From 1949 to 1989, Semipalatinsk was scrutinized furtively by U2 spy planes, satellites and seismologists hoping to learn more about the Soviet Union’s weapons capabilities. Now, for the first time, researchers can compare the information gleaned from these operations with the actual records from the test site to see how accurate Western researchers were in predicting the number and size of Semipalatinsk’s nuclear detonations.
The treasure trove of data from Semipalatinsk are especially important in light of the fact that only three nuclear tests—back-to-back tests in India and Pakistan in 1998 and a 2006 test in North Korea--have been conducted since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996, said Paul Richards of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
As nuclear monitoring techniques have improved over the past ten years, “there has also been a lack—thank goodness—of weapons tests to actually record, from which to gain monitoring experience,” Richards, an expert in using seismological methods to detect nuclear tests, said. “It is therefore helpful in training ourselves today, in the work of monitoring, to look back at monitoring efforts in the past --- to see how well we did and what the challenges were.”
The first nuclear detonations near Semipalatinsk in the 1940s were above ground, and the U.S. Air Force collected atmospheric traces of the explosions. Testing moved underground in later decades, and seismological data became the primary way of monitoring the tests. In all, 456 nuclear tests took place at the site, with the last occurring in 1989. The veil of secrecy surrounding the site was lifted in the 1990s, when details of the tests were published in numerous books and scientific papers in Russia and Kazakhstan.
By comparing historical monitoring data with information from the new publications, Richards and colleagues can determine which underground tests were detected through seismic data at great distances, versus which kinds of tests would be detected by regional seismic stations today. They can also compare the monitors’ estimates of weapons yield—the size of the explosions—with the official estimates in the publications.
So far, the comparisons suggest “that today we can do a very good job indeed” of monitoring nuclear tests using seismological and other data, Richards said.
The new publications also offer a glimpse at how the Soviet-era nuclear program was organized and led, how radioactivity from the explosions affected people and animals, and how the overall environmental health of the area was altered by decades-long testing, he noted.
Hurricane Harvey: Dutch-Texan research shows most fatalities occurred outside flood zones
19.04.2018 | European Geosciences Union
Root exudates affect soil stability, water repellency
18.04.2018 | American Society of Agronomy
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.
Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy