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Nuclear Missiles Run By Computers That Still Use Floppy Disks

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
Contrary to what cartoons may have you believe, there’s no giant red button that detonates America’s land-based nuclear missiles. They’re actually operated by -- wait for it -- old-school computers that run 8-inch floppy disks.

Soooo Our Nuclear Missiles Are Run By Computers That Still Use 8-Inch Floppy Disks
I can't believe they are still using old outdated floppy disks to operate our nuclear missiles. However they do say that its still safe and secure the way its was developed. Still, floppy disks, they weren't that great.

I do think its a good idea that the these computers are internet free considering how much gets hacked anymore. The last thing we need is some hacker launching one of these missiles.

I still think its time for a upgrade.

Thoughts?
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
Just so everyone is clear on what an 8" floppy disk is...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Floppy_disk_2009_G1.jpg

The one on the left is an 8", the one on the far right is the floppy disk that most of us are used to, it's the 3 1/2" design.

I'm hesitant to make any sort of judgment on this because I don't know exactly how these systems work and I'm unsure about what sorts of advantages a newer system would have apart from being faster.

I think some people just think old technology is automatically bad. You have to remember that this computer was designed to do one thing, launch nuclear weapons. It doesn't need to run the latest games, media, etc.

I do think no network connection is the way to go. Security would definitely be a problem on old machines like this.
 

sunrise

aka ginger warlock
V.I.P.
Whilst I do find it a bit odd that this technology is still being used today I do kind of like it. For one thing the retro geek inside me loves the idea, I still remember using not these but smaller discs and having to lock them in place, if I could use one today I would.

The other thing about this though is this is actually quite secure. Lets be honest, you cannot put one of these things under your jacket and walk away so you cannot copy the codes or give them away without someone noticing. I love this I have to say :D
 

Dr4gon

Registered Member
V.I.P.
Square disks? Lol! Disks are round... And flash is faster! :D
I wonder what Perimeter (Dead Hand) uses. That was built in the 20th century and its run by computers too. If it senses a high radiation count and seismic activity it will try to contact the base. If nobody answers it will launch all its nuclear missiles at the most likely source of the alleged assault.
I think the US has a Dead Hand system too. Is that operated by square disks?
 

dDave

Well-Known Member
V.I.P.
Square disks? Lol! Disks are round... And flash is faster! :D
I wonder what Perimeter (Dead Hand) uses. That was built in the 20th century and its run by computers too. If it senses a high radiation count and seismic activity it will try to contact the base. If nobody answers it will launch all its nuclear missiles at the most likely source of the alleged assault.
I think the US has a Dead Hand system too. Is that operated by square disks?
Actually a disK has always been square. A disC is round.



^note the differences.

I've never heard of Perimeter/Dead Hand. Is it like some sort of fortitude missile defense system? That sounds like an incredibly flawed system though.

I wonder what sort of programming language these nuclear computers use. It would be interesting to see if a hacker today could even get into one of these machines. There are a lot of hacking methods that did not exist when these were built.
 

Dr4gon

Registered Member
V.I.P.
Actually a disK has always been square. A disC is round.



^note the differences.

I've never heard of Perimeter/Dead Hand. Is it like some sort of fortitude missile defense system? That sounds like an incredibly flawed system though.

I wonder what sort of programming language these nuclear computers use. It would be interesting to see if a hacker today could even get into one of these machines. There are a lot of hacking methods that did not exist when these were built.
K. Then Im a amateur geek. :p But I googled and those disks wont even store enough data for a photograph.
Perimeter is the Russian name for the system (Система «Периметр») but the US calls it Dead Hand. Its designed to launch a second strike if Russian command centers are knocked out by nukes. If all the missiles reach their targets then it can wipe a whole country. And only the computers can make a decision to launch or stand down.

There was a article in Rossiyskaya gazeta (the Kremlins newspaper) about it but I forgot to bookmark it and I cant get a translation. It said that Perimeter was still operational 24/7/365 and was getting scheduled upgrades.
But I did find a article in the western media in English. They added a video that shows some of the test launches but its Russian and they didnt add subtitles. But the article is in English.
Russia’s apocalyptic nuclear Perimeter (aka ‘Dead Hand’)

And for anyone that just wants to watch the video.
[youtube]usLWc88z7pc[/youtube]
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
This does sound dangerous. What if there is a meteor strike will the computer see it as a nuclear strike and launch?
 

Dr4gon

Registered Member
V.I.P.
This does sound dangerous. What if there is a meteor strike will the computer see it as a nuclear strike and launch?
Only if the meteor knocks out the phones and theres radiation. These are the steps involved.

1. Is there anything unusual on the radar?
2. Has any radioactivity been detected?
3. Has there been any seismic activity?
4. Try to contact the local base.
5. If the local base doesnt respond then try to contact the main base.
6. If they dont respond then launch all the missiles.

A unexpected meteor would be on the radar. Btw the meteor in Chelyabinsk was unexpected. If the meteor is radioactive or hits something that releases radioactivity then the computer will detect that. The Chelyabinsk meteor struck 34 miles from Chelyabinsk and did massive damage. If that had included damage to landlines and cell sites then the computer wouldnt be able to get any human response.
Also, the shock wave from the Chelyabinsk meteor strike caused a 2.7 earthquake in Chelyabinsk. That covers the seismic activity.

So yeah, if the meteor hits a laboratory with radioactive materials or if the crater uncovers uranium or buried nuclear waste. And it knocks out communications... there could be a serious problem.

I just hope some of those upgrades include programming upgrades to help prevent any accidents. :-/
Btw that doesnt even include small power glitches or software issues.
 
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