Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

The Bomb That Fell On Niagara: The Sphere

with 5 comments

Feel like reading something really, really stupid? This seems appropriate.

It’s pretty obvious that if it looks like an ammonia gas tank, quacks like a gas tank, and they say it’s a gas tank, then it’s probably a gas tank.

It certainly doesn’t look like any early prototype of any nuclear reactor design I’ve ever heard of.

Almost 4,000 tons of radioactive radium-226, the largest repository in the western hemisphere, representing a staggering quantity of radiation.

4000 tons of radium!? In 1937, radium cost $25,000 per gram. That’s, uh, 91 trillion dollars, in 1937 US dollars, anyway.

There is also polonium-210 on site. According to Bob Nichols, a San Francisco-based researcher and writer who reviewed the same documents as Weyman, polonium was used as a trigger in nuclear weapons. Its presence in quantities sufficient to detect all these years and half-lives later is not easily explained by the KAPL wastes.

It ought to be obvious where any Po-210 comes from – it’s a daughter product of radium, and it’s present in secular equilibrium where ever there is radium present. In fact, given the quite short 138-day half-life of Po-210, the decay of radium is indeed the only possible source of any Po-210 detectable on the site today.

Written by Luke Weston

October 12, 2008 at 2:52 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Luke,

    Glad to see someone else tear Bob Nichols apart. Bob Nichols is not a journalist, he is a hack for anti-nuclear/anti-depleted uranium crusaders, especially Leuren K Moret and Douglas Lind Rokke. The ones that need to also be exposed are the editor of this Art Voice rag in Buffalo and his alleged co-author. This article has been pretty badly torn apart by the professionals on RADSAFE, but it keeps getting regurgitated on the net. I have researched Doug Rokke to a considerable degree, Leuren Moret to some degree and there just is not much out there on Bob Nichols who moved to San Francisco since 2004. Before that, he was in Oklahoma and he claimed to be an expert on depleted uranium at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant because he worked there. I found that he worked there something less than 3 months several years ago and that there is DU stored at McAlester, but that it is not used to make anything there. To learn more about Rokke, go to the Files Section of DUStory – Message 77 has a guest user name and password and instructions to sign in with them and view the files on Rokke and Moret.


    Roger Helbig

    October 13, 2008 at 9:49 am

  2. Perhaps as a student of physics you might be better prepared to enter the atomic community by studying up on the early Ball and Pile reactor designs rather than dismissing this from the other side of the planet.
    Just a thought.


    October 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

  3. Jackson, there are of course no references of a technical nature, anywhere, to anything called a “ball and pile reactor”, not that I’ve ever seen. You are welcome to point me in the direction of such a reference, please, by all means.

    You do sometimes certainly come across references to “ball pile” nuclear reactor designs, especially in older documents – that’s essentially another name for what we commonly call a pebble bed reactor. The basic idea of a pebble bed reactor has been around for many decades.

    Of course, the pebbles or “balls” in a pebble bed reactor are around a few inches in diameter – not quite thirty-eight feet in diameter.

    Luke Weston

    October 14, 2008 at 9:15 am

  4. It’s not nice to keep removing comments just because they prove the host wrong. A “real” scientitst wouldn’t have to do that. So here it is again.

    The “non-existant, too expensive Radium”

    226Radium (in 200,000+ cu/yds) from African Congolese (Afrimet Sengier era) K-65 ore residues [10CFR40-USC, “High-level”](now buried in Lake Ontario water table as “tailings” at Lake Ontario Ordnance Works site–oops.)

    Measured activity (1983 U.S. ACE, U.S. DOE, Batelle)
    226Radium – 520,000 pC/gr
    Niagara Falls Storage Site, Lewiston, New York

    Physics Primer – “Ball and Pile”

    The Radioactive Boy Scout

    Comment by Ballboy | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    And this one from Harpers Magazine:


    March 5, 2011 at 4:28 am

  5. Hmmm. So there’s no large quantity of radium there .. but that’s where the Polonium210 comes from? That’s kind of contradicting yourself ain’t it?


    March 5, 2011 at 4:34 am

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