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previous: anon Tubes show up in the darndest place... -- 10/25/2000 4:55 PM View Thread

Re: Tubes in Jets?

11/1/2000 3:20 PM
Mark Hammer
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Re: Tubes in Jets?
Tube production continued on in the Soviet Union and other Iron Curtain countries (which would include China, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, among others), after it ended here, as a component of the Cold War effort. Tubes (and the communications equipment that would depend on them) will continue to function during nuclear holocaust conditions, chips won't. The Soviets persisted in continued production because they knew this, and wanted to be ready for "the big one". Domestic efforts tended to be engineered towards "first strike" capabilities, rather than making it through the big blast, so western engineering dollars went into faster silicon-based technology and materials science.  
 
A second reason for foreign use of tubes is that non-democracies and recent democracies are a bit (and sometimes considerably) less environmentally-minded than traditional democracies. Tube production is very difficult to initiate on this side of the ocean, because tooling up in a way that addresses all legal and ethical environmental concerns, is extremely costly to do from scratch, and the tube market isn't of sufficient size to warrant that investment. With existing factories, and fewer environmental regulations and concerns, keeping tube production on a roll is simply easier to do in former IC countries.  
 
War gets you things you never suspected. Cyanoacrylate, used for guitar repair, and sold as "Crazy Glue" was initially developed as a surgical adhesive for triage purposes during the Vietnam War (seal 'em up and get 'em on the helicopter). That's why it sticks to your skin so well.  
 
Pillar of modern psychology, B.F.Skinner, had a project during WWII that involved using pigeons as intelligent missile guidance systems. The pigeons were trained in the lab to peck at specific images of ships on a screen, and had headgear attached that would convert head movements to steer the missile as they pecked in a given direction. These little "kamikaze pilots" were quite accurate, and couldn't be fooled by anything. As history tells it, the US military felt stupid publicly placing their faith in pigeons, and simply nixed the project, even though it was demonstrably effective. Ironically, 60 years later, AI research still has yet to arrive at the intelligence level and visual pattern recognition capabilities of your average statue-pooper. All of this is documented in a classic paper by Skinner called "Pigeons in a Pelican" (the Pelican was the missile).  
 
Like I said, war gets you things you never suspected.