Wednesday, May 9, 2012

NEWTONIAN MODERNITY dies June 6th 1944, in hail of hand grenades ...

   The most effective, the most pinpoint accurate, guided missiles of all WWII ?
   The bog-common hand grenade.
  And usually thrown by a man thought too stupid, too small, too unhealthy to join the real armed forces: which is why he ended up in the infantry as an MOS 745, aka the bog-ordinary rifleman.
   Now he was lobbing that grenade from 10 or 20 feet away , into a MG (machine gun) emplacement, or a concrete pillbox, or down the barrel of a big artillery piece --- and winning the battle for Omaha Beach, turning the potential D-Day disaster into ultimate victory.

   More than just a few German and foreign conscripts died in those emplacements on that day: Newtonian Modernity also suffered a grievous blow from which it never recovered.
   For weeks earlier and on that day itself, the biggest guns in the Allied navy and the biggest bomber fleets in the Allied air forces, had tried and tried to shut down those emplacements with massive blasts of HE (high explosives) delivered via Newtonian ballistics.
   In Newtonian theory (the then dominant paradigm to explain the entire world) it was felt that given enough accurate information, one could correct point and elevate a gun at a distant target, press the 'trigger' and walk away : 'fire and forget'.
   If the math was right the shell would wing its way unerringly to the target.
   But out in the real world, the problem proves to be a 'many body problem' - one that no amount of Newton will resolve.
  The most sophisticated use of Newtonian math and the best in analog computers was on board those battleships and bombers : fire control equipment from famous names like Norden and Sperry.
   But nothing worked - both the destructive power of high explosives and the accuracy of Newtonian fire control was highly exaggerated and knowingly oversold.
   Today we do have smart bombs and guided missiles but they do not make their way to the target accurately via Newton's math.
    No, all their guiding GPS signals are only rendered accurate when Quantum mechanics and Relativity are used to correct their raw data.
    But back to 1944: in the end, it took brave infantrymen like Captain Joe Dawson ( no relation except perhaps spiritually to former infantryman Lt Martin Henry Dawson)  who had to climb the cliffs above the bloody sand and take out the deadly machine gunners (often just single individuals like the famous Heinrich Severloh) and save the situation.
  So, it was down to this : forget the hundreds of thousands of men and the biggest military machines money and science could create trying - via Newton - to take out the D-Day German coastal defences.
  Instead, the entire Allied invasion of Europe was reduced to a 'High Noon' type duel battle between a lone German with a machine gun and a lone American with a hand grenade.
    If that lone German succeeded long enough in holding the Americans to the beach, German tanks might arrive to drive them off the beach altogether, and thus divide the united Allied beachhead into little pieces and then proceed to conquer it piece by piece - a classic German tactic.
   But if the lone American lobbed his grenade just right, the MG fire would cease and the men could move off the beach and go a few miles inland, giving a depth of defence sufficient to blunt any later German armoured counterattack.
  D-Day turned out to be a low tech victory in a war that was claimed above all to be a high tech scientific war : don't believe the liars and deniers who say otherwise.
   They outa make a movie out of the duel : Dawson versus Severloh for the Fate of the Earth --- except who in Hollywood would ever buy the script --- it seems too improbable.
  Once again, fact beggars fiction...

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