Atomic Musings

Ok, yes, I should be editing.

No, wait, I shouldn’t be. It’s midnight, my eyes hurt, and I can’t think straight anymore.

There have been some tectonic shifts in Arctic Gale in the last 7 days. They are massive (to me) but the signs are subtle. I need to be on my a-game in order to make sure that nothing slips into the fault line and goes all 3.11 on me.

 

So, instead of fucking up chapter 14, I’m going to be happy that I’m not halfway through that process. I’m still on track to finish this week. Hooray.

 

I think I’ve mentioned before that I imagine a lot of the scenes that I write as a scene from a movie, then I write the parts that seem important to me. I guess that is why I suck at character development… On the upside, I spend a lot of time thinking about the sounds and sights that I’d like to see in a movie(/TV/Anime/whatever) adaption of whatever I’m writing.

In the last couple of days, there’s something that I’ve wanted to use the following sound in a story, somehow:

 

Nuclear war has always fascinated me. I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, so there was still a bit of paranoia around, but by the time I graduated high school the Berlin Wall was a tourist attraction and the USSR was something that hippies wore on their berets.

I’ve read a heck of a lot of stuff on nuclear weapons, and I even took a special credit course, “Special Topics in Military Physics” in University because it was one of the main reasons that I got into physics in the first place. And yes, we had to calculate yields of nuclear weapons for the final exam.

 

Let me make something clear though, I’m not a gung-ho, glass-the-fuckers nuclear weapons fan. They scare the shit out of me, but at the same time I am utterly fascinated by them, as a scientist and as a human. I’ve been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki a number of times, and yet when I see the museums and monuments there I still feel the echo of pain of the people that were forever changed in an instant.

 

I am fascinated by every aspect of nuclear war. I think one of the first things that triggered it was “War Games,” an 80’s movie where a kid accidentally tricks America’s war computer into thinking that there is a nuclear war with Russia, so it almost fires the US arsenal automatically. And, whilst that was just a movie, we’ve been pretty close to that for similarly stupid reasons before.

There are a few “iconic” sights and sounds of the atomic age. One is the “Sailor’s Hat” test where huge naval fleets were nuked to see what would happen. There’s the Ivy Mike test; the first thermonuclear weapon.

 

And yes, the tenuous link to Arctic Gale, the 10km-wide fireball of the Tsar Bomba exploded over Novaris Zemlya.

 

But the data-burst at the beginning of the Emergency Broadcast System has got to be one of those icons, at least from the audio side of things. Forget air-raid sirens, the trumpets of the apocalypse sound like a triplet of data bursts followed by an alert tone.

 

I was thinking recently how we are still really on a hair trigger with nuclear weapons. I think that the new, reduced levels of weapons and the general level of common sense means that chemical and biological weapons are scarier in terms of actual threat level, but part of nuclear doctrine is to make sure that your enemy knows that you are willing to strike without question if threatened.

 

So I kind of want to write something like that. Like Clear and Present Danger but when something actually happens in the end.

But for now, bed. Only 3 more days of Golden Week before heading back into reality…

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