Testing the US Military’s Worst Idea
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 Published On Dec 21, 2022

An engineer came up with a plan to drop tungsten telephone poles from space - the idea has been seriously considered on multiple occasions, so we tested it. Head to https://brilliant.org/Veritasium to start your free trial. The first 200 will get 20% off Brilliant's annual premium subscription.

Massive thanks to Archisand for building such a beautiful sandcastle. https://www.youtube.com/@GregLeBon

Huge thanks to John and Angie Miller for helping us with securing the shooting location and going above and beyond to make this shoot happen – http://highdesertlocations.com/

Thanks to Inland Empire Film Services and the San Bernardino County Film Office for portions of the video shot in the County of San Bernardino.

Massive thanks to Dr David Wright for the interview and providing invaluable guidance during the research for this video.

Here’s a great video about space-based missile defense – https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/space-based-missile-defense-not-good-idea

Massive thanks to Adam Savage for being part of this video.

Additional photos from NASA and ESA.

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References:
USAF. (2003). The US Air Force transformation flight plan.

Preston, R., Johnson, D. J., Edwards, S. J., Miller, M. D., & Shipbaugh, C. (2002). Space weapons earth wars. Rand Corporation.

Wright, D., Grego, L., & Gronlund, L. (2005). The physics of space security. A Reference Manual, Cambridge.

DeBlois, B. M., Garwin, R. L., Kemp, R. S., & Marwell, J. C. (2004). Space weapons: crossing the US Rubicon. International Security, 50-84.

Baucom, D. R. (2017). The Rise and Fall of Brilliant Pebbles 1. In United States Military History 1865 to the Present Day (pp. 329-376). Routledge.

Hitchens, T., & Samson, V. (2004). Space-based interceptors: still not a good idea. Georgetown journal of international affairs, 21-29.

National Research Council. (2012). Making sense of ballistic missile defense: An assessment of concepts and systems for US boost-phase missile defense in comparison to other alternatives. National Academies Press.

Borger, J. (2005). Bush likely to back weapons in space. The Guardian, 19.

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Special thanks to: Bernard McGee, James Sanger, Elliot Miller, Brian Busbee, Jerome Barakos M.D., Amadeo Bee, TTST, Balkrishna Heroor, Chris LaClair, John H. Austin Jr., OnlineBookClub.org, Eric Sexton, John Kiehl, Diffbot, Gnare, Dave Kircher, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Josh Hibschman, Mac Malkawi, Mike Schneider, John Bauer, Jim Buckmaster, Juan Benet, Sunil Nagaraj, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Stephen Wilcox, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi

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Written by Petr Lebedev, Derek Muller, and Emily Zhang
Filmed by Trenton Oliver, Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, Emily Zhang, Raquel Nuno, and Eddie Lopez
Animation by Mike Radjabov, Fabio Albertelli, and Jonny Hyman
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Slow Motion Camera: Shawn Sanders and Anthony Corrales
Sandcastle Timelapse by Greg LeBon and Archisand
Phantom rental from Panny Hire LA
Helicopter Pilots: Rick Shuster and Cliff Fleming
Helicopter Safety Officer: Ryan Hosking
FPV Drone Pilots: Sammie Saing and Josh Ewalt
Production Assistants: Roman Bacvic and Eddie Lopez
Intern: Katie Barnshaw
Additional video/photos supplied by Pond5 and Getty Images
Music from Epidemic Sound
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, and Emily Zhang

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