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The problem with Fogbank

Orionblamblam

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http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2494129.0.0.php?nocache=578492

PLANS TO refurbish Trident nuclear weapons had to be put on hold because US scientists forgot how to manufacture a component of the warhead, a US congressional investigation has revealed.

The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) “lost knowledge” of how to make a mysterious but very hazardous material codenamed Fogbank. ….

Neither the NNSA nor the UK Ministry of Defence would say anything about the nature or function of Fogbank. But it is thought by some weapons experts to be a foam used between the fission and fusion stages of a thermonuclear bomb. US officials have said that manufacturing the material requires a solvent cleaning agent which is “extremely flammable” and “explosive”. The process also involves dealing with “toxic materials” hazardous to workers.


Ooops.

More of my blather on this here: http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=2116
 

sferrin

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But hey it's okay if we stop developing new nuclear weapons we got them fancy computers to make sure they werk, what could possibly go wrong?
 

r16

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many things could go wrong even at the times new bombs were developed . As for the process of making this fogbank thing ı think the people responsible have actually forgotten something called writing . Reading Orionblamblam's blog maybe it is not the solution but it would be a start .

but then maybe it is a corporate secret , something to make money on .
 

Orionblamblam

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r16 said:
As for the process of making this fogbank thing ı think the people responsible have actually forgotten something called writing .

It's not just writing, it's writing a complete and comprehensible story. It's likely that everything is written down. But is everything written down where it can be accessed? Is it all documented and indexed properly? Is it non-contradictory?

Yet Another Anecdote: When I first got to United Tech in 2000, I was overjoyed to hear that the company was going to the bother of storing *all* data. Basically every scrap of paper was boxed up and shipped off to Iron Mountain for storage. And it was all indexed! Yay! All you had to do was fill out the right forms and I could get boxes brought in so I could read the files and write the story. But then I saw the indexing system: Box 12,345 would be listed as "Titan Stuff." Box 12,346 would be "Excess contents of John Smith's File Cabinet, Jan 13, 1972." Box 12,347 would be "Files." It would take man-centuries to even *begin* to make a dent in properly archiving that.
 

sferrin

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Or a company goes belly up and all their critical stuff is on computer (and disorganized even there).
 

Orionblamblam

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sferrin said:
Or a company goes belly up and all their critical stuff is on computer (and disorganized even there).

And then this happens:





It doesn't take a whole lot of neglect for data to disappear. Not everything gets etched in stone like the Code of Hammurabbi. Mmmm, ham....
 

Barrington Bond

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It could be a case of they haven't made it for a while and now that they are trying to produce it again the formulas of certain chemicals they may need have changed or are just no longer produced - so they cannot quite get the same component.

An example - you want to paint your model in enamel paints? Pretty much unlikely nowadays as they are almost all acrylic!

Regards,
Barry
 

Orionblamblam

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KJ_Lesnick said:
Hard to believe something like this could actually happen.

With all due respect to our Eastern European/former Soviet members, I used to look at pictures of abandoned Soviet industrial cities (not just the Chernobyls, but others you often find associated with stories of "feral children") and wonder "what the hell is wrong with these people, that they'd fall into ruin that fast." And then... I started seeing abandoned *American* urban areas, and with the exception of radioactivity, they're virtually indistinguishable. "Ghost towns" have been a feature of the American landscape for centuries... small towns that'd pop up in some location due to travel routes, but when routes changed (rivers redirected, train lines put down, roads built and/or abandoned, etc.) they'd be abandoned. That's perfectly common and to be expected in large open country. But major cities, popualted by hundreds of thousands, falling into decay... that's just *creepy.*

If you're in the mood to ge tyour zombie apocolypse on, check this out:
http://weburbanist.com/2008/10/19/ghost-town-abandoned-city-examples-images/

Civilization is a *real* thin veneer overlaid on lurking entropy. It clearly doesn't take a whole lot to bring good chuncks of it crashing down... and "apathy" is just about as effective as fire. Apathy allows cities to fall into ruin... and it allows tribal knowledge on how to build aerospace mechanisms to vanish. I've known of aerospace archives that were intentionally taken out back and burned to ash. And I've seen aerospace archives that were abandoned in the weather, to be turned into mush by the rain and the mold. Both are travesties; the only difference is time.
 

Just call me Ray

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Barrington Bond said:
An example - you want to paint your model in enamel paints? Pretty much unlikely nowadays as they are almost all acrylic!

Especially as a regular over at the Aircraft Resource Center I have definitely been out of it, I thought enamel paints were still around!
 

AeroFranz

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What OBB says about the aerospace industry being a tribe is one of the better descriptions I heard in a while.
Documentation goes only so far. When you are working on a tight schedule and tight budget, no one wants to spend extra time documenting stuff. Plus a lot of the knowledge is more art than science, and very difficult to transmit.
I dread thinking about how much know-how will be lost when all the baby boomers will have left.
 

Orionblamblam

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AeroFranz said:
What OBB says about the aerospace industry being a tribe is one of the better descriptions I heard in a while.

Actually, competing tribes (plural) would be more accurate.

Another example: while I was at UTC, UTC got the contract to refurb some motors. It had formerly been another companies program. Part of this involved making replacement parts, such as igniters. The igniters were early/mid 1960's designs. The new igniters were to be build-to-print parts, not new designs. No changes allowed. And so part of the contract was for the other company to send the manufacturing drawings to UTC. I saw the drawings. They were...well, in my opinion, "malicious" is the right sort of word. The ones I saw looked like they had been photographed two decades earlier, saved to microfilm, printed out, photoed again, saved to microfiche, printed out, lost, found, subjected to public enquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months before being photocopied and used as litterbox liners.

The letter of the contract was fullfilled. They sent the drawings. And I suspect a good portion of the profit UTC saw from the contract was blown on converting the drawings to something readable. And in the end... the drawings weren't even accurate. Test firing the igniters had a common result: one small plate kept blowing out. The drawings were checked again and again; the parts were built right. Finally, *somebody* got in touch with a buddy at the other company, who told him that they had had the same problem, decades earlier. So they just made the plate twice as thick.

Feh.

Mighty Zarquon, I'm turning into this guy:

"Back in my day..."
 

r16

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as someone who doesn't know what files he has in his computer today but knew when the thing was new and ı had just 10 to 15 MBs of stuff instead of (mere) 40 GB , ı can't challenge that the information is there and somehow unaccessible but ı would expect Uncle Sam to have a clear list of what goes into his nukes .
 

KJ_Lesnick

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Why doesn't our government just open up an older warhead, chemically examine the stuff and then reverse engineer it?
 

sferrin

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KJ_Lesnick said:
Why doesn't our government just open up an older warhead, chemically examine the stuff and then reverse engineer it?


And if you chemicially examined carbon-carbon you'd know what's in it but not how they made it.
 

Orionblamblam

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How to make a human:


Element Percent by mass
Oxygen 65
Carbon 18
Hydrogen 10
Nitrogen 3
Calcium 1.5
Phosphorus 1.2
Potassium 0.2
Sulfur 0.2
Chlorine 0.2
Sodium 0.1
Magnesium 0.05
Iron 3.8g in men, 2.3g in women
Cobalt, Copper, Zinc, Iodine < 0.05 each
Selenium, Fluorine < 0.01 each

Stir, cook at 98.6 degrees F for about 2 billion years.
 

KJ_Lesnick

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Orionblamblam said:
How to make a human:


Element Percent by mass
Oxygen 65
Carbon 18
Hydrogen 10
Nitrogen 3
Calcium 1.5
Phosphorus 1.2
Potassium 0.2
Sulfur 0.2
Chlorine 0.2
Sodium 0.1
Magnesium 0.05
Iron 3.8g in men, 2.3g in women
Cobalt, Copper, Zinc, Iodine < 0.05 each
Selenium, Fluorine < 0.01 each

Stir, cook at 98.6 degrees F for about 2 billion years.


Okay, I see your point...


KJ Lesnick
 

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