Let’s talk about
metal this time!
In part, elasticity. In part, crack propagation. In titanium alloys it’s often more subtle, which can be dangerous in itself.
I have read a book on mountaineering equipment, there was a curious bit on popularity of titanium alloys declining rather than growing in these circles (in early 90s).
Basically, once titanium became less than exotic, it fell into grubby paws of the amateurs, legally or not. Naturally, people tried to use it for DIY mountaineering gear. The results were scary enough to dissuade this. A part holds the load, it’s lighter than steel and/or made thicker (wears the rope less). It was tested and used, there are no visible defects. Then it breaks with no warning signs at all, maybe under negligible force. One fine day dude tightens a rope around some hook or brake, and it just falls apart, like it was made of caramel. YFW. Naturally, the people who have seen this tend to exhibit deep and vocal distrust for such materials ever after.
> If you don't periodically test nukes, they can
What tests? Fissile materials by definition degrade slowly, and irradiate everything around, so parts of a nuke inevitably need replacement. Fissile material itself, depending on half life: Tritium (for fusion) all the time, Pu-238 often, U-235 and Pu-239 not so often.
But Uranium is refined from natural ore, Tritium and Plutonium (both 239 and 238) are made in breeder reactors. This can be a problem.
> This is why you hear so many "fusion power using lasers" news headlines out of America.
Fusion attempts were done for decades. Everywhere, until eventually chucked as another dead end.
> The universities are funded by the DoD to come up with convoluted ways in the civilian sector to set off a nuke on a tiny scale and then they're given small samples from nuclear weapons to do the tests.
> These research papers then go out to give other countries a heads up that America has confirmed their nuclear degradation to X capacity meaning on a macro scale they still have Y strength.
That’s nonsense, because all these tests look like a dead end for decades. And if it was not, it would be indistinguishable from planning ahead. For OSINT purpose, there’s something much better, an actual demonstration of capability, or lack thereof.
Production of Pu-238 in USA:
Cassini probe (1997) had a radioisotope generator with 33 kg of Pu-238.
New Horizons (2005) generator was much more modest, supposed to use only 10.9 kg. But U.S. Department of Energy could supply only 9.75 kg on not-so-short notice. Which is why it had to work in short bursts due to power constraints, and this contributed to the eventual failure (in part it happened due to odd jury-rigging, but with a better generator it could just transmit more often instead of being forced into sleep mode, so no need to overload).
Sure, there was 2020 Mars Rover mission and whatnot. But they still could not produce all Pu-238 needed. Worse, they could not predict how much they can do and plan accordingly. So this capability was both stretched thin and unreliable back in 2005. The situation was unlikely to improve after that.