Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Monday, September 20, 2004

North Korea: Some preliminary cross-checks and analysis

Ref: Parent-blog referring to these comments.


This is an intermediate step to recheck the infromation.

Essentially this is just a liste of questions and possible problems with the analysis to date.

This information might be useful in generating a Frequently Asked Question section, and also a means to further explore the problems with the analysis.


It is assumed there will be several prolems. First of all, there have been no actual calculations on energy levels; rather we're simply using publicly available charts.

Gasolene to Kerosene. There's one problem with the number of total gallons; I've mixed up the kerosense and gasoline numbers and need to redo those. At this point, I'm not convinced that the mix-up detracts from the overall thrust: That the North Koreans explanaton doesn't wash, and the other scenario is plausible--That a large rail car exploded near the NoDong missile silos.


ANother problem is the baseline data

Why is the train explosive [800 Tons] equivalent to 3.6 on the Richter; how did they go from 3.6 to 800, not graph, table, or chart support this?

One report from the train station reports that the 3.6 Richter equated to 800 Tons; I accepted this number not as true, but as an upper bound. However, I find no cahrt to corrobate this number and am unclear how 800 Tons equates to 3.6. For the time being, I've simply included the number until I can further explore the problems. AT this point it doesn't seem to do anything but confirm the original concerns with the 150 Tons.

Another problem is the units.

Units: 4.6, verify it is Tons, not KTons or pounds on both thoe chart and the table.

Verify Scales used correctly: Richter graph units [image] vs the chart [table]

Comparing 4.6 Tons TNT [from 2.6 Ricter] with 150 Tons gunpowder.

Verify the percentage of the gunpowder transllates inot explosive power, relative to TNT; and how does a unit of gunpowder translate to the Richter scale.

I've seen inconsistencies in the Richter charts -- some charts are Tons, others are pounds; some charts have simple units, while others have powers. Again, there's the possibility that the charts have been made inocrrectly, or that the sourcing is problematic. At this point, I've sipmly "taken what I have" and we'll highlight the inconsistencies with the chart. However, it apears that regardless the chart used, we arrive at teh same conclusoin: Things don't make sense. So going into greater detail merely confirms our boundig, but does little to put pressure on the North Koreans to come clean. Clearly, this may never happen; and the fact that they haven't come clean suggests that [if it is a rail car explosion] they do not want help near their missiles as this would expose them to undesired analysis.

Another problem is that this analysis doesn't presume to make any definitive statement on the validity of the numbers. We have yet to understand the details of how the Richter reading were collected; nor have we actually identified the specific technologies used in the various countries to triangulate on the Seismic-origina. Moreover, it is possible that the assumptions about the technology are inconsistenet with actual practice. In other words, we have yet to have actual confirmation that the speculated methods to read the 2.6 Richter scale are consistent with reality.

Explosion definitions

Another problem is the assumption that Gunpowerder and TNT are interchangeable. Again, this is merely a simplifcation. A greater level of fidelity on the analysis would be to first ask, "Does it really matter"; and if it does, then blow through some rangers. Clearly, the easy things to do would be to crunch numbers. Howeer, at this poit given we have no real numbers other than publicly stated, it is far more practical [for purposes of analysis] to simply bound the numbers and see whether the implications of the generalizations are consistent with the "rest of teh story." At this point, the general bounding approach has highlighted some signficiant weaknesses with North Korea's assertions.

Assumptions about the upper limit on the 150-total Tons of gunpowder used. The problem we run into is "what is the actual numbef of tons used" on the second hit. At this point, because there was no second reading, I'm inclined t believe that there was in fact, no actual second blast.

Physical phenomena

Also, there's the problem with the seismic wave. There was no seismic wave recorded despite detection equipment that would otherwise detect this level of explosion.

ANother problem is the ease to which the strange cloud was dismissed. We have yet to have confirmation of "where this was" and "how the apparent position" compared with either the source of the Richter scale, or the site of the visit to the dam. It could be that they were clouds, but I have yet to understand how "despite all that is inconsistent" this cloud was so early dismissed.