A PAL is a Permissive Action Link. This is a generic term for a security device placed on nuclear weapons to ensure that they cannot be used (fired, armed, detonated, etc.) without the possession of a security token (alphanumeric code, key, etc.) from a central command authority. In the event of a nuclear war, codes (or codes to get the codes) must be transmitted or sent from the central command to the forces in possession of nuclear weapons. The U.S. uses coded messages which must match up with a pre-distributed set of codes in order to access the release codes for the weapons - at least, that's what the movies would have us believe.

A truly effective PAL does not simply lock out the electronics of a nuclear weapon. It will, via some physical means, make the physics package unworkable. For example, locking a barrier into place within or across the proper location for the weapon's initiator or physically disconnecting the wiring leading to the conventional explosive detonators - or multiple options thereof. When, for example, nuclear weapons are involved in a BENT SPEAR incident (being dropped out of an airplane by mistake, as has happened) and the military says that several of the 'safety features' prevented the weapon from detonating, these are some of the measures they are describing. In addition to making it difficult for a user to detonate the weapon on command, they will change the physical characteristics of the device so that even massive shock and/or fire makes it difficult to detonate the conventional primer explosives - and if those do detonate, makes a higher-order nuclear detonation less likely.

I can't tell you precisely how they do this, and if I could, I wouldn't. :-)

Back to TV: There are two variants of PAL (imaginatively named PAL A and PAL B).

PAL A is used in Europe (most notably in the UK, I believe), while PAL B is widely used in South East Asia, Australia, and probably a few other places I don't know about.

While I'm not sure of precise differences, I'm pretty sure, that PAL A sets won't work in a PAL B system (and vice versa).

PAL also stands for Police Athletic League. PAL tries to give youths something fun (and legal) to do, especially in high-crime areas. PAL tries to reach kids while they're young, and keep them "off the streets", but instead on the baseball fields or bowling alleys, etc.

In addition, PAL is usually run by the police department and tries to instill a sense of friendship between the cops and the community youth. This is especially important in areas where there's animosity between the community and the police and/or a natural fear/dislike of cops.

PAL was formed in the 1910s in New York City. While it's usually local in nature, there's a National Association of Police Athletic Leagues (NAPAL) based on North Palm Beach, Florida.

From the NAPAL website:

"The concept of PAL is to provide programs for inner-city youth. PAL is a statement to these young people, especially those from the inner-city areas, that the community cares about them. PAL uses sports programs, mentor programs, and family help programs to keep children and families involved in a pro-active situation where law enforcement officers and volunteers work together displaying a positive image through good roll models."

Source: www.nationalpal.org

Pal (?), n. [Etymol. uncertain.]

A mate; a partner; esp., an accomplice or confederate.

[Slang]

 

© Webster 1913.

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