they cause. How many Iraqi lives were lost during “shock and awe” (true, now many Iraqi lives are taken by Iraqis, but does that excuse us?) I think the west just has it more mechanized and civilized, while this terror thing is much more personal and emotional. Both methods should cause outrage.

    Damn few, actually, by comparison with the ongoing toll of the regime. And, if you’re up on the news (which you won’t get from the news outlets, of course), things are going just swimmingly over there now. Outrage fueled by ignorance is quite distasteful, thankyouverymuch.

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