Saddam's Supergun And Verne's Columbiad
Baby Babylon, a prototype gun approximately forty meters long, was constructed in the late 1980's in Iraq for Saddam Hussein. The intent was to launch weapons into space.
("Baby Babylon" Supergun prototype)
According to General Hussein Kamel al-Majeed, who defected from Iraq:
"It was meant for long-range attack and also to blind spy satellites. Our scientists were seriously working on that. It was designed to explode a shell in space that would have sprayed a sticky material on the satellite and blinded it."
Although this seems to be a science-fictional project at best, it was designed by a Canadian-born astrophysicist named Gerald Bull. Bull had worked on the High Altitude Research Program (HARP), which eventually resulted in a thirty meter-long gun that succeeded in firing a 185 pound projectile to an altitude of 180 kilometers.
Bull was hired by Saddam Hussein to work on larger and more powerful projectile-hurling guns in 1981. From then until he was assassinated in March of 1990 (probably by Israeli intelligence), he continued his research. He designed two advanced self-propelled artillery systems for the Iraqis: the 210-millimeter Al Fao and the 155 millimeter Majnoon. The Al Fao, weighing 48 tons, can fire four 109 kilogram rounds a minute for 35 miles from its 11-meter barrel. The Iraqis claim that the Al Fao and Majnoon can attain a top speed of 72-88 kilometers an hour on the road.
The Baby Babylon project pictured above was finally installed at Jabal Hamrayn, ninety miles north of Baghdad, in central Iraq [Jabal Hamrin MTS]. The gun was positioned along a mountainside at an angle of about 45 degrees. It was never used during war, and was destroyed after the Gulf war by UN teams. They also destroyed parts of a 1000 mm diameter supergun and propellant loads.
In his blockbuster 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon, the Baltimore Gun Club creates an enormous cannon called the Columbiad to fire a projectile large enough to allow men to travel into space.
"You know," said he, "what progress artillery science has made during the last few years, and what a degree of perfection firearms of every kind have reached. Moreover, you are well aware that, in general terms, the resisting power of cannon and the expansive force of gunpowder are practically unlimited.
"Well! starting from this principle, I ask myself whether, supposing sufficient apparatus could be obtained constructed upon the conditions of ascertained resistance, it might not be possible to project a shot up to the moon?"
(Read more about Jules Verne's supergun)
Find out more about the supergun here and
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/12/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
TIKAD Armed Drone Ready To Fight
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...' - Larry Niven, 1972.
LaWS Laser Can Take Out Rogue Drones
Looks like a weapon for the Runaway squad!
Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.' - Keith Laumer, 1976.
Railguns For Surface Ships
'It was simply a long solenoid that threw little steel bullets...' - John W. Campbell, 1933.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'
iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.
Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'
Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.
RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.
Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.'
Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.
Watch What People Are Seeing Via Brain Scanning
'had managed to see through the other man's eyes as the other man, all unaware, washed their Zis limousine sixteen hundred meters away...'
Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve.
Interstellar Asteroid Visits Our Solar System
'This asteroid had whirled in from the cold of the interplanetary space...'
PRIMA Bionic Vision Restoration
'The VISOR... was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight...'
Audi Traffic Jam Pilot Knows If You're Sleeping
'Even here, riding a garbage truck to eternity, the machine watched him...'
UM Hall Thruster Breaks Records
Someday, we'll see an ion drive used to get to Mars.
Ionity Ultra-fast Charging Station Network
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
VAuth Voice Security Wearable From University of Michigan
'Siri, I gave you a voice command...' 'Yes, but do I know you?'
Ubiquiti FrontRow Camera Records Your Life
Why be choosy? Just upload your whole life to the Internet, and be done with it.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories