YES they do still test nuclear weapons; That was not click bait… I’ll tell you how they still do it safely and legally.
The USA and practically most of the world signed a landmark treaty in 1970 called the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Click here to learn more about this treaty. (By the way, bad-ass India is one of only 5 countries that haven’t signed this treaty. This list includes Israel, Pakistan, South Sudan and of course North Korea. So technically, if India wanted to plop a little nuke on Pakistan’s head today, they can do so without breaking any agreement (granted Pakistan could do that to0)😫. Also, another by the way; Australia still exports enriched uranium to India. And no, it’s not for nuclear energy because India uses Thorium as it’s nuclear fuel for it’s nuclear power plants mined directly from India. So, India might actually still be adding new nuclear weapons to it’s 110 large stockpile).
Back to the point; This treaty among many other things basically ended the “arms race” and is encouraging “complete disarmament” in “good faith”. This basically means that the treaty is requesting all signed countries to completely dismantle all they’re nuclear weapons, but the treaty won’t be mad if they don’t. I personally don’t think this will ever happen, but please let me know your opinions in the comments below.
But it does, however, prohibit all signed countries from testing or manufacturing new nuclear weapons… Buuut the USA went ahead and kept testing them underground anyway by exploiting a loophole😂.
The USA have around 4,018 warheads in they’re stockpile. The last test they did happened in 1992 after which another treaty had to brought in place to finally ban all nuclear explosions once and for all. But the USA, much like a lot of the other nuclear nations did not really reduce they’re stockpile.
But these nuclear warheads are decades old. And they were built to be used within a particular threshold of time. But the USA don’t want these warheads to go to waste after this particular time has passed. Moreover, the enriched uranium in the core has a half life of over 4.47 BILLION years. This means, it will take 4.47 BILLION years for all the radioactivity to completely decay. Soooo… The only way they can keep using the warhead without wasting the uranium is by switching every single part of the missile for new parts.
Kind of like the well known paradox; If we replace every single wooden board from a wooden ship with new wooden boards, then is still the old ship or a new one???
But replacing these extremely sensitive and niche parts with new ones is literally ROCKET SCIENCE. There are countless variables and thousands of situations where it can go wrong. AAAND they can’t test them because of the treaties that I mentioned earlier. During the 40 years of the “nuclear age”, the rockets were physically tested to ensure they would perform as pleased during a crisis. But today, they can’t do that. But they still do need to test these aging warheads in order to ensure that they perform as expected when there is a need for it.
Sooo… While we were busy trying to get Coca-Cola banned in India (Didn’t even last that long😂✌), America was developing new ways to subtly test these nukes…without anyone knowing (It wasn’t confidential though).
The solution… is… SUPERCOMPUTERS.
The more these parts are switched, the more the missile performance differs from the old, but tried and tested ones. So in order to know what would happen if the missile was fired and to correct the trajectory accordingly, we would have to SIMULATE it.
Simulation is the key… This sort of sheer computing power just wasn’t available back then, so they had to get physical and risk lives just to fulfill they’re curiosity. But today we have supercomputers that occupy 5,600 sq. feet of space, more than 250 cabinets, each about the size of a refrigerator, 300 kilometers of fiber optic cables, 27,648 Graphical Processing Units, 9,216 Central Processing Units with a total of 202,752 cores, 405,504 threads and 73,728,000,000,000 (73 TRILLION) transistors, capable of 200 petaflops (a typical PC gets around 50 gigaflops) and has a total RAM of 10 petabytes (that’s 1,000 terabytes).
But I’m just curious to know if it will run Minecraft… 😂
All this is in one supercomputer… the world’s most powerful… supercomputer. It’s called the SUMMIT. It is entirely used for civilian research purposes like DEEP LEARNING FOR HUMAN SYSTEMS BIOLOGY, PLASMA FUSION WITH “XGC”, COMBUSTION WITH RAPTOR, ASTROPHYSICS WITH FLASH, DEEP LEARNING FOR CANCER RESEARCH, MATERIALS WITH “QMCPACK” and much more.
But I would personally just use it play some Minecraft in the super cooled, Freon-rich room. Too bad Minecraft isn’t available on the Red Hat Enterprise Operating System. 😢
Back to the point; The missile simulations will, however be calculated by the Sierra Supercomputer (Summit’s sister supercomputer) also built by IBM, Nvidia and Mellanox.
There are a lot of problems faced when you can’t test these missiles. For example; How exactly would the trajectory of the missile be when launched, Will it fly accurately to the target destination, Will it explode at the target, Might it explode when launching or in mid air, What would happen if the missile fell into the wrong hands, Will they be able to use it, Will the safety precautions work properly.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables and questions that need to be answered (the exact questions are classified). This is exactly why we test these missiles before we use them. But, now that testing is out of the option, we just simulate what would actually happen, in a supercomputer with high level of accuracy accuracy.
This is called the “STOCKPILE STEWARDSHIP” program.
This program doesn’t just include the Sierra Supercomputer, but also 12 other smaller supercomputers, the WORLD’S STRONGEST LASER and even a very small scale plutonium and uranium explosion (just small enough to prevent a nuclear detonation).
The US military will provide all the input data (the new parts added to the warheads, newer computers etc) and the engineers of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where Sierra is housed, will carry out the calculations and simulations and give the encrypted result to the military.
The combined cost of Summit and Sierra is 325 MILLION dollars, funded by the United States Department of Energy.
And that’s how the USA tests nuclear missiles without anyone knowing.
Any questions?? Ask away in the comment section below… ✌