(NaturalNews) The U.S. government has come up with some crackpot ideas before, but one of the goofiest was a plan during the 1950s, just as the Cold War was heating up, to - of all things - nuke the moon, simply as a show of force.
In what can only be described as part of the madness of the post-World War II and Korean War era, U.S. scientists and government officials actually debated over whether to detonate a nuclear weapon on the surface of the moon as a way to send a menacing message to the Soviet Union, according to Asian News International.
The secret plan, dubbed, "A Study of Lunar Research Flights," was nicknamed "Project A119." Amazingly, it was under serious consideration until it was finally scrapped by a dose of sanity among military leaders who feared the blast could wind up hurting people on earth. Obviously, it was never carried out.
Still, it was a serious plan for a time and involved some of the brighter minds of the day. Among those was noted astronomer Carl Sagan, who was at the time a young graduate student; he was tasked with figuring out what the behavior would be of dust and gas generated by the atomic blast, The Daily Mail reported.
Plan was to fire missile at the moon
Scientists and U.S. officials believed that if the Soviets could view the blast from earth, it would intimidate Moscow while boosting confidence in Washington following the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel told The Associated Press in an interview in 2000.
Now 85, Reiffel says he directed the planning at the former Armour Research Foundation, which has since become part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, AP said. He went on to serve as a deputy director at NASA.
Sagan later became famous for popularizing science on television; he passed away in 1996.
The author of one of Sagan's biographies hinted that the popular scientist could have committed a security breach in 1959 by revealing details of the classified project in an academic fellowship application, a suggestion that Reiffel agreed with.
According to details of the plan, here's how it would have worked: A missile fitted with a small nuclear device would have been launched from an undisclosed location, then travel some 238,000 miles to the moon, detonating on impact.
Scientists determined it would have to have been an atom bomb, because a hydrogen explosive would have been too heavy for the missile to carry.
Reiffel said the country's space program, which was in its infancy in the 1950s, could have carried the mission out by the end of the decade, when the Air Force began to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.
In the end; however, military officials nixed the plan because they feared it would put people on earth in danger should the mission have failed.
In addition, scientists involved in the project voiced concerns about contaminating the moon with radioactive materials, said Reiffel.
Nuking the moon as a show of force was not the only hare-brained idea concocted by the government in years past. Nor the most evil.
Nuking the moon not the worst thing
From 1955 to 1975, military "researchers" at Edgewood Arsenal, located near the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground base in Maryland, used animals and military "volunteers" to test a collection of drugs and chemicals ranging from potentially lethal nerve gases like VX and sarin, to incapacitating agents like BZ, CNN reported.
Military scientists also tested the effects of tear gas, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers and hallucinogens like LSD.
This diabolical research was done under a secret Cold War program that ostensibly looked for ways to defend against a potential chemical or biological attack by the Soviets, who were, at the time, thought to be way ahead of the U.S. in "psycho-chemical" warfare, according to Army documentation at the time.
In 2009, a class-action suit filed by the Vietnam Veterans of America and individual soldiers, charged the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency, with the help of former Nazi scientists, of using at least 7,800 vets as guinea pigs to test the effects of as many as 400 different types of drugs and chemicals. They included mescaline (psychedelic alkaloid), LSD (psychedelic drug), amphetamines, barbiturates, nerve agents and mustard gas.
The suit also says the government worked to cover up the testing and the nature of its experiments, which began in the 1950s under such exotic code names as "Bluebird," "Artichoke," and MKUltra."