Shutdown: Timeless

SundialToday we had a bit of a chat here about that odious headcrusher, the forward spring of the clock that accompanies Daylight Saving Time. As a hideous troglodyte northern-dweller, I for one appreciate the sudden appearance of the sun after dinner caused by this artificial construct because it makes me feel like I can stay up past 6pm. Continue reading Shutdown: Timeless

Airborne Awesomosity

Mirage IV

Mirage IV

The Cold War era was often terrifying for those of us who lived through it. But today, from the comfort of a world gone berserk in a somewhat less M.A.D. way, we can sit back and cogitate over the functional beauty of some of the weapons systems designed to rain fiery death on civilian populations. Continue reading Mirage IV

Moments in History

The Difference of a Year

This year passed a quite milestone, for it always seems that 51 is never quite the event that 50 makes. A single year can make quite a difference in the ways of the world though. Our very own  gave us this retrospective last year on the statement that the simple technology of concrete could give to the world in a look at 50 years since the first Berlin Wall. Just recently I came across this newsreel from the one year anniversary of that wall, and since it is the 50th anniversary of that particular milestone, it seems appropriate to get a feel for how the Western World viewed it one year in.

Continue reading The Difference of a Year

Atomic Awesome

Minuteman’s Launch Room

We seem to have a fascination with abandoned control rooms on this site. I can’t blame us. They are quite extraordinary. Some of these abandoned control rooms you can visit. For example, the Launch Control Room Delta-01 at the Minuteman National Historic Site.

Continue reading Minuteman’s Launch Room

Atomic Awesome

SS-20: Trident of Death

SS-20 (left) next to a Pershing-II (right).

The Soviet Union and its sphere of influence had been enjoying a conventional weapon superiority in Europe and had been counting on that to repel any NATO invasion. However, the increasing theater nuclear weapon stockpile in NATO countries, such as the Pershing missiles first deployed in the early 1960s in West Germany, meant that with the launch of a few missiles the Soviet edge could be destroyed. A debate was raging within the halls of the Soviet government and military offices: should the Soviet Union try to match NATO’s theater capabilities, or rely on its first strike ICBM fleet to keep any capitalist imperial dreams in check.
Continue reading SS-20: Trident of Death


Duck and Cover

We have replaced one of the lead-lined radiation protection devices with a simple wooden desk. Can you spot which one?


Image via

Atomic Awesome

Atomic Wonderland: Toy ICBMs


There once was a time when it was perfectly socially acceptable to let your child play with toy versions of American weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were protecting us from the lousy Commies not entirely peace-loving Soviet peoples, some of whom weren’t all that bad, but we didn’t really like them back then, so no one minded ingraining a little bit of the old “Peace Through Superior Firepower’ mantra into the kids of the day.

Continue reading Atomic Wonderland: Toy ICBMs

Computers You Should Know

IBM, SAGE and the Cold War

Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE)

That there is a piece of the IBM AN/FSQ-7 computer that was the backbone of the US Air Force’s Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) in use from the late 1950s to the 1980s. After WWII the new jet-powered bombers were becoming faster and faster. RADAR could pick them up and interceptors were capable of reaching the bombers, but it was everything in between that had to be done — determining direction, altitude and getting the necessary information to the necessary air bases — that posed a problem. So, the USAF decided the best way to reduce the time between “seeing” the bombers and scrambling the interceptors was to build a giant computer network capable of performing all the data crunching necessary in a semi-autonomous way. And by giant, I mean giant.
Continue reading IBM, SAGE and the Cold War

Atomic Awesome

Atomic Wonderland

The years after WWII saw an explosion of technological development. The forces of evil had been vanquished (at least until we realized we didn’t get along with those lousy Commies), in part thanks to the wonders of atomic innovation. There did not seem to be much that the power of the atom could not do for the world–good and bad.

Fodder and engineerd have done a fantastic job highlighting some of the kooky warfighting equipment that tried to channel nuclear energy into Pinko Death Beams, and their posts this week had me contemplating my strange fascination with nuclear warfare. Because of this affliction I own an eclectic collection of fiction and nonfiction books on the subject.

So let’s take a look, in a book, it’s Atomic Wonderland! Continue reading Atomic Wonderland

Spy vs Spy Week

Spook-y Airline

The iconic image above of a helicopter evacuating American and Vietnamese personnel from Saigon minutes before the city fell into Vietcong control is ingrained in our minds. That helicopter, it should be noted, was not a military helicopter. Well, not technically.
Continue reading Spook-y Airline