The Japanese nuclear weapons program

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
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Marcus
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The Japanese nuclear weapons program

Post by Marcus » 03 Aug 2002 19:59

Documents hidden since World War II showing Japan's plans for an atomic bomb have been returned to the country, according to a newspaper report.
The widow of the Japanese scientist who had spirited the documents out of the country after the war has given them to a Tokyo research institute, the Asahi daily says.
The 23-page dossier shows the Japanese army's plans for a relatively weak atomic bomb - blueprints that were ordered destroyed just before Japan's surrender in 1945.
The documents were instead secretly given to chemist Kazuo Kuroda, who then left for the United States and died there last year.
The documents, the newspaper says, could be a valuable addition to the study of Japan's wartime history.
They show how far Japan got in trying to build nuclear weapons of its own before the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing hundreds of thousands of people in August 1945 and forcing a surrender.
...
A photograph published in the newspaper shows diagrams and drawings of a bomb, together with text written by a military officer who interviewed the scientist at the head of the atomic bomb development team.
But the newspaper says experts who have examined the documents do not believe the bomb would have been very powerful.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2170881.stm

/Marcus

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Mait
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Post by Mait » 04 Aug 2002 11:20

Where could I see the "diagrams and drawings" of this bomb?

Best Regards,

Mait.

Ovidius
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Post by Ovidius » 04 Aug 2002 17:05

It's doubtful they could have built it at all, but at least they tried.

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Mait
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Post by Mait » 05 Aug 2002 09:46

Ovidius wrote:It's doubtful they could have built it at all, but at least they tried.


Don´t be so sure about that. They reached quite good results in their biological weapons research... By the way, the man (Hideki Tojo) who saved the United States from Japanese biological attack was later hanged by the Americans as war criminal.

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Mait.

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 07 Aug 2002 21:02

Mait wrote:Where could I see the "diagrams and drawings" of this bomb?


Try contacting the Riken scientific research institute.

/Marcus

gabriel pagliarani
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Uranium or bomb?

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 09 Aug 2002 22:23

NO URANIUM LIGHT ISOTOPES ( U235, U233) NO BOMB!

A drawing remains a drawing without fixiles.Albert Speer armament plan was scheduled for entering 3rd Reich in war in 1944. Why Hitler show down so early his plans before the previous date secretely scheduled with Mussolini in 1937? Niels Bohr, Nobel prize and nazi party member, argued that the secret of the bomb was not in design (easy to do) but in reaching as soon as possible the critical mass of 9 Kg. of U235, U233 fixile isotopes each bomb. But there is only 1 atom of these fixiles every 600.000/ 1.000.000 atoms of U238 not-fixile (inert) atoms. There is another way: the enrichment (or feeding) of U238 in Pu240 by mean of a reactor. (Fermi way!) But the initial amount of U233 and U235 to begin the feeding process must be higher than the only 9Kg critical mass of a bomb. This is the reason because Hiroshima was burned with an Uranium bomb and Nagasaki with a Plutonium bomb: after the reactor of Chicago, after the test in Alamogordo there was not Uranium enough for 2 bombs, and the Plutonium (..an artificial element not existing in Nature!) was produced by feeding in a reactor U238 inert Uranium in Plutonium Pu240. Shortening:
The only pechblenda mineral suitable in such wide mass (tons!) was in USA and in URSS. In USA was too far, in URSS was behind Urals then suitable. This is the true reason because the war began in 1939.
There is no fantasy in this argument.
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Caldric
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Post by Caldric » 10 Aug 2002 00:22

By the way, the man (Hideki Tojo) who saved the United States from Japanese biological attack was later hanged by the Americans as war criminal.


Damn right he was, to bad they could not drag him down and do it again, then maybe there would have been some justice.

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Post by Caldric » 10 Aug 2002 00:25

Exactly gabriel pagliarani, it took the largest factory in the world at Oak Ridge (of that time) and built at billions of dollars, a couple of years to squeez out enough for 2 bombs and a test bomb. The Axis Nations never had anywhere near the resource to accomplish this, nor did the UK or USSR.[/quote]

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Post by Mait » 10 Aug 2002 11:26

In the fall of 1940, the Japanese army concluded that constructing an atomic bomb was indeed feasible. The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, or Rikken, was assigned the project under the direction of Yoshio Nishina. The Japanese Navy was also diligently working to create its own "superbomb" under a project was dubbed F-Go, headed by Bunsaku Arakatsu at the end of World War II. The F-Go program [or No. F, for fission] began at Kyoto in 1942. However, the military commitment wasn't backed with adequate resources, and the Japanese effort to an atomic bomb had made little progress by the end of the war.

Japan's nuclear efforts were disrupted in April 1945 when a B-29 raid damaged Nishina's thermal diffusion separation apparatus. Some reports claim the Japanese subsequently moved their atomic operations Konan [Hungnam, now part of North Korea]. The Japanese may have used this facility at for making small quantities of heavy water. The Japanese plant was captured by Soviet troops at war's end, and some reports claim that the output of the Hungnam plant was collected every other month by Soviet submarines.

There are indications that Japan had a more sizable program than is commonly understood, and that there was close cooperation among the Axis powers, including a secretive exchange of war materiel. The German submarine U-234, which surrendered to US forces in May 1945, was found to be carrying 560 kilograms of Uranium oxide destined for Japan's own atomic program. The oxide contained about 3.5 kilograms of the isotope U-235, which would have been about a fifth of the total U-235 needed to make one bomb. After Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, the occupying US Army found five Japanese cyclotrons, which could be used to separate fissionable material from ordinary uranium. The Americans smashed the cyclotrons and dumped them into Tokyo Harbor.

Best Regards,

Mait.

gabriel pagliarani
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Reply to Caldric

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 10 Aug 2002 14:43

There is a sharp-edged mind so far in Alaska!.
The 1st consequence of your consciourness of the importance and role that the Bomb had in ending WW2 is that the date of Aug 6, 1945 achieves less importance respect with the date of the beginning of war! What may be the true beginning?If the Bomb halted the war by freezing the extremely high probability of a strong further japanese ground resistance, the day of the start of the war must match the day of the begin of the race for the Bomb. So, the war not began nor in Sept.'39(Germany) nor in June'40 (Italy) nor in Dec'41(Japan) but at least some year before... In my opinion the war started in 1934 when Enrico Fermi discovered the possibility fission (split) of the isotope U235 by using a neutron source and a block of parafin as simple "brake" (moderator) for reducing neutron speed.( parafin contains an high amount of Carbons exactly as using graphite as he did later in 1944 Chicago experiment..)
So the WW2 began, here in Rome, in an old building in Via Panisperna!
Fermi tried briefly to hide to the Fascist Government the importance of the discovery by reducing the experiment to the false discovery of the new heavy "trans-uranics" elements made by adding neutrons to U235. In the while, at the contrary as Otto Hahn demonstrated only in 1938 (officially... I am sure that in 1935 all the phisycs were involved in the plan) he broke atoms of Uranium using slowed neutrons obtaining lighter elements plus ß- rads, fast neutrons and a little quantity of mass converted in an extremely high quantity of energy, according with Einstein and relativity rules. This kinetik energy (E = mc2) was in form of neutron speed, heat, light, and energetic photons (or fotons?) in Gamma and X wave length. At the end of the fixion (or fission?) of Uranium after emitting such a radiation, there are such rare elements(as Thorium isotopes) emitting lethal radiations for a very long time. From Nobel Swedish site:" In 1934, he evolved the ß-decay theory, coalescing previous work on radiation theory with Pauli's idea of the neutrino. Following the discovery by Curie and Joliot of artificial radioactivity (1934), he demonstrated that nuclear transformation occurs in almost every element subjected to neutron bombardment.This work resulted in the discovery of slow neutrons that same year, leading to the discovery of nuclear fission and the production of elements lying beyond what was until then the Periodic Table."
Some days after the discovery Quirino Majorana, the finest mathematical brain of Fermi group, was throwed down in Thyrrenian Sea out of the ferry from Naples to Palermo. Not a single phormula or document was found in his luggage: the killers raped all his writings. In my opinion Majorana found the critical mass of the bomb: but some secret service oughted to quit him definitely. Someone says he was fascist killed by Soviets, someone from westerns.After four years Fermi was in USA: the war started so smoothly and Hitler was the looser just starting.
The 2nd Point, as you said , is that there was not a 3rd Bomb after Nagasaki.The next plutonium bomb could be ready only in January '46 and after the destruction of the american cruiser used for ferrying nukes from East Coast to Taipan and Guam, the Air Command was obliged to change all logistics: the invasion of Japan and 5 millions men mass- killing was still possible! Fortunately Hiro-Hito stopped the massacre.
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Reply to Mait

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 10 Aug 2002 16:56

In my opinion in your "nip-nuke story" there are some lacks of true aknolewdgement of phisycs demostrating that story is a legend, not history: some things sound possible, other not at all. When a war is lost and the enemy is knocking at the doors, the 1st thing to do consists in burning all useful documents. It happened in Germany, Italy and Japan, so any kind of legend is possible. I am skilled in such questions, unfortunately! The critical point in your show is the massive separation of the ultra-rare U233 and U235 isotopes from only-rare U238(the same used in Kosovo in form of anti-tank bullets). The simplest way is half chemical, half phisycal. Uranium esa-Fluoride F6U (6atoms Fluorine + 1 atom Uranium) is a gas having a strange property: because Fluorine has no isotopes, the changing in weight (or mass) for 2 equal volumes of gas at the same pressure must be done by the changes in weight due to the presence of plus or minus light isotopes of Uranium in it. Less the weight, more the U233 and U235 in it. In the same fluid gas, less the density more the Uranium suitable for nuke! But is not possible to separate them by mean of gravity because it is a too low force for such a small difference in weight. But if you centrifugate the gas at very high speed the heavy not useful gas containing U238 will be squeezed out the external container by mean of a valve on the pheriphery of the container. So the gas remaining in this squeezer must contains a very high percentage of nuke-Uranium. You can repeat the process indefinitely till having your bomb quantity. This is the reason because our friend in Alaska used the term "squeeze out". The techology was trimmed by Du pont de Nemours Co., world leader in Fluorines. The critical mass for chain reaction depends from the state of art of technology. Your 14 Kg about are related to a '60 years technology: in 1945 in my opinion there were necessary at least 25 kg of U235. With the use of C/MOS technology today is possible to implode only 9 kg simultaneously obtaining the same reaction: the new concept of critical density and coherent isotropic reduction of geometry are used in the modern nukes.Try to ask to Saddam why he is looking for squeezers (...sorry: centrifugators...) The accelerators of particles can be used in feeding inert U238 in Pu 240 by adding a proton and a neutron. The process is not so easy to do and it is possible to obtain by transmutation only milligrams, not kilos of Plutonium spending a lot of time and a lot of energy. Still standing your theory?

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Japanese Atomic Bomb Projects of WWII

Post by williamjpellas » 08 Oct 2002 04:10

Japan made a concerted effort during World War II to produce and deploy weapons of mass destruction. These included biological weapons (Unit 731 in China), "death rays" (microwave beam devices) and especially atomic bombs. The truth about this advanced R&D has been deliberately ignored, downplayed, distorted, or covered up ever since the close of the Pacific War.

Japanese scientists themselves (such as Bunsaku Arakatsu and Tatsusaboru Suzuki) have in some cases come forward in recent years to inform the world about what was really going on in the Japanese Empire, but their first hand testimony has been all but drowned out by the usual chorus of American Marxist political correctness combined with scholarly inertia (simple unwillingness to consider or incorporate new information about the war into existing scholarship) and, of course, Japanese lies, spin-doctoring and "peace activism".

The recent article on the BBC's website showed conclusively that Japan was doing very advanced bomb research indeed. Robert Wilcox's book Japan's Secret War contains a number of top secret US intelligence documents which he unearthed using the Freedom of Information Act that fill in much of the history of Tokyo's clandestine nuclear weapons programs. I myself spent two hours arguing about this with a prominent American author this past weekend at the reunion of the 509th Composite Group in Oak Ridge, TN. It is amazing to see just how much resistance there is in AMERICA to the notion that Japan may have gotten very close to an actual deployable nuclear weapon.

Because most of her mainland atomic infrastructure was eventually destroyed by B-29 firebombing raids, the key to determining just how far Japan got revolves around exactly what was going on in what is today (ironically enough given the current "Axis of Evil") North Korea. Wilcox's book reprints several original OSS and G-2 documents that show the United States was well aware that the Hungnam (Konan), Korea industrial complex was extraordinarily well-equipped; in addition to more than 600,000 KW of hydroelectric power, there were railroads, numerous and diversified factories, and vast mineral extraction operations, including uranium mines. Why this complex was never attacked by the United States or her allies is a mystery; could it be that it had been agreed in advance that it was to be a war prize for the Soviets when they broke their peace treaty with Japan and entered the Pacific War? Could it be that American intelligence overlooked or underestimated the nuclear capabilities of this complex if/when the US agreed to essentially hand it over to the Russians? These are questions that MUST be asked by any honest student of the history of the Second World War.

I will post additional information about the Japanese atomic bomb project(s) in the near future. For now, it is worth mentioning that even the Federation of American Scientists---certainly NOT a right wing organization---agrees that Japan was trying very hard to build atomic bombs in WWII. 8O
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More Japanese A-bomb Information

Post by williamjpellas » 08 Oct 2002 04:51

As indicated by a previous post, Yoshio Nishina was indeed the top Japanese atomic physicist during the War years. Following a 1940 survey by Takeo Yasuda and Tatsusaburo Suzuki, the Riken scientific institute was given an Army contract to build the Bomb. Nishina was appointed head of the project.

Although his research was initially on a modest scale, Nishina nevertheless managed to produce 1) a working thermal diffusion separator, 2) a small uranium ore-processing plant, and 3) a small amount of uranium hexaflouride gas---the first step along the gas-diffusion separation route that was eventually so important to the United States. While Nishina's separator did not work well, its basic design laid the groundwork for the construction of five or six much larger (61 feet tall!) units produced by Sumitomo under Suzuki's guidance in 1944-45. There were also three other machines at Osaka University that were capable of separating U-235, one of which was the only mass spectrograph in Japan; while Wilcox calls these devices "separators", it is unclear whether they were in fact dedicated specifically to that purpose. The improved Nishina-Suzuki models were apparently not found by US investigators during the Occupation. Most likely they were either sent to Korea or sunk en route.

There is at least one US intelligence report indicating the presence of U-235 separators in Korea apart from the Sumitomo thermal diffusion machines. It is also known that Sumitomo designed a centrifuge-type separator, although whether it was built is unclear.

Assuming 1) the Sumitomo separators made it to Korea, 2) the existence of an unknown number of additional machines indigenous to Korea, 3) German technical assistance on a still-undetermined scale---remember that Germany tried at least three submarine cargo missions to Japan, all with the express purpose of sending top secret weapons technology to their allies, 4) possible Axis penetration of the Manhattan Project, and 5) documented Japanese weapon design, is an end of the war test bomb really all that inconceivable?

Remember, I am NOT saying the Japanese bomb was a practical weapon, assuming it existed as more than a design on paper. There is no evidence that more than one Japanese warhead was ever completed, and the only possible delivery system would have been a kamikaze submarine. Further, by that point, even one successful Japanese nuclear suicide mission would not have altered the course of the War. (Although it certainly WOULD have killed thousands of Americans, either aboard the Operation OLYMPIC invasion fleet or, more likely, in a west coast city such as San Francisco.)

I suspect that the Japanese weapon, if it really existed and if it was actually tested, was probably a "fizzle"---a partially successful detonation of comparitively low-grade HEU. This coincides with what I heard from a retired Vietnam-era US Army intelligence officer, who told me the test actually took place but that "It was a small one". However, even a "not very powerful " bomb (as the BBC story put it) would still have been a triumph of Japanese wartime R&D, and a potentially devestating weapon had it been mated to a true delivery system---for example, a Japanese copy of the German V-2. (V-2 technology was aboard U-234, the last of at least three German submarines that tried to reach Japan in the closing weeks of the war; did the others get through? If so, how much German weaponry made it to Japan?)

Unfortunately we may never know just how far the Japanese Korean effort got because of the Soviet occupation and the failures of American intelligence and policymaking at the very end of the War. But certainly we ought to take the notion of a Japanese bomb seriously, and certainly it is not impossible that they succeeded, even if it's not necessarily likely.
8O
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Incorrect Information About US Plutonium And Uranium Bombs

Post by williamjpellas » 08 Oct 2002 06:00

To correct an earlier post by another member:

The US plutonium complex at Hanford, Washington, was beginning mass production of "Fat Man" plutonium implosion fission bombs by July 1945. In addition to the "Trinity" test bomb and the Nagasaki combat device, there was already enough plutonium for another "Fat Man". Cores and bomb casings for several others were partially assembled. The third plutonium bomb was already in the pipeline and on the way to Tinian when Japan surrendered. According to firsthand testimony from Captain Don Albury, who flew "Bockscar" over Nagasaki, the third target city was to be Kokura, which had already escaped death twice, the first time as the secondary target after Hiroshima and the second time because it was obscured by cloud cover (Nagasaki was actually the secondary target of the second mission).

The false and erroneous notion that the US had no more atom bombs after Nagasaki has been repeated so many times in so many sources that it is difficult to root out. Most likely, this story has its origin in the fact that there would have been no more URANIUM "Little Boy" bombs available until November or December; the irony of atomic weaponry is that although it is far easier to build a uranium bomb, it is far HARDER to separate U-235 from U-238 than it is to produce Plutonium-239 in a "breeder" reactor. (Though the reactor is itself harder to manufacture than a uranium separator.)

The FACT is that the United States would have had as many as TWELVE (12) "Fat Man" devices and, possibly, an additional "Little Boy" device ready in time for "Operation OLYMPIC"---the invasion of the Home Islands themselves---which would have taken place on November 1, 1945. This figure comes from General George Marshall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who wrote a memo to Dr. Oppenheimer and General Groves (top men at the Manhattan Project) in August asking how many warheads would be available for the landings. Marshall wanted to use at least nine of them as tactical weapons to blast Japanese defenses, and then land the troops right through the mushroom clouds. (See Allen and Polmar in their book, Code Name Downfall, and the article "Previews of Hell" by Edwin Drea, published in Military History Quarterly in the 1990s.)

Again, it is categorically NOT true that no more nukes were available to the US after Nagasaki. MANY more were coming!
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Atomic Bomb Production Difficulties

Post by williamjpellas » 07 Sep 2003 17:22

To address the points made by our European friend who insists that a uranium fission bomb would have been too difficult for Japan to construct during the war: First, he is quite correct to state that the proportion of bomb-grade isotopes in naturally occurring uranium is vanishingly small. Less than one tenth of one percent of all uranium is U-235 and/or U-233, the more desirable (read: more readily fission-able) isotopes of U-238. It is perfectly true that, even today, separation of weapons-grade uranium is one of the most difficult of all industrial tasks. This is why (thank God) North Korea's arsenal is so small; even after ten years or more of dedicated work, the total number of devices they possess is probably less than five (5). So, that point is well taken. (Although I should add that the need for secrecy and the additional expense and complications of quite literally building most of their program underground have also served to slow the production of North Korean warheads.)

However, it does not necessarily follow that there was no Japanese bomb---or threat of a Japanese bomb---for a number of reasons. First, the technology necessary to conduct separation/enrichment of uranium was already well established and well known even before the war. A German industrial chemist named Klaus Clusius had already produced a device called a "clusius tube" that utilized the thermal diffusion process to separate the desired isotopes from the naturally occurring U-238. Although this process was considered by the Anglo-American Manhattan Project and rejected as too cumbersome, it WAS the method of choice for the British MAUD Committee. MAUD in fact did preliminary calculations on the industrial process necessary to produce a fission bomb in the late 1930s; see Thomas Powers' book "Heisenberg's War" for further information along these lines.

Second, unlike the Germans, the Japanese scientists did understand the difference between the "slow neutron reaction" and the "fast neutron reaction". For more than half a century, historians have puzzled over exactly why Germany failed to produce an atomic bomb of its own despite being the world leader in nuclear physics prior to WWII. Powers' investigation concluded that Heisenberg himself deliberately overstated the industrial difficulties inherent in building a bomb and therefore was at least partially responsible for Hitler's decision to push Nazi science in the direction of advanced rockets, jet aircraft, and other R & D projects. This conclusion was based primarily on his colleague Carl von Weisacker's claims and also on the mysterious conversation that took place in 1940 between Heisenberg and Neils Bohr---Heisenberg's mentor who was by then essentially under house arrest in Denmark. The story goes that it was Bohr's moral outrage that galvanized his former pupil's resolve to carry out what was essentially a form of civil disobedience.

This is probably largely if not entirely false because the Farm Hall recordings seem to prove conclusively that Heisenberg did NOT understand the "fast neutron reaction". Farm Hall was an English estate where about a dozen of the most prominent German atomic scientists were taken and held for about a year after the collapse of the Third Reich. The entire property was bugged with listening devices, and the recordings of the Germans' conversations show Heisenberg's ignorance of the supercritical fission process (although given the right resources he almost certainly would have succeeded eventually in producing a working reactor).

Again, however, Japanese physicists did know the difference between the two reactions. Yoshio Nishina himself published a paper on the subject prior to Japan's declaration of war against the West. Bunsaku Arakatsu, the former student of Einstein, also likewise knew full well what was necessary to produce a supercritical detonation. Even the American Scientific Intelligence Survey, headed by Princeton scientist Karl Compton, conceded the excellence of Japanese science---although for political reasons the Survey "officially" downplayed how far NI and F-GO actually progressed towards producing a working device.

The Riken bomb design---which would have worked---proves beyond all doubt that WWII Japanese science was equal to the task of producing a uranium fission bomb. What they lacked was enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) to power the device, which is why the numerous German and Japanese submarine missions that tried to carry uranium and advanced German technology to Japan are so very important. The picture that emerges is this: Germany had the industrial infrastructure and the uranium, but not the necessary theoretical physics. Japan had the theoretical physics, but not the uranium. (Although Japan's industrial infrastructure was smaller than Germany's, she also possessed vast holdings in North Korea, particularly at Hungnam, which according to Robert Wilcox was where the last ditch effort to assemble the Japanese bomb took place. Thus the smaller military-industrial establishment on the Home Islands was not as great an impediment to Japanese atomic construction efforts as it might initially appear to be.)

The logical solution was obviously to mate German uranium and supporting industrial technology and R & D with Japan's more advanced research. It nearly worked.

If anyone is curious, I have written a copyrighted article on this subject and will be shopping for a media outlet for it in the near future. 8)
Last edited by williamjpellas on 27 Mar 2004 06:28, edited 1 time in total.

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