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March 13, 2006

Why Doesn't Anyone Ever Look At It From The Minefield's Point Of View?

Generally when people step on mines, their first concern is for themselves. Oh boo hoo, they say, I've been grievously wounded and am going to die of blood loss.

What's always forgotten in all this is the suffering of the minefield.

Fortunately, that's changing now that the folks at DARPA (the Pentagon's famous Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) have come up with the concept of the "self-healing minefield." The language, of course, implies that when someone steps on a mine, the party hurt in the transaction is the minefield.

I think I speak for all Americans when I say it's critical we have our best scientific minds working on exactly this kind of problem, from exactly this perspective. Next up: psychologists who help nuclear weapons get over their traumatic childhoods.

(News thanks to Scotto posting at Saheli's site.)

Posted at March 13, 2006 10:09 PM | TrackBack

And never too soon for our children to learn.
I'm preparing a children's book, "The GLCM Who Cried," (GLCM for the uninitiated stands for Ground Launched Cruise Missile).
Look for it on Amazon soon. Expecting Disney Studios to pick up for movie.
As Goethe (or somebody) said, nothing that kills is alien to me.

Posted by: donescobar at March 14, 2006 08:37 AM

You think that snark can stop this engine of progress, or is it that snark's necessarity for even a fringe population of people to make themselves willing to be aware of the problem?

Posted by: patience at March 15, 2006 12:05 AM

...and Other Depressing Thoughts I Didn't Want to Wake Up To. Thanks, patience.

Well-- I think snark helps, actually, as bad as things seem now. As much as this seems like counting awfully shallow victories, with Bush unimpeached, Iraq in flames, Frist amok-- we aren't in Iran yet.

And I will hug my Atrios Ponies tight and repeat that petition for hours-- stay out. Stay out. Stay out.

Posted by: Sully at March 15, 2006 07:25 AM

Non-nuclear bunker-busters - because the irony of using nukes to stop Iran from developing nukes would be too much for even the Pentagon?

Posted by: saurabh at March 15, 2006 10:22 AM

Many DARPA projects are evil (e.g., TIA), but their "self-healing minefield" isn't as evil as most. It seems to be a new solution to an old problem: how to keep an enemy from clearing a path through an anti-tank minefield.

The "traditional" solution is to add anti-personnel mines to the anti-tank minefield, with all the attendant problems. But the "self-healing" solution does away with anti-personnel mines by making the anti-tank mines mobile (so any path cleared through the minefield would filled in with other anti-tank mines moving into the path).

Anti-tank mines won't explode if someone steps on them - they require much more pressure than a person's foot. So these "self-healing" minefields would actually reduce landmine injuries. That's a net plus in my book.

Posted by: Mathwiz at March 15, 2006 04:10 PM

Thanks for the link, Jonathan, and thanks for the kind words hedgehog.

I came over to say essentially the same thing as Mathwiz, though not as strongly. I had not realized when Scotto posted this that they were antitank and not antipersonnel, but since then Toasty, another one of my guestbloggers, has. That does not make it all hunky dory in my book--antitank mines very easily turn into anti-tractor mines--but it should be clear that these aren't the classic victim-activated non-self-destroying antipersonnel mines we should have agreed to stop using 7 years ago and still haven't. I'm not convinced they are a net good, but yes, it's possible they could be.

And Jonathan has still perfectly highlighed exactly that which infuriated and still infuriates me. It's deeply offensive to use the verb "to heal" in this context. And no matter how net-good your weapons-project is, it's kind of disgusting to design a multi-colored chessboard website for it.

Posted by: Saheli at March 15, 2006 05:59 PM