Tag Archives: Second World War

Double Post Part 1: From the Archives: Nukes (July 22)

Okay, it’s past midnight where I am, so I’ll post this now and have something else for you all later today.
Since the first nuclear test in 1945 at the White Sands Missile Range, then White Sands Proving Ground, there have been around 2000-2100 nuclear detonations in either the form tests or use as a weapon. Of these about 1000 are American, 700 are Soviet/Russian, 200 are French, 45 are British, 45 are Chinese, 6 are Indian, 6 are Pakistani, and two are North Korean. Unconfirmed tests include Iranian, German and Japanese devices. The three most prolific testing years were, in order of most tests to least, 1961, 1958 and 1968. About 140 nuclear tests occurred in 1961, with about 100 of those being American. The longest period of time between two nuclear tests was a span of about 100 months from June 1998 to October 2006. Since 1998, the only nation to perform confirmed nuclear tests has been North Korea. The “Doomsday Clock” is a subjective measure of the danger of nuclear catastrophe based on current events. Initially set at 11:53, the closest the Doomsday Clock has gotten to midnight (global nuclear disaster) was 11:53 in 1953. The farthest the Doomsday Clock has been from midnight was in 1991 when the clock was set to 11:43. The Doomsday Clock is currently set to 11:55

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, History, Politics

Historical Bad@$$: George de Hevesy

George Charles de Hevesy was a 20th century chemist born in 1885 into a Hungarian Jewish family. During his life he became an acquaintance of Neils Bohr and worked in Ernest Rutherford’s laboratory. Along with the Dutch physicist Dirk Coster, de Hevesy discovered hafnium, and developed a method for the use of plutonium-212 as a chemical tracer, allowing chemists and biologists to follow chemical and biological processes as they happened. de Hevesy won the 1943 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on radioactive tracers. But this is the most bad@$$ part, in WWII de Hevesy took the Nobel Prizes of James Franck (a German Jewish physicist) and Max von Laue (an opponent of the Nazi party), and hid them in the Niels Bohr Institute Laboratory where he worked, so that they wouldn’t be taken by Nazi German forces…and he dissolved both solid gold medals in aqua regia (one of the few acids that can dissolve gold). After the war, de Hevesy precipitated the gold back out from the acid and returned the gold to the Nobel Society to have the medals recast.

1 Comment

Filed under Historical Bad@$$, History, Science

From the Archives: Operation Bernhard (August 17)

Notice: the following post is an obligatory fulfillment of Godwin’s Law, which may or may not be discussed in a later post.

Beginning in 1942 Nazi Germany devised Operation Bernhard, a plan to bomb and demolish the British economy. Using prisoners primarily from Sachsenhausen but also Auschwitz and other concentration camps, SS Major Krüger directed a team of about 140 prisoners to forge £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes which, at the program’s end in 1945, would end up totaling £134,610,810. The forged notes are considered the best counterfeits ever produced, being virtually indistinguishable from official Bank of England notes. The notes were never dropped on England, but were used by the Nazi foreign intelligence to pay for their activities. In early 1945 another similar operation was in the works to forge American $100 bills, but was cancelled one day after starting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, From the Archives, History

Historical Bad@$$: Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart

Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO was a highly decorated British military officer of Belgian and Irish heritage. Sir de Wiart was a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE), a Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) and a Companion of The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (CMG). A veteran of the Boer War, World War I and World War II. Over the course of his military career he was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, lost his left hand in 1915. During World War II a plane he was on crashed into the water about one mile off of the coast of Italian Libya, and Sir de Wiart and the rest of the plane’s crew swam the mile to shore were they were promptly captured. After seven months of tunneling during his time in the Italian POW camp, he escaped and spent a week disguised as an Italian peasant and then after was involved in the Italian surrender negotiations. After WWII, Sir de Wiart was the British Prime Minister’s personal representative to Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek. Sir de Wiart died in June 1963 at the age of 83.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Bad@$$, History


War is a state of organized armed conflict between two groups of people, typically nations. Periods of warfare tend to see increased mortality rates in the affected areas, aggression and social disruption, but also potentially increased rates of innovation as part of efforts to win. The largest war to date, in terms of the number of people who died as a result of said war, was the second World War, during which more than 60 million people died. The major participating nations in WWII were the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, the United States, the British Empire, Japan, the Republic of China, Italy and France. The first war to be recorded was one between Sumer, in modern Iraq, and Elam, in modern Iran, which took place in about 2700 BCE. The longest war to be declared was the Third Punic War, which began in 149 BCE. There was no declaration of peace between the Roman Republic and the Carthaginian Republic when the contract of surrender was signed in 146BCE. The mayors of Rome and Carthage signed an official peace treaty in 1985, 2134 years after the war began. Finally, the shortest war ever declared began on August 27 1896. The British Empire issued an ultimatum to the Zanzibar Sultanate, which expired at 9:00AM East Africa Time. At 9:02AM about 1,000 British or pro-British troops stormed the royal palace, which was taken at 9:40AM. The entire war lasted 38 minutes.

Leave a comment

Filed under History