Tom Scott is an engaging young Briton who gives you an occasional video — hundreds of them, and counting — under the titles Things You Might Not Know and Amazing Places
His entire YouTube Channel, which so far as we know — we have not seen all the videos by any means — has little to do with weapons, is fascinating.
Here he tells the story of RAF Fauld, something we’ve been meaning to write about for years (we actually have a partially written post on this, but he hits the high point; Things He Might Not Know include that Britain participated in the Manhattan Project, and was in on the nuke secret from the very beginning, as was Canada. In fact, before the merger, the British project, code named Tube Alloys, was well ahead of their transatlantic allies. Churchill approved a-bomb development over a year before Roosevelt did).
There is the video up at the top, on Swiss water system redundancy. The Swiss were preppin’ before preppin’ was cool.
And there is this — one way nuclear tests are monitored by an internationally maintained infrasound system in remote Qaanaaq, Greenland.
And this — a university tramway whose brain is a repurposed Minuteman missile computer.
Even when he yields up the floor to a guest presenter, like Sally lePage here, the channel’s fascinating.
Yes, it’s not directly weapons related, but we suspect it will be right on target for many WeaponsMan.com readers. He’s got a couple hundred videos (151 Things You Might Not Know) so we’ll see you some time in February.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.
7 thoughts on “Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Tom Scott’s Things You Might Not Know”
Tom Scott is awesome! He also did some videos for Numberphile/Computerphile, including a really good one on why we should NOT do elections online.
I’ll have to check these out after work. On the subject of interesting places, Subterrania Britannica deserves its own Wednesday feature since they have an extensive collection of articles and site visits to both British and foreign bunkers, sub bases mines and so on. They also have a complete catalog of Cold War era Royal Observer Corps monitoring sites and specific history articles on the Rotor air defense system and emergency government systems and facilities
The web link for Sub Brit, is http://subbrit.org.uk posted separately so the main post doesn’t get eaten
Richard Rhodes’ “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” is the best single reference I’ve found for the Manhattan Engineer District.
One thing that I found particularly notable was the problem figuring the implosion time for the plutonium bomb. The fission core was at the center of a big sphere of RDX explosive. But to facilitate assembly, the RDX was cast in segments and built up around the core.
The problem was, “high” explosive does funny things when it sees surfaces like the joints in the explosive shell. The blast waves reflect oddly, and extended and blunted the compression wave at the core.
After trying mathematical approaches (with teams of hand calculators vs. electronic “computers”) they decided to go empirical, and sent an Army sergeant out into the desert to blow up instrumented bombs so they could measure the effects of the joints directly instead of trying to model it.
Some lucky grunt got to set off a *lot* of RDX…
Later, they found another problem. The liquid RDX poured like honey, and was prone to trapping air bubbles when it hardened. These bubbles caused problems similar to the joints, but were not repeatable or predictable. No method of making a perfect casting could be found, so the sergeant was assigned to repair the explosive blocks by using a dental drill to tunnel down to each bubble and then backfilling the holes by using a syringe.
RDX is a relatively safe explosive, but that’s the sort of story that reminds you that Demolitions guys are Not Like Us…
As someone who went to West Virginia University in the early 2000’s, I can say that the PRT was not quite as reliable as they make it seem in the video. In the winter, it would go down for an hour or two on a weekly basis. Still, it was better than fighting traffic and trying to find a parking place to get to class.
Thanks for posting this, really looking forward to checking out some of his other videos.
Knowledge is a weapon, so perfectly appropriate for this blog. And not everything here is weapon related. Or do I have to be concerned now, that our humble blog host assembles an aeroplane at his manor?
Some of those would have been interesting, but the guy’s h.e.a.v.y e.m.p.h.a.s.i.s
and weird cadence made it hard to follow. Not Marie Osmand levels of emphasic and cadence, but close…