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Dirty Bomb

  1. Aug 5, 2004 #1
    I ask this question in lieu of the recent thread on the Manhattan Project and the problems with terrorism and wars currently going on around the world. I have read the article "Illicit Trafficking of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Material" in the July 2004 APS NEWS (Back Page) and I am concerned that this type of material appears this easy to steal and sell on the black market. The article cites poor knowledge of radioactive materials and fear of embarassment as factors (among other things) which aid this theft. I wonder how easily this stuff could be made into a bomb and how this could relate to a "dirty bomb" which I hear mentioned in the news a whole lot lately. Does anyone have good links for info on dirty bombs and nuclear theft? I hate to trust what I read in the paper and in non-scientific print media, as well as on television. The article above seems to think that innacurate media attention is part of the problem anyway. Thanks for any info.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2004 #2
    Dirty bomb. All you need is something radioactive (like enough to harm people) and a conventional explosive afaik.
  4. Aug 5, 2004 #3
    Hmmmm...Now if weapons grade material is as easy to steal as the aforementioned article makes it appear, then it must be pretty easy to get your hands on some radioactive waste. This is disheartening! Hopefully "waste" is not that harmful and the press just makes it sound real dangerous. I know little about the harmfulness of radioactive waste, but I would think you could blow other stuff up, like toxic gas to much greater adverse effects on people. And my friends wonder why I hide in my "physics hole" with books and a pencil, the world is so sucky right now :grumpy:
  5. Aug 6, 2004 #4
  6. Aug 6, 2004 #5


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    It would be hard to make an effective dirty bomb without putting yourself at risk as well. But even an ineffective dirty bomb would have a pretty big emotional impact. I know I wouldn't buy property there afterward.

    In the 'weapons' categories, this kind of 'dirty' bomb has a long history, dating back to the days of catapults. Except, obviously, they didn't have the technology to launch radioactive material. They had to resort to launching rotting horse or cattle carcasses that ripened in the sun for a few days. That was sure to lower morale on the other side for awhile. :yuck:
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