dough560 on July 12, 2010, 03:52:54 am
I'm currently operating a 2000 ton press in the stamping section of a auto plant.  We work hard at stopping stupid before it occurs.  I'd rather keep what I have instead of losing pieces or my life. 

J Thomas on July 13, 2010, 09:26:00 am
I'll buy that.  Plutonium in nature occurs in amounts calculable in 'parts per trillion'.  Usable amounts have to be synthesized from uranium.  Now we get to find out whether this is the characters making a mistake that the author is using as a plot device, the author has decided that we are in a universe that varies from from the real world, or the author has slipped up.

Imagine a plutonium storage device that consists of many small compartments containing little bits of plutonium, and the compartments themselves are made of hafnium. Then you might get a significant amount of plutonium in one place that was relatively stable.

Could such a thing survive 30,000 years, from the last time humans went to space? Maybe....

What if instead somebody carefully hid a lot of plutonium 15 years ago? Why would they do that? A powerful power plant? A bomb? It's been hidden for some time, as part of some subtle government plot, and it may have degraded some but still be usable. But no, that idea is not very plausible because if somebody had it hidden for some important plot, they would find ways to guard it. They would notice if somebody came along to dig it up and they'd have ways to stop them. Since nobody has done anything to stop the prospectors, it probably isn't what's going on.

Mabuse on July 14, 2010, 01:48:04 am
Since nobody has done anything to stop the prospectors, it probably isn't what's going on.


Well I think we can reconsider the prospect now.

deliberatus on July 28, 2010, 03:14:29 pm
What if it was a impacted power pack from a space probe from years gone by? The asteroids were (looking backwards from the time of the events in the strip) explored for many years by probes using fission related power, either reactors or isotope batteries. If it hit fast enough, it could have buried itself, with debris falling back in to cover it.

wdg3rd on July 28, 2010, 11:00:30 pm
What if it was a impacted power pack from a space probe from years gone by? The asteroids were (looking backwards from the time of the events in the strip) explored for many years by probes using fission related power, either reactors or isotope batteries. If it hit fast enough, it could have buried itself, with debris falling back in to cover it.

Can't think of any old or proposed space probe with anything within several orders of magnitude of that mass of plutonium (or whatever the masscon is made of).  Except for an Orion, but the plutonium in an Orion would in discrete pieces as separate strokes of the propulsion system.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

J Thomas on July 29, 2010, 11:28:15 am
Can't think of any old or proposed space probe with anything within several orders of magnitude of that mass of plutonium (or whatever the masscon is made of).  Except for an Orion, but the plutonium in an Orion would in discrete pieces as separate strokes of the propulsion system.

There could be one started after our time. I like it when Sandy provides foreshadowing of things like that ahead of time, but sometimes it would interrupt the story too much.

Another possibility would be something that a government secretly hid for some nefarious purpose. They think nobody will notice it, but somebody notices the mass and starts trying to mine it. The pirates could be government agents whose job is to protect it. Guys who get the job of fixing problems that hardly ever happen tend not to be first-class highly-competent agents....

dough560 on July 30, 2010, 01:41:57 am
J Thomas, I really hope you never have to bet your life on that belief.  People who do such jobs are competent and efficient.  The higher the level they work, the better their skills.  Amateurs need not apply.

J Thomas on July 30, 2010, 06:50:16 am
J Thomas, I really hope you never have to bet your life on that belief.  People who do such jobs are competent and efficient.  The higher the level they work, the better their skills.  Amateurs need not apply.

Dough560, my experience has been that all organisations have some slackers and incompetents who can't be fired, and whoever organises things tries to put them where they'll do the least harm. In lethal situations they tend to get killed off but typically they get some better people beside them killed first.

Defending a secret installation that could go for many years without being found is precisely the sort of job such people might be assigned. If you can rely on them not to reveal it, at least. They're out of the way and as long as they don't actually have to do anything they won't have chances to mess up.

That's certainly not the task you give to your best people. Those get active missions, and training in the meantime, so they stay sharp.

I don't know that these are government agents at all. But look what they've done. They stole the ship without B&E noticing, and presumably they've left B&E to die. But in reality by giving B&E the intiative it's completely predictable in the story that they will lose. If they were competent efficient government hitmen they would have killed B&E -- two shots. Bert would be dead and Ernie would have perhaps 2 seconds to react before he was dead too. Instead of wandering off to wait for B&E to die, they could then proceed immediately to the next step in their plan.

So quite likely they aren't government agents, because there are lots of other ways the plot can go. And if they are government agents they might have some sort of constraint that requires B&E to die naturally so it can look like sheer stupid accident. But without some special plot twist to give them a solid reason to do it that way, I can confidently say they are not super-competent agents. Because they have made a serious mistake that will make them *losers*.

Of course I hope I'll never run up against that sort of thing either. There's no reason for government agents to kill me, but if they did ever try the odds would be heavily in their favor. Like, I'm walking down the street thinking about a math problem and somebody comes within 4 feet in front of me and pulls out a gun, a .22 with hollow point and I don't notice. He shoots and misses. I look up and say "Did you hear a car backfire or something?" He shoots and misses. *Then* I have some sort of chance to do something to survive, assuming his backup is equally bad....

terry_freeman on August 02, 2010, 12:51:42 pm
From four feet, at an oblivious and nonresponsive target, "he shoots and misses?"

I suspect that even the average badgewearing donut feeder could manage such a shot, and have never been accused of overestimating their capabilities.

BMeph on August 02, 2010, 01:05:51 pm
... this is a classic example of how very smart people can do very stupid (and fatal) things.

Well, "smart" and "dumb" are relative term. Smart people are those that do dumb things more rarely than dumb people. It doesn't mean that they never do dumb things - I don't know if there's a word in English to describe such a person...  ;)

J Thomas on August 02, 2010, 03:15:32 pm
From four feet, at an oblivious and nonresponsive target, "he shoots and misses?"

I suspect that even the average badgewearing donut feeder could manage such a shot, and have never been accused of overestimating their capabilities.

Yes. I can't spend my life being ready for every possible setup. If somebody wants to kill me and I don't know about it ahead of time, they'll probably succeed even if they're not very competent. I have to live with that possibility.

dough560 on August 08, 2010, 06:44:55 pm
Security details will have at least a couple of really competent individuals.  The longer and more remote the location, the larger the force.  As for black operations.....  I would agree with a quick problem elimination.

Plane on August 08, 2010, 09:14:33 pm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklo

Uranium mines have been found in Gabon where the peculair formation of a uranium mine and interaction with the water table caused a self starting sustained reaction, a natural fission reactor pile, the effect on the ore was to deplete the fissionable isotopes.


How unlikely is a naturally occuring breeder reactor?

dough560 on August 08, 2010, 10:24:14 pm
There's a old saying, "If it can be imagined, it can happen."

wdg3rd on August 12, 2010, 01:13:17 am
Security details will have at least a couple of really competent individuals.  The longer and more remote the location, the larger the force.  As for black operations.....  I would agree with a quick problem elimination.

You may have known a few more security details than I have.  Never met any competent individuals in them .  But then I was never attached to any black ops, I just fixed their avionics [incompetent assholes] back in the 70s).

You type as though you respect those dicks.  Even when I was in the USAF, I didn't.  And that was well before I was actively libertarian, let alone anarchist (took a bit longer, I'm a slow learner).  (I was a relaxed libertarian [don't fuck with me, I won't fuck with you] until the IRS fucked with me).  (And every instance of the word F R A C K in this message is supposed to be F U C K, somebody has to adjust this forum to allow free speech or at least to enable the spell-check feature).
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

 

anything