Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It only takes an amount of Plutonium the size of a soda can to make a huge nuclear bomb, so we should wage war on Iran, right?

Not quite. The comparison is misleading in that it neglects to mention that plutonium is a totally artificial element that's not found in nature and has to be manufactured atom by atom. Making plutonium from uranium requires an enormous amount of money, time, equipment, support, resources, etc... meaning that only a state backed program could do it and that it wouldn't be an easy undertaking, especially to refine the uranium to the point where it could be made into plutonium and then manufacture the plutonium itself. The technology to do this, by the way, isn't something you can just get the plans for from some company. The information about constructing nuclear reactors and nuclear devices is withheld from the international public, which is why Iran and other countries have to basically do the research to make these things themselves. So far they haven't even gotten to the point where they could use their refined uranium to fuel nuclear reactors. Another point is price, or value.

You can't buy plutonium, but if you could it would be worth many times its weight in gold, meaning that the four kilograms of plutonium that would be the size of a soda can would be the equivalent of four kilograms of cut and finished diamonds.

The soda can comparison is misleading because everyone can go to the store and get a soda, which implies that plutonium is just as easily available. The truth is that it's anything but common.

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