Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Everything You Should Know About U (before we all die*)

I've been reading the Cocktail Party Physics blog off and on for a few months now. It's snarky, intelligent and interesting. The contributors to this blog are very skilled at breaking down complex physics into easy to understand language.

This post caught my attention because it contains two of my favorite interests: Physics and Stupid Media. Media headlines are particular important now-a-days because so many people get their news from only headlines and headlines increasingly seem to be driving public policy. (I think there is a research paper in there somewhere) Everyday, it seems like someone I know is quoting a headline with having read the story. (read some of my health related posts)

A few weeks ago, Iran's inventory of Uranium was the big headline. I suspected there was more to the story, but hadn't got around to looking into it until now. Follow some of the links in this post and learn a little bit about how difficult it is to make a nuclear bomb. Here is a snippet:

One surefire way to panic the heck out of people is to mention nuclear bombs and radical Islam in the same sentence. I dunno about you, but I kinda had a mini-freakout when I read about the amount of enriched uranium the United Nations says that Iran has at its disposal for bomb making...

So what does that mean, exactly? How much is "enough" weapons-grade uranium? And how much more work would it be for Iran to enrich that reactor-grade uranium to bomb-making level? And how easy would it be to spot it?

Learn all you need to know about uranium so you don't panic: Cocktail Party Physics: science, politics, and getting it wrong

*again...we are all going to die but it's very unlikely it be due to an Iranian nuke.

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