Those hilarious guys at the San Francisco Chronicle
are at it again! This article
, on the possibility of anti-matter weapons, is quite funny; it attempts to make it seem that the Air Force is trying to ban discussion of anti-matter weapons, particularly after some Air Force guy (no rank given, so may be a civilian) "spilled the beans" over the possibility of positron weapons. The writer of the article, Keay Davidson, does a pretty good job handling the science, but gets confused around the fourteenth paragraph and says: "When large numbers of positrons and antielectrons collide, the primary product is an invisible but extremely dangerous burst of gamma radiation." (Actually, I just noticed he made a similar mistake two paragraphs earlier as well.) The mistake, of course, is that positrons
are the same thing, as Davidson himself says earlier. I can understand, though, how a poor science writer for a major newspaper would have problems with this sort of thing. (Disclaimer
: Yes, I realize how big of a geek I am for bringing up this discrepancy.) My generalization from this is that it seems to me that the more liberal the paper, the less they are likely to have someone who actually understands real science. Do I have any data to back this up? No, but if you'd like, I can find lots of unverified anecdotes...
Another main problem with the story, other than of course its attempt to imply some great conspiracy, is the continuing misunderstanding by the media on the differences between radiation
and radioactive contamination
. I don't have time to go into this as much as I'd like (MXC is coming on, and I have to write an essay for Frank J
.) but trust me, lots of high-energy gammas going around willie-nillie are NOT going to leave the area free of radioactive contamination.... (look up "capture gammas
" if you disbelieve me for right now...) [On edit: I just looked at that search, and it's pretty boring; basically, if gammas are introduced into the presence of some elements, it is possible for them to become radioactive. Also, I realized I forgot to mention the main problem with the story -- it does not make any sense! We don't have any way to store anti-matter! Probably won't for centuries! Or at least until we get a Grand Unified Theory! Star Trek
Edited to correct misspellings.