Write a Guest Blog

Want to write a guest blog, info is below. If you have an idea but aren't sure or want to do something completely different, let us know. We're pretty open to anything.
email: mark.williams-2 [at] manchester.ac.uk

What we want

Author: Generally we want students but we're pretty open. You can be pro or anti-nuclear but your points must be backed by credible sources. If you wish, you can be anonymous.

Topic: We want opinion pieces and/or scientific explanations of things that anyone can understand (please don't re-write news articles). We're also want book reviews, critique of a news/blog article, your work, an interesting paper you read (seriously, anything will do). Just make sure it's understandable to the general public... So no big words (without explanations) or shortened terms like IAEA, SNF, ILW etc.

Length: We have 3 options, we want lots of short <500 word articles, A few ~800 words ones and the occasional >800 for good explanations of a part of the science (we will rarely allow a >800 word article ask us if you're planning one). But in general the shorter the better as people are more likely to read these (we know, google analytic tells us how long people stay on an article before leaving).

Article guide

(Very rough) 
This is to help us put up articles without spending hours going through them. Rules aren't rigid, it's just for suggestions on how to make a search engine friendly article that people will be able to find without a direct link. If you need help, feel free to ask. For this we're using the example of the first article: http://nuclearhitchhiker.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/nuclear-accidents-in-context.html

Don'ts: Don’t directly refer to your department, members of staff, your work etc unless you have permission. Don't say anything offensive. Don't be over critical of companies, groups, or certain subjects (unless you are directly using facts).

Suggestions: Use friendly units, replace distanes with things people know the size of, (football pitches, pin head etc), quote radiation in terms of doses bepole can relate to (number of CT scans, bannanas). Use metaphores to help explain things. Relate to real life and important issues.

Title: Needs to be search engine friendly. Short, snappy titles like “Context” sound good, but no one will ever find it on a search engine. Use the keywords in the title, eg if the article is about nuclear accidents, “nuclear accidents in context”. Please don't use generic words like article, blog etc.

Keywords: We need a list of a few keywords. Included key words and phrases in our example are: Accidents, Chernobyl, Coal, Environment, Fatalities, Fukushima, Nuclear, Nuclear Power, Radiation,Renewables


This is to help us get it onto the blog faster without getting confused or spending hours finding links: 

Linking information: Please provide links to inforamtion and evidence, it isn't like referencing a paper, just google a relevant news article or wiki page and give the link. Also stick it in brackets next to the word or phrase you want hyper-linked.

References: You can use a referencing system and include more detail about the reference at the bottom, describing the particular issue (this will not be included in the word count, and will be put at the bottom in small type).

Pictures: they look nice and break up the text, even if they aren't hugely relevant. If you think this is appropriate do it. Just leave the picture link in between paragraphs where you want it to be. Also, any original pictures email to us.

Other than that, ask us for help, or look at the current articles for examples!
contact: mark.williams-2 [at] manchester.ac.uk


  1. I hope this is of interest to your readers. I have recently published my book, "Death's Twilight Kingdom: My Journey into the Secret World of U.S. Nuclear Weapon Design Data".

    It's available from amazon.com as a soft cover book, or as a Kindle e-book.


    Yogi Shan

  2. The Long Shadow of the "Demon Core"

    The Neutron Bomb

    "I wish I was a neutron bomb,
    For once I could go off,
    I wish I was a sacrifice,
    That somehow still lived on."

    -- "Wish List" (1987)
    Pearl Jam
    Eddie Vedder

    "We're soldiers. Soldiers don't go to Hell.

    It's war. Soldiers, they kill other soldiers. We're in a
    situation where everybody knows the stakes. And if you're going to accept those stakes, you gotta do certain things.

    It's business. We're soldiers. We follow codes. Orders."

    -- Tony Soprano
    "The Sopranos" (2000)

    It was 1946, and the weapons physicists at the Top Secret Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory quickly dubbed it the "demon core".

    It was a sphere -- actually two solid, perfectly matched, mated hemispheres -- of delta-phase plutonium metal, alloyed with 1% gallium metal, and electroplated with a .005 inch layer of nickel. It weighed a total of 6.2 kg, exactly the same as the weapons cores that ended World War II.

    The core accidentally went supercritical for a short period of time on two separate occasions, each time killing a Los Alamos technician. It had remained super-critical long enough to undergo a short fission chain reaction that surrounded the core with the flash of an unearthly blue glowing cloud, and which bathed all the men present in a shower of neutrons of average energy 2 MeV (million electron volts).

    There was one man in each incident close enough to touch the weapon core – doing the criticality measurements – and he was the victim bathed in the most neutrons – the neutron “flux”.

    The shower of neutrons was large enough that it made them sick and incapacitated almost immediate immediately, and then killed them both a number of days later. (Two fatalities were enough. Henceforth, criticality measurement testing was automated, with no one at risk as with manual testing.)

    The "demon core" itself, remained totally unchanged, as if nothing at all had happened. It had not gone critical long enough to melt, partially melt and slump out of shape, or even blister or the heat discolor its outer nickel protective coating. Physicists later calculated that the lethal chain reaction that killed both men had merely raised the temperature of the "demon core" about 100 degrees Centigrade (212 deg. F).

    But the men's deaths did have one useful purpose, which other nuclear weaponeers would have noted. They showed in detail for scientists to analyze and document very valuable data – the exact lethality of a burst of "fast" fission neutrons on the human body.

    Data that would one day, many years in the future, come in useful for the design of a weapon whose killing effects came not from the usual blast effects of a nuclear bomb, but from a deliberately created massive flood of super-high energy neutrons alone. A bomb that killed people, with little damage to surrounding buildings or property, so that it could be exploded near urban areas on your own invaded territory.

    And the core that killed the two Los Alamos technicians? A little superstitious, perhaps, they destroyed the jinxed core as soon as possible – in the first post-war, and first Pacific Test Site, nuclear test event, the "Able" Shot of Operation Crossroads in 1946 in the Western Pacific Ocean atoll of Bikini – the explosion location that was taken as the name of a revolutionary new French-designed, skin-revealing, two-piece woman's swim-suit bursting on the international fashion stage, that many considered obscene.

    * * * *

    "Behold! It is I who created the blacksmith,
    who fans the coals beneath the forge, and
    makes the weapons of destruction."

    -- Isaiah 54:16
    (ca. 538 B.C.)

  3. The previous post: The Long Shadow of the "Demon Core"
    is just the beginning of the chapter (which is too long to post here, anyway!)

  4. Perfecting Armageddon

    “Reconfiguration”: Dynamic Control of U.S. ICBM Forces

    Be careful how long you stare into the Abyss. For
    one day, the Abyss may stare back into you."

    -- "Thus Spake Zarathustra" (1892)
    Friedrich Nietzsche

    The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers"

    -- "Introduction to Applied Numerical Analysis" (1962)
    Richard Hamming

    The mainstay of the U.S. ICBM land-based nuclear force for most of the Cold War was the Minuteman ICBM.

    * * * *

    "[A]fter all, the greatest and most calculating of
    killers is the national state, and this is true not
    only in international wars, but in domestic conflicts."

    -- "American Violence: A
    Documentary History" (1970)
    Richard Hofstadter

    What was needed was a command and control communications network linking all the ICBM LCCs (launch control centers), and on to the individual missiles, stationed in their LF's (Launch Facilities).

    ARPA, the DoD’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, had funded the first linking of different computers, in different cities, into a network, which eventually evolved into what became the Internet. Due the redundant (multiple backups) links of the architecture, ARPANet was supposedly “nuclear survivable” – if during a nuclear attack a given computer was taken out by a nuclear missile, the other computers could still communicate, because the message traffic would automatically reroute itself to bypass the vaporized computer.

    There would be only one penultimate purpose for a computer network that could survive damage from a nuclear attack: a computer network sending launch orders or targeting updates to the 550 MM III Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile silos scattered across the Midwest, from Kansas to North Dakota.

    If a U.S. missile silo was hit by a Soviet nuclear missile warhead and destroyed, another missile silo could be reassigned the destroyed missile's targets. Basically the entire U.S. ICBM land-based force would be networked for dynamic targeting updates during a limited or all-out nuclear attack. [ADC 020813 (1979)] [DNA-6147T (1982)]

    * * * *

    "Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins.
    Leave death to the professionals."

    -- Calloway
    "The Third Man" (1949)
    Graham Greene

    Searching my nuclear document collection for confirmation revealed that a "Command Data Buffer" (CDB) computer device was installed on the first MM III base in February 1975. Another document stated that the MM III force was upgraded with the CDB starting in 1973 and completed in 1977, and the older, single warhead Minuteman 2 force from 1977 to 1979.

    Further, the CDB allowed for re-targeting of the missile in "25 minutes", revealing perhaps, the maximum time for manual re-programming the last of the hundreds of MM3 ICBM's, or concealing a much lesser -- and classified -- time with installation of an Internet-like packet-switched -- automatic when under attack -- national computerized, all-out nuclear war, missile re-targeting system.

    Command Data Buffer installation was completed on the first MM III base in February 1975. It allowed for re-targeting of MM III missile in one hour (as opposed to up to 36 hours in the older MM2). [Cochran (1984)] with the MM III on-board D37 computer. With an upgraded computer a single MM3 could be re-targeted in about five minutes, a flight of ten missiles in an hour, and a full wing (150 missiles) in two hours.

    “Rapid re-targeting capability for Minuteman [MM3] to improve [under attack] strike planning capability.” [“U.S. Strategic Objectives”, p. 52 (1971)]