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Police Batons with Geiger-counters

Embed Geiger counters in police batons, and get increased security.
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Assuming that the centers of cities are the most vulnerable in terms of human lives, start giving such batons for the regions close to centers of largest cities on Earth...

Could prevent a disaster in the scenarios, where adversaries bring small quantities of the material over extended period of time (e.g., planned over decades) to assemble critical masses of it in specific locations.

Inyuki, Nov 19 2015

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       Is this something we're particularly worried about?   

       ...And what are we thinking that is going to happen if "they" assemble a critical mass? Probably all of "them" die horribly of radiation sickness over the next week or so, and no one else really notices because the critical mass will rapidly dissasemble itself when it gets hot enough. No explosion.   

       Someone making a bomb needs a lot of specialised machining equipment, clean room technology, etc otherwise they all die while trying to make the bomb. Bringing the material into one place is not the hard part - procuring the materials, then designing and manufacturing the gadget is the hard part. Moving stuff around is easy.   

       Lastly, the bulk of the materials required are not particularly "hot" - in fact, making a bomb out of highly radioactive materials is counterproductive, and is I believe impossible. The materials are generally pretty benign until you get a critical mass together. So I'm not sure what Mr Plod is going to do with his geiger equipped baton to help detect any of this going on.
Custardguts, Nov 19 2015
  

       I should mention that the fancy air handling and machining equipment are required because the materials are a bad combination of both being highly pyrophoric, and also supremely toxic. They require completely inert atmosphere while machining.
Custardguts, Nov 19 2015
  

       [Custardguts]   

       // Someone making a bomb needs a lot of specialised machining equipment, clean room technology, etc //   

       Is it hard to imagine non-traditional ways of getting the critical mass, e.g., by having distributed tunnel system? Small amounts of the material could be brought over time, and placed at shielded containers, connected into a tunnel system. I don't see it to be hard thing for someone with resources and source of the materials to pull off.   

       // Is this something we're particularly worried about? //   

       Not that it would be the top concern existential risk, but it might shift the history to undesired directions.
Inyuki, Nov 20 2015
  

       // Someone making a bomb needs a lot of specialised machining equipment, clean room technology, etc //   

       No, they don't. Just basic machine-shop facilities. A decent PVC suit of the type used in pharmaceutical manufacture, and a full-face positive pressure mask, is enough to protect completely against contamination and radiation.   

       Los Alamos didn't have any of that stuff.   

       // highly pyrophoric, and also supremely toxic. They require completely inert atmosphere while machining. //   

       Nitrogen's fine ... it's possible (and highly entertaining) to turn uranium slugs on an ordinary lathe, without inert armosphere, with no real problems.   

       A decent filter mask and a tyvek suit, plus a good wash afterwards, is more than enough.   

       It's 1940's technology, much simpler than most people realise.   

       A scintillation counter would be much more robust than a G-M tube in this application, but still entirely pointless. Bomb components are primarily alpha emitters, and detection relies on picking up contaminants shed from the device. A good thick polythene bag sorts that one, and incidentally traps all the alpha and a good part of the beta.
8th of 7, Nov 20 2015
  

       Depending on the type of weapon, there's still some difficult engineering involved. And dust/chip control is fairly critical.   

       That being said, a dirty bomb is much more likely than a nuclear weapon, and much simpler.
MechE, Nov 20 2015
  

       // there's still some difficult engineering //   

       That's the design, not the actual manufacture. With a pusher-plate layout and asymmetric initiation, it's fairly simple on any midrange CNC.   

       If you want a symmetric "Fat Man" device then yes, waste your life casting explosive lenses. It's akin to painstakingly building a mainline steam loco from scratch ... not that there's anything wrong with that, you understand; very laudable. But why bother if you just want a powerplant, and Sulzer will deliver a packaged unit to your door ?
8th of 7, Nov 20 2015
  

       Fear, confusion and misery ... our work here is done.
8th of 7, Nov 20 2015
  

       You can never be too careful even when it comes to dirty bombs.
travbm, Nov 20 2015
  

       Having wandered about quite a bit with a Geiger counter, for recreational porpoises, I can tell you that there is a lot more radioactive stuff in the world than you might imagine.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 20 2015
  

       Having expensive electronics embedded in their batons might make police persons more cautious about bashing people with them. Bun for that alone.
smendler, Nov 21 2015
  

       Having expensive electronics embedded in their batons might make police persons more cautious about bashing people with them. Bun for that alone.
smendler, Nov 21 2015
  

       //Having wandered about quite a bit with a Geiger counter, for recreational porpoises, I can tell you that there is a lot more radioactive stuff in the world than you might imagine.//   

       I suppose that's one of the points I was trying to make. Cops batons' clicking away wouldn't do anything to help.   

       //Is it hard to imagine non-traditional ways of getting the critical mass// -- No, and that's why I don't get this idea. Just bring it to your machine shop in whatever container(s) you keep it in. Put some lead foil around it if you really, really feel the need.   

       Any material suitable for weapons manufacture isn't particularly hot. If it's highly radioactive enough to trigger any surveillance that may or may not exist, then it's totally unsuitable for making a high yield bomb out of (but probably ideal for a dirty bomb). This is because as it's imploding, it will fizzle before it can reach optimum density (like if your Pu-239 isn't pure enough).   

       But frankly, just bring it in inside one container. If you have one critical mass' worth of high grade fissionable material, then you're wasting it just making one bomb. With the right design, initiators, pusher plate, neutron reflector, you can make two, maybe three really powerful weapons out of it. That is the key to all of the advanced weapons design of the 50's/60's etc - making bombs with less and less material.
Custardguts, Nov 22 2015
  
      
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