Thursday, February 17, 2005

Technoholics Anonymous

Posted by Hello

I am Mad Canuck, and I am a techoholic*.....

Two nights ago after I finished putting up my post about the real terrorist nuclear threat, I was a bit worried I might have used a bit more technical jargon in it than I should have, so I asked my friend Najma to have a look at what I wrote to see if it was understandable to someone who has not taken the same university classes in nuclear physics that I did. Here was what she wrote back to me:

Well, I understood everything from the start to here:......... of fissile material along with a neutron reflector and a neutron-emitting initiator, .....And so, I stopped.. But, native English speakers might get it!

No, Najma, I don't think it's your English that is broken, it's mine. Sometimes as a technical guy, it is hard for me to realize I am using too much technical jargon in a post, and I think this last post was one of these occasions. So, for all the other folks out there who may not be too familiar with terms like "fissile material", "neutron reflector", "uranium hexafluoride", etc., please excuse me.

So, to summarize my last two posts (in plain English):
  • Dirty bombs are difficult to produce and do not produce the dramatic effect terrorists crave. So, I do not think a terrorist would consider a dirty bomb worth the effort.
  • Real nuclear bombs, however, do produce a big dramatic effect, and are easier to construct than people think.
  • The most difficult part about making a nuclear bomb is getting the nuclear ("fissile") material to make one. This is why we should all be very concerned when we hear reports about this type of material going missing in places like the former Soviet Union, or being sold by rogue states to terrorist groups.

*Note: No relation to the good people at Alcoholics Anonymous.