Browsing Tag: nuclear

    Articles

    Alaska: An Energy Frontier

    October 2, 2019


    I saw people with hope.
    I saw people with challenges. I saw people that know that their senator will
    stand up for them everyday in Washington, D.C. and do her best to try to deliver
    some solutions to energy challenges that most people in America have no idea exist. We’re here on Kodiak Island. We’ve been visiting the city of Kodiak looking at their extraordinary hydro and wind potential,
    making themselves a community that’s about 99 percent renewable. But finding the right mix and I think this is a great example of a portfolio that’s very
    diverse. Every part of this country has its unique challenges, obviously Alaska is one of
    them when it comes to being connected to the electric grid. It’s the reason I think it’s important for this country to have a very diverse
    portfolio when it comes to our energy resources number one we’re going to need
    it all to bring the economy into a place like Old Harbor requires access to power. Affordable power. Affordable and accessible. So that’s the real story. If we are able to solve their
    problems, their issues, their concerns, we can help facilitate an economy in in
    this region and again as you say Secretary “give them hope,” that’s what they’re asking. Thanks for bringing that to the attention of
    the American people Senator. Well thank you for making the trip out here It’s not your first trip to Alaska but … Nor will it be my last. There you go.

    Nuclear powered Planes, Trains and Automobiles
    Articles, Blog

    Nuclear powered Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    August 29, 2019


    To quote L.P. Heartly’s 1953 book “The G-Between”, “The past is a different country they do things differently there”. That’s definitely something that could be applied to our attitude to the newly discovered atomic power in the late 1940s and 50s. Within just a few years after the first atomic bombs have been dropped on Japan it seems as though the atom would be the cure-all for all our energy needs with power “too cheap to meter” as was once quoted. Whilst ships and submarines of the leading navies went nuclear, companies put forward ideas for atomic powered planes, trains, yes and indeed automobiles. The first idea of using a radioactive power source for a car in this place radium dates back to 1903 and in 1937 Further analysis of a concept thought that it would need 50 tons of shielding to protect the driver. But with the development of small scale self-contained reactors for ships and submarines in the 1950s the idea of atomic cars was back on the table. In 1958 Ford unveiled a uranium powered concept car called with a typically 1950s futuristic name the “Ford Nucleon” in essence it was a scaled down submarine reactor in the back of the car which would heat stored water into high-pressure steam which will then drive two turbines. one to power the wheels any other to drive an electrical generator. Ford engineers anticipated that it would have a range of around 5,000 miles before you would need to nip into your local Ford dealers and have uranium core swapped out for a new one. The passenger compartment was situated over the front wheels allowing for the bulk of the reactor and a heavy shielding to be more centrally placed and keep you as far away from the reactor as possible. As was the optimism of the 1950s and the naivety of the general public, it was believed that nuclear power would eventually replaced petrol power in the future. Something which doesn’t really bear thinking about if you imagine a car crash returning to a major nuclear incident. Ford only ever made scale models of the Nucleon as they anticipated the miniaturization of the reactors and lighter shielding materials. aAs these didn’t appear and with the increasing public awareness around radiation and nuclear waste, the project was dropped and the models ended up in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Now if you thought the Ford Nucleon was a bit far-fetched, just look at the French Simca Fulga, a 1958 concept car designed by Robert Opron. This was meant to show how cars might look in the year 2000 powered by a nuclear reactor with voice control and guided by radar and an autopilot that communicated via a control tower. At speeds of over 150 kilometers per hour, two of the wheels would retract and it would balance on the remaining two with the aid of gyroscopes. Also in France in 1957-58 to the Arbel Symetric was proposed with either a gas generator or 40 kilowatt nuclear reactor called the “Genestatom”. This would use radioactive cartridges made from nuclear waste however, the French government disproved the use of nuclear fuel in cars and the development that was stopped. Of all the land-based forms of transport trains were the most likely candidates to be nuclear powered especially those travelling across large areas where electrification have not been done. In the U.S. a nuclear-powered locomotive called the X-12 was put forward in a design study for the Association of American railroads and several other companies by Dr. Lyle Borst, one of the early members of the Manhattan Project which had created the first atomic bomb. The X-12 would use liquid uranium-235 oxide dissolved in sulfuric acid in a three foot by one foot container surrounded by 200 tons of shielding. The reactor would then create steam to power turbines to drive four electrical generators. These would create the 7000 horsepower of electricity to power the motors. This was about the same as a four loco unit with each loco having 1,750 horsepower but would only need refueling once a year although it did cost about twice the price of a four loco unit. The whole locomotive would be 160 feet long and weigh 300 tons and would have an articulated rear section where all the cooling radiators and condensers would be placed. But the cost of developing such a locomotive without government subsidies and the highly enriched Uranium-235 together with the huge cost of liability insurance in case of an accident made the X-12 uneconomical and it was not pursued by any of the train companies. However in 1950 Soviet Russia money was not the same issue as it was in the U.S. In places like the North Far, East and Central Asian desert it was thought that electrification of newly built railway lines was not advised at the time. So in 1956 the Ministry of Transport for the USSR came up with a plan to make super-sized nuclear trains which would run on tracks three times the width of normal ones. The train could be used in areas where there was little in a way of supplies or infrastructure to support normal railways and whilst it was stopped it could also serve as a small power station and generate electricity and hot water heating for weeks or months if required in remote locations. The train would use the super-sized tracks to accommodate the extra weight of all the radiation shielding but whilst that might be enough to protect the drivers and passengers in front and behind the loco, the sides and the underneath might still irradiate the environment. The other problem is that infrastructure like embankments, bridges, tunnels would all have to be enlarged for the extra wide track over thousands of miles in some of the world’s coldest and toughest environments. This and the radiation problem put an end to the super-sized Soviet nuclear train. And so we finally come to planes. The idea of nuclear power planes in the 1950s was that bombers carrying atomic bombs could be kept permanently on standby flying around the Arctic circle for days or weeks at a time without the need to refuel and ready to attack at a moment’s notice. Both the U.S. and the Soviets worked on nuclear powered planes. There were two methods of making nuclear powered jet engines. One was simple and lightweight and this was the direct cycle engine. In place of a combustion chamber, the air comes into the jet and in his directed through the reactor core, this would cool the corel and heat the air which will then be directed back into the jet exhaust as thrust. The problem with this method is that if the shielding is not good enough then the air could become irradiated so you would leave a trail of radiation behind a plane. The second method used an indirect way of linking the air via a heat exchange to the reactor, so that the air could not get irradiated but it also meant a lot of extra heavy plumbing and complexity which would make the plane heavier and slower and more susceptible to attack. The biggest problem that both the U.S. and the Soviet faced with nuclear powered planes was getting enough thrust from the engines and the extra weight of the shielding to protect the crew. While no actual flights were made by nuclear powered engines in the U.S. they did use a highly modified Convair B-36 peacemaker with a real reactor to test a distributed method of radiation shielding. By the time president Kennedy was elected in 1961, the direct cycle engine developed by General Electric was regularly making high levels of thrust under nuclear power in ground-based tests. Work on what was to be the WS-125 long-range nuclear bomber had continued from 1954 1961 but when new intelligence from the U-2 spy planes and satellites showed the the Soviets had much less in the way of bombers when the U.S. thought and that the Russian nuclear power bombers just didn’t exist, Kennedy scrapped the WS-125 bomber program in favor of more missile submarine development. But after the fall of communism in Russia in the late 1980s it was revealed that the Soviets had actually flown a nuclear-powered version of a Tu-95 “Bear” long-range bomber 40 times between 1961 and 1969. Under pressure in believing that the Americans were close to creating a nuclear bomber the Soviets flew tests with direct cycle nuclear powered engines. However the engines were inefficient and spewed radiation into the air. The plane also had to fly with no shielding to protect the crew otherwise it would have been too heavy to take off. Although it worked within three years some of the crew had died due to the radiation exposure on the test flights and this was the real Achilles heel of the nuclear power planes. Whilst the engines may work the shielding was still a major problem. Today we could with new technologies which have arisen since the 1950s build smaller and safer nuclear reactors. We’ve already done this a spacecraft like the Voyager probes of the 1970s which are still going in deep space and for Landers like the Mars Curiosity rover 2012. Already nuclear-powered surveillance drones that don’t need crew or heavy shielding that could fly for weeks or months and nuclear powered trains in Russia are being proposed once more. So the future may well glow bright with portable nuclear power and as always please subscribe, rate and share.

    Sebastian Junger: “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” | Talks at Google
    Articles, Blog

    Sebastian Junger: “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” | Talks at Google

    August 27, 2019


    SPEAKER 1: We’re back. We’re going to do part
    two of our conversation with Sebastian. We’re going to talk about his
    excellent book called “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.” So I wanted to
    jump into it first. What got you interested
    in this topic? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: So I had
    this interesting experience. I spent a year off and on with
    an American platoon in combat in eastern Afghanistan,
    very remote outpost, a lot of combat, a lot of
    hardship, a lot of danger, a lot of deprivation. Those guys couldn’t wait
    to get back to Italy, where they were based. They had planned a big old
    party and imagined things they had planned. And they got back in after
    the party sort of subsided, I caught up with them in Italy. And I was really intrigued
    by the fact that most of them did not want to come back
    to the United States. They said, if we
    could, we’d go back to Restrepo, this flea-ridden,
    scorpion-ridden, hell hole. No women, there
    was no television, there was no cooked food,
    there was no running water, there was no way to bathe. I mean, circumstances were
    brutal and they all missed it. And it made me
    think of something. When I was young I had
    a sort of uncle figure, a sort of mentor in my
    life named Ellis Settle. And he was half Lakota
    Sioux, half Apache. He grew up during
    the Depression, born during the Depression,
    grew up out West, educated himself
    incredibly well. He read everything that
    he could get his hands on. Brilliant, beautiful person. And I remember him telling
    me, this is how he phrased it. He said, throughout the
    history of the United States along the frontier, he
    said, white people were always running off to join the Indians
    but the Indians never ran off to join the white people. He said, given a
    choice, free people will go towards the tribal,
    towards the communal, and away from the modern. And that really
    stuck in my mind, and I wondered if was true. And then I heard
    the soldiers saying basically the same
    thing, we don’t want to go back to America. And what Ellis told me
    was that even people who had been kidnapped by the
    native tribes along the frontier and taken back and adopted
    into these societies into these tribal communities,
    when given the chance to be repatriated
    to their family, to their native country,
    they would often refuse, they’d go into hiding. The last thing they wanted to
    do was come back to America. And I just thought,
    what’s going on? Something is wrong. And then I started
    to look into it. And what I found,
    to my surprise– actually, it wasn’t
    to my surprise, now that I think of it– that as wealth goes up in
    society, as modernity goes up, the suicide rate goes up. As things get easier, people are
    more likely to kill themselves. As things get easier, people
    are more likely to be depressed. As things get easier,
    people are more anxious. As things get easier, people are
    way more likely to have PTSD. The PTSD rate in modern
    affluent societies is way, way higher
    than in poor societies. The Kurdish Peshmerga,
    the Afghan fighters, the Iraqi fighters, they
    don’t even know what it is. I mean, they really
    are quite puzzled by this phenomenon that
    American soldiers talk about. PTSD rates in Israel
    are 1%; in our military, it’s about 15% to 20%. Which is odd because
    only 20% of our military is engaged in any
    combat whatsoever. Something’s going on. And I developed this theory
    that maybe a certain amount of what we call PTSD, maybe a
    certain amount of all of this is due to the fact
    that it’s actually quite stressful to live an
    independent individual life. We’re a social species,
    we’re social primates. We evolved over hundreds
    of thousands of years to live in tight knit groups
    of 40, 50, 100, 150 people. And the proximity
    of others buffers us from psychological stress. If you traumatize a rat and
    put it in a cage by itself, a week later its trauma
    symptoms will be unchanged. If you traumatize a rat and put
    it in a cage with other rats, within a week its behavior
    is indistinguishable from the other rats. So what seems to be
    happening is that soldiers, among others, are traumatized
    in a group trauma– usually, it happens to groups of
    people or often happens in groups of people. The shooting in Vegas,
    that was a group of people being traumatized. It happened to them in a group. The problem for those people
    is that that group is not a community. That group is not the Lakota,
    that group is not Second Platoon battle company. For that matter, that
    group isn’t even Google. It’s just a bunch of people
    that got traumatized as a group and they will now disperse and
    try to recover on their own. And on their own means in their
    air conditioned apartment, in an apartment building,
    or a single family home on a cul-de-sac in a suburb
    where people may or may not know their neighbors,
    they definitely don’t depend on their
    neighbors, they may not like their neighbors, but
    mostly their neighbors don’t matter one way
    or another in terms of how they’re going to survive
    another day, another year. Now, for most of human history,
    when you wake up in the morning and you look around, the
    people you see around you are the people that you
    depend on for survival. That’s no longer true. That provides a great
    liberation from the group, but it also deprives of us
    of our most powerful weapon against psychological troubles. And what I found was that when
    you collapse modern society– I mean, ironically
    when you collapse it with 9/11 or the Blitz
    in London or a hurricane or what have you– when you collapse
    modern society, we very naturally
    revert to that sort of communal group commitment,
    that communal group loyalty. It happens very,
    very naturally, even in a modern American city like
    Houston after the hurricane. I live in New York City. After the attacks of
    9/11, the suicide rate went down in New York–
    not up, it went down. Trauma is supposed
    to lead to suicide. What’s going on? It’s a totally traumatized city. It was traumatized city, but
    because we were traumatized, everyone knew that
    they were needed, that their people needed them. And when you give
    people a task, like you know what, you can kill
    yourself later but right now we actually need
    you, when you do that, people are so grateful. It makes them feel
    so good to be needed, to be necessary that
    they actually enjoy improved psychological health. So during the Blitz in
    London, the English government was convinced that there would
    be mass psychiatric casualties when the German
    Air Force started bombing London flat every
    night, killed 30,000 people. What happened? Admissions to psych wards
    went down during the Blitz and then back up when
    the bombing stopped. And one amazed
    officials said, we have the chronic neurotics of
    peacetime driving ambulances. You give people a
    task, a job, and they will forget their own troubles. And therein lies a great
    comfort for them, actually. SPEAKER 1: You keep talking
    about the effect of 9/11, how it had an PTSD
    rates for veterans and also the murder
    rate in the area. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. So in New York after 9/11,
    the suicide rate went down, but a lot of other
    things went down. The violent crime, the murder
    rate went down in New York. And Vietnam veterans
    who suffered from PTSD from Vietnam– most people don’t wind
    up with long-term PTSD. I mean, from car accidents
    or violent attack. I mean, it’s not just
    soldiers that get traumatized by violence. I mean, there’s trauma
    everywhere in society. Only around 20% of people wind
    up with a long-term problem. Well, these Vietnam vets were
    in that 20% and decades later were still suffering from PTSD. And they said that as
    soon as 9/11 happened, they stopped experiencing
    their symptoms because boom, they’re back on the
    battlefield, what a relief. People need me, I can
    ignore my own troubles and help the group,
    help other people. And that feels incredibly good. I mean, one of the sort of
    sad ironies of modern society is that we are so
    affluent and so safe that individually, none of us
    are ever needed by the society. I mean, the society
    continues on fine without us. Our country and our community
    never ask anything from us because they never need us. We have a fire department,
    we have a police department, we have farmers
    that grow our food, we have people who drill
    for oil and get killed doing that, they’ve got
    loggers cutting trees down, we’ve got commercial
    fishermen catching fish. Everyone’s dying. I mean, people die
    doing those jobs. They’re dangerous jobs. They’re more dangerous than most
    of the units in the US military except the really
    forward front line units. We don’t have to
    deal with any of it. And because we’ve subcontracted
    out all these things that society needs, until
    there’s a crisis, until there’s an emergency, none of us
    have to step up and actually contribute our time, run
    risks, contribute our resources to helping other people. Until there’s a hurricane
    that hits a city and all of a sudden, people are
    looking for any kind of boat they can get their hands on
    to go rescue other people. The so-called Cajun
    Navy that was motoring through the streets of
    Houston saving people, they weren’t making distinctions
    of Republicans and Democrats. They weren’t just
    saving Republicans. They weren’t making
    distinctions of white and black or rich and poor. They were just saving people. And there was an enormous
    an incredible unity that happened there
    that maybe will linger or maybe won’t, I
    don’t know, but there was an incredible unity
    there and an egalitarianism. I mean, the terrible sort of
    class distinctions in England collapsed during the Blitz. Everyone was sleeping
    shoulder to shoulder in the tube stations. There’s no rich or poor there. Bombs don’t care if you’re
    rich or poor, they’ll kill you, they’ll bury you in rubble. And so that egalitarianism
    is actually intoxicating. And as a result, people
    really miss those days when everyone was equal. And I studied one earthquake
    in Italy, [INAUDIBLE],, and one of the survivors said– I mean, you understand
    it in that area, if I’m remembering correctly,
    96% of the population was killed instantly. They were basically hit
    by a nuclear weapon. The people that survived
    were on their own for days until the
    government got there. And this survivor wrote about
    it and said that the earthquake had produced what the law
    promises but cannot, in fact, deliver, which is the equality
    of all men, all people. Then the government got
    there, supplies got there, and immediately the social
    stratification resumed. SPEAKER 1: I was going to
    have you read that quote next. Perfect timing. Can you talk about the
    beauty and tragedy of safety and how we lose the rights
    of passage because of it? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. So humans evolved for
    hundreds of thousands of years in a pretty dangerous
    environment, living in a small scale
    society and small groups where people knew each
    other pretty well. And in that natural
    world, I mean, understand that humans are
    very vulnerable, anatomically vulnerable. We don’t have long, sharp claws;
    we don’t have sharp teeth; we can’t run very fast; we
    can’t climb trees worth a damn. I mean, we are really
    vulnerable in the natural world, except that we coordinate and
    collaborate very, very well. We know how to make weapons. We can speak to each
    other, we can coordinate, we can strategize,
    we can act in unison, and we a loyalty
    to each other that will get us to even sacrifice
    our lives to help other people. Other animals don’t do this. We’re the only species where an
    individual will risk their life or sacrifice their life
    to help a same-sex peer. I don’t mean their spouse,
    I don’t mean their kids, I mean another
    male, for example, that you’re not related to and
    you throw yourself on the hand grenade and that guy survives
    and that guy has kids and you don’t and in Darwinian
    terms, you’re a failure. But humans do that. No other animal species– even
    chimpanzees don’t do that. That makes us very, very potent. I mean, it’s sort
    of tactically potent when you have a
    group of people that are all willing to do that. You can really defend
    yourselves well, and so that’s what
    human beings are. I mean, most of the
    hunting and fighting was done by young
    males, sort of organized by older, experienced males–
    just like the US military, just about like every military. But if you’re going
    to go into combat and you’re going to risk
    your life to help that guy, how do you know that he’s going
    to risk his life to help you? What you need is a
    very, very deep loyalty to the idea of that
    group so that even if I know you hate my
    guts or I don’t like you, that has nothing to do with my
    willingness or your willingness to protect each other. And that group affiliation that
    overrides our personal feelings is absolutely essential to the
    sort of small group dynamics that combat and
    hunting depend on. So how do you figure
    that out before the test, before the first firefight? You need to know this before
    the first shots ring out, before the first arrows fly,
    before the tiger charges the group. You need to know this. The way you find out is
    through initiation rites. And if you’re not
    willing to go through whatever tortures and
    humiliations and whatever else I can devise to test,
    to challenge your identity as an autonomous person– I’m going to break your
    idea of individuality. I’m going to make it clear
    that you belong to this group and that you will go through
    anything for this group. And if you’re not
    willing to do that, I don’t want you in the group. I can’t trust you. Because when the
    chips are down, you might make a decisions
    that’s just to save yourself at the expense of others. So in that case,
    fine, go in peace but you’re a danger
    to this group. So initiation rites are
    very, very important for bringing young males
    into this sort of group that will be doing something
    extremely dangerous where everyone is in a lot
    more danger if there’s any weak link in the chain where
    you can’t rely on that person. And it’s not done
    in a formal way, but part of sort of boot
    camp and all that stuff is a sort of process of weeding
    out the people who are just not committed to doing absolutely
    anything that’s asked of them on behalf of the group. SPEAKER 1: When you were talking
    about training and initiation, it reminded me of
    watching a History Channel video on BUD/S training, you
    guys have probably seen it. And there’s the hell
    week scene, and it shows this guy who they’re
    trying to get in these rafts and put them against
    the current and then take them down and whatnot. And there’s this one
    guy who has a broken leg and he’s crawling trying
    to get back with this team. He’s literally crawling
    on a broken leg so he can get to
    where he needs to go. He’s just that
    unbelievably committed like the whole entire group. It was almost like a
    beautiful thing to see. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, that’s like very
    ancient human behavior. And it’s not like everyone
    has to be like that, but that the people who are
    in the fighting group that’s defending this society,
    they need to be like that. They absolutely have
    to be like that. I mean, my friend, Brendan,
    from Second Platoon said to me at one point,
    we were on an ambush, we were sort of sitting
    on this hillside and we were pretty bored
    and he was towards the end of the deployment. He was sort of musing about
    this whole weird experience he’d just had. He said, it’s really
    strange, there’s guys in the platoon who
    straight up hate each other, but we’d all die for each other. And then he thought
    about it and he said, so how much do you
    really hate each other? SPEAKER 1: Yeah. When you’re talking
    to the hurricanes, I remember since the election,
    every other story in the news is about how politically
    divided we are in this country. But then I remember seeing
    a picture of a human chain, and it was people holding hands,
    like old young, black, white, Trump supporters, Trump
    haters or whatnot, and they’re all
    reaching out to an SUV to save someone
    who was in the car. I wonder are there
    possible ways for us to bring about those
    feelings without having to go through that strife,
    or is strife necessary for us to get into those situations? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Well, yeah. I mean, the problem is
    the two political parties are very much invested in
    not having that happen. I mean, their most
    reliable political strategy is to trigger the loyalty
    and vehemence of their base. I mean, it works, right? I mean, when you energize
    your base, you win elections. And energizing your base
    depends on this narrative of villainizing the
    other guy’s base. There isn’t room for
    two bases in this town. There’s the real,
    way the right way, the American way, and then
    there’s the other way. And both sides are saying that. So both parties, the GOP– I mean, I happen
    to be a Democrat, and I’m a Democrat
    because I think the GOP is acting slightly
    worse than the Democrats. And when the Democrats act
    a little worse than the GOP, I’m going to become
    a Republican. If that happens or
    not, I don’t know. But I mean, that’s the sort
    of basis for my politics. And right now, I
    think both parties are acting extremely badly. And they have decided that
    their political future does not lie in getting Americans to
    focus on what unites us all, it lies in demonizing
    the other side and saying, this is the only
    honorable way to do things, the only American
    way to do things. And both sides engage in
    it and it’s disgusting. And honestly, when people
    say, he’s not my president, you are saying is
    deeply undemocratic thing when you say that. He is your president. He was elected by the people. I mean, maybe in another
    country he’s not your president, but if you’re an American–
    you may not like him, I don’t like him, but
    he’s my president. He was elected. And that the DNC is not openly
    rejecting that sentiment as undemocratic and undermining
    of our national ideals is disgusting. And that the GOP, when
    Donald Trump engaged in a seven-year-long campaign
    to convince the American public that Barack Obama
    was not a US citizen, that the commander-in-chief
    who was issuing orders to our military was
    actually an imposter, and that the GOP never
    denounced that, and never said at least to the troops,
    hey, guys, hey everybody over there, listen, your
    president is not an imposter, he is actually an
    American citizen. Don’t worry but what
    this idiot’s saying. That the GOP never said that
    is absolutely revolting. I mean, it puts
    soldiers and veterans in an untenable position of
    following the orders of someone that shouldn’t be in office. I mean, their jobs are
    hard enough as it is. And I can’t believe
    that the GOP never renounced that stupid idea. And so very clearly in
    my mind, the last thing the two political parties
    want is a long line of people that are
    risking their lives– black, white, rich,
    poor, tall, short, everything– risking their
    lives to save one of their own. That’s the last thing
    the parties want. And I’m not a
    conspiracy theorist, but it’s the only way I can
    explain the partisan rhetoric that is coming– I mean, I don’t
    think the population is naturally partisan. I think they’re naturally
    like that chain of people in the floodwaters, right? They want to be like that. And it’s the only
    way I can explain the behavior of our political
    parties in trying to divide us, that they must see some
    political gain in doing so. And I think they should all
    be locked up and put in prison for doing that to this country. I think it’s
    absolutely disgusting. SPEAKER 1: Right. I remember when McCain was
    running against Obama in 2008 and some person grabbed a
    mic and said Obama was not born here or a Muslim. And McCain right away
    took the person’s mic and said, no, that’s
    incorrect or whatnot. And it just seems that the whole
    tribal identity to what group you’re on, if you go against
    that their talking points, you’re immediately
    looked at as a traitor. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: That’s right. No, that was incredibly
    honorable thing that McCain did. And he answered that question
    with more dignity and more honesty than
    Hillary Clinton did, who is of the same
    political party. I mean, she was
    asked the same thing and she sort of
    hedged on it, like I don’t know if he’s
    a Christian or not, he says he is, whatever it was. And she’s a Democrat. I mean, so I can’t believe it. I don’t think people want
    that for this nation. I mean, some do,
    some percentage does. I mean, they’re marching
    with tiki torches. Those people do,
    but that’s about it. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. So after the bombings
    and the Blitz or whatnot, you mentioned that the politics
    climate changed for Great Britain for 20, 30 years. Can you go into that? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. I mean, I think what
    would be derided as the sort of
    modern welfare state in Britain started with
    the collective suffering and collective
    solutions that were typical of the Blitz and
    then the sort of caretaking that the nation had
    to undergo of itself of the most vulnerable people
    in the English population after the war. That created a sort
    of state society where there was a lot of
    welfare, a lot of state aid, a lot of medical care. And that came out of– I mean, the politicians that
    espoused those views came out of the Blitz and understood
    that the society needed to take care of itself
    and devote resources to taking care of people
    who were very vulnerable. And that ended with Maggie
    Thatcher and in this country with Ronald Reagan. I mean, both of those people
    had absolutely legitimate political views and
    I think were probably right about a lot
    of stuff, but it did mark a radical change in
    how we understand our society. And for a full
    generation, we saw society as something whose
    main purpose was to take care of the society. And then after that it became
    something else, something that had advantages
    and disadvantages. It definitely was a departure. SPEAKER 1: Can we talk
    about the coal miner story in Europe and the gender
    roles and what was going on? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. So there was a
    coal mine disaster in Canada in the 1950s. And basically, they had
    something called a bump. It was an explosion. There’s something in the coal
    dust that’s very volatile and can explode. And the mine shafts
    collapsed, they pancaked, and they killed
    scores and scores of people that were trapped in
    these collapsed passageways. And they trapped something like
    I can’t remember exactly, 15, 16, 17, 18 people deep,
    deep underground like two miles down. I mean, what a nightmare. You’re two miles
    down in the earth, everything’s
    collapsed above you. You have no idea
    if anyone’s ever going to be able to get to you. You have no water, no
    food, people are injured, and you have 24 hours’ worth
    of lamp light or battery life in your lamps. I mean, talk about a nightmare. So what happened was in
    the immediate aftermath, those guys– it was all men down there– didn’t know if the
    collapsed passageways were– if they dug through
    100 feet of rubble and then they’re
    in the clear again and they could leave or was it
    a mile of collapse passageways? They had no idea. So on the chance that they
    could dig their way out, they started digging. And I mean, this is a very
    very traumatized group of men. And the people that
    came to the fore weren’t necessarily
    crew bosses or anything in an official role
    as leaders, but they were very aggressive
    men who grabbed a pick ax, grabbed a shovel,
    started shouting orders– dig here, we’re going to do– they didn’t care
    how people felt. Some guys were scared,
    some guys were hurt– they didn’t care. We’ve got to dig now. It didn’t work. They could not
    dig their way out. And they ran out of water
    and they ran out of food and then they ran out of light. And eventually, they’re just
    sitting there in the darkness and maybe facing the prospect
    that for the rest of eternity, they’d be buried two miles
    down in the earth never to be dug up even as corpses. And so of course,
    now the struggle becomes not physical,
    but psychological. And what they needed was a
    different type of leader. They needed a leader who
    actually was not aggressive, who was not a go-getter. They needed someone
    who was empathic, who was able to sort of take
    the temperature of the group to see who was suffering so
    much that they might trigger a panic in the whole group, who
    needed help, who didn’t, who could go without their
    sip of water that day, who needed that
    extra sip to get by. So there were people
    that really needed these sort of communicative
    skills, these empathic skills who was focused on the
    unity of the group, rather than on following orders. So what psychologists who
    studied these people when they eventually got them out– and they had to make
    terrible decisions. One guy was pinned, his arm
    was crushed between two timbers and he couldn’t move. And they were
    trying to figure out whether to take one of the
    carpentry saws or an ax and cut him free. I mean, there were
    decisions like that that had to be made in the darkness. Imagine. So what the
    psychologists found was that the first kind of leader,
    the really aggressive kind that didn’t care how
    anyone felt, that was a very classically
    sort of male role. It was a very kind of
    male form of leadership. But you needed more
    than that in a society that has to deal with a lot
    of different, some of them being emotional challenges. You can’t just go with that guy. That’s super
    important in a crisis. But in sort of longer
    terms, you also need someone who’s
    empathic, who’s concerned with the unity of
    the group, who wants people to communicate better
    and all that stuff– a classic classically
    female role. And what these psychologists
    found, which is in some ways entirely in keeping with
    this whole philosophy of sort of transgender today,
    is that gender roles don’t depend on sex. You can have females acting in
    a quote male role, as leader, or you could have
    males acting in a quote typically female role as leader. The sex doesn’t matter. What does matter is that
    these two different kinds of leadership roles
    that we have called typically male or
    typically female, you can call him
    whatever you want but that is what we
    have always called them, the important thing
    is that whether it’s a male or female
    filling these roles, you do need both of these roles
    filled and anyone can do it. You’re not bound by your
    sex in terms of what role you can play. And so that to me was
    this amazing story because it both confirmed
    the idea that society needs different kinds of
    gender roles in order to function harmoniously
    and safely and well, and it showed that those gender
    roles are not dependent on sex. I mean, it sort of made the case
    for both things that are true. SPEAKER 1: Can you talk
    about the [INAUDIBLE] and then also how our
    presidency kind of put those two into one [INAUDIBLE]? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: So
    the Iroquois were really in some ways a modern state. I mean, they were a small
    scale agricultural and hunting society in upstate
    New York, but they created these
    incredible alliances that reached all the way
    out to the Great Plains. There’s a theory that
    had Europeans shown up in the east coast 100 years
    later that the Iroquois might have been so involved that
    they could not have gained a foothold in North America. Who knows. But their government was
    really, really interesting. They had they had women in
    positions of great power, women chose leaders. And the American
    Constitution was based in part on the Iroquois– I think it was called the
    Iroquois Great Law of Peace. And it was a document,
    it was an understanding that defined the
    individuals’ rights within Iroquois society, an
    extremely enlightened way of thinking. And Thomas Paine and
    some of the other people, the intellectual creators
    of American independence, used these Iroquois
    ideals as part of what they understood to
    be the natural rights of man and how they’re
    incorporated into society. But at any rate, one of
    the interesting things about your society is that they
    had war leaders and peacetime leaders. And as soon as there was
    a war with another tribe, as soon as there was an
    enemy, war leaders took over. They had absolute authority
    over absolutely everything. And if peace were going to
    be negotiated with the enemy, if they got to the point
    of negotiating peace, once the peace was ratified,
    the war leaders instantly lost all authority and
    the governing of the tribe shifted over to
    peacetime leaders. And the peacetime leaders were
    partially elected by women and could be women. War leaders were not;
    war leaders were men. But as soon as the conflict
    was over, so as not to risk a wartime mentality
    governing a peacetime society, so as not to
    risk that, instantly as soon as the
    peace was ratified, it shifted over to
    the peacetime leaders. And I read a wonderful book
    about the rise of fascism in Europe in the
    ’30s, and this guy– I can’t quite remember his name,
    a wonderful American writer of the time– I mean, he was sort of
    documenting it in real time– Whitaker, his name was Whitaker. He said that what fascists did
    is they convinced a peacetime society to operate as
    if they were at war, and that was the
    brilliance of fascism. They would take a country that
    was at peace, like Germany or Italy or Spain, and
    convince the population that wartime measures
    were necessary, even though there was no enemy. And that’s what fascism is. They were making a mistake that
    the Iroquois were not making. SPEAKER 1: And we have
    the position of president, it’s like this
    conflict and peace at the same time in one brain. It’s a [INAUDIBLE]. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Right. And our system has its
    advantages and disadvantages. But for what it’s worth, the
    Iroquois would say it’s crazy. I mean, it’s just
    different kinds of people that can run
    a war and run a peace. I mean, you certainly
    don’t want someone who is oriented towards
    peace commanding troops and you really don’t want
    someone whose orientation is war and commanding
    troops to try to figure out a fair and civil society. That’s insane. SPEAKER 1: You also
    mentioned the vital tension between liberal ideas
    and conservative ideas for the society. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. So one of the ideas
    in my book, “Tribe,” and that I’ve sort of explored
    a little bit after writing that book in my
    research is the idea of the sort of false
    argument between liberals and conservatives. And the false argument
    is based on the premise that one side’s right
    and one side’s wrong, and each side of course
    thinks it’s right. The truth is if you
    look at our evolution, if you look at human
    genetics, if you look at twin studies
    that have studied this– I mean, they know
    from twin studies that genetics determines about
    50% of your political belief. So if you’re liberal or
    conservative, about 50% of that belief comes from
    a genetic predisposition. And they know that because
    genetically identical twins are far more likely to have
    a far higher concordance of political opinion
    than fraternal twins that don’t share identical DNA. The only explanation for that
    is that genetics plays a role. If genetics plays a role
    in political opinion, that means that conservatism and
    liberalism in its basic forms– I don’t mean Democrats
    and Republicans, I mean very basic human norms
    of conservatism and liberalism and the sort of particular
    concerns that each holds– that those two different ways of
    seeing the world were adaptive, had survival value in
    our evolutionary past or it wouldn’t be
    encoded in our DNA. I mean, the stuff that’s encoded
    in our DNA has survival value. And the fact that altruism,
    that generosity feels good is adaptive. I mean, it would have meant, as
    in Darwinian terms, people that act with generosity and
    altruism towards the group immediately around
    them, that those people had a higher survival
    rate than groups of people that didn’t think
    that way and act that way. That’s all that means. So it means that conservatism
    in its sort of basic orientation that unknown people– strangers, foreigners– are
    suspect, they may hurt us. We don’t necessarily
    let them into our group. The idea in a strong hierarchy
    and sort of law and order within the society, people who
    aren’t working hard enough, that’s really their problem. We don’t have to bail
    them out if they’re not willing to participate
    in the group. That sort of basic
    conservative ethos, whether you agree
    with it or not, has very ancient
    evolutionary roots and clearly served to help
    our ancestors survive. Likewise, liberalism with its
    deep concern for fairness, for having an
    egalitarian society where high ranking people,
    high ranking males can’t abuse lower
    ranking people, where the vulnerable
    are taken care of whether they’re
    contributing to society or not, where
    strangers, foreigners are not seen as a
    threat, but as a source of new ideas, new kinds of
    food, new ways of thinking. That basic liberal
    ethos also contributed to our survival or
    those ways of thinking would not be encoded
    in our DNA and passed on with twins showing a higher
    concordance than everybody else. That means that those two sort
    of opposing ideas, a society that has only one or only the
    other is incredibly vulnerable, and that we survive best when
    those opposing ideas exist in a dynamic tension
    with each other. and we arrive at
    some middle ground that incorporates the
    best ideas of both into one coherent ethos. that’s what that means. So in now in Washington
    with this stupid idea that negotiation and
    compromise is bad, they’re dirty words, that
    the other side is not only wrong but immoral
    and un-American, those idiotic ideas that are
    now current in Washington and current right on
    up to the White House, unfortunately, those ideas
    are absolutely utterly in contradiction to
    our evolutionary past. They make absolutely
    no evolutionary sense, no scientific sense whatsoever. And it’s pretty clear
    that a society that is at war with
    itself politically, morally, economically,
    culturally a society that’s
    at war with itself and thinks that the
    other side shouldn’t even be part of the union– tell me a marriage
    that has survived that operates like that. I cannot think of one. And that is the danger
    that this country is under. We are a powerful country,
    we’re the most powerful country in the world. We are not going to get
    taken down by bullets fired by somebody else. This country, if this
    incredible democratic experiment that we are ever fails,
    ever ends, ever collapses, it will not be from
    bullets from other people; it will be something
    we did to ourselves and that we did with words. That’s the danger
    of partisanship. And it makes partisanship
    actually a national security issue. I mean, literally
    partisanship is more dangerous to this
    country than al-Qaeda, far more dangerous. And it makes it a
    national security issue. And I wish Congress
    would see it like that and form a committee
    devoted to somehow ending the partisanship
    that is destroying this country because it
    will destroy this country, probably faster than we realize. SPEAKER 1: That was an original
    fear the founders, the party system. They didn’t want people
    to form blocs and stop thinking about the good
    of the nation instead of the good of the party. SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
    Right And the thing is the parties reflect
    our evolutionary past, but up until now the parties
    more or less disagreed with the other side while
    they kind of respected its right to exist. I’m a Democrat, I disagree with
    a lot of Republican thought, but I’m glad it exists,
    at least so I can have someone good to argue with. I mean, conservatives
    are what make liberals. Without conservatives,
    liberals don’t exist; conservatives don’t
    exist without liberals. I mean, we need each other. We exist in opposition
    to the other. But that means that we sort of
    disagree with the other side but respect that it has
    its own coherent ethos and that the other side
    actually thinks that way because the other side
    thinks that’s what’s best for the country. The idea that the other
    side thinks that way because it’s trying to
    destroy the country, that idea is completely toxic. It would never be that kind
    of contempt for someone you disagree with. Disagreement’s fine,
    argument’s fine. It makes for sort of
    strong solutions, I think. But contempt for someone you
    share a combat outpost with doesn’t last very long. I mean, down in
    Restrepo, there were guys who really
    disliked each other but no one had contempt
    for anyone else. You don’t want to have
    contempt for someone whom you may be counting
    on to put a tourniquet on your femoral artery bleed. And that’s what we’re
    doing in this country. We have contempt for
    people we may actually depend on for our lives. I mean, we don’t know
    if or when this country will be turned into one
    huge combat outpost. We have no idea when
    that’s going to happen. It happened in Houston
    and everyone acted well. But we’re really gambling
    with this country of sort of institutionalizing
    this partisan rhetoric where we actually have a kind
    of deep loathing for half the country. Are you insane? It doesn’t work. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. You mentioned moral
    courage and then there was another courage,
    which was more of like saving someone [INAUDIBLE] or whatnot. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. So from studies of
    sort of bystander rescues from fires
    and other catastrophes that happen sort
    of spontaneously in the world, what they
    know from the statistics of these incidents is
    that the vast majority– 98% or something like that– of bystanders who spontaneously
    expose themselves to danger to rescue people they don’t know
    who are in a burning building or whatever, almost 100%
    of the people that do that are male, particularly
    young male. And they will risk their lives
    particularly for children– in this order, for children,
    for young women, for old people, and eventually for young men. Young men are the first to
    rescue and the last to get rescued, as they should be. Young men in genetic terms are
    very replaceable in society, young women are not. I mean, the constraint on
    the health of a society is the number of young
    women, not the number of young men, which
    is one of the reasons that young men are sent into
    the meat grinder of World War I. If the troops in World
    War I had been young women, Europe wouldn’t exist anymore. It would be over. Europe recovered quite
    quickly from World War I because it was almost
    exclusively young males that were getting killed. Had it been millions
    of young women, we would still be seeing
    the consequences of that in the demographics over there. So those are the statistics. Like it or not, those
    are the statistics. People using their free will
    walking down the street, whether they risk their lives
    to save somewhere or not, it’s almost 100% male. That doesn’t mean that men
    are braver than women– it doesn’t mean that at all. There are different
    kinds of courage. And there’s also moral
    courage that does not depend on sort of a physical reaction. So men are adapted to that
    kind of physical feat. On average, we’re 20%
    larger and stronger than women are on average. But there are moral
    decisions that don’t depend on physical strength. So during World War II,
    a very serious decision that families had to make
    was the Germans are coming, here’s this Jewish family
    we don’t even know. They just showed
    up in our driveway. Are we going to hide
    them in the basement? We’re Gentiles, we don’t have
    a problem with the Nazis. We’re fine. But here’s this Jewish family,
    they’re fleeing the Germans. Do we hide them or not? If we hide them,
    they may survive. We don’t know them, we
    don’t owe them anything, they just showed up. If we hide them,
    they may survive. If we hide them and the
    Germans discover that, everybody’s dead. So women were significantly
    more likely to make that morally courageous choice
    of hiding a family of people they don’t know who would
    be killed by the Nazis, more likely them men were. It didn’t require scaling
    a burning building, jumping onto the railroad tracks
    to help someone with a train. It didn’t require
    a physical act. Men, frankly, are more adapted
    to that kind of physical act. But it required
    incredible courage, and that’s moral courage. And it’s equally
    important and you can’t have a humane
    and civil society if people are not willing
    to act with moral courage. And moral courage doesn’t just
    mean sacrificing your life. It may mean sacrificing
    your career. It actually may mean standing
    on principle and saying, I cannot abide this,
    I’m stepping down. I’m not running for Senate
    next year or whatever. There’s principles
    that I have that I value more than my career
    more than my party, more than anything. And as Martin Luther said, here
    I stand for I can do no other. That’s moral courage. It doesn’t have to
    be life and death. SPEAKER 1: Can we talk about
    reintegration of veterans into our society? You mentioned World
    War II and much more casualties than what’s going
    on in Iraq and Afghanistan, PTSD rates were a much higher
    in Iraq and Afghanistan than they were
    after World War II. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. So we’re social primates. We clearly were adapted
    to recover from trauma because the natural world
    is incredibly traumatizing– forest fires, floods,
    predators, enemies. If a significant
    proportion of human beings were psychologically
    incapacitated by trauma and could not
    function and it had to be taken care of
    by everybody else, the human race wouldn’t exist. One lion attack in
    the camp, everyone is incapacitated and curled
    up in the fetal position and everyone starves. It can’t work that way. We recover from trauma,
    we’re survivors, were an incredibly
    resilient species. We can survive virtually
    anything psychologically. It’s extraordinary
    what we can survive. That psychological
    survival is greatly aided by the
    community of others. We have a very hard time. Traumatize a rat and put
    it in a cage by itself, the rat doesn’t do very well. That’s what we are. We’re traumatized rats
    in cages by ourselves. And the problem
    with modern society is that we go into
    combat in groups, we come back
    individually, and we disperse to our
    single-family homes our apartments, our stratified
    society where rich and poor are not in it together, the
    political parties aren’t in it together, the races
    are not in it together, and everyone is living basically
    in these little cubby holes. That does not help our
    psychological adaptation to trauma, it doesn’t
    help our healing. And so every
    generation in America has gotten wealthier
    and more individualized. So my wife is the
    youngest of 12 kids. Her dad was 55
    when she was born. He fought in World War II from
    North Africa to Sicily, Italy; south coast of France;
    all the way through France to Austria– the whole deal
    as a lieutenant and a captain. They just kept replacing
    men underneath him. He was wounded many times– I mean, a level of
    trauma that very few in the current wars I think
    have undergone, thank god. He came home to
    his hometown and he lived within a few blocks of his
    six brothers, who had all also served. The transition from the
    battlefields to the home really wasn’t much
    of a transition because when those guys
    got home, everywhere they turned there
    were other people who had been on the battlefield. It was a large scale war that
    involved the entire country in one way or another. That’s no longer true. I’m not saying that as a moral
    judgment, it’s just reality. That’s no longer true. We don’t need a massive military
    like we did in World War II. That’s great. There’s a real upside to that. But the downside is that
    when people come home, chances are they can’t
    sit on their front porch and look around and say, that
    guy’s a vet, that guy’s a vet, and that guy’s a vet. If I’m feeling a
    little weird one day, I can just go over
    and knock on his door and we can have a beer
    together and talk about it. That’s not possible anymore. The kind of community
    that happens on Facebook is better than nothing,
    but it’s not community. It really isn’t. It’s a pale
    substitute for sitting on a porch drinking a beer with
    somebody and really talking. SPEAKER 1: Do we have
    any audience questions? AUDIENCE: So on that
    note, I had a question about technology’s
    role in society and where you see that going. Because I know a lot of
    ways you can take that, but one conversation
    that happens a lot out here is about the eventual
    obsolescence of human labor. And I mean, there’s a
    robot mowing the lawn right now so it makes sense. So what are your thoughts
    on just the general role of technology in society and
    people being able to feel needed? SEBASTIAN JUNGER: I mean,
    in general, modern society requires less and less of
    the individual’s input, and there’s a real
    psychological harm there. So there’s one study I saw
    comparing depression rates in urban and rural
    North America compared to urban and rural Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the
    poorest, most messed up, chaotic, and violent
    countries in the world. I’ve worked there, it’s a
    very tough place to work. The lowest depression rates
    were rural Nigeria, which is also the poorest population. When people don’t have
    a lot of resources, they have to act collectively,
    and in that collective action they are buffered from their
    psychological troubles. In the wealthiest
    societies, there’s very little collective
    action because everyone is wealthy enough to
    take care of everything. Instead of a neighborhood of
    10 homes having one lawnmower that they share, everyone
    has their own lawnmower. That’s great, it’s
    also not great. So as you automate
    things people, need each other less
    and less and just engage with each other less and less. And there’s a real harm there. And so we know in the
    last 10, 15 years suicide rates, depression rates, anxiety
    rates have all been going up. And I can’t prove– I’m not interested in
    proof somehow proving that that’s the
    effect of the internet and social media on our sort
    of collective mental health, but it is interesting
    to note that it exactly coincides with young
    people shifting the central energy of
    their social interactions from one-on-one in the
    same room to online. The shift has happened
    in the last 10 years and the anxiety
    rates in young people have skyrocketed, as have
    suicide and everything else. So I think the great
    lie of our generation is the phrase social media. It’s really not social media,
    it’s anti-social media. It has great applications. It’s great for disseminating
    information, organizing people. I mean, the internet is amazing. God forbid we lose it. All of human knowledge
    in this little machine– I mean, it’s incredible. But I say it’s anti-social media
    because when you put people in a group– when you
    put them in a room, you put them in a restaurant– they will ignore
    each other in order to pay attention to something
    that basically is just ones and zeros on the screen. If you saw 10 friends, people
    who actually like each other, standing around all
    reading their own book, you would think these people
    need to be institutionalized, there’s something
    seriously wrong with them. That is not human behavior,
    that is not social behavior. And I think it’s really costing
    young people psychologically. SPEAKER 1: I have
    an online question. You mentioned how important
    being part of a tribe is. What are some
    strategies and methods folks can use to find the level
    of connection you discuss? It seems many groups
    and organizations fail to give most people the
    depth of connection they’re seeking. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Yeah. I mean, a real tribal community
    is one that lives around you; that you depend on for
    your food, for your safety. I mean, it’s a living group– I mean, in the classic
    sense of the word tribe. We’re not going to burn down
    the suburbs, ban the car, and start living in sort
    of collective units. I mean, obviously
    that’s not what we’re talking about as a solution. So how can we have it all? How can we enjoy the benefits
    of this modern society? And the benefits are enormous. I mean, we’d need a whole other
    hour just to enumerate them. We’re very, very lucky
    to live in this society in all kinds of ways. But how can we have
    that and reclaim some of the sort of communal
    energy and connection that clearly makes
    people feel good and that arises
    spontaneously in a crisis like a war or a catastrophe? How can we have that communal
    thing without the crisis, without the war? You have to do it proactively. You have to say, I want
    to make that happen. It will happen naturally if we
    get slammed with a hurricane, but let’s not wait for that. Let’s make it happen. And I think there’s a few
    things we could do as a nation. The largest community we’re
    part of is the nation. I think national
    mandatory national service with a military option. I think it’s immoral
    to force someone to fight a war they
    don’t believe in, but it’s entirely
    moral to require that someone put
    some time and energy into this incredible collective
    experiment called the United States and democracy. I think it’s entirely
    moral to require that and I think it’s quite helpful. I think it’s good. It gives people a sense
    of belonging to something, a sense of meaning. It also mixes rich and poor,
    black and white, religious and non-religious. It mixes everybody up
    like the military does. That’s one of the great
    things about the US military, it mixes everybody
    up and stirs them up and judges them
    on their behavior and not on their skin
    color or how much money they have or whatever else. That would be an amazing
    thing for this country. And I defy the two political
    parties to divide us if we have all had two years
    of national service behind us and we know people from
    these other demographics that our leaders would
    want to demonize. I defy the GOP and the DNC
    to divide us with that. The other thing, I think it
    would be extremely important as a people to demand that
    our politicians refrain from contemptuous
    rhetoric, I mean rhetoric that undermines our
    sense of unity as a nation. It’s protected
    under free speech. Free speech is sacred, you
    don’t want to mess with that. But that doesn’t
    mean that that kind of really toxic
    partisan rhetoric shouldn’t be condemned. And I think if we
    asked our government to form a committee that would
    examine toxic partisan rhetoric and condemn it in a bipartisan
    way, that would actually communicate a lot to
    the rest of this nation that we actually are a nation. People who have harmed
    this country really, really badly like the dozen
    or so mostly white men who collapsed the
    economy in 2008, that you can harm this country that badly
    and not pay any consequence means we’re not a nation. Bowe Bergdahl
    betrayed this country, he might spend life in prison. I don’t think he harmed the
    country in a material way, but he certainly betrayed us. He might spend his
    life in prison. But the dozen or so men
    who collapsed our economy and cost us all $14 trillion,
    not one of those guys was even indicted. What’s that communicate to us
    as to whether you we’re unified or not, whether
    we’re a tribe or not? Of course we’re not. You can hurt us that badly. I mean, you can punch
    my sister in the face and I won’t do
    anything about it? That’s not a family. What is that? That’s us right now as a nation. Those people should
    be in court– I almost said in prison. Those people should be in court. And finally, at
    the personal level, you can go out and find things
    that feel communal and good and feel that when
    you’re in that place, people are judged
    on their own merits and not for their
    role in society, their position in society. So one thing I’ve found, I
    was a long distance runner for a very long time. I was a pretty good runner as
    a kid, I ran some good times. As I got older, I couldn’t run
    as much and I started boxing– a really scary, tough sport. I wouldn’t say I’m
    particularly good at it, but I would say that it’s
    pretty much consumed me. I don’t know why. The thing that I
    really like about it, other than just the insane
    physical effort of it– which I for some reason
    need something like that– what I really like about
    it is that at the gym, I go to Mendez Boxing in New
    York City, it’s a basement gym, it’s been around for 30 years,
    you leave your street identity when you walk in that
    door down the staircase. You could be a poor
    kid from Brooklyn, you could be a suit from Wall
    Street coming to work out at lunchtime and
    there’s no prejudice, there’s no bias in
    either direction. You’re not judged for either. You’re judged for how you act. And if you respect
    and honor the sport and respect the other people
    in the gym and you work hard, it doesn’t matter if
    you are a Golden Glove champion or a 55-year-old guy
    who just took up the sport. It doesn’t matter,
    you have respect. That is a tribal type community
    and it’s an amazing thing. And it’s one of the reasons
    the poor kids from Brooklyn and the suits from
    Wall Street all go there and spend a huge
    amount of their energy devoted to this thing that
    will probably not pay off in any athletic sense. But it’s clearly important. So you can find
    things like that that operate on those terms that
    are incredibly healthy. SPEAKER 1: I’ve got a question. On a recent podcast,
    you shared your vision for how civilians can better
    support our troops when they come home. Do you have any
    tangible suggestions for how Googlers
    can make veterans feel like they’re welcome
    and part of our Google tribe? SEBASTIAN JUNGER:
    So on my website, sebastianjunger.com, there’s
    something called Veteran Town Hall. And the idea is really simple. It’s based on ceremonies
    that Native American tribes in this country would
    conduct with warriors who had come back from combat. It’s very, very simple. The idea is that
    people who fight, warriors fight for their tribe,
    their community, their people. And when they come
    back, that community must know and
    deserves to know what that was like for the
    warrior and that there’s an incredibly cathartic value in
    the warrior explaining what he or she did for the community. But there’s also a real
    value in the community taking on the moral burdens and
    the triumphs of the warrior so they’re all in it together. And so obviously, we live in
    a de-ritualized, non-tribal society but we might be able
    to recapture some of that. So the idea that I had
    was that on Veterans Day, instead of the parade which I
    don’t think parades have high therapeutic value for
    people particularly, or in addition to the parade,
    the town hall gets opened up– they’re not doing business,
    it’s Veterans Day– and veterans of any war
    who served in any capacity get 10 minutes to talk
    about how it felt to serve. And if you say, I
    support the troops, that means actually going to
    the town hall and listening. And you might be a super
    conservative patriotic kind of person who really doesn’t
    want to hear a Vietnam vet scream at you for 10 minutes for
    having to fight a war that he didn’t believe in. You may not want to do
    that, but you know what? He’s your countryman and
    you paid for that war and he had to fight it and
    you didn’t, he fought for you. You need to listen. You might be a
    super lefty anti-war and you really don’t want to
    hear some young guy saying that his experience
    in the military was the very best thing that
    ever could have happened to him and he misses it. You may not want to
    hear that, but you what? He’s your fellow citizen. You pay for that war whether
    you agreed to it or not. It was your taxes that sent that
    guy over there so hear him out. You may learn something. And everyone might be
    quite uncomfortable to have someone stand up, and I’ve
    seen this, and basically be crying too hard to really
    talk coherently because they’re trying to explain how their
    brother got shot and killed right next to them and
    they should have died, not the other guy and they
    have the guilt of survival with the rest of their life. We all need to hear that. And so when you do that,
    you are basically saying, we’re a community as a nation,
    we’re a community as a town. The people that have
    served this country, we honor them even if
    we disagree with them, but we’re here for them
    and we’ll hear you. As long as you need to
    talk, we’re here to listen. And that’s an extremely
    important process for both sides. SPEAKER 1: Thank you. That was an excellent response. Do we have anymore
    audience questions? Awesome. Well, thank you so
    much for joining. We really appreciate it. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: My pleasure. SPEAKER 1: We love all the
    work you do and to please continue making documentaries
    and books because we definitely will be buying them. SEBASTIAN JUNGER: Thank you. I really enjoyed
    talking to you guys. Thank you for sticking it
    out for the full two hours. That’s great. Thank you. I really appreciate it. [APPLAUSE]

    China’s New “Silk Road”: Future MEGAPROJECTS
    Articles, Blog

    China’s New “Silk Road”: Future MEGAPROJECTS

    August 18, 2019


    Having recently completed both the world’s
    most extensive system of expressways and the planet’s longest high speed rail network,
    China is now looking beyond its borders for opportunities to keep building. President Xi Jinping announced at a recent
    summit that Beijing has sealed megaproject deals with 65 countries throughout Eurasia
    and Africa to construct ports, power stations, rail lines, roads, and all the tunnels and
    bridges needed to connect them back to mainland China. At a total cost of over $1 trillion, the One
    Belt, One Road initiative is unprecedented in size and scope. So is the bold funding mechanism: China will
    use its large, state-run banks to provide most of the financing, a risky move, when
    you consider how few of the nations in the O.B.O.R. could afford something like this
    on their own. “Oh,” say the leaders of economically-challenged,
    underdeveloped Laos, Yemen, or Ethiopia — or the blood-soaked regime of Bashar al-Assad
    in war-ravaged Syria — “you want to loan us billions of dollars to build some cool
    stuff in our countries? Of course, why not!?” China is hard-selling the project as a way
    to boost its westward connections, an update of the silk road trade route that played a
    significant role in developing China and the rest of the region 1,000 years ago. But many analysts see this comparison as little
    more than a marketing pitch. Al Jazeera clip: “Is the real point of this,
    East-West service then simply to boost China’s westward connections? [Pauline Loong] “Well I wouldn’t say simply
    to boost China’s westward connections, but I totally agree with Charles that it’s more
    a PR stunt. To call it the “Silk Road,” that’s really
    brilliant—evocative of romantic camel travels in the past. When, you know, you have these lovely silks
    and trade and so forth. And it’s good, because look at all the headlines
    it has been getting, but in practical terms, it’s early days yet.” [Bryce] Aside from the lessons China learned
    from its own recent infrastructure boom, Beijing is also drawing inspiration from the American
    Marshall Plan which financed the rebuilding of Western Europe after it was decimated during
    the second world war. That program was worth the equivalent of $130
    billion in today’s dollars and ensured the US had reliable export markets for the manufactured
    goods and machinery its growing economy had become dependent on producing. China’s modern version — first announced
    in 2013 — is the signature initiative of President Xi Jinping. Several projects have already been completed. Earlier this year London became the 15th European
    city connected directly to China through an ever-expanding global rail system, meaning
    freight trains loaded with goods can now arrive after a 12,000km journey all the way from
    the east coast of the landmass. And, at a cost of $4 billion, China also just
    completed Africa’s first transnational electric railway, which runs 466 miles from Djibouti
    to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Chinese companies designed the system, built
    the line, and supplied the train cars. The many other projects under the O.B.O.R.
    umbrella include: A $6 billion, 260-mile railway connecting
    eight Asian countries. Desperately needed power plants to address
    Pakistan’s chronic electricity shortage, part of a larger $46 billion investment by
    China in Pakistan aimed at offsetting the American and Japanese-backed building boom
    happening in neighboring India, China and Pakistan’s mutual rival. Train lines will connect Budapest to Belgrade,
    Serbia, providing another artery for Chinese goods to reach Europe after arriving in a
    Chinese-owned port in Greece. And — in a move that adds prestige to O.B.O.R. — China is financing more than a third of
    the $23.7 billion cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in southwest England. Part of the challenge in analyzing whether
    this building boom is ultimately good for the world is its sheer complexity. Nothing like this has ever been done before
    in human history. Yes, providing underdeveloped countries a
    chance to have better transportation infrastructure, or cleaner power plants is a good thing. But, by funding infrastructure that’s designed
    to enhance commerce and trade — instead of basic services many of these countries
    need more, like clean drinking water, affordable housing, and better education — China’s
    motives seem to favor the wealthy, elite business class. Here are other factors that explain why China
    is undertaking a project of this magnitude: The Communist Party has staked its reputation
    on non-stop economic growth. Since they hold all the power, the Chinese
    people expect them to deliver. But with its domestic megaproject boom nearing
    completion, China must find new buyers for all the steel, cement, and construction machinery
    its economy produces, or many of its factories could grind to a halt. It has decided the solution is One Belt, One
    Road, but lending hundreds of billions of dollars to many countries with weak credit
    ratings and unstable political systems is very risky. Which reveals an underlying sense you get
    when you look closely at One Belt One Road: China’s increasing desperation. The country’s national debt is already very
    high, but borrowing continues to accelerate at historic levels as state owned banks loan
    more and more money to state owned companies. The prime example of the risks associated
    with the tight rope the Communist Party is trying to walk was the government bailouts
    issued during China’s recent stock market collapse. That crisis was caused by the same sense of
    impatience that’s driving O.B.O.R.—the Party’s need to feed the insatiable economic
    growth monster. Using its powerful propaganda machine, Beijing
    urged its own people to invest their savings heavily in its immature, unstable market—causing
    inexperienced citizens to treat investments in companies like bets at a casino, creating
    a huge bubble that, naturally, burst. The government then suspended trading for
    a while and pumped billions into the system to avoid a total collapse. So really, when you step back, the core motivation
    for One Belt, One Road boils down to the Communist Party’s need to buy itself more time in
    order to come up with its next scheme to prop up the economy, because when it inevitably
    slows down, which it’s already starting to do, the Party’s promise to deliver a
    fantastic economic dream world will have been proven false for everyone in China but the
    elites. The silver lining is that many of the ventures
    China has undertaken will pay long-term dividends, like building up its high-tech manufacturing
    sector, with the anticipation that when OBOR’s transportation networks are complete, it will
    be ready to use them to deliver higher-cost goods like iPhones, drones, and green energy
    technologies to the rest of the world. The other major motivating factor here is
    the unmistakable opportunity to gain even-power status with the United States in Asia. The election of Donald Trump, and then his
    decision to walk away from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that would have hurt
    China, are massive geopolitical mistakes—completely unforced errors that China intends to take
    full advantage of. When it first announced the O.B.O.R. back
    in 2013, Barack Obama had just begun his second term and the US pivot to Asia was in full
    force. With rivals like Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam
    challenging China’s efforts to control maritime trade routes, it was clear China was being
    hemmed in on its Eastern flank. Despite the election of Trump, this is still
    true. So by instead turning instead to the vast
    land mass to the west for new opportunities, China minimizes its reliance on maritime trade
    routes that could be cut off in the event of a destabilizing military conflict. At the end of the day, China is all about
    business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a democracy,
    a dictatorship, or a failed state, China wants to work with you. But this willingness to embrace some of the
    world’s more unsavory characters could backfire. Just look who Xi is sitting next to at the
    O.B.O.R. summit: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan—two men who look
    more and more like dictators clinging to power with each passing day. That’s not a good look for China, and it
    reminds us that the Communist Party is even less transparent. But in a world where the President of the
    United States is a bumbling fool, these partnerships create much less of an image problem now than
    they would have just a few months ago, when the widely admired Barack Obama was leading
    the free world. If you ask the Chinese, the O.B.O.R. is all
    about peace, an embrace of the concept of coop-etition. A generation ago it was unthinkable for a
    country to invest billions of dollars on infrastructure in another country, but in our hyper-globalized
    world, dominated by interconnected markets, it may become the norm, especially when we
    consider the intangible benefits—greater economic interdependence lowers the risk that
    groups of countries will want to fight with other groups of countries, many of whom are
    bound together by military alliances. Every one of these projects increases China’s
    soft power, giving Beijing more and more leverage in any future negotiation or military conflict. The many foreign seaports it will build and
    manage for the next half century will be particularly valuable chess pieces. Its understandable that Chinese policymakers
    are romanticizing One Belt, One Road as a crowning achievement for their nation—further
    recognition that it has regained its former status as a great civilization that deserves
    recognition around the world. But the reality is that it still has a long
    way to go. Combined, the following factors may weaken
    the optimistic sales pitches being made to foreign officials: a recent Oxford business
    school study argued that half of Chinese domestic megaprojects actually destroyed, not generated
    economic value; a few of China’s previous efforts to build megaprojects in foreign countries
    — like the A2 motorway in Poland — failed miserably; landowners and their representatives
    in the national assemblies of host countries are pushing back hard against attempts to
    take away their land; and public demonstrations against some the projects are beginning to
    take root, and spread. Another dose of reality that should sober
    Beijing is that— after analyzing China’s overleveraged financial position — its credit
    rating was just downgraded by a major agency, whose analysts concluded that its borrowing
    is raising red flags, and its economic growth will continue to slow down. Of course, none of these speed bumps is going
    to stop the Communist Party from attempting to execute their great leap. They are committed 100% to embracing a fundamental
    history lesson — one we were all reminded of by Brexit’s improbable win and the unlikely
    ascendence of Donald Trump — that fortune favors the bold—at least, in the short run. Thanks for watching. Get caught up on all of China’s major domestic
    megaprojects with the mini-documentary I made last year, which started some interesting
    conversations. To learn even more, and to support our work,
    sign up for a free 30-trial of Audible.com — linked below — and you’ll get one
    free audio download, like the great courses on The Fall and Rise of China. Until next time, for TDC, I’m Bryce Plank.

    A Bridge Between the USA and Russia
    Articles, Blog

    A Bridge Between the USA and Russia

    August 15, 2019


    The relationship between the USA and Russia is complicated. JFK: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile, launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States.” *Intense laughter* JFK: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Their rivalry defined the second half of the 20th century. Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.” Millions are spent each year trying to improve relations, and even more spent undermining them again. To many their opposites; chalk and cheese, vodka and apple pie, Oceania vs Eurasia, East vs West. It’s easy to forget that only 51 miles separates them. If we’re going to spend so much time, energy and money trying to build bridges between Russia and America, then why not just build an actual bridge? In 1986 Ronald Reagan gave engineer Tung Yun Lin a National Medal of Science, Lin handed back to him a 16-page plan for an intercontinental peace bridge. Whether for environmental, financial, or political reasons a bridge across the Bering Strait has been on someone’s agenda ever since. Most of this talk has come to nothing, but in 2015 Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping started to make some actual plans. *Theme music* The Bering Strait is a 51 mile sea passage separating Siberia and Alaska. In 1867 the US bought Alaska for 7.2 million dollars or 2 cents an acre. This created a new border right down the middle separating two small islands, Big Diomede (Russian), and Little Diomede (now American). The same boundary is followed today by the International Date Line, giving the Diomedes the adorable nicknames of “Tomorrow Island” and “Yesterday Isle”. Ever since the Cold War Big Diomede and most of Russia’s Eastern Shore has been a military zone. No travel is permitted. In fact, you can’t arrive or depart there even with a Russian visa. The closest you can get is the port of Provideniya, and even then you should probably get permission before rocking up. This hasn’t stopped people trying though, in 2006 Karl Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer navigated the strait’s ice floes on foot. However Lynne Cox swam between the Diomedes in 1987, The public support was so immense that Reagan and Gorbachev thanked her at the signing of the nuclear forces treaty. Gorbachev: “It took a daring American girl by the name of Lynne Cox a mere two hours to swim the distance separating our two countries, By her courage she showed how close to each other our two peoples live.” Trump: “We’re not gonna let them violate a nuclear agreement, and go out and do weapons. So we’re going to terminate the agreement. We’re gonna pull out.” We could really do with another Lynne Cox right now. Something to bring the US and Russia together. The whole world a little closer. Even if it has to be marketed to us as a trade deal or a “Trans-Pacific Infrastructure Investment”. A bridge would be a common project, a physical link forcing superpowers to cooperate. But ignoring all political and financial hurdles for now. Is it even possible? Currently the world’s longest sea bridge is 34 miles across, Connecting Hong Kong to Zhuhai and Macau in China. And although the Bering Strait is 51 miles, the longest bridge you’d actually have to build would only be 26. The Diomedes make two perfect stopping points. You could build a US bridge on one side and a Russian bridge on the other. In fact, make it a race the loser has to build the three-mile bridge connecting the two. Construction would be slow, for seven months of the year the temperature is well below freezing, and although the Strait rarely freezes large chunks of ice are funneled through the passage from the Arctic. These ice floes would exert enormous pressure on any structure we built. There may be engineering solution around this, but perhaps the simplest would be to scrap the bridge and dig a tunnel. Tunnels may not lend themselves to metaphors as well, but they’re warmer, often cheaper over long distances, you can lay gas, oil, and electricity alongside. They’re protected from harsh weather, and ships can still pass above them. With the Arctic ice caps melting, the Bering Strait could become a very busy shipping lane in the next 20 years. The Strait is relatively shallow, the maximum depth is only 55 metres. The Channel Tunnel is a hundred metres below sea level. That opened in 1994 connecting the UK to Europe, and that relationship is going swimmingly. A tunnel (unlike a bridge) doesn’t have to intersect the Diomedes, it can start and end at more convenient points. But therein lies the problem. There are no convenient points. Here’s a map of the Alaskan and Siberian road networks, the closest highways are 2,000 miles apart. In Russia anything east of Magadan is impossible to get to by car. And although there are plans for major Alaskan routes, anything west of Fairbanks is tricky. Tunnelling under the Bering Strait would be the easy part, you’d also have to build thousands of miles of roads, over rough terrain, in incredibly harsh conditions. And after all that you’ve still got to persuade people to drive it. The only sensible option would be a train. You’ll still face all the same obstacles during construction, but a warm high-speed railroad from Anchorage to Vladivostok is way more convenient than a 60 hour drive through the Arctic. The main use of such a railroad would be freight. If we extend the network through North America and into China, it could transport a significant amount of the world’s cargo. But now we’ve got one of the biggest engineering projects in the world, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. Is there a need for it? An Arctic railroad would have to compete with our existing freight network, boats and planes. The busiest shipping route in the world by cargo is China to North America. So let’s say we want to ship one metric ton between the two busiest ports, Shanghai to Vancouver. We’ve got four options; ship, air, rail ,and road. A boat can do it in 15 to 20 days, cost us $300, and produce 225kg of CO2. Plane: 1 day, $3,500, 4,400kg. A train: 2 to 4 days, $400, 630kg. And a truck: 7 to 10 days, $900, 1,050kg. If speed is the priority and money no object, a plane is the way to go. But if speed doesn’t matter and you want the best value for money then shipping is the clear winner. Ships and planes account for 90% of global trade, that is a lot of fuel being burned all day, every day. Diesel trains are not environmentally friendly, but both Alaska and Siberia have stores of untapped geothermal energy. We need to replace as many major transport routes as possible with renewable alternatives, and high-speed electric trains are one of them. There’d definitely be a market for an Arctic railroad, it would dramatically improve travel time without an enormous increase in price. Whether it would be profitable for whoever built it though is another matter. It would have to be a financier with very deep pockets, and probably an ulterior motive. That pretty much leaves three options; Russia, America, or China. China are building railways and shipping ports everywhere. They’re already building high-speed railways connecting Europe, Africa and Asia. All with China as the central hub. They don’t just want to be at the crossroads. They want to be the crossroads, for all future international trade and transport. That means North and South America are definitely on the agenda. In fact, they proposed a high-speed railway connecting china to the US in 2007. Putin has given China approval to build through Siberia. And then in 2015 China and Russia announced they were collaborating, to build the Siberia and Alaska passage together. This is mostly just talk, but it’s getting louder and more frequent. There’s a reasonable chance of it happening with or without US involvement. It would be a real shame if multiple countries didn’t cooperate on this project. Not to mention the dangerous power dynamic it could create. An Arctic railroad connecting China, Russia, and the US would be an amazing achievement. An opportunity for three superpowers, currently jostling for their place in the century, to collaborate on a common project. One that could genuinely improve the world, environmentally, financially, and politically.

    Ultra High Speed Cameras – How do you film a tank shell in flight or a Nuclear bomb test?
    Articles, Blog

    Ultra High Speed Cameras – How do you film a tank shell in flight or a Nuclear bomb test?

    August 15, 2019


    In my last video I looked railguns, now
    whilst I was reviewing the footage I started wondering how they filmed the
    projectiles in flight. These are not the typical sort of high-speed camera shots
    where you see a bullet hitting a target for example, these are tracking the
    projectile from the barrel down the firing range. From the footage it looks
    like the camera is panning around and following the projectile but that would
    be impossible, the tank round is traveling at over 1,500 meters per
    second and would normally look like this. For all of you out there who said it’s
    done with mirrors then you are absolutely correct.
    It works by having a computer-controlled high-speed rotating mirror in line of
    sight of a high-speed camera. The speed of the rotation of a mirror matches that
    of the object being followed so the faster the object is traveling like a
    railgun projectile the faster the mirror would turn to keep up with it. Using this
    method the object can be kept in the field of view for a hundred meters or so
    or about ninety degrees of the mirrors movement. In this example the tracker 2
    from specialized imaging you can see the mirror and to its left where the camera
    is. Because the mirror is computer-controlled it can be programmed
    to follow objects that accelerate even linearly or non linearly. Now rotating
    mirrors aren’t new in fact they were some of the first high-speed cameras and
    are still some of the fastest in the world capable of up to 25 million frames
    per second and were used to record atom bomb blasts. During the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb they required cameras that could record the
    first few microseconds of explosion. In order to create a nuclear chain reaction
    and achieve critical mass a baseball-sized piece of plutonium had to
    be compressed to about half its size. This was achieved by using an array of
    focused high explosive lenses surrounding the plutonium core. In order
    to make it work effectively the explosives 32 of them in all had to be
    triggered within one microsecond, if any were delayed then the compression
    of the core would be unequal and the reaction would even be much less or may
    not even happen at all. Using a super high-speed camera it will
    be possible to see how effective the explosive lenses had been just a few
    microseconds after detonation. At the time the fastest cameras were Fastax
    cine cameras and could achieve around 10,000 frames per second or one frame
    per hundred microseconds, this still wasn’t fast enough though. The first
    high-speed rotating mirror camera was the Marley, invented by of a British
    physicist William Gregory Marley, the Marley camera used a rotating mirror an
    array of lenses inside a curved housing each focused onto a single piece of film
    around the edge of the case. This could record a sequence of up to 50 images
    onto 35 millimeter film at a 100,000 frames per second. But by the
    time of a Trinity test it was outdated and too slow to record the ultra quick
    reaction in the plutonium core. Head of the photography unit Julian Mack said that
    the fixed short focus and low quality of the lenses would probably have made the
    Marley camera pictures useless. He helped develop the Mack Streak camera
    which had a 10 million frames per second limit, thats one frame every hundred
    nanoseconds. By the 1950s Harold Edgerton had developed the Rapatronic camera
    the name coming from Rapid Action Electronic this used a magneto-optic
    shutter which allowed it to have an exposure time as short as 10 nanoseconds
    thats ten billionths of a second. This was first used with a hydrogen bomb test of
    Eniwetok Atoll in 1952. However they only took one image so to
    see the first few microseconds of a nuclear detonation up to 10 were used
    in sequence with an average exposure time of three microseconds. The images
    were then played back and blended together to give the impression of a
    film. For the British nuclear tests the Atomic Weapons Research
    Establishment created for C4, a huge rotating mirror camera weighing in at
    around 2,000 kilograms and was the fastest in
    the world at the time. This could record up to 7 million frames per second who
    have a mirror rotating up to 300,000 revolutions per minute and recorded the
    first British atom bomb test on the 3rd of October 1952. The rotating mirror
    cameras are still in use today but now they use highly sensitive CCDs
    to replace the filmstrip. The Brandaris 128 and Cordin model 510 have 128 CCD’s and a gas driven turbine mirror driven by helium to achieve up to 25
    million frames per second at a resolution of 500 x 292 pixels for the
    brand iris and 616 x 920 pixels of recording. At 25 million
    frames per second the mirror itself is running at 1.2 million
    revolutions per minute that’s 20,000 revolutions per second so fast of the
    atmosphere inside the camera is 98% helium to reduce for friction and the
    pressure waves that would occur in normal air. And so onto something I think
    you may find rather interesting. It’s not the fastest camera in the world but this
    one is or it was at the time in 2013 the fastest real-time tracker of a moving
    object and was developed by the Ishikawa Oku Lab at the University of Tokyo. Here
    it is tracking a ping pong ball and keeping it in the center of a frame all
    times both during a game and when it is being spun around on a piece of string.
    It does this by moving two mirrors in front of the camera one for the X
    movement and Yvon for the Y movement it then uses software similar to face
    tracking software to provide feedback to control the mirrors with a response time
    of just one millisecond. It can also be used to control a projector and in this
    scene it’s projecting an image onto the ping-pong ball whilst it’s been bounced
    on the bat, you can see the little face change on the ball at the top of its
    travel. So anyways I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the equipment behind some of the most amazing footage recorded to date
    these aren’t the fastest cameras in the world now but it’s still amazing to
    think what can be achieved by mechanical means. So as always thanks for watching
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