I was born in an undisclosed location in the United States. Or maybe “born” is not the appropriate word. Let’s say I was precisely machined using some sophisticated computerized lathe from depleted uranium. And this is where my name, DU, comes from. You know, after machining they handle you very gently, in gloves. How do you say that “gloves for kids’ or kid’s gloves”? I don’t remember. Anyway, then they paint your face and give you nice very tight aluminum jacket, your uniform. This is how your military career begins. After that you find yourself inside a dark box side by side with other guys like you. You are laying there and waiting when your time comes.
It is very boring to wait. So what do you do, when you are packed so tightly so that you cannot even move? Yes, you talk. You don’t talk about the weather, because you have no idea about the weather outside, and inside it is always dark. So you talk about your family and distinctive relatives from the big Uranium family. By the way it is not to easy to talk, when a couple of layers of other guys are laying on you. They are heavy, you know. But if you are not on the bottom row it is not too bad.
Let’s talk. We all come from the Mother “Yellow Cake”, which for you is just a step in a preparation for uranium enrichment process. We all look the same, but some of us not as heavy as the rest of the crowd. And this is the only way they can distinguish geniuses from average guys. The majority of us are Uranium-238, and less than one percent is Uranium-235. Those light weighted geniuses have a special trait: they can support chain reaction. I can’t, not my thing. Can you? You are like me. This is what I thought. See, this chain reaction thing is an absolutely must have for nuclear warheads stuffing or nuclear power plant fuel. That is why they are looking for Uranium-235 so hard.
At first they turn everybody into a “hex” or in another words “uranium hexafluoride”, which is easier to evaporate. And this is precisely what they do to you. Evaporate… After that procedure you cannot hold yourself together anymore since you are not a solid, you became a gas. Now everybody is pushed through a diffuser. The diffuser is a pipe inside another bigger diameter pipe. This is where the gaseous diffusion takes away the best of you, again and again. Heavy guys like me are not very fast. Under high pressure we go straight through the diffuser and will receive the nick name “Depleted” for the rest of our lives. The others are lighter and faster. They are bouncing from wall to wall constantly looking for a chance to escape through the walls, which are actually not solid walls, but a porous barrier.
Those, who escaped, will relax in a low pressure environment before they jump into another diffuser. Eventually they go toward a bright, but short-term, career in a nuclear power plant, where they will produce electricity. Some of them find a long-term career in military, inside nuclear warheads. They are sitting there for years. But the sun is not always bright in their “candy land” either. I recently heard that they had downsizing too. Actually, believe it or not, I have read about that. It was quite an interesting article. I even remember the title: “Ten percent of US electricity comes from Russian nuclear warheads”.
To be completely honest with you, some of Uranium-238 guys work together with the geniuses at nuclear plants and military. This is because nobody needs a hundred percent of Uranium-235 type of personality to keep a chain reaction going. For nuclear warheads eighty percent of Uranium-235 is plenty. As for power plant fuel even five percent concentration is enough. I also heard that in Europe they use a gas centrifuge for enrichment purposes instead of diffuser. The truth is that no matter how they do it the final result is always the same. Heavy guys go down, and lighter geniuses go up.
Anyway after the bright guys are gone, the rest of “depleted” gentlemen are collected and stored, waiting for future orders. Some of us will find jobs in aviation as counterweights. I told you: we are heavy. Some will eventually start working in hospitals protecting people from x-ray radiation. Majority of us will be stuck in storage facilities forever. Things began to change in the late 70s. The good old times of Cold War were still there. Soviets came up with a new armor for their main battle tank T-72. This new armor had a depleted uranium layer between a steel plates sandwich, which made it fully protected from penetration by the ordinary anti-armor bullets.
Here you go again. If someone discovers an antidote for a commonly used poison, then somebody else finds another poison. The same thing applies to armor. Weapon designers started to look around for a better penetrator. And, as you probably already guessed, they were smart enough to come back to us for help. A new and improved anti-armor kinetic energy penetrator was built using mainly depleted uranium, which was slightly diluted with other metals. You must understand one thing. DU bullets were created with T-72 tank in mind. So for us it was just a question of time, when we would meet a famous tank… But all of a sudden the Cold War was over. The Berlin Wall was ruined. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Soviet Army was not a threat anymore. A surplus of Russian tanks was moved to scrap yards. Now what?
It looked like it would never happen, and by no means would we meet each other. The perfect bullet will never touch the famous tank. What a disappointment! But don’t you worry, destiny awaited us. In 1991 the Gulf War began. Some of the Iraq tanks were the Lion of Babylon tanks. They were an Iraqi version of the Soviet era T-72 tank. They were not an exact replica, probably weaker in the forehead area. But it was as close as it could get at the moment. We did not complain about that, because you never complain about your destiny. And you know what? Their twelve inch armor was not good enough to withstand our penetrating power. We proved it then, and we proved it later in 2003 during Iraq War. And we will prove it again. What you need to do: just start another war. Or maybe you have had enough already, and you don’t want another war? The last word is always yours.