Atomic Oddities: 40 Eccentric Weapons & Plans from the Atomic Era 2

26Project PACER: Nuclear Power Generation

Project PACER: Nuclear Power Generation

Project PACER, initiated in the 1970s, aimed to generate power using nuclear bombs by detonating them within an underground cavity filled with water, utilizing the resulting steam to drive a turbine. Controversy surrounding the use of nuclear bombs led to the cancellation of the project.

27. The Iranian nuclear program had its beginnings with assistance from the United States. Through a program called "Atoms for Peace," the U.S. exported nuclear equipment, plans, and highly enriched uranium to 30 countries.

28. Project Sapphire involved a covert operation by the US Air Force to clandestinely transport nuclear material equivalent to 50 nuclear bombs from Kazakhstan following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The objective was to prevent the material from falling into the wrong hands.

29. In the aftermath of Hiroshima, the U.S. made a pledge to dismantle all nuclear weapons on the condition that a single organization would oversee global nuclear material and mining operations under the Baruch Plan. The Soviet Union rejected Bernard Baruch's version of the proposal, fearing that it would perpetuate the American nuclear monopoly.

30. Britain's nuclear industry participated in a highly classified international endeavor known as Project Sunshine, which involved the clandestine procurement of deceased infants for approximately three decades. Scientists from the UK Atomic Energy Authority collected children's bones and bodies to be shipped to the United States for undisclosed nuclear experiments. Approximately 6,000 bodies were acquired between 1955 and 1970.

31Operation Argus: Atmospheric Nuclear Tests

Operation Argus: Atmospheric Nuclear Tests

In 1958, the U.S. conducted Operation Argus, a covert series of low-yield nuclear detonations in the upper atmosphere. The objective was to create a radiation belt capable of degrading radio and radar transmissions while damaging and destroying ICBM warheads. The tests demonstrated the potential effectiveness of such a belt but also revealed that it dissipated too rapidly to be highly efficient, posing risks to space vehicle crews.

32. The US Air Force maintained a substantial fleet of B-52 bombers continuously airborne from 1961 to 1968. Known as Operation Chrome Dome, this program involved an average of 75 daily flights with nuclear payloads over the North Pole and the Atlantic as a deterrent against the USSR. Several nuclear weapons were lost in accidents, and some were never recovered.

33. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used an automatic nuclear weapons system known as Dead Hand. It had the capability to initiate the launch of Russian ICBMs targeting various cities in the event of a detected nuclear attack through seismic, light, radioactivity, and pressure sensors along the country's borders, even without human oversight. Allegedly, the Dead Hand system remains in use by Russia.

34. In the 1970s, the USA installed nuclear-powered undersea data cable taps to spy on the Soviet Union.

35. Suitcase nukes do exist, and according to the highest-ranking GRU defector, Stanislav Lunev, they may already be deployed by GRU operatives on US soil. Lunev claimed that "it is surprisingly easy to smuggle nuclear weapons into the US."

36Kosmos 954: Nuclear Crash Cleanup

Kosmos 954: Nuclear Crash Cleanup

In 1978, a Soviet Union nuclear reconnaissance satellite named Kosmos 954 crash-landed in Canada, carrying its 50kg uranium core. This incident prompted a massive cleanup operation to address the radioactive material. However, the locals residing in the area at the time were largely unaware of the incident. After 10 months and an expenditure of $6 million CAD, an American-Canadian team failed to recover 99.9% of the uranium fuel, despite covering 50,000 square miles.

37. Banjawarn Station in Western Australia was once owned by the Japanese cult responsible for the 1995 Sarin subway attacks. They allegedly utilized the extremely remote property for chemical weapons experimentation, and some speculate that an unexplained seismic event may have involved the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

38. During the Soviet era, Russia constructed a series of over 130 nuclear-powered, unmanned lighthouses along the northern polar coast. However, these installations have since fallen into disrepair. Not all of the original sites are known, and some have been looted, including the Strontium-90 cores.

39. As part of their "armed neutrality" policy, Switzerland seriously considered developing nuclear weapons and acquired 10 tons of uranium in the early 1960s, with plans to produce up to 100 bombs.

40. Both the IRS and the USPS have contingency plans in place in the event of a nuclear war. The IRS has an employee handbook called the "Internal Revenue Manual" that outlines procedures for collecting taxes after a nuclear event. Meanwhile, the USPS is prepared to continue delivering mail and has 60 million change-of-address forms at the ready.