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The Military Science Technology

ISIS's Hunt For a Bogus Superweapon 330

schnell writes: The New York Times Magazine has a fascinating story about ISIS efforts to get their hands on a mysterious and powerful superweapon called Red Mercury. The problem is that by consensus among scientific authorities, Red Mercury doesn't exist. And yet that hasn't stopped the legend of Red Mercury, touted by sources from Nazi conspiracy theorists to former Manhattan Project scientists, as having magical properties. Middle East weapons traders have even spun elaborate stories for its properties (ranging from thermonuclear explosive properties to sexual enhancement) and origins and sources (from Soviet weapons labs to Roman graveyards). What can account for the enduring myth of Red Mercury — is it rampant scientific illiteracy, the power of urban legend and shared myth, or something else?
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ISIS's Hunt For a Bogus Superweapon

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  • Next up: (Score:5, Funny)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:00PM (#50966773) Homepage

    We tell them Andromeda Strain was a documentary.

    • I think they'd be happy just to get their hands on some high level radioactive wastes so they can build a dirty bomb. So while everyone is being snarky, they are probably being serious, but not about Red Mercury.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        they want red mercury rockets.

        according to the article, the culprit might be the batshit insane poorly informed turkish press. or maybe it's the turkish propaganda rather than turkish press.

        in either case, the physical properties are impossible.

      • Re:High Level Waste (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @05:55AM (#50968359) Journal
        That's almost as silly as Red Mercury. Do you know why no terrorist plots have actually detonated a dirty bomb? It's not because radioactive materials are hard to get hold of, it's because building an effective dirty bomb is really hard. You have to find something that is sufficiently radioactive to be a problem, that is easy to disburse over a wide area, but which won't disburse so far / quickly that it will simply drop to background radioactivity levels.
  • by r-diddly ( 4140775 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:00PM (#50966775)
    The New York Times Magazine has a fascinating story about ISIS efforts to get their hands on a mysterious and powerful superweapon called [Allah]. The problem is that by consensus among scientific authorities, [Allah] doesn't exist. And yet that hasn't stopped the legend of [Allah], touted by sources from Nazi conspiracy theorists to former Manhattan Project scientists, as having magical properties. Middle East weapons traders have even spun elaborate stories for its properties (ranging from thermonuclear explosive properties to sexual enhancement) and origins and sources (from Soviet weapons labs to Roman graveyards). What can account for the enduring myth of [Allah] — is it rampant scientific illiteracy, the power of urban legend and shared myth, or something else?
    • If your post manages to get +5 Insightful, slashdot will be on the next targets list..
    • Actually, there is a complete book that describes allah pretty well [islam-watch.org] - written by an ex-Muslim
      • by meglon ( 1001833 )
        Here's a website that describes Winnie the Pooh pretty well - http://www.lavasurfer.com/pooh... [lavasurfer.com]

        He's at least as real as God/Allah, and may have even more books written about him then they do. Because a lot of people believe a delusion doesn't make it less of a delusion, it's just means there more stupid gullible people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:01PM (#50966777)
    Are you telling me a group of religious fundamentalists are scientifically illiterate??
  • by Falconnan ( 4073277 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:04PM (#50966795)
    The nature of a group like ISIS (though I hear they hate being called DAESH, which is a good reason to) leads them to be somewhat gullible on such matters. So this is not surprising. But part of me is oddly reassured by the fact the most feared terrorist organization in the world is on a massive snipe hunt.
  • I mean, if they're really this gullible, why stop there? If we want to talk about fictional destructive fluids of a crimson color, why not try to sell them red matter [wikipedia.org]? What faster way to your 72 virgins than destroying an entire planet? Or don't they have a way yet to drill to the Earth's core?

  • This seems like a great plot for the next Indiana Jones movie. Maybe they could even have a Spock cameo.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:11PM (#50966855)
    movie title...band name...porn id....too many possibilities.
  • Maybe... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sstern ( 56589 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:11PM (#50966863) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they're thinking of Ice-9?

  • Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:11PM (#50966867)

    What can account for the enduring myth of Red Mercury — is it rampant scientific illiteracy, the power of urban legend and shared myth, or something else?

    Yes.

  • Has mercury and is colored Red. Pleasure doing business with you Mr. Armeen.
  • by twmcneil ( 942300 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:12PM (#50966879)
    I hope they don't learn about the absolutely lethal dihydrogen monoxide. They'll be all over that shit.

    Oh, I let the cat out of the bag didn't I?
  • by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:13PM (#50966891)

    Red Mercury is totally bogus. If they were smart, they'd go to Ethiopia and swipe the Tabota Seyen -- the Ark of the Covenant. There's your super-weapon. I mean, all you have to do is carry it in front of your army, and it just wipes out your enemies in masse! The Ethiopians themselves have used it multiple times in battle.

    Did you guys *see* what it did in Raiders of the Lost Ark? That movie was totally fact-based! ;)

  • by Cito ( 1725214 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:14PM (#50966893) Homepage

    It gave Spock COPD

  • Let us set up a clandestine program to dope real RDX explosives red, make spectacular explosions as demo and lure them in. Let us sell them fake red mercury that would not explode well, add tracers to them and track them down.
  • by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:24PM (#50966945) Homepage

    As much as I like laughing at idiots, I'm not sure that letting them know it's bullshit is in anyone's best interest. Every bit of money and manpower they devote to finding shit that doesn't exist is money and manpower that's not killing everyone else.

    In fact, the RIGHT approach to this would have been to seed the marketplace with various government agents leading the bad guys on in their hunt for this mcguffin.

    Remember folks: DON'T educate the bad guys. Don't tell them what they are doing wrong - it's counterproductive to make them smarter.

    • I don't think your reverse-psychology is gonna work. The more you tell them it's fake, the harder they'll look. And the hard they look, the faster they'll find. How do you like being responsible for them getting their hands on this wonder-weapon?
    • Re:Annoying (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @09:57PM (#50967079)

      I thought this too, but after reading the article, it seems knowledge that red mercury is fake is already easily found. They just ignore it, often rationalizing the evidence of a hoax as a government-run disinformation campaign. They'll just think the same of the NYT's article - perhaps it will even egg them on, if the government is so desperate as to have their news puppets push this story (or so they'll phrase it).

  • They're looking in the wrong place.

    This is what Daesh should actually be looking for:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • I take it they haven't seen the Star Trek reboots...

  • For the right price, I could be persuaded to part with my red mercury [curbsideclassic.com].

  • Mercuric oxide is red. I'm not sure about any of the other properties, but it *is* red. (Actually orange might be a better descriptive, but it's on the red side of orange.)

    Google: mercuric oxide color

  • Red mercury is located next to the dilithium crystals (below the unobtanium) at any Walmart.

  • On that movie set where they faked the moon landings.
  • A lot of people who believe in Red Mercury don't believe in global warming.
  • What can account for the enduring myth of Red Mercury

    We had almost stamped out that myth, and then Star Trek (2009) came out with red matter, and it started up all over again.

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @10:37PM (#50967193)
    It's at the bottom of a big pit on Oak Island. Just keep digging. It's down there.
  • monatomic gold! That stuff makes red mercury look like candy!

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday November 19, 2015 @10:59PM (#50967257)

    the nearest Ford/Lincoln car dealer

  • Have you ever asked yourself what color anti-mercury would be?

    • Antimatter and matter react in the same way with photons, so in the wildly unlikely event that you could produce and collect an observable quantity of anti-mercury and then observe it, it would look like mercury.

      • by ka9dgx ( 72702 )

        But... what if the secret people with secret lab stuff already did it, and it is red? or maybe anti-oxygen has a red hue for some odd reason?

  • ... if they get red mercury, we still have Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, and Helen Mirren... we can just send them in to kick their asses. We could call it RED 3, although we'd have to actually call it a "reboot" of RED 2, and i'd hate to see the actors they go with this time around. Bruce WIllis.... ain't nothing going to get to us... red mercury, asteroids the size of Texarse... nothing!
  • I got your Red Mercury right here! I mean, not here now. I have it, I just need some time to deliver.
  • I first read about this when researching John Dee...red mercury was part of his alchemy work on the Philosopher's Stone. That was over 400 years ago, far older than the NYT's claims of "around the time of the Cold War".
  • The Sphynx has a room underneath its front paws, dicovered by means or echolocation.
    However, no archeologist has been allowed in, yet.
    Must be because the superweapon is there!
    • by meglon ( 1001833 )

      However, no archeologist has been allowed in, yet.

      It's just that Egypt wants to maintain security of their grain storage.

  • ..who laughingly refer to themselves as 'Islamic State', is revealed in all it's glory, here: They're idiots. Violent, animalistic, atavistic idiots, but idiots nevertheless. They believe in Fairy Tales, superstitions, and myths. They're not rational in the least. Sadly, they think they're fit to rule over a population, when in reality their 'caliphate' is a bad joke, and they don't posess even a fraction of the intelligence, experience, or restraint to actually create and rule over a productive, modern cou
    • by meglon ( 1001833 )

      Sadly, they think they're fit to rule over a population, when in reality their 'caliphate' is a bad joke, and they don't posess even a fraction of the intelligence, experience, or restraint to actually create and rule over a productive, modern country.

      That's not what they want. They want the end times. They're the Islamic version of the Christian Revelationists, the ones who want to bring about the end of the world so god will yank the "righteous believers" out of here (naturally they think they're the ones he's going to "save").

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