Yesterday I began some long high octane speculation about the re-emergence of the red mercury story, in this short article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution that was shared by Mr. I.R.:
I now pick up where I left off from yesterday, resuming an elaborate high octane speculation:
And now, red mercury resurfaces, in the context of a drill, and in the wider context of the anti-Russia hysteria in the West.
But again, why re-run the same scam, especially now? What convinced those prospective terrorist buyers of the substance to attempt to buy it in the first place?
This is the question that hovers over the whole affair, to my mind. That was my question then, and it remains my question now.
If one reflects carefully about all those 1990s red mercury stories carefully, they're a bit like the bearer bonds scandals of the 2000s: we're assured the bonds are fake, they don't really exist, and yet, the "counterfeiters" keep running the same scam over and over. And as I have pointed out in that connection, counterfeiters never counterfeit things that don't exist: one doesn't counterfeit a seven dollar bill, attempt to spend it, and get real money in change. Counterfeits never work, without real antecedents, whether or not they exist in the public market, or a secret one.
The red mercury legend thus had for me all the components of the bearer bonds story; it was, and is, a kind of thermonuclear version of it. Which brings us back to the central question:
What convinced those prospective terrorist buyers of the substance to attempt to buy it in the first place?
Given the high stakes, I argued that there had to be enough to the legend to convince the purchasers, and their scientific experts, that the substance was real, and this is where it gets downright intriguing. According to the legend, red mercury was a heavy, gooey liquid like substance, cherry red or dark maroon--purplish red in color, that was created by the Russians as a chemical means of initiating thermonuclear reactions - in effect, a hydrogen bomb - without the need for an atom bomb as the "fuse" for the hydrogen bomb. In conventional scientific wisdom, the enormous radioactive heat-pressure gradients of a nuclear explosion are necessary to initiate a chain fusion reaction that accounts for the gigantic "wallop" of a conventional hydrogen bomb, capable of laying an entire county, or even several counties, waste. The selling point thus becomes obvious: one could become a thermonuclear power without having to become a nuclear power first. And sans the atom bomb component, the nature of the radioactive aftereffects changes completely, for most of the long-term deadly radioactive aftereffects of a hydrogen bomb come not from the fusion reactions as much as they do from the atom bomb "fuse" that sets it off.
But still, the question was, did the substance exist?
This is where - to my mind, thinking about these questions back then - it gets even more intriguing. Trying to reverse engineer the substance from the data available publicly about it, we had a gooey, heavy, liquid-like substance that was red in color, which indicated to my mind an oxide of some sort. A heavy gooey liquid like substance indicated the possibility of mercury in the compound, and indeed, that was its very name, red mercury. According to the legend, the Russians, having compounded the substance, then subjected it to neutron bombardment and capture by placing it in their reactors, a process which "loaded it up" with extra neutrons. Supposedly, when detonated, these neutrons bombard their target. In effect, according to the legend, the red mercury was allegedly a very powerful explosive in its own right, having the force of a tactical nuclear weapon.
My researches into the mysterious "Xerum 525" that allegedly powered the Nazi Bell (according to its legend), was also, conveniently enough, a heavy, gooey, liquid like red substance that was used to fuel the Bell (and, in my thinking, to also measure any minute time dilation effects it created). Interestingly enough, the Nazi Bell project and its mysterious serum was a story uncovered and publicized by the Polish research Igor Witkowski in his now famous book The Truth About the Wunderwaffe, at approximately the same time period that the red mercury stories began to percolate.
While I put nothing past the "intelligence" community and their ability to craft detailed, and seemingly disconnected stories, and holding out the possibility that the Nazi Bell and red mercury stories were two examples of such disparate and apparently disconnected and concocted stories, I pursued the avenue that one had to assume they were true, and to attempt to "reverse engineer" a possible science and technology tree behind them. If one could do so, then the stories themselves gained in credence. In this case, three strange facts presented themselves: (1) the claims of post-war Nazi scientist Ronald Richter in Argentina, to have achieved nuclear fusion reactions at far lower temperatures than standard thermonuclear chemistry at the time thought was feasible; (2) the fact that the Nazis had stockpiled massive amounts of thorium (which, according to the conventional narratives, was entirely for the purpose of creating thorium based reactors); and (3) the suggestions within the British recordings of the Nazi nuclear scientists - the "Farm Hall Transcripts" - that they were talking about some sort of "photoelectric" means of isotope separation, which by the time of the appearance of my book The Philosophers' Stone, I concluded had to be some form of chemical, tunable laser isotope enrichment.
Putting all this together, I argued that this technology could have been used to separate thorium 229 isomer, an isomer capable of spitting out massive amounts of gamma rays when destabilized, and with a relatively low destabilization threshold, and a known decay rate, concluded that the mysterious "Xerum 525" might have been some sort of mercury-thorium oxide compound, with the thorium component composed in part of the 229 isomer. The mercury component would be ideal for plasma research, and zapping it with massive amounts of electricity (taking a cue from Richter's comments in Argentina and his secret interviews with US Air Force representatives) might indeed destabilize the thorium isomer, creating massive radioactive pressures of gamma rays...
In short, the Xerum 525 might have been the kernel of the red mercury legend, and there was at least a putatively possible rationale behind it all. While researching all of this, I also discovered that Sam Cohen, the so-called father of the "neutron bomb" parted company with the vast amount of commenters, and believed that the red mercury legend might not be a purely fictional substance. We were told, at the time of course, that "neutron bombs" would "kill people, but leave the buildings standing." A lie, of course, since anything exposed to massive neutron bombardment will literally look like molecular-sized Swiss cheese, with billions of tiny holes punched through it: glass, for example, subjected to such bombardment, will still look the same, but can quite literally simply break apart if exposed to slight stress, such as the simple act of picking it up. (And for those paying attention, enter the "mini-nukes theory" for the destruction of the Twin Towers [and the higher than normal tritium background radiation counts] alleged near "ground Zero" in Manhattan.)
And then, shortly after this website was founded, I blogged about an unusual project conducted by DARPA (the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Projects Agency, as we like to call it here, after a suggestion by Mr. J.B.). That project, according to the book Imaginary Weapons: A Journey through the Pentagon's Scientific Underground by Sharon Weinberger, was to create "isomer bombs", bombs of gigantic destructive potential, rivaling if not eclipsing, thermonuclear hydrogen bombs. In this case, the isomer in question was hafnium, but the principle was the same.
This has been, probably, my longest "high octane speculation" to date, but the bottom line is: I suspect there is more involved here than merely pure-and-simple fiction, and that there is nothing to it. I suspect, indeed, that there is something to it. The problem is, a very wide context and a great deal of dot-connecting is needed to see it.
And that's the rub. Which takes me back to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that began all this. Could it be, as the listener to Thursday's News and Views suggested, that the "red mercury story" was part of some drill? Certainly it could be. But given these speculations, it could also be a "message" from someone, to someone else.
See you on the flip side...