Well, this one jumped out at me over at phys.org, but first, before we get to that, a little review. For those of you who’ve read Grid of the Gods or The Nazi International, you’ll already know the lithium-7 problem, so a brief review for those who don’t. Lithium-7 is, for me at least, at the center of a bit of an historical mystery. In the early 1950s, the US military tested one of its newly acquired toys – the hydrogen bomb – at a test in the South Pacific. The particular test I have in mind was of a bomb code-named “Castle Bravo”, and this quickly became one of the most infamous cases of miscalculation in history, for the bomb, when fired off, ran away to almost twice its pre-test predicted yield.
When the military came out with its explanation, it became the thermonuclear version of the Warren Report. The military’s “miscalculation” (consider it the difference between a really big bang and a really really really REALLY big bang) was due, we were told, to the bomb engineers not having factored in fusion reactions of lithium-7 in the lithium-deuteride that was the fuel for the fusion stage of the bomb. They were calculating only the lithium-6 reaction, which comprised about 40% of the lithium in the lithium-deuteride mixture. Now we’re confronted by another unpleasant set of possibilities here: (1) either they didn’t know that the lithium-7 would enter into the fusion reaction, or (2) they forgot….
Now…this means the US military made a really, big, colossal “oops”….
Well, this thermonuclear Warren Report gets worse if one factors into the picture the historical context that I outlined in Nazi International and then later Grid of the Gods, namely, that over a year prior to the Castle Bravo test, a former Nazi scientist, Dr. Ronald Richter, working on fusion in Juan Peron’s Argentina for Peron’s government, claimed to have obtained fusion reactions…at temperatures far under what the conventional thermonuclear physics models would theoretically allow. This early “cold fusion” claim was, of course, roundly denounced in the world press, and Richter was denounced as a fraud…
Peron quickly appointed an Argentine nuclear physicist to head a commission to investigate Richter’s claims, one Dr. Jose Balseiro. Dr. Balseiro quickly denounced Richter’s claims, since he claimed to be achieving fusion reactions at temperatures far below those the standard model required for fusion reactions to occur. Richter faded from view…
Until Castle Bravo, when suddenly, after the test, the US Air Force paid the Nazi scientist a quiet (and secret) visit. Why? Because Richter had claimed he was getting fusion reactions with lithium-7. Now the important point here is Dr. Balseiro’s reaction to Richter’s claims, for he never mentions any problem with the idea of lithium-7 reactions, but merely mentions his problem being with the temperature at which Richter claimed to be getting them. In other words, lithium-7 fusion reactions were common knowledge, both to the “fraud” Richter, and to the “orthodox nuclear physicist” Jose Balseiro. And therefore, it is possible that the US military knew it too, and that the “lithium-7″ miscalculation story is just that, a story.
So this throws the whole lithium-7 miscalculation of the Castle Bravo yield into a cocked hat.
Well, the lithium-7 mystery just got a little worse for the standard model, at least, according to phys.org:
Now, I hope you caught that last sentence, for in it, one smells the faint whiff, not of science, but of dogma:
“Astrophysicists have suggested a lot of theories to explain the dearth of helium-7, but thus far, none have panned out, and none of them are proposing that the original ideas used to describe how much there should be, are wrong.” (Emphasis added)