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Polonium 210 for sale at US$69 December 1, 2006

Posted by dorigo in humor, internet, news, physics, science.

According to the Times online (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2478908,00.html), anyone can buy a small amount of Polonium 210, the radioactive, highly toxic substance that caused the death of Alexsander Livitnenko last month and is causing a headache to London security officials and British Airways – who has grounded three of its planes until they get decontaminated.

United Nuclear, a company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sells small quantities freshly produced by a nuclear reactor. No questions asked. Get your own order in the mail today! Here is the site: http://www.unitednuclear.com/isotopes.htm .

America is really a free country… Just a little bit too free on some issues, for my taste.



1. Brett Keller - December 1, 2006

I’m not sure if you read the site you linked to. Did you notice the comment on their website about the size units they sell?
“You would need about 15,000 of our Polonium-210 needle sources at a total cost of about $1 million – to have a toxic amount.”

2. riqie arneberg - December 1, 2006

It is typical of a socialist to think that America has too much freedom. The whacko left and the whacko right are in agreement about this at least. One of t6he things which made America a world power was the freedom we once had. The main purpose of the US Constitution was to curtail the power of government. It is a real shame that both corporate parties here have forgotten that.

3. dorigo - December 1, 2006

Hi Brett, yes I did look at the site. I still find it interesting that the substance is freely commercialized. Once you size up the amount of concern tiny contaminations are causing in England, you’ll concur that the substance is indeed interesting for terroristic purposes.

Riqie, I think freedom is a great thing, but there are a few distinguo to make… For instance, freedom to bomb a country because its leader has too thick moustaches or because he has killed tens of thousands of innocent people, is something one should not grant to oneself.

And besides, I do not think America is too free. It is a great, weird country, where you can buy toxic substances and keep weapons and ammos in your basement good enough for a division, but where you have to check state rules before deciding to have consensual anal sex with your partner within four walls, or smoking a cigarette in open air.


4. Brett Keller - December 1, 2006

Understandable. Of course, professors and doctors in thousands and thousand of research universities and hospitals use radioactive substances that could be used as a poison every day in research. Very small amounts of those substances are likely availabel in Europe and elsewhere either. I think the only thing we should ask for is that manufacturers verify that the person buying the substance is affiliated with a research institution. (Of course, a bunch of terrorists have engineering degrees :-))

5. Alejandro Rivero - December 1, 2006

On the other hand, one only needs a good geologist and an skillfull chemistry to get these things for free in the countryside. And with a geiger counter, perhaps even a not so good geologist can be enough.

6. dorigo - December 1, 2006

Well, not Polonium 210, but many other substances are indeed available. I think thorium is easy to obtain, for instance. And geiger counters are fun to use…

You know what ? Tomorrow I’ll use my pocket electronic dosimeter in the Lufthansa flight, in the hope of starting a conversation with some nice hostess… It usually works well (hostesses are very interested in the matter of cosmic radiations exposure – I have used with success a hook up line such as “I’m a physicist, I need to let you know that although you ask to turn electronic devices off at take off and landing, I have to keep this thing running for my personal monitoring of exposure, and I would like you to notify the captain – it is harmless for on-board equipment”).


7. Brett Keller - December 2, 2006

Did the line work? If so, you may have discovered an immutable law of the universe.

8. dorigo - December 3, 2006

Hi Brett,

well the line I’m sure would have worked, but I did not try it for lack of stimuli, if you know what I mean. The immutable law that holds, in this case, is that young women are always interested in matters concerning their ability to procreate… And radiation hazard is a factor for them. I think they receive way too little information on it by their companies, which just set allowed time exposures during pregnancy.


9. :) - August 8, 2009

“you’ll concur that the substance is indeed interesting for terroristic purposes.”

How is it interesting to terrorists if they need to spend 1 million dollars to poison a single person? There are many, many better ways to kill someone. The KGB used polonium to send a message, not because it is an especially good way to kill someone.

“but where you have to check state rules before deciding to have consensual anal sex with your partner within four walls, or smoking a cigarette in open air.”

That cigarette’s got polonium in it, too, you know.

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