I try to plug it whenever I can. It's an amazing piece of art, and it's one of the best ghost stories ever told.
Wow. It's gone.
And I didn't wget the video when I had the chance.
I can't believe it's gone. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14508078 All of them. There were like nine versions of the video, published by an anonymous author over the course of a year and a half. People were suspecting it was more than just a talented amateur. We'll never know.
That's so strange! Ben Marking, who are you?
EDIT: It's up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D3vCiYbXFE Thanks to dcgoss and junkculture for looking. Apparently they removed all the old revisions, so we're left with this one.
Edit: It's back? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbB0srzLuuo
I think what happened is that the author removed the nine revisions and uploaded this latest one on the 17th. It was interesting to see their progression though.
Going to youtube-dl it just in case.
Look at the one time nukes were used in war (so far) for an example. The US didn't need nukes to destroy those cities. Hiroshima and Nagasaki probably weren't even the deadliest bombing raids of the war: that honor goes to the attack on Tokyo on March 9-10 1945.
The difference is that it took 339 B-29s to devastate Tokyo, but only one B-29 to devastate Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
If you have a few hundred bombers armed with conventional weapons, they can destroy a large target. Arm them with nuclear weapons and they can destroy hundreds of large targets.
Battlefield nukes are similar. An attacking enemy tank division can be stopped by a division of your own... or a single nuclear artillery shell.
This was really important during the cold war because the USSR had massive superiority in conventional arms. NATO troops were significantly outnumbered, and they weren't willing to spend what it would take to reach parity. Nukes were a cheap way to defend. Instead of stopping invading Soviet troops with lots of your own troops, stop them by blowing them up.
Then it just escalates. If the other guy can nuke your troops, you need to be able to nuke his or else you'll lose the war. You want to stop the other guy's nukes, so you nukes nukes that can destroy their air bases and missiles, not just tactical nukes. If the war continues then supplying your troops becomes important, and you need to destroy their factories and transportation infrastructure too.
The MOAB weighs 21k pounds and is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT.
The W54 battlefield nuke weighs 51 pounds and is equivalent to 10-20 tons of TNT
Time to start searching your browser history I guess :p
It's pretty straight-forward and has been for decades: conventional forces go first; if you begin losing badly, then you pull the nuclear card to prevent any meaningful territorial losses; the war ends in some variation of a stalemate.
Whether they can make it work that way in practice, hopefully we'll never find out. The biggest challenge to the practice of it, is dealing with even small existing territorial losses when the nuclear card comes out. Countries like Pakistan and North Korea may also not function that way, hard to guess about their operations under pressure just due to the nature of their brittle regimes, but most of their leadership also likely wants to live.
"It's pretty straight-forward and has been for decades: conventional forces go first; if you begin losing badly, then you pull the nuclear card to prevent any meaningful territorial losses; the war ends in some variation of a stalemate."
Exactly where have nuclear weapons used "for decades" in this way?
They are "used" passively. Any country that has the ability to create a nuclear explosion is constantly using them as diplomatic leverage. Even if you don't detonate them, even if you don't talk about them directly, the capability alone shapes reality.
"One of the big worries I have is that a losing super power would turn to nukes once conventional weapons stores are exhausted."
Really, this video should have been tagged more appropriately. And they shouldn't have used the BBC branding.
And in case you're curious, here are the latest figures I could dig up on N. Korea's launch capabilities. Caveat emptor!
Range: 10,000 km (Hwasong-14 aka KN-20 test successes indicate >6690km range, though the missile appears to break up on reentry)
Circular Error Probable: ? Poor. Could not hit a city, especially since it breaks up before hitting the target. The fine article says 2 km is what early Chinese ICBMs could achieve, so it makes sense as a starting point.
Yield: 7-8 kilotons according to seismic estimates.
In a paper from a defense think tank, I read that when nuclear weapons were developed, at least one major tactical reason was that the accuracy of all munitions at the time was similarly poor (long before modern precision weapons); remember it could take waves of bombers and hundreds of bombs to destroy one building in WWII. The blast radius of nuclear weapons was a solution to that problem.
They also said that precision weapons could, in that way, replace nuclear weapons. If your weapon is accurate enough to hit a building reliably, you need a much smaller blast radius, and destroying the entire city doesn't have a military benefit. For awhile, and maybe still, the U.S. was considering a system called Prompt Global Strike with that application in mind.
Accuracy is also a reason why nuclear weapons got bigger and bigger up to the 1960s or so, then began to shrink. It's also why the Soviets tended to have larger ones than the Americans. If your bombers or ICBMs are only accurate to within a couple of miles, then you need a big bomb to reliably destroy your target. If they're accurate to within a couple hundred feet, you can use a much smaller bomb.
Prompt global strike is still being worked on, but I don't think they have it figured out yet. It would be relatively easy to stick a conventional bomb on an ICBM and do it that way, but the enemy couldn't distinguish that from a nuclear launch, so there are fears of false alarms.
For the U.S. and similarly wealthy militaries, the math doesn't seem to support that statement. You don't need to destroy every base, just enough to effectively eliminate the enemy's military capability. Let's say that's even 10,000 targets - that's not a lot of munitions for a war. At $2 million a pop - rounding up Wikipedia's price for a high-end cruise missile - that's $20 billion, a pittance in war. The Iraq War, not a major one, cost over $1 trillion AFAIK (up to the first pullout, that is; it's not over yet).
For poor countries, who lack international networks for targeting and communication in addition to the munitions and launch systems, I think the statement holds up. It's also cost-effective for another reason: 1 nuke aimed at Seoul or Tokyo or LA is enough to deter attackers in almost any situation.
Look at the US's cruise missile attack on that Syrian airbase a few months back. That was something like 50 missiles and the base was back in service in a day.
Seems like the only launch site that you can see on the map by default, which doesn't make a lot of sense since Algeria is a non-nuclear weapon state. Quick searching around tells me no other country stores nukes there neither.
This 'software' upgradability is why the same old missile can get more and more accurate as better data is fed into the onboard guidance computer.