Friday, December 16, 2011

Not What We Thought! Not That We Had Any Idea What We Were Talking About.

I'm not sure how long ABC will allow its breathless foolishness to stay up, but the headline says it all. And I'm not sure how long ABC will let that stay up, so here's a screen grab:

And another warning: the breathless foolishness is the autoplay video so beloved of ABC alone.

Not Quite What It Seemed. Sigh.

The newsies at ABC got a report that radioactive material was stopped by Russian customs from being transported in someone's baggage to Iran. So a bunch of presumptions, aided and abetted by a shaky understanding of what radionuclides are, kicked in to produce a knee-jerk story about how Iran must be making a nuclear bomb. That's in the autoplay video that I expect to disappear from the ABC site.


It beats me why someone would pack a bunch of sodium-22 in their luggage. It's mostly used for medical diagnostics, and there are better ways to transport it, through channels. It's not at all useful for bomb-making.

OTOH, it's good to know that the radiation detectors at the airport caught it. Sodium-22 is a beta emitter, and beta radiation can be hard to detect. One of my colleagues used to say he could distribute beta emitters knee-deep and nobody would find them. But that was twenty years ago, and detector technology has improved.

AP did a better job at the news.

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

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