What if nuclear weapons never existed?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by RNG, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. RNG Banned

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    What if nuclear weapons never existed? What if the people who lead up their invention never excised, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, etc... or if the thought of inventing them never occurs to anyone. How would this change the end of World War Two and the cold war? Operation Downfall would take place to start with wouldn't it. This might lead to a divided Japan with a communist north and capitalist south. Would Churchill's Operation Unthinkable still not happen? Or would World War Three begin almost immediately after World War Two? What if instead of nuclear weapons never being invented they just are devoped later in this war? If Operation Unthinkable still wasn't achievable, how would cold proxy wars play out with a divided Japan? Would America help more in the fight for Indochina to stay a French colony? Would they deploy troops in other European colonies because of a greater red scare? Perhaps a Indian War of Independence? Perhaps this hatred of communism backfires and colonies want to be communism as a result of refused independence. Or they try and stay away from communism in order to be independent. How would decolonization look? Would North Japan in their grip mean the Soviets fall sooner or later? How would this affect the world? What would today's world look like? What you think?
     
  2. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I think the whole 'limited war' idea wouldn't exist because there would no world-ending consequences from going berserk on a country in a war.
     
  3. Derek Jackson Member

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    WI Truman managed to make a back chennell offer, CONDITIONAL surrendet, you keep the Emporer but accept US occupation or lose half of Japan to the USSR.
     
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  4. Roches Well-Known Member

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    The US would never have ended the draft after WW2 and there would be conscription up to whenever the USSR collapsed (if that happens). There would have been something close to conventional parity in Europe, since NATO can't depend on tactical nuclear weapons to stop a Russian advance. They would need to have roughly equal forces in order to prevent war (hence US conscription). War in Europe would be deterred by mutually assured destruction on a much smaller scale, but still a terrifying one: people wouldn't be able to imagine instant destruction of all their cities as a realistic possibility, but they would be confronted with the threat of a war much bloodier than WW2.
     
  5. Lalli Well-Known Member

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    I bit doubt that nuclear weapon wouldn't be ever invented. It was pretty much inevitable for me. Perhaps it might be delayed with some decades but probably invented eventually.
     
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  6. starman Well-Known Member

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    Without nuclear weapons, the democracies would've been in serious trouble. Of course in theory the West could've achieved parity in conventional forces. But the catch is, conventional forces are more expensive than a mainly nuclear defense. Conscription and guns before butter wouldn't have been popular sacrifices in peacetime. Unscrupulous politicians would've promised the masses they'd cut defense spending, as "the danger is made up to benefit the rich, who own the defense industries." A lot of people would go along as they'd rather not serve in the army, or do without cars (to build more tanks).
     
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  7. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Thats a interesting & perhaps ASB development. Waive away much of the development of physics in the 19th Century. Probably requires some other stalling in Chemistry and Engineering as well. You need to get to the mid 20th Century with no better understanding of the atom than in 1850 or maybe 1900.
     
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  8. RandomChance A Statistical Anomaly

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    Without nuclear weapons, you get more effort on chemical or biological weapons as force equalisers. I don’t know whether that outcome might actually be worse - the chemical genie was well and truly out of the bottle in the First World War, so while knowledge of it’s effects are well known, we’ve not seen a city scale mega-death like Hiroshima or Nagasaki in this time line. Therefore the temptation to use chemical weapons (particularly the really nasty stuff like VX) might be greater. And that’s before we start on bio-weapons.
     
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  9. guineapony Active Member

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    Nerve gases, given their extremely low lethal dose and high dispersability are the best candidate to create a Hiroshima event and becoming the equivalent of OTL nukes. WWI-era chemical weapons has higher lethal dose, other chemicals like ricin while being more toxic isn't easily dispersable, and bioweapons can usually be countered by vaccinations.
     
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  10. metalinvader665 Well-Known Member

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    No nukes does not equal Operation Downfall, given that Japanese supplies from food to fuel were running short, voices to surrender were growing louder, and most importantly, the Soviet Union was now at war with Japan and had demolished the Kantogun in only a few days. And given that Hokkaido would be a very tough nut to crack for the Soviets given their very minimal naval invasion capabilities which cost them big in the Kurils, they'd be lucky to even get that. "North Japan" (really just Hokkaido, since I doubt the Soviets will give their puppet the Kurils/South Sakhalin although the local Japanese will be removed to Hokkaido) will not be a country of any more importance than Communist Albania, although it will be important in Japanese regional affairs.

    Overall, it's implausible for nukes to never be developed given that it's just a logical extension of nuclear physics known since the early 20th century. You can maybe have civilian nuclear energy first by a decade or so, and maybe get a test or two of nuclear weapons maybe with an associated "demon core" incident which kills a noteworthy physicist or two which causes nuclear weapons to be banned under international treaty, although there's plenty of research that would still be carried out in secret. Not having a massively visible reminder of their power like Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also not having the world living under the threat of nuclear annihiliation would do wonders for the nuclear power industry.

    You could probably deliver an impressive payload of nerve gas onto a city using a ballistic missile. Space-based kinetic weapons are also a possibility to be a dangerous weapon in a no-nukes scenario, although it's hard to justify why you wouldn't use conventional ballistic missiles instead of going through all the trouble of making a killsat.
     
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  11. Dynasoar Yankee AeroSpace Pirate

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    Nuclear fission was overlooked by Fermi in 1934. It could just as readily been misinterpreted at Kaiser Wilhelm in 1938. Alternatively, with fission discovered at some time post '38, early reactors could have been directly employed to create a spectrum of radioisotope dusts which had the potential of rendering large areas uninhabitable. The bomb would have been far more humane.

    Dynasoar
     
  12. RazeByFire Well-Known Member

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    I’m not sure going for full on ICBM’s with a chemical payload would be viable. You can easily launch chemical attacks through ‘conventional’ artillery or shorter range mass rocket attacks and aircraft. With a nuke you have to make sure all of gets there in one piece to kill the target.

    I think we may be caught up in the idea of ICBM’s = MAD being being necessary for ‘peace’.

    I know I’m not explaining this well, I just have a feeling that the logic necessary for ICBM development might not be there for chemical weapons.
     
  13. Blue cat Well-Known Member

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    Conceivably there might be more interest in various non nuclear schemes to redirect asteroids (either to prevent them from striking the earth or conceivably to target certain areas on earth.)
     
  14. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Barring ASB changes, such as a change in the laws of physics, a dinosaur-killer class asteroid strike, or an alien conquest of the earth by 1935, there are very, very few ways to make this happen with a PoD after 1900.

    You'd pretty much need a Black Death level epidemic to happen.

    Seriously. Unless you totally stop all physics research in ALL educated countries, nukes WILL be developed.

    Personally, I suspect you'd need a global death toll of about 50%
     
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  15. nbcman Donor

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    Putting aside the impossibility of no Nuke devices, there would be changes in entertainment. No Godzilla and many of the 1950s monster movies wouldn’t happen.
     
  16. MichaelWest Well-Known Member

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    And this is why I shutter at the tinkering with time, I selfishly need for Japan to suffer a nuclear bombing for my beloved Gojira! What about Major Kong? And it messes up the Rocky Horror song without Tarantula. Damn it man, intolerable!

    Aside from some treaty banning them, I think atomic weaponry is at most delayed by the high initial cost and lack of exigent necessity. In my surviving Imperial Germany science is just as vibrant so likely it is first to build reactors and work out the science but I also assume it is not that secretive. Industrial/commercial radioisotopes and the potential for power generation might be more obvious than weaponry, yet weaponry likely get as good of funding. The French have the most "need" for an atomic shield and are capable of assembling weaponry but in a Europe dominated by Germany could they pull it off without a German response? The UK was also poised to "need" such a deterrent and capable of building it. The best hope is that the post-war pacifist sentiment and Socialist governments assuming power can be pulled to genuine disarmament talks or at least arms reductions to reduce tensions and build away from brinksmanship / saber-rattling diplomacy, in that one might get the treaty banning mass destruction weaponry. I would think the focus would be on chemical weaponry from which atomic gets addressed once the science is understood. Here you have a far less paranoid and overall more cooperative paradigm, if you build that then atom bombs become at best like the battleships, pricey symbols to be limited, reduced and contained. Plausible if not as obviously possible.
     
  17. FBKampfer Ardent Arguer

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    Maybe if Japan doesn't get nuked, they don't start pumping out all that wierd anime and convoluted-ass video game plot lines
     
  18. Derek Jackson Member

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    As I understand it until a calculation by some refugee physicists it was thought that the quantity of material needed for an A Bomb was seen as being too huge for it to be a practical option. Maybe this happens years or decades later. No Manhatten project
     
  19. M79 Well-Known Member

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    Say Chicago suffers a runaway nuclear accident in 1942 and the US halts its nuclear research at that point. Every major power was working on it at that point so the USSR still develops them no latee than 1960. It also means the USSR potentially has two weapons the West can not counter without biological agents - nukes and the ICBMs to deliver them with.

    Either way, simultaneous demonstrations, especially as part of the same weapons system, will make OTL's Sputnik scare look like Disney's Haunted Mansion. Look for biological weapons to be a primary emphasis in the West until we can catch up in a few years, though without as much of a reason to develop heavy bombers as OTL there may be problems for 5-7 years while everything catches up. Assuming the USSR does not explout the advantage, the West is more paranoid with R&D getting a -lot- more funding in the 60s and 70s. NASA certainly gets a Mars mission if not a Jupiter trip, maybe 2001 looks more like the movie of OTL in some ways but with better tech. It might also pish into popular culture to make academics and STEM programs more acceptable to the general populace given their now more obviously vital role in national defense.
     
  20. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Instead of WWII being regarded as 1939-1945, it becomes regarded as one giant conflict that lasts into the early 1950s with about a year of peace from the second half of '45 into '46, after which the war went from one against Fascism to one between the Capitalist Democracies and the Communists.