THE CAUSE AND EFFECT OF WAR
Today’s blog is more of a commentary than an informative post. We’ll look at the reasons behind war, and what we can do as a race to change our opinion of war. In today’s world, the motives for war have changed, as well as rules of engagement towards terrorism.
There are many reasons for war, but the main four categories are political, economical, race, and religion. Political motives include revolution, assassination, and civil unrest. Economical reasons include economical instability, seizure of valuable property, and employment inequity and cause famine, disease, and death. Race is just as big a factor, as we have seen in our country in the past and present, as well, as in countries like South Africa. Religion,(yes I said religion) shouldn’t be a cause of war, but it is. Muslims, Christians, and Jews have been fighting over the Holy Land for over 1000 years, and recently extreme religion has played a factor in terrorism. It is not general belief in any religion to kill innocent people, or kill anyone without provocation, for that matter.
So, what can we do as a race to change? Well, in my opinion, before we can learn to live on a global level together, we must first treat each other with the kindness that Jesus, or Mohammad, or the Dali Lama, or whoever would. No matter what your belief is, this is basic. Next time someone cuts you off on the highway, think about that. Do you really need to scream your head off at him; and would it do any good anyway? I’ve even asked myself that sometimes.
Forgiveness is the key; if we can learn to forgive one another and our flaws and differences, we may survive as a race. I realize on a global scale this is hard; the balance of power is great, and too much war has been raged here to ever work out a peaceful resolution. But if we could just share a little love for each other; and learn to forget what this or that person did ten years ago, we might be able to learn to live with them on a day to day basis. I’ve had to do this myself, and I’ve felt like more of a Christian for doing so.
I’ve seen many people frown upon the homeless with their signs begging for food. Not to quote religion, but in the bible it specifically warns us about prejudging people. You don’t know he will spend money on drugs or alcohol; when given the choice, most people will prefer food over money.
Religion and race are strong areas of aggression. Different religious beliefs can cause tension between people, but it doesn’t have to. The same is true of race. We need to accept each other’ s beliefs, customs, and traditions what ever they are. The same goes for same gender marriages, economically, mentally or physically challenged individuals, the elderly, or anyone who are different than we are.
As we enter this holiday season, take a few minutes to ask yourself if you’re really doing all you can to make the world a better place. Share a meal with a homeless person, give to those less fortunate, say hello or share a smile with a stranger, or pay it forward. I’ll leave you to your family and friends to enjoy your Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or whatever it is you celebrate or don’t celebrate.
This will be my last post of 2015, and I’ll be back after the new year. As I leave, I will offer this final thought about peace on Earth. If we don’t find peace individually in our hearts, what guarantee do we have that our leaders will find it for us; and if they do, will it be the kind of peace that our God approves of? Enjoy your holiday, and see you in 2016!
I’d like to start this series with remembrance for those who died recently in the Paris attacks, and send my prayers and hopes for the families of the victims. The hope of some resolution to their despair, and hope that justice will someday be served against those responsible. Living in the US, we often take for granted that the rest of the world can be a very violent place. The rules of war have changed, and the enemy is sometimes unrecognized.
That being said, we will now focus on our series, which is, of course, about war. How did we get to where we are, and what drove us to the lengths that war has become a multi billion dollar industry with advanced weaponry?
The answer may be simpler than you think. It dates back before modern man, when our prehistoric predecessors competed for food and water. Ancient man traveled in tribes, and neighboring tribes would ensure their survival by protecting their prey and gathered food from others, an instinct inherited from their animal counterparts. Because man had a thinking developed brain, he discovered how to use tools to make things, including weapons.
At first, simple rocks and discarded bones provided protection. In the bible, Cain kills Able by simply hitting him over the head with a bone or rock, as suggested. About 400,000 years ago, these were replaced by spears made from a long wooden pole with a stone spear head attached with vines. These allowed men to hunt their enemies and prey from a distance, by throwing them in the air. It is a simple, but effective technique, if within throwing distance.
Another common primitive weapon used were the rock and sling, which dates back around 7,000 years ago, but were probably used much earlier than that. These were more effective at farther distances than the spear, because they used the momentum of the thrower’s arm to increase the speed of the throw, but were also less effective at accuracy, having success only 50% of the time. If one were an experienced slinger, such as the famous David against Goliath, the weapon was very effective at disabling and even killing a victim.
Next came the bow and arrow, which date back to about 64,000 years ago. It is a type of lever, where the hand acts on the bow as a fulcrum for the lever. Earlier bows were called self bows, made from one piece of wood. Later bows, composites, were made from layers of wood, animal horns, and sinew glued together.
Assyrians and Babylonians used the bow and arrow extensively, and evidence can be seen in ancient texts and drawings. In Mongolia, during the Kahn’s dynasty, bows and arrows were used in conjunction with horses. Poison is sometimes added to the tip of the arrow or spear to give the weapon a more lethal effect. Some natives have been known to use a simple bamboo “blow gun,” to attack a victim.
In my newest novel, Return To Doomsday, I’ve incorporated primitive weapons in a futuristic setting. On the tropical island of the planet Ventros, Jeff Walker and his friends must fight off a tiger attack, and kill a wild boar using only spears. The lingworts use only bows and arrows to protect them, and in the games of Garlicia, a simple but deadly metal rod with spikes is used.
That will be tomorrow’s focus, the use of metal in weaponry. Until then, here are the links:
METAL CHANGES THE GAME
With the introduction of copper, brass, and tin, weapons became stronger and more durable, as opposed to stone, which were brittle and hard to work with. The Bronze age was a time period from 3300-1200 BC, when civilization, commerce, and trade began.
Bronze weapons and armor were made by smelting copper with tin, arsenic, and other metals. In the smelting process, the higher the temperature, the harder the metal will become. The casts for molds were often made from metal, stone, or clay.
Bronze swords and armor first appeared in the Black Sea region about the 17th century BC. Before 1400 BC, swords remained mostly limited to the Aegean and Southeastern Europe. Copper and tin swords were softer and less sturdy than bronze swords, and were prone to breaking. Before that stone weapons, which were brittle, were used.
Bronze axes also made effective weapons and tools. The first axes were made of stone, but later metal replaced the blades, which were made all in one piece in earlier versions. Later, a wooden handle was added for better leverage, and swing. The first battle axes were best used a close range with a hacking motion. Occasionally, they were thrown, but this is a mostly a myth, for a good warrior would seldom throw an axe for risk of losing it.
Sickle Swords were a combination of the two, a good slicing weapon, as well as the durability of a sword. They were used in the Mesopotamia version in biblical times, and it is believed that earlier battles, such as the one at Jericho, were fought with this type of sword.
Primitive armor was often made from different fibers wove together. With the introduction of bronze, man was somewhat protected from his attacker, including helmets that could protect his head. As the smelting process became more developed, the introduction of iron offered more protection in armor, and more deadly in warfare, as we will see tomorrow. Until then, here are the links:
The Iron age began shortly after the Bronze age and lasted to about 42. AD. During this time, smelting was replaced with forging, which is a process of shaping metal with a hammer as it is heated. Most iron is much harder than bronze or tin, and thus more durable. A shortage of tin in the Bronze age forced metal workers to seek an alternative to Bronze, an iron was more widely available.
Chariots made of metal and animal skin were widely used across Egypt and the Middle Eastern regions. The progress of the wheel was revolutionized with the introduction of iron. It made them more sturdy, and less apt to break than wood.
Warriors during this period, and later on into Europe wore bronze or iron armor. Iron changed the curvature in swords, making them less pronounced than the sickle sword. Javelins and spears were effective at long distances, and generally consisted of a long wooden shaft, and a pointed iron tip end.
The use of Iron continued past the Iron age, with the introduction of full body armor, more elaborate swords, maces, battle axes, daggers, and shields. With the introduction of gunpowder, a whole new industry began, which is Friday’s topic. until then, here are the links:
AN EXPLOSIVE TOPIC
As battles continued to be fought with swords, maces, and catapults, a new technological development in weaponry was just around the corner. It was invented by the Chinese around 1000 AD, and called gunpowder. It was a chemical composition consisting of 78% saltpeter, 13.3% charcoal, and 11.9% sulfur.
Gunpowder is made by crushing the combined three ingredients into a fine powder, and then stored in either a metal or dry wood container in a cool, dry place. Too much heat, or too damp a place will cause the gunpowder to react and explode.
It was first introduced to Western Europe around the 13th century, and the first handguns shortly after. The first known gun was also Chinese, and actually a form of hand cannon. Cannons are simple guns, and basically work by by packing the cannon with gunpowder with the ramrod, placing the projectile into the cannon, then lighting the fuse to propel the projectile. They were later mounted onto water vessels, and used on sailing ships.
Guns are similar in respect, working by igniting the gunpowder and producing a tiny spark. Gunpowder is poured into the breech, and the projectile is stuffed on top of it. To fire the gun, you cock the hammer all the way back, and pull the trigger, which causes the trigger to release the hammer, which swings forward into the explosive cap. The cap ignites, shooting a small flame down a tube to the gunpowder. It explodes, and launches the projectile.
Revolvers, rifles, shotguns, and machine guns all work using the same principles, but operate in different ways. The earlier muskets working similar to cannons, but on a smaller scale, mainly using small metal balls as ammunition. As rifles and handguns became more advanced, they also became more accurate at hitting their targets.
The common Navy Colt 45, often used by men in the old west, contrary to belief was not the gun of choice by a gunfighter. Most were big and bulk, and although they were deadly weapon, were not very practical in gunfight. Smaller weapons, such as the Derringer or the Smith and Wesson revolver, were more effective at closer ranges. The choice for rifles back then were the Winchester and Remington, and still are today, although their design has changed significantly.
With all the violence that has been occurring lately, one might wonder why I picked this topic for a series. This series is to understand the weaponry involved, the causes of war, and what we can do to prevent. My heart goes out to the families of the recent Paris attacks, and the recent California incident. With all the focus of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, one may wonder why they are allowed to purchased at all.
My answer to this is that guns aren’t the problem, people are. In the right hands, guns are tools that allows us to hunt, and to protect ourselves, and our law enforcement officers. Those for gun control only need to remind themselves of what would have happened to our forefathers if they weren’t armed against the British. Guns are necessary for a proper balance against a tyrannical government. And yes, if our government has a right to use automatic weapons, then we should have that right too.
he real problem is the bureaucratic nonsense that goes on within our government. Politicians allow laws to pass on gun restrictions without focusing on the real issue involved-mental illness. People are allowed to own guns by having no psychological tests or background checks, terrorists are allowed to enter the country without an investigation into their past, and children are allowed access to weapons by careless, uneducated gun owners.
Well, before I go on further with a soap box on gun control, we will focus on Monday’s topic-Mechanical weapons and the widespread production of steel. Until then, here are links, and have a good weekend. I’ll be in Brockport, NY Saturday for another book signing.
MECHANICAL WEAPONS OF WAR
Before I begin today’s post, I’d like to state that I’m sorry for not being more active in my posts lately. Life can sometimes get in the way of our more creative pursuits; and some things have to be put on hold when necessary. Family medical issues and other obligations sometimes take precedence. So, as today was supposed to be Monday’s post, I apologize.
Mechanical machinery in battles is nothing new. With the development of the wheel, as we have seen, produced chariots and war wagons. In early civilization, wood and metal machinery was limited to catapults, cannonballs, and crossbows.
With the production of steel, iron clad vessels came into existence in the early half of the 19th century. The French navy vessel Gloire and the Napoleon were the first ships protected by iron plates. One of the most famous battles between these type of vessels was during the civil war between the Merrimack and Monitor.
Steam powered vessels were also popular and used by the military. Called gunships, they paved the way for the development of modern day battleships and submarines. Leonardo Da Vinci had even sketched designs for both submarines and tanks centuries before they even became commonplace.
Once the automobile was introduced, it was also used on the battlefield. At first, early Volkswagons and Ford trucks were used to carry troops and supplies. The first armored car was built as early as 1902 by F.R. Simms. It has been modified over the years, but is still used to this day in the middle east and other areas of conflict.
Tanks arrived on the scene around 1915 during WWI. The first concept for a tank was designed in 1903, and called the Levasseur Project. Powered by an 80 hp engine, it was to have a crew of three, storage for ammunition, and have cross country ability. The project was abandoned, and more effective designs were later developed.
Tractor-like wheels allowed tanks to cover all types of terrain. The word “Tank” came from “water tank,” a name given to deliberately hide their true purpose. In WWII, they became an essential part of the war game. Also in WWII, Jeeps were introduced, and commonly used.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the revolutionary invention which changed the face of battle forever-flight. Until then, here are today’s links:
WAR TAKES TO THE AIR
In the early days of flight, hot air balloons were used to survey a battle site, and drop dynamite or occasional bombs if necessary. In 1893, Count Ferdinand Von Zeppelin designed the first rigid airship, which used Hydrogen cells or “gasbags” inside framework designed from aluminum and copper. They were propelled by several engines mounted on gondolas, which were attached to the framework.
They were first used commercially in 1910 by DELAG corporation, and carried over 10,000 passengers on over 1500 flights. During WW II, the Germans made extensive use of them as bombers and scouts. The LZ129 Hindenberg operated regular transatlantic flights from Germany to North America and Brazil. It exploded in 1937, and due to the zeppelin’s susceptibility to fires and explosions from the gas, they were discontinued.
With the invention of the airplanes, early one prop, double wing design, were used for the first air battles. Some were slow, such as the BE 2c, which mad for an easy target for the enemy. The first planes mounted machine guns either on the upper wing, or next to the pilot. Some were hand held, and fired directly by the gunner, or the pilot himself in a single passenger fighter.
Snoopy’s British Sopwith Camel, as well as the French SPAD XIII were both equipped with two forward mounted machine guns. Ground to air rockets were sometimes used to shoot down enemy craft.
During WW II, planes and prop engines became more advanced. With the production of steel, planes became more sturdy and reliable. With the invention of metal aircraft, machine guns could be mounted easier, and became effective killing machines. The guns did sometimes jam, however, and didn’t always hit the target. Success still relied on the pilot’s accuracy as a marksman.
Planes such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop, and the Japanese Mitisubishi A6M Zero, which were the majority of those used in the attack against Pearl Harbor. Regular prop engines were replaced by Piston engines, which increased their horsepower. During this time, radar on aircraft was just beginning to be used.
Next week, we’ll take a look at a revolutionary concept that changed the face of warfare, and was introduced by a bunch of German-defector scientists-rocket technology and atomic power. Until then, here are the links:
AN EASIER WAY TO KILL
Ever since the first atomic bomb test on July 16th, 1945, in Almogordo, New Mexico, we have lived in the fear of nuclear war. The doomsday clock, as they call it has came awfully close to midnight on several occassions.
Testing was initiated after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor during WWII on Dec. 7th. 1941. The Americans retaliated against them by creating two atomic bombs, titled Little Boy and Fat Man, and dropping them respectively on Hiroshima on Aug, 6, 1945, and on Nagasaki on Aug, 9, 1945. 200,000 people were either injured severely or killed. This was also the only time nuclear weapons were used for warfare. Since then, over 2,000 bombs have been tested, and over 10,000 developed.
Nuclear weapons are any explosive devices that derive their destructive force from either fission, such as in a fission bomb, or a combination of fission and fusion, such as in a thermonuclear weapon. The first atomic bomb released enough energy to be equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT. The first thermonuclear bomb released approximately the equivalent of 10,000,000 tons of TNT.
In fission bombs, often referred to as atomic bombs, the energy comes from the nucleus of the atom. A mass of enriched uranium or plutonium is assembled into a supercritical mass and imploded to create a reaction. The end product is nuclear fallout, and one huge explosion.
In fusion, or thermonuclear reactions, a large proportion of energy occurs from fission of isotopes in the hydrogen atom. They rely on fission reactions to trigger the fusion chain reaction, which creates several explosions within the main explosion.
Edward Teller helped in the development of nuclear weapons, and is referred to as the Father of the H-bomb. Albert Einstein was essential in the development in treaties of nuclear development and usage. His insight led to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968.
The fear of nuclear war has been a strong deterrent in its usage. Bomb scares in the late 50’s led to the development of safeguards in the act of a nuclear war, such as underground shelters, and plans of action in the case of a national emergency. In reality, however, none of these will protect us from the complete and udder destruction a nuclear war will cause, and the possible extinction of the human race.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at another advancement that changed the world of travel, as well as the world of war, and brought us into the space age-jet propulsion. Until then, here are the links:
THE FACE OF TODAY’S WARFARE
With the invention of jet propulsion in the early 1950’s, war would become much more accurate and efficient. It also made air travel for civilians much easier as well, and made it so we can now arrive 1500 miles away in just a mere three and a half hours. Jet propulsion was designed in the aftermath of WWII, with the help of a group of defected German rocket scientists.
There are two main types of jet propulsion that are used in today’s engines-ramjet and turbojet. Ramjets are a form of air-breathing engine that uses an engine forward motion to compress incoming air. They work more efficiently at supersonic speeds around 2,284 mph, or Mach 3, and can go up to speeds of 7,267 mph or Mach 6. These are most commonly used for supersonic jets, missles, and rockets.
Turbojets are the most widely used. The air is drawn into the engine, and the pressure is increased by a compressor. The air enters the combustion chamber, where it’s burned with fuel to increase its temperature. It travels through a turbine, which produces power.
Jet propulsion led to great innovations in aircraft technology, such as the Stealth bomber, and the unmanned aerial vehicle, the MQ-9 Reaper drone.
Aircraft isn’t the only place drones are used, however. UAV’s can be in any form; water going vessels, as well as ATV’s. Stealth technology has developed a type of cloaking device that bends light using tiny mirrors, making an enemy almost invisible. Lasers and magnetic rail guns are used to make weapons more accurate, as well as knock out distant targets using photon beams.
Robotics has also played a big role on the advancement of war. Just recenty, a “terminator treaty” was introduced, so that if weapons or robots ever worked on artificial intelligence, they were not be used for this purpose without the direction and control of its operator. Robotic exoskeletons are used to make a soldier be able to lift more, and travel farther distances.
What will the future hold for mankind, and will we ever stop our petty bickering amongst each other? Tomorrow, we will try to answer this question by asking some questions about the reasons behind war, and what we can do to change them. Join me tomorrow for my conclusion of this series, and a special message. Until then, here are today’s links: