Only Risking the World

By John LaForge

NEW YORK, NY -- "Will Brookhaven Destroy the Universe? Probably Not", ran a recent New York Times headline. It seems that risking the destruction of the world for personal gain is still a matter of indifference among scientists at the Brookhaven nuclear weapons laboratory, on Long Island, NY.

The National Laboratory has just finished an atom smasher built for the purpose of creating "a kind of energy soup" called a "plasma" that could then be studied. The scientists at Brookhaven intend to "not only shatter the atoms' nuclei into their constituent protons and neutrons, but…pulverize the protons and neutrons themselves."

According to Malcolm Browne of the New York Times, "no one is quite sure what these collisions might spawn, and the uncertainty has encouraged some people so speculate that Brookhaven's new accelerator might turn out to be a doomsday machine."

The Sunday Times of London reported that some in the scientific community worry that the collisions planned by Brookhaven might create "strangelets" that annihilate surrounding matter and "end the world as we know it." Another fear is that the subatomic explosions may "nucleate [sic] a tiny black hole that would grow like a cancer, eventually devouring the earth."

The Times' Browne reports that "Mainstream physicists have cast cold water on such fears," but the mere possibility of causing a catastrophe should move congress to cancel the program.

Unfortunately, the arrogant recklessness of government physicists, the Space Administration and the bomb makers has a long history in the U.S.

Similar government programs -- mostly war related -- preceded the irresponsibility of Brookhaven's experiments:

The Mother of All End-of-the-World threats came July 16, 1945 in the New Mexico desert. In the hours before the first atomic bomb blast, Dr. Enrico Fermi "offered to take wagers from his fellow scientists on whether or not the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, and if so, whether it would merely destroy New Mexico or destroy the world." Edward Teller also confessed the night before that first A-bomb blast, that "…one could imagine that things might get out of control…"

Likewise, in 1951 the U.S. military knew there were serious health risks from the radioactive fallout from its atom bomb testing in Nevada. The government chose to expose the population even though safer sites were available. The President's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments uncovered documents that show that a planned evacuation of Nevada's downwind civilians was canceled without an explanation.

Stanford University historian Barton Bernstein says that the evacuation was "probably canceled because they feared creating a public panic." Atomic Energy Commission members had at the time discussed such a possible uproar and worried that it would put an end to bomb testing on U.S. soil.

Just last month, NASA's Cassini Space Probe flew past the earth at 42,000 mph carrying 72.3 pounds of radioactive plutonium-238. The scientists who put us all in the path of this potential cancer bomb calmly dismissed humanitarian concerns and international protest. The chances of killing tens of thousands of people who could have been contaminated with the plutonium -- had it burned up in the atmosphere -- were, NASA guessed, "less than one in one million."

However, NASA said in its own final EIS for Cassini that "In the unlikely event that an inadvertent reentry occurred, approximately five billion of the estimated seven to eight billion world population at the time of the 'swingby' could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure." The poison would, according to NASA, add "a couple of hundred cancer deaths to the thousands that normally occur worldwide." NASA pointedly mentions only cancer deaths, and -- deeming them acceptable -- pays no mind to the genetic mutations and immune deficiencies that can maim and kill several generations beyond one's initial exposure to radiation.

Unhappily for the victims of the cancer epidemic sweeping the population -- like the uranium/plutonium workers at Paducah, KT who were lied to about the danger of their jobs -- we are being told 20, 30 or 40 years after the fact that we were deliberately poisoned.

In August 1995 the National Cancer Institute reported that radiation from just the Iodine-131 in the fallout from 90 above-ground bomb blasts (many more radioactive isotopes were present) would cause 75,000 thyroid cancers, resulting in perhaps 7,500 deaths.

In September 1995, the government admitted that it warned the photographic film industry about the radiation in (and the direction of) bomb test fallout during the 1950s, but that it chose not to warn farmers or consumers. "It is odd that the government would warn Kodak about its film but wouldn't warn the general public about the milk it was drinking," said Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. "They just didn't want any public reaction against the atomic tests," Harkin said.

How can anyone justify a willingness to risk other people's lives in pursuit of their own agenda? Malcolm Browne helps provide an answer in his Times piece.

Like the mad scientists themselves, he dodges the question of responsibility and even projects suicidal tendencies onto the victims: "While we're at it," Browne concludes, "we might quit basing self-esteem on the ability of the human race to commit collective suicide."

If things get "out of control" again at Brookhaven, it will not be the fault of the human race collectively, but of a tiny number of technicians and bureaucrats who love their careers more than life on earth.