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5 Insane New Uses for Old School Military Weapons

Having a war is a little like having a baby; it requires massive stockpiles of all the best tools, toys and clothes to ensure the greatest chance of success, all the while knowing that the kid will outgrow everything within a year. War outpaces its own technology constantly and while the parents of a child can just carry the clothes and cribs to Goodwill after its all over, war leaves heaps of deadly equipment and weapons littered all over the world. Sadly, not even the Salvation Army will accept landmines.

The buckets just aren't big enough.

Even though the military can use some of its old advancements as hand-me-downs to the general public, more often than not it's stuck with massive amounts of rusting technology made obsolete by peace, or more likely, better technology. So what is everyone supposed to do with all the leftovers?

The solution could be as simple as finding other questions that this technology can still answer. Granted, the new uses for old technology are not always benign. These were, after all, weapons originally designed to tear, poke or melt people to death, so some of the solutions are equal parts evil and ingenuity. Still, it's nice to see people recycle.

#5. Coming Home to a Nazi Bunker

After all the bodies and bullet casings were picked up from WWII and the reconstruction of small towns had started, Western Europe still had the problem of dealing with massive Nazi bunkers swelling out of the ground in cities and coastlines across the continent like concrete warts. The worst inflammation was, of course, in the heart of Germany and destroying something that was intended to withstand bomb attacks is understandably difficult and expensive. So for the most part, everyone just learned to tolerate them.

But within the last few years, Germany has started repurposing the old bunkers as houses and even as apartment complexes. Logically, it makes perfect sense: The bunkers are generally at the heart of most cities, and the design requires little upkeep because they are built to last longer than even pyramids. Aesthetically, however, there aren't a lot of options for giving towers of death a warm touch.

Architects have come up with creative ways to carve out windows, build around the ugliness and generally dress up a blister as something other than a blister.

To their credit, some of the designs are really ingenious combinations of modern architecture and disaster-preparedness. In a few cases, it is nearly impossible to tell that it was ever a military bunker at all.

Several of them could easily be confused with hastily-made, postmodern architectural decisions, which, in the greater context is much easier to look at and live in than a monument to the one of the worst atrocities in human history.

#4. Chinese Police Carry Crossbows

The crossbow revolutionized warfare in the 4th century, but it became obsolete when militaries around the world discovered that gunpowder could do the same job a lot better. As a result, the crossbow became a novelty item, purchased only by weapons enthusiasts or hunters who ran out of exciting ways kill stuff.

But after collecting dust for centuries, China recently picked up the crossbow once again and handed it to their police officers.

"Your tags are expired."

In cities around China, every level of law enforcement is rediscovering the advantages of a crossbow, from traffic cops to special units. In Xinjiang, riot police carry crossbows instead of beanbag guns and smoke bombs because China has no interest in messing around with nonlethal crowd deterrents when terrifying, medieval battle weapons are just as effective.

"What's up now?"

Before anyone tsk-tsks the Chinese government for shooting at crowds with crossbows, you should know that these aren't the usual burning-cars-and-looting riots we're used to seeing. Granted, China has a bad history with breaking up mobs, but in this case the use of violence is warranted; China has a pretty significant terror problem on the borders of Pakistan. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is spilling across the border and introducing China to suicide bombing and improvised explosives. The primary advantage of using crossbows instead of guns against these attacks is that they allow police to shoot and kill anyone carrying an explosive while lessening the risk of detonation. So after thousands of years, the crossbow is coming out of retirement as a means to stop brand new bombs. As an added bonus, China is also fully prepared now for a full-scale vampire attack.

#3. Military-Grade Metal in Your Bones

The Cold War was a little like a 55-year-long game of Double Dare; Russia and the United States competed against each other in every asinine challenge and display of strength possible but neither took a moment for reflection to acknowledge how absurd they might have looked.

A whole thesis could be written on how much more gratifying it was to watch the Reds get slimed.

One of those challenges was stockpiling metal. Specifically, both sides hoarded as much titanium as they could find so the other side couldn't have any. It was the super metal of the '50s and '60s for its high strength-to-weight ratio made it intrinsic to the experimental design of submarines, high-performance jets and even warheads. While the military is still dependent on titanium today for jets and ships, it's interesting to see that science is now spending less time thinking about how the metal can be used to tear people apart, and more time thinking about how it can put people back together.

American and Russian scientists are working together turning weapons-grade titanium to into dental implants. The nanotitanium they are using is "stronger than conventional metal alloys, [and] integrates more quickly with human bone." Researchers are starting with dental implants but intend to move into prosthetics as well. The technology is still nascent but the metal is stronger, lighter and lasts longer than any other metal implants doctors have ever used before. The healing process from a procedure is also a lot quicker because of how quickly bone fuses with the nanotitanium. I think we all know what the next logical step is.

Let's not kid ourselves.

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Soren Bowie

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