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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Red Mercury?
A trial of three suspected terrorists revolved about their trying to obtain this mysterious substance, in an effort to make a 'dirty bomb'. But what exactly is 'red mercury'?
There are 5 main theories.
1. That red mercury is a reference to cinnabar, a naturally occurring mercuric sulphide. The pigment derived from this plant is vermillion.
2. That it's a reference to the alpha crystalline form of mercury oxide, which changes to yellow at high temperatures.
3. That it's a reference to any mercury compound originating from the former Soviet Union, the 'red' being a legacy of the old Cold War era.
4. That it is a ballotechnic mercury compound which just happens to be red in colour. Ballotechnics are substances which react very energetically when subjected to shock compression at high pressure. They include mercury antimony oxide which, according to some reports, is a cherry red semi-liquid produced in Russian nuclear reactors. This theory contends that it is so explosive that a fusion reaction - a nuclear explosion - can be triggered even without fissionable material such as uranium.
and finally 5. That it is a military codeword for a new nuclear material, probably manufactured in Russia.
In the early 1990s, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, several articles were published claiming that a pure fusion device had been invented.
It reportedly weighed around 10 pounds and was no bigger than a baseball.
If such a device existed, and was capable of triggering a nuclear explosion, the threat to the world - especially the western world - would be catastrophic.
But no such bomb has been discovered and nobody - not even Osama bin Laden from his mountain base in Afghanistan or Pakistan - has even threatened to use one.
So is red mercury just a hoax?
One hopes so.

Meanwhile, as the trial continues, the Crown is asking that it be ignored whether or not such a substance exists, that indeed the intent of the trio on trial was to buy a something that would contaminate a large area for quite a long period of time.
This terrorism paranoia is becoming close to bordering on the psychotic, for while there are without a doubt terrorists out there, and their intent is doubtless to destroy and disrupt the West and its infrastructure, we must remain on the right side of caution, and not stray into Narnia.

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