Enter the maze

Battle by binary

The war of numbers

Single candle in dark

Computerisation has improved the speed and efficiency of all sorts of organisations, the military included. However, it leaves potential for another angle of attack by any malicious intruders. Not so long ago, wars were fought almost entirely with tanks and planes, bombs and guns. Wars were armed conflicts that involved actual, physical interaction between people. At one time, war was about killing the enemy more quickly than he could kill you, but that is no longer true.

During World War II, the length of machine gun ammunition was reduced so that it had a reduced chance of killing enemy troops. The logic was that if the enemy had fewer dead, but more wounded soldiers, they would need to divert resources from their logistics towards tending for the wounded. This in turn would reduce their offensive capacity. In a similar vein of thought, a graphite bomb was developed by the US military to target power lines and power plants, and was deployed against Iraq during the Gulf War. It shut down most of the country's power grid with minimum collateral damage and civilian casualties (the killing of civilians is illegal, and is only likely to needlessly heighten tensions). The aim was to concentrate efforts in the region on restoring the power supply, rather than fighting foreign troops. Needless to say, these implements of war, from long-established machine guns and howitzers, to high-tech guided missiles and graphite bombs, are not available to the man on the street, due to prohibitive costs and legal regulations.

War is never good, but have any good things come from it? This article is part of a series by James Snee, Marc Trepanier, Daniel Valverde and Yi Ming Woo, students at Queen Mary, University of London, investigating how military and security concerns are linked with the advancement of technology.