The upcoming movie The Men Who Stare at Goats tells the story of a military operation that attempted to create Jedi warriors who could teleport through walls and kill goats by staring at them. It all sounds pretty far-fetched ... until you realize that it's based on a true story, and it's just one of many bizarre operations Cold War-era militaries pursued seriously.
See, the Cold War was never really about physical combat. It was more like telling stories around a campfire: Whoever had the scariest idea, wins. And killing goats with your eyes was just the tip of the pant-crappingly crazy iceberg.
#5. Project A119
In the years before the first lunar landing, the United States was lagging behind a bit in the space race. The Soviets had both the first satellite and the first human being in space, while the United States had two thumbs and an asshole and that was about it. The U.S. realized that it would need something truly grand to one-up Captain Pinko and his Kosmonaut Armada, and that turned out to be the moon landing. But the lunar landing was the second draft of the plan; the first draft, as usual, was a bit nukier.
A whole lot nukier, actually.
Project A119 was a plan to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at the Terminator, which is what John Connor would have done if "teaching it how to love" didn't play out in T2. Wait, sorry--the "Terminator" in this case refers to the dividing line between the dark and light side of the moon.
A large explosion on the Terminator line would put the sun behind the mushroom cloud, making the explosion visible with the naked eye from Earth. Presumably this is because the scientists in question were using prison logic: If you don't want to end up somebody's man-wife, you gotta kill the first random guy you see and make everybody else think you're crazy.
"You wanna survive in space? You gotta nuke something on the first day or else become Saturn's bitch."
The entire project was classified, of course, so it was given a slightly more innocuous sounding name than Project Nuke-A-Moon. They decided to call it "A Study of Lunar Research Flights," which may have been going a bit too far; that's like calling a serial rapist a "Can-do Casanova."
Fortunately, the United States came down off their explosion high and realized that nuking an orbiting planetary body for no particular reason might cross the line between "illustrating our technical prowess" and "cartoonish supervillainy," so they scrapped the plan and sent Armstrong up to land on the bastard instead. Think about that for a second: Neil Armstrong is considered a valid replacement for a nuclear missile.
"The name's Armstrong, but friends call me A-Bomb."
#4. Blue Peacock
The Americans didn't have the market cornered on psychotic R and D. On the other side of the Atlantic, the British had just put the finishing touches on their new nuclear bomb. Weighing in at seven tons, the Blue Peacock was a tactical nuclear device capable of a 10-kiloton explosion--just slightly less than that of Little Boy, the first nuke ever detonated.
So why the downgrade? Isn't the point of explosions to make them bigger and bigger until everybody forgets how small your penis is?
"Who's impotent now, car?!"
Well, the British needed a new and novel defense in case the Soviets came over the border of East Germany and so, instead of dropping the bomb from a plane, they decided to put the nukes in the ground. Nuclear landmines!
For safety's sake, each bomb came with a 10-second fuse, and while that's not long enough to disarm the bomb or get away to safety, it is probably long enough for the victim to repent a life's worth of regrets, chief amongst them being their tendency to frolic in German fields.
"The hiiills are alllliiiive with the sound o- AAUUGH OH GOD WHAT'S THAT LIGHT?! WHY HAVE MY HANDS FUSED TOGETHER!?"
The bombs did have one major flaw, however: Burying anything in the ground during the winter would make it susceptible to intense cold, which could possibly affect the electronics. So the folks back in research and development started brainstorming:
"We could wrap it in blankets!" said one brilliant scientist.
"How about fiberglass insulation?" offered another.
"Why not just install a heater?" asked one sane and competent man.
"I like chicken!" screamed a random passing retard, completely unrelated to the science division in any way.
Guess which one they went with?
The chickens. The idea was they would be given enough food and water to stay alive for about a week, and the then their body heat would (somehow) keep the bomb's electronics defrosted enough to function.
In the long run, the project was canceled because the top brass thought that it wasn't politically savvy to plant nukes in Allied territory, or at least that was the official story.
But we all know it was probably those pussies at PETA again, having some sort of "moral objection" to underground nuclear-armed chicken prisons.
#3. Project Stargate
In order of plausibility, the term Stargate refers to:
A.) A TV series about what would happen if MacGyver fought space aliens.
B.) A military undertaking that used psychics as intelligence gatherers.
Over the course of 20 years, (and 20-million dollars) the U.S. Army employed no less than 22 full-time psychics. This all started when command heard rumors back in the 70s that the Soviets were using psychics for military intelligence and, rather than chalking it up to Vodka and Babel-fish quality translation, they decided to run with the idea as well.
The idea was to use said psychics for something called "remote viewing," which is the ability to telepathically see information about distant locations. Or, more accurately, it is the ability to lie about seeing information about distant locations while holding your hands to your temples and wearing a sequined shirt.
To test their psychics, the military placed them in a room all alone and gave them a set of coordinates; the psychics would tell the military what resided at those locations and then satellites would confirm or deny the predictions. One psychic viewer, Pat Price, said that he could clearly see a military base at his location, and that the base had a crane. Aaaand that was enough for the military!
Rather than assuming this "psychic" might have guessed that the military was interested in military-related places like military bases, and that they probably needed cranes to lift their heavy things, they gave Mr. Price the benefit of the doubt and subsequently used that precedent to justify appropriating government funds in order to pay for magic shows.
Pat's actual drawing of the crane, which he probably saw on his way into the same base where he took the test.
If a psychic was wrong (which--surprise!--happened a lot) the official policy was not to tell them, because it might lower their morale. Who knew the U.S. Military had an official policy about hurt feelings, and further that said policy was to avoid them at all costs?
But they did question at least one prediction: That crane at the Russian military base. They asked Pat why he didn't see a set of oil derricks as well, and Pat responded that the oil derricks were disassembled. The agents got a satellite to take some new, updated pictures of the base just to give Price the benefit of the doubt, and found that the derricks were indeed still there.
So he gave vague information that anybody could have guessed at, got the only verifiable answer wrong, and still kept his job for 20 years? Yeah, that sounds about right for a federal employee.