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    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

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rshow55 - 07:54pm Apr 21, 2002 EST (#1623 of 1634) Delete Message

Certain things ought to be clear.

For example, for space lasar weapons to work, they need optical dispersions much less than Hubble's -- and known "adaptive optics" schemes don't come even close to doing what would be needed.

That can be shown -- and shown well enough to be presented clearly before a jury.

It takes work to show such things --- but given the stakes here, that work ought to be amply justified.

And it will take some force, as well. But in the interest of the United States, and the world, this checking should be done.

rshowalter - 01:42pm Aug 24, 2001 EST (#8112 of 8127) .... Robert Showalter

wrcooper, ( 8/24/01 1:30pm) there's a whole spectrum of things being proposed.

I've used the lasar examples because they happen to be easy - the Hubble pictures are pretty -- and some of the biggest "hopes" or "fears" about the weaponization of space hinge on lasar weapons.

But if you look at the Coyle Report -- and sort out in detail the problems it actually identifies -- there are many VERY difficult problems -- where it will take "miracles" to get adequate function. And the decoys issue, just by itself, has a number of these.

rshow55 - 07:55pm Apr 21, 2002 EST (#1624 of 1634) Delete Message

rshowalter - 02:12pm Aug 24, 2001 EST (#8113 of 8127) . . . Robert Showalter

Nobody has to trust my credibility, or anybody else's. The arguments can be set out clearly, for all to see, in areas where things can be checked and crosschecked in very many ways, and conclusions can be drawn.

I've used the word "shuck" to describe the missile defense proposals I've seen. I've used the word, thinking of tactical requirements -- assuming that these "weapons" are supposed to do more than cost money.

Lots of other people have said similar things.

So far, I've not seen any reason to change my mind, but I'm prepared to be corrected.

It seems to me that we need to get beyond name calling here, and beyond issues of "personal credibility" here.

We need to arrange to get essential technical questions answered to a level that would stand up in a real court -- and in the court of public opinion -- nationwide, and world wide.

Given the stakes, I feel that this should be morally forcing.

tallulahb1 - 03:31pm Aug 24, 2001 EST (#8114 of 8127)

How bizarre....shrub's talking to school children and thinks (oops there's the problem...he doesn't) it appropriate to discuss reneging on an Antiballistic Missle treaty? Isn't that just what you want your son or daughter to dwell on? Gee, we can tell them all about the days of "duck & cover" drills and building bomb shelters in the backyard...before we start doing both again.

I keep thinking this is all just a nightmare...darn, I'm awake....tho it IS a still nightmare.

frankmz - 05:36pm Aug 24, 2001 EST (#8115 of 8127)

I would agree on the rube goldberg comment. As someone who has had experience with complex computer systems, I have extreme skepticism of a complex system (and the missile defense system is extremely complex) that will work in real-time as it was supposed to, and on the first try,

rshow55 - 07:57pm Apr 21, 2002 EST (#1625 of 1634) Delete Message

rshowalter - 06:30pm Aug 24, 2001 EST (#8116 of 8127) . . . Robert Showalter


MD7178 rshowalter 7/18/01 10:32pm includes this:

My old partner, the late Professor Steve Kline, of Stanford, told me that when he was a grad student at MIT, the Dean made a point of gathering students together, and telling them about a story. The story was Jules Verne's TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA .

In Verne's story, a Captain takes 10,000 tons of steel, glass, wood and other materials

--- he makes careful drawings

-- gets a team of workmen together

-- the team makes the pieces according the drawings and puts them together . . .

and off the Captain and the workmen go -- cruising 20,000 leagues under the surface of the sea.

The Dean made sure that this lesson was very clearly made --

" In the whole history of engineering, NOTHING LIKE THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED." Things go wrong. Pretty often. For everybody. You have to test.

No MIT engineer was to leave Cambridge without knowing that lesson.

(added today - - - The Dean, and all responsible engineers, know that valid tests very seldom show things radically different from what an engineer has a right to expect based on prior knowledge and experience.)

the Coyle Report, . . . NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE DEPLOYMENT READINESS REVIEW 10 August 2000 . . . . shows that the lesson is not being applied to missile defense programs -- to a great degree.

We're nowhere near far enough along to justify junking the ABM treaty. (added today: and on the basis of straightforward calculations, there's no valid reason to think we will ever be, on the basis of the MD programs that have been described in general terms in public.)

. . . .

At the level where rational decision making should be - things seem strange.

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