Sunday, 10 August 2003

Project Pluto

It's said that Alfred Nobel, the Inventor of Dynamite, believed that it was so destructive that it might put and end to War.

History has shown that no weapon has been deemed "too destructive" for this. At least, no weapon that was actually built. There was one that was conceived though, and shown to be probably quite workable, before, in a fit of Sanity, it was closed down.

It was called Project Pluto.
Pluto's namesake was Roman mythology's ruler of the underworld -- seemingly an apt inspiration for a locomotive-size missile that would travel at near-treetop level at three times the speed of sound, tossing out hydrogen bombs as it roared overhead. Pluto's designers calculated that its shock wave alone might kill people on the ground. Then there was the problem of fallout. In addition to gamma and neutron radiation from the unshielded reactor, Pluto's nuclear ramjet would spew fission fragments out in its exhaust as it flew by. (One enterprising weaponeer had a plan to turn an obvious peace-time liability into a wartime asset: he suggested flying the radioactive rocket back and forth over the Soviet Union after it had dropped its bombs.)
I emphasise, by all accounts this thing would have worked as designed.

Which leads me to another Horror Story. This one fictional. I'm no great fan of the Horror genre, but this one chilled me to the bone. It's called "A Colder War by Charles Stross. Project Pluto gets a mention, yes, the one I described above, but that's in order to stop Something far, far worse. I consider it one of the best fictional works available on the web. Please go read it - but not if you're subject to Nightmares.

No comments: