Category:
Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters

“Goodbye, Three Mile Island”

With Chernobyl in the news again, perhaps we need to revive this song.



Gary and the Outriders, a local music group, recorded an original song, "Goodbye T.M.I. (The Ballad of Three Mile Island)," and released it as a 45 rpm record. Its catchy melody contrasts with its dire refrain: "Goodbye, goodbye to your life, T.M.I."

Posted By: Paul - Tue Apr 19, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Music, Regionalism, Riots, Protests and Civil Disobedience, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1970s

Recipes for the fallout shelter housewife

Marie Adams, food editor of the Charlotte News, felt that nuclear war shouldn't stop a "fallout shelter housewife" from providing her family with tasty meals and "appetizing snacks". In a 1961 column (Sep 7, 1961) she offered suggestions for fallout shelter meals that included deviled ham and parsley dip served with tomato juice, swedish fruit soup with cheeses, and vichyssoise with crackers.









A response from a reader of the Charlotte News:

Charlotte News - Sep 11, 1961

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 22, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Food, War, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1960s

Nuclear Tunneling

One of the projects that researchers at Los Alamos have worked on is a 'subterrene'. This is a nuclear-powered tunneling machine capable of boring through solid rock at high speed by melting the rock. They were granted a patent (No. 3,693,731) for this in 1972.





There's some info about this (as well as it's possible use on the Moon or Mars) in the book Terraforming Mars:

A means, however, of generating a glass coating on the wall, as a direct result of the tunneling process could be achieved by nuclear heating and melting, rather than nuclear explosive crushing. This latter idea has been explored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory under the guise of the SUBTERRENE program in which it was envisioned that the heat from a fission-reactor might be used to literally melt the rock around it - effectively, that is, tunnelling by the controlled use of a China-Syndrome meltdown. Indeed, a US patent (#3,693,731) for such a nuclear tunneling machine, was awarded to Dale Armstrong and co-workers at Los Alamos in September 1972. The patent application states, "this invention provides a rapid versatile economical method of deep-earth excavation, tunneling shaft sinking which offers solutions to ecological problems, acquiring natural resources presently inaccessible and access to an enormous reservoir of natural heat energy. These valuable subterranean sources include natural minerals and hydrocarbons, fresh water and clean geothermal heat energy".

The same technology was proposed by Joseph Neudecker and co-workers, in 1986, as a means by which tunnels might be bored upon the Moon in order to construct a subsurface transportation system. Describing their nuclear-powered melting machine as a SUBSELENE, Neudecker et al. calculate that a fission-reactor-heated, 5-m diameter tunneler could be made to advance by as much as a 50-m per day through the lunar subsurface. This tunneling, they argued could (indeed, must) be operated remotely. Importantly, for tunnel coherence and stability, the material melted at the front of the SUBSELENE would be extruded at its backend to form a glass lining on the tunnel wall.

Wikipedia has an article about the Subterrene, noting the rumor that the Soviets actually built such a device which they called the "battle mole".

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 19, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Caves, Caverns, Tunnels and Other Subterranean Venues, Patents, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1970s

Atomic Chess

Atomic Chess is a variant of chess that was invented by Nasouhi Bey Tahir, the Transjordanian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, in 1949. Most of its rules were the same as the traditional game except that it was played on a larger board (of 144 squares) and when a pawn was promoted it would become an 'atomic bomb'. When used it would annihilate all pieces (of both players) within a radius of six squares from the object of attack.

The game also involved two other pieces, a tank and airplane, but I'm not sure how these were used.

Sydney Morning Herald - May 1, 1949



Chess.com describes a different version of Atomic Chess, that it says was introduced in 2000. This newer variant is played on a standard board, with the twist that "whenever a piece is captured, an 'explosion' reaching all the squares immediately surrounding the captured piece occurs. This explosion kills all of the pieces in its range except for pawns." Therefore, every capture, except by a pawn, is suicidal.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 22, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Games, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1940s

Isotopia—an atomic pantomime

In 1950, Muriel Howorth, who was a great believer in the benefits of atomic energy, wrote and staged a ballet/pantomime about the atom. It was titled Isotopia: An Exposition on Atomic Structure. This description from Time magazine, Oct 30, 1950:

Last week in Aldwych's Waldorf Hotel, Mrs. Howorth's high-minded Atomic Energy Association of Great Britain (membership: 300) celebrated its second anniversary with an atomic pantomime called Isotopia.

Before a select audience of 250 rapt ladies and a dozen faintly bored gentlemen, some 13 bosomy A.E. Associates in flowing evening gowns gyrated gracefully about a stage in earnest imitation of atomic forces at work. An ample electron in black lace wound her way around two matrons labeled "proton" and "neutron" while an elderly ginger-haired Geiger counter clicked out their radioactive effect on a pretty girl named Agriculture. At a climactic moment, a Mrs. Monica Davial raced across the stage in spirited representation of a rat eating radioactive cheese.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any pictures of the event. But you can read the entire pantomime over at atomicgardening.com.

Muriel Howorth, founder of the Atomic Energy Association of Great Britain

Posted By: Alex - Sat May 15, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Theater and Stage, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, 1950s

A-Bomb Detergent

Wash away radioactive particles with Flobar!

Life - Nov 20, 1950



This ad later made its way into a 1982 piece by artist Winston Smith.

Trust Your Mechanic

Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 29, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Advertising, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, Baths, Showers and Other Cleansing Methods, 1950s

Little Mr. Tritium

The Japanese government recently created an animated character that definitely belongs in our ongoing series of strange spokesbeings. It was a "cute fish-like creature with rosy cheeks" that was intended to represent a radioactive hydrogen isotope. The government was hoping that this creature would help gain public support for its plan of releasing contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea.

While the government didn't give this creature a name, people have been calling it "Little Mr. Tritium".

More info: The Guardian



Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 27, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Government, Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters

Nuclear submarines as oil tankers

Potentially mad scheme: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian navy was casting about for ways to raise revenue and came up with the idea of using Typhoon-class submarines as oil tankers. The Soviets had built six Typhoon-class nuclear subs which were, and still are, the largest submarines ever made. The main selling point of this idea was that the subs could travel under Arctic ice, eliminating the need for expensive ice-breakers. From wikipedia:

In the early 1990s, there were also proposals to rebuild some of the Typhoon-class submarines to submarine cargo vessels for shipping oil, gas and cargo under polar ice to Russia's far flung northern territories. The submarines could take up to 10,000 tonnes of cargo on-board and ship it under the polar ice to tankers waiting in the Barents Sea. These ships – after the considerable engineering required to develop technologies to transfer oil from drilling platforms to the submarines, and later, to the waiting tankers – would then deliver their cargo world-wide.

The idea was abandoned when someone over there decided that a nuclear sub filled with 10,000 tons of oil might pose some safety concerns.

More info: bellona.org

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 16, 2021 - Comments (7)
Category: Military, Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters, Transportation, 1990s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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