toolbar Bookmark

 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    Missile Defense

Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI all over again?

Earliest MessagesPrevious MessagesRecent MessagesOutline (1749 previous messages)

dirac_10 - 08:41pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1750 of 1756)

eurocore - 08:13pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1744 of 1746)


I'm sorry to correct you, but 100km is 10^5m, therefore it takes 10^5/(3*10^8) seconds to travel the distance.

You are right, I am wrong.

This is 0.33*10^-3 seconds, or 33ms. The round trip takes 66ms therefore.

33ms? Milliseconds or microseconds? It's 0.33 milliseconds or 330 microseconds. Times two for the round trip gives us 660 microseconds or .66 milliseconds. (I was conservative but forgot the k in 100km.)

Your suggested time of 1/(1000000) second is 1 microsecond.

Thanks for reminding me.

66ms is 66,000 times longer.

Rub it in. But it's 0.66 ms, not 66ms for the round trip.

660 times longer.

But the point remains. How much can you make something heavy move in less than a thousanth of a second?

I agree with the X-rays, but they pass through thin sheet metal - the heating would not just occur at the surface and so would be more defuse than visible which has very low penetration.

Well, the issue with metal is whether the light will reflect off of it. Not penetrate. There's no one rule. There are issues like relaxation time where the frequency is so high that the electrons can't act like conductors since they can't move fast enough.

eurocore - 08:45pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1751 of 1756)


Interesting selection of quotes.

It's a interesting question which I mentioned a little about in the global warming forum.

I hope there is a solution, but I think GWB has little intention of changing his mind.

It reminds me slightly of the South African government's refusal to buy anti-AIDS drugs, because 'the verdict on HIV is still uncertain'. They were very keen to save money to prevent damage to the economy and it might be that GWB is letting his desire to believe what he wants overide the (probably) truth.

HIV might not cause AIDs, Global warming might not be occurring... Policy, however, should be based on probabilities, not possibilities and the decisions made in these two cases, (assuming GWB isn't going to suddenly announce big emission cuts in a new treaty!), seem to be based on desire rather than science.

Best Wishes,


rshowalter - 08:47pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1752 of 1756) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

We agree about a good deal. So maybe I'm wrong - and we get a missile defense system tomorrow?

There are STILL big vulnerabilities.

Tom, you say

" I'm convinced it's morality, distaste at the method's diplomatic reprocussions and fear of US reprisal that prevents the US's enemies doing this right now. I doubt any western society, with current social controls, could prevent it occurring."

Dirac has said similar things.

We agree.

And it is those moral arguments that we need to reinforce, and solidify with policing, and diplomacy.

I'm done in. I've been up 19 hours. I'll have a beer now, and be back in the morning.



eurocore - 08:50pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1753 of 1756)


0.33*10^-3 is 330 microseconds, not 33ms.

(I was wrong! :->)

Best Wishes,


dirac_10 - 09:02pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1754 of 1756)

eurocore - 08:37pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1749 of 1750)

...The economic cost would need to be justified too. If it is cheaper to topple every non-US aligned government in the world by simple bribery ("The Dollars for Democracy Scheme"), we'd probably be better off with the low-tech solution.

I'm all for it, but I don't think we can meet the price. Much less have the political will to give away the vast amount of money.

Do remember though, if the Korean were sufficiently dedicated, (and unconcerned about diplomatic effects),

The little toad, for the fleeting moments left in his miserable little life would have much more to worry about than diplomatic effects.

it would be possible to set off terrorist nuclear bomb in major cities, like NY.

It wouldn't be a nuke probably. And yes, this is a real problem. You betcha. But to launch the plan is a very risky move. It's safe to assume we know more than we are telling. If the NSA is watching for anything, they are watching for this. (Hi there guys, looks like you are doing a good job to me.) It would be dealt with just like a launch of ICBM's. You would need to involve other people. It would take time to get there. Lots of drawbacks. Lots easier to just push a button if the other guy can't do anything about it. A sure thing verses a very foolish risky move.

I'm convinced it's morality, distaste at the method's diplomatic reprocussions and fear of US reprisal

Oh, I suspect "fear of US reprisal" is about 99.99% of what keeps Saddam in check.

that prevents the US's enemies doing this right now. I doubt any western society, with current social controls, could prevent it occurring.

Yeah, among other thing, we would be setting ourselves up for a Big Brother way of life. It would take a very clever system to make sure it didn't turn into a real Big Brother. Probably impossible since no axiomatic system is complete.

I'm not saying the missile system isn't worthwile (despite the above), but it's an umbrella that relies on rain from above, not below.

That's a fact.

eurocore - 09:13pm Mar 29, 2001 EST (#1755 of 1756)

"since no axiomatic system is complete."

- Gödel

Very nice!

Best Wishes,


More Messages Unread Messages Recent Messages (1 following message)

 Read Subscriptions  Subscribe  Post Message
 E-mail to Sysop  Your Preferences

 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  / Missile Defense

Home | Site Index | Site Search | Forums | Archives | Shopping

News | Business | International | National | New York Region | NYT Front Page | Obituaries | Politics | Quick News | Sports | Science | Technology/Internet | Weather
Editorial | Op-Ed

Features | Arts | Automobiles | Books | Cartoons | Crossword | Games | Job Market | Living | Magazine | Real Estate | Travel | Week in Review

Help/Feedback | Classifieds | Services | New York Today

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company