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McGill professor linked to U.S. military
Date: Tuesday, January 16 2007
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McGill professor linked to U.S. military

Student uncovers ties between Professor of Mechanical Engineering and research on development of thermobaric bombs

By Drew Nelles
The McGill Daily

Thermobaric bombs are used in the Afghanistan war to attack Taliban and al Qaeda fighters hiding in extensive cave complexes.

A McGill student has uncovered links between the U.S. military and an engineering professor.

Cleve Higgins, an activist with the radical student group GrassRoots Association for Student Power (GRASPé), discovered that a research project co-authored by Mechanical Engineering Professor David Frost was presented at a July 2006 International Detonations Symposium in Virginia. The paper received funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a combat support division of the U.S. Department of Defense.

At the Symposium – a conference partially funded by the U.S. Department of Defense – Frost presented a paper titled “Effect on Scale of a Blast Wave from a Metalized Explosive.” The paper’s acknowledgements state: “This work was funded partially by the Advanced Energetics Program of DTRA.”

In an email to The Daily, Frost stated that he has never received direct funding from the DTRA. He explained that it was Defence & Research Development Canada (DRDC) that funded his research for the paper, and that the nod to DTRA funding was added by his colleague Fan Zhang, a employee of the DRDC, to acknowledge “the normal collaboration of U.S.-Canada defense research groups.”

Other co-authors included a McGill research engineer and Robert Ripley, an employee of Halifax-based engineering company and military contractor Martec.

Higgins acknowledged that “the exact way that funding went to [Frost] isn’t clear,” but he insisted that the research must have direct military applications, as it was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Regardless of how the money went to the work, [Frost] was the main researcher, and the US military felt it was worth funding that research,” Higgins said. “There are likely more connections like this.”

The indirect links between Frost and the DTRA centre on the development of thermobaric bombs – a type of weapon the U.S. military rushed through production after September 11, 2001, for combat against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in caves during the Afghanistan war.

At the 2006 Symposium, Frost also worked with two DTRA employees on another project entitled “Casing Influence on Ignition and Reaction of Aluminum Particles in an Explosive.” Frost worked on this project along with several other researchers, including Ripley, Zhang, and two DTRA employees: Kibong Kim and William Wilson.

Wilson, who could not be reached for comment, handled an $850,000 DTRA contract in 2005, that focused on thermobaric weapons development, and called for more research into “effects of charge-casing material and fragmentation on reaction kinetics” – the topic of the paper on which Frost and Wilson collaborated.

Thermobaric bombs spray combustive chemicals into the entrance to a cave and then explode, lighting the mixture of air and chemicals on fire and sending a fireball and shockwave into the tunnel strong enough to disable equipment and suck the air out of people’s lungs, killing those hiding deep within.

http://www.mcgilldaily.com:80/view.php?aid=5756







[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 17, 2007]

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