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Polonium-210 Available Through Mail Order 481

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the healthy-breakfast-shakes dept.
Knutsi writes "InformationWeek is reporting that Polonium 210, the radioactive material used to poison former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is not as hard to get your hands on as some have previously stated. American family business United Nuclear is actually selling the stuff, and other equally exotic materials, on their company website. Could come in handy for the xmas shopping season."
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Polonium-210 Available Through Mail Order

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  • Now that guy with the wiggling eyebrows has to be one of the funniest banner ads ever.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:12PM (#17036716) Homepage Journal


    I wonder how XBOX LIVE will dectect this?

    UberL337: hey thanx 4 sendin over teh drinks!
    TehD00d: NP mang.
    [...]
    UberL337: ug feel sick oh fukkk call ambulsafeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
    TehD00d: Polonipnwed!!!

  • When a lump of coal just won't do...

    • Someone should give this to Vladimir Putin and his FSS pals for Christmas. Just expressing my sentiment and not a true desire to see a wannabe dictator done in.
      • by inviolet (797804)

        Someone should give this to Vladimir Putin and his FSS pals for Christmas. Just expressing my sentiment and not a true desire to see a wannabe dictator done in.

        Hey, I'm as anxious as you are to see Putin finally recognized for the evil, scheming sociopath that he is. (He has to be one, in order to come to power in a quasi-statist bramble of a society.) However...

        ...wouldn't this have been the perfect way for the FSS or whoever to engineer his downfall, in favor of a hardliner?

        So let's practice what we

      • by marcello_dl (667940) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:37PM (#17038200) Homepage Journal
        What makes you think it's a KGB operation?

        For simple minds, it's KGB because an exotic poison like radioactive polonium seems kind of a signature it's no ordinary killing.

        For smarty people, it couldn't be a KGB operation because KGB is not so stupid to poison people with exotic stuff when they have ways to make appear it an ordinary killing.

        For chess playing soviet russia folks it could be a KGB operation because KGB could use the polonium as a too obvious link to make people think they're being framed while they're behind it all.

        But, the odds are 50%. So I'd not point the finger at Putin so fast.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dread_ed (260158)
          You forget the other side of the equation.

          Rewmember that poisoning someone is a very personal act of violence. It could be that the KGB used the Polonium to make sure that Litvinenko knew who killed him.

          In vendetta killings it is always sweeter if the victim knows just who is killing them. Anonomyous "Pwned" messages don't suffice. You have gotta leave your tag. What better way to do it than by using a 138 day halflife radioactive element that is obviously made ina nuclear reactor and would cost a milli
    • by ptr2004 (695756) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:22PM (#17038996)
      There is already clarification on how they sell Polonium 20

      http://www.unitednuclear.com/isotopes.htm [unitednuclear.com]
  • Not anymore (Score:5, Funny)

    by jbeaupre (752124) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:13PM (#17036744)
    I stopped in a few weeks back to buy some and some Russian dude in line ahead of me bought the last of it.
  • Feh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:14PM (#17036764) Homepage Journal
    The Polonium available on United Nuclear's site can be purchased without a license because the level of radioactivity, 0.1 microcurie, doesn't pose a danger, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says.


    Thanks slashdot, but if I wanted baseless scare mongering about the threat of nuclear material falling into the wrong hands, I'd join the Republican Party.
    • by lixee (863589)
      Thanks slashdot, but if I wanted baseless scare mongering about the threat of nuclear material falling into the wrong hands, I'd join the Republican Party.
      Wow, didn't know Republicans were active in Britain.

      Seriously though, you made an excellent point and I applaude you for it.
    • Re:Feh (Score:5, Funny)

      by spellraiser (764337) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:35PM (#17037114) Journal

      Nah, at Republican Party meetings, all they do is smoke big cigars and laugh over how easy it is to dupe the proles. Afterwards, they go out and throw rocks at hobos.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jo7hs2 (884069)
      Thanks poster, but if I wanted to ignore the dangers of our world and bury my head in the sand like an ostrich, I'd join the Democratic Party. - or - Thanks poster, but if I wanted to run around screaming like Chicken Little that the sky was falling, while meanwhile smoking a joint, I'd join the Green Party. - or - Thanks poster, but if I wanted to pretend I wasn't a Democrat or Republican to avoid argument, I'd be a Libertarian. /Slashdot is an Equal Opportunity Insultor.
    • Oh yeah, because when it comes to anything nuclear only evil right-wing loons [greenpeace.org] EVER scare monger in any way.
    • by pepax (748182) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:43PM (#17037274)
    • Re:Feh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Speare (84249) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:51PM (#17037424) Homepage Journal

      No doubt. The United Nuclear company is great, and this isn't the first time that fearmongering affects their very small and valuable business. That, and clueless frat boys who order the largest magnets they can find, just because it's fun to buy objects which have warnings with phrases like "serious injury will occur if you just carry this magnet through a room without planning your route carefully." Science is already being dumbed down by the nanny state; it's the reason that Mr. Wizard didn't endorse a modern update to his old chemistry sets. Timmy doesn't want to see what happens when boring baking soda mixes with boring tap water, but the school gets in trouble for anything more exotic and meaningful.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      The fear of all things nuclear is the Democrat or even better the Greens stance. "Why should we worry about terrorists explosives in their shoes when you can by deadly Po210 by mail order".

      Get your fear mongering right.

      Remember if you outlaw child pornography, only criminals will have child pornography.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)

      In order to be able to produce shippable samples you need to buy a larger quantity in bulk. If a family business in the midwest can do it, so can others. Anyway, the materials they offer are low activity, esoteric and not really scary. There used to be other places where you could get this kind of stuff in considerably larger quantities.

      I have not done mol biol for a very long time, but the large biotech suppliers like Boehringer, Amersham, Pharmacia and their Russian competitors used to have considerably

      • Re:Feh (Score:4, Informative)

        by droopycom (470921) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:25PM (#17039064)
        No!!! Go read their website before talking:

        Each order is custom made to a LICENSED reactor, and shipped directly form the licensed reactor to the final customer.
        You would need to order 15000 of there samples, and spend 1 Million dollars in order to get a toxic amount.
        Then you would have to somehow manipulate the isotopes to put them in a form convenient for poisoning.

  • http://www.unitednuclear.com/isotopes.htm [unitednuclear.com]

    "Only Legal Source" ..... not for long
    • Indeed...American Citizens cannot be trusted with nuclear materials...shit they can't even be trusted with a goddamn telephone it seems, judging by the evesdropping our government does.

      Really getting disillusioned by the land that claims to be "Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave".
    • "Only Legal Source" ..... not for long

      Whatever you do, don't take apart a smoke detector. Or a night scope. Or a glow in the dark keychain. Or a level gauge. Or an old pair of dentures. Or a wick from a gas camping lamp.

      There are actually quite a few mail-order sites for nuclear materials. The stuff is expensive, but it is available. The only difference is that most sites request proof of licensing for such materials before they'll sell them to you. In that way they separate the valid research, medical, and

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Honestly, it's kind of odd that someone would have poisoned the guy with polonium. I mean, there are so many other types of poisons ..."

        Ok, Name me one.

        Name me one which doesn't cause any effects for several days after ingestion, so I have time to get out of the country and clear all my tracks. And after that, causes unusual symptoms so that doctors will be confused. And, after ingestion, though it causes no immediate symptoms, is 100% fatal no matter what medical support is provided. As well as being tast
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) *

          Seems to me you're pretty much stuck with a radioactive substance. And of all radioactive substances, an alpha-particle only emitter is the easiest to conceal from radiological detection.

          Mercury Poisoning [wikipedia.org]

          A lot less sophisticated, but just as effective. And you can even administer it externally.

          As for confusing the doctors, it's obvious that a radiological material failed to do that. In fact, most hospitals have rather extensive radiological areas and procedures. So the chances of the symptoms eventually bei

    • by udderly (890305) *
      I'm thinking that when going out to dinner with ex-KGB, one might need this [unitednuclear.com].
  • xmas gift (Score:5, Funny)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:15PM (#17036794) Homepage Journal
    I think Bolonium is a much more appropriate holiday gift. After all, its atomic weight is deliciously snacktacular.

  •   You'd be surprised about shops like this. Feds will obviously track the payments and shipments of these things. Even medical devices which contain less damaging isotopes have strict tracking. Don't believe the friendly face isn't watching you.
  • Moo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:19PM (#17036848) Homepage Journal
    Who cares about Uranium, when we can have supermagnets!

    Read the page, see the bait:
    Two of these magnets close together can create an almost unbelievable magnetic field that can be very dangerous. Of all the unique items we offer for sale, we consider these items the most dangerous of all. Our normal packing & shipping personnel refuse to package these magnets - our engineers have to do it. This is no joke and we cannot stress it strongly enough - that you must be extremely careful - and know what you're doing with these magnets.

    They even say "beware" elswhere. It must be good.

    Can you even resist?

    Luckily therse things cost money, or noone would care about the Flying Spaghetti Monster anymore. The Flying Magnetatorus would rule supreme.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

      by 3770 (560838) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:34PM (#17037094) Homepage
      I did buy magnets from there. They are freakin' awesome.

      I accidentally held them too close to each other with nothing in between and they slammed together with such a force that they made sparks and got chipped. I couldn't for the life of me get the magnets apart again until I realized that I could set one on the edge of a table and put my weight on the other to slide them apart but it still hurt my hands to do that.

      The strength will amaze you and I only bought the 1" cube magnets. I can't even begin to imagine the strength of the really big ones.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:36PM (#17037140)
      Among the most dangerous things you can give your small child are magnets - particularly the small pea-sized sort that are used in toys that are moved around on a platform by other magnets placed underneath.

      If a child swallows more than one of these magnets, they can find each other through bowel tissue and clamp together, eventually killing the tissue that ends up between them due to lack of blood flow and possibly perforating the bowel.

      The magnets they are talking about can break bones if you don't handle them correctly, and if you've ever handled smaller magnets before (who hasn't), you know that it can be tricky trying to arrange more than one magnet (even small ones) without allowing them to collide. You could probably also kill yourself with these magnets in freak circumstances.
  • .... But *WHY* is this stuff freely available? Shouldn't it be a controlled substance of some sort? It almost seems that there are drugs and booze that have tighter restrictions.
    • by joto (134244) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:34PM (#17037102)

      .... But *WHY* is this stuff freely available? Shouldn't it be a controlled substance of some sort?

      Eh, why not? It's not like you need polonium 210 to kill someone. A big stick can be used for the same purpose, and rat-poison can also be bought over the counter. And unlike e.g. guns, polonium 210 has other uses than to kill people. Most of those reasons advance science.

      Apart from that, why should everything you don't have a need for, need to become "a controlled substance"? I don't know about you, but I have no wish to live in a society where everything is regulated, over-regulated, and then regulated again. I'm for gun control, because guns are a big problem in todays society. I'm not convinced that polonium 210 is a big problem in todays society.

      It almost seems that there are drugs and booze that have tighter restrictions.

      Those things are addictive. Polonium 210 isn't.

      • by 3770 (560838) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:42PM (#17037266) Homepage

        .... But *WHY* is this stuff freely available? Shouldn't it be a controlled substance of some sort?

        Eh, why not? It's not like you need polonium 210 to kill someone. A big stick can be used for the same purpose, and rat-poison can also be bought over the counter. And unlike e.g. guns, polonium 210 has other uses than to kill people. Most of those reasons advance science.

        Polonium 210 doesn't kill people. People do.

        If you want my Polonium 210 you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AJWM (19027)
          If you want my Polonium 210 you'll have to pry it from my hot dead hands.

          There, fixed it for you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I'm for gun control, because guns are a big problem in todays society.

        Which is why you should be against gun control. The problem is that not everyone has one.

        • Uh, right. And we should just give nukes to every country in the world, because then we wouldn't need to worry about Iran and North Korea having them.
          • You know, you have helped me see the light here.

            I'm going to melt down all the small arms I own and donate the funds I receive from selling the scrap to the VPC.

            Can you recommend any other inanimate objects over which I can get hysterical?
      • by MustardMan (52102) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:57PM (#17037528)
        And unlike e.g. guns, polonium 210 has other uses than to kill people.

        Ugh. The vast majority of guns in the US have never, nor will they ever, be used for killing people. Seeing as how we have so few natural predators left, hunting is an absolutely vital element of the wildlife conservation effort in many countries. Hunting provides healthy, lean meat, untreated by growth hormones and antibiotics, it controls populations, reducing disease and famine, it provides funding for programs that preserve wildlife habitats....

        Guns can be used for a lot more than shooting people.
        • by joto (134244) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:29PM (#17039132)

          Uhm, the vast majority of guns in the US have never, nor will they ever, be used for hunting. And a typical hand-gun is also completely useless for hunting. However, I have nothing against people who are gun-nuts either. If they want to spend their time down at the shooting range, firing at cardboard silhuettes of arabs, it's their choice. What I want to do, is to limit the number of people who choose to keep a loaded gun somewhere in their house, where it waits to be stolen, played with by their children, etc... just because they believe it will somehow "protect" them if 69 ninjas suddenly attack them.

          And I didn't say anywhere that I was against guns. I said I was for gun control! Which is a completely different thing than being against guns in general.

          Gun control would imply such things as

          1. Every gun is registered in a central register
          2. It is the responsibility of the owner to make sure this register is updated if there is a change of owner, etc...
          3. Gun owners must have a police attest, declaring that they are not convicted criminals
          4. Gun owners must get a license, which prove they know how to safely store, transport, and handle a gun
          5. You are not allowed to own or handle a gun without that license, unless it is under supervision by a licensed instructor
          6. Your license can be revoked if you fail to comply with regulations of how to safely store, transport, and handle a gun.

          It's amazing that we have this for cars, but not for guns.

          • by Mattintosh (758112) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @04:15PM (#17039842)
            if 69 ninjas suddenly attack them

            Hmm... how would I provoke such an attack by this particular type of ninja?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by JesseMcDonald (536341) *

            It's amazing that we have this for cars, but not for guns.

            We don't have these rules for cars. You don't need a driver's license to own a car, or even, strictly speaking, to operate one (on private roads, with the owner's permission). You only need the license and registration to use the vehicle on public, State-owned roads. The equivalent for guns would be something like a concealed-carry license requirement (i.e. a license to carry the gun in public areas), which already exists in most places and typic

    • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:36PM (#17037134) Journal
      Because there is nothing special about radiation.

      Too many people think of radiation as this magical, unstoppable death ray; I call this the OMG RADIATION!!1! attitude.

      Fact is, there's a whole whackload of far more dangerous things you can get your hands on legally and easily, not least of which is any number of guns, which are also very dangerous when handled carelessly or by an unskilled/untrained operator.

      Cigarettes and alcohol are pretty dangerous too, and I couldn't even begin to list the deadly poisons we can stroll into any store and buy completely legally. You can start with the pest control isle, then add the majority of the cleaning isle, and then maybe a lot of the automotive liquids (antifreeze in particular is a dangerous thing if you've got pets or children around), then tack on much of the agricultural isle. Note that I'm not listing products, I'm listing store sections, because that's how readily available these things are.

      Honestly, the only reason to prefer radioactive substances to poison someone is because it plays right into the OMG RADIATION!!1! attitude, which even here on "enlightened" slashdot is in ample supply. It's just another deadly poison; no less, but no more.

      (To break yourself of the OMG RADIATION!!1! attitude, I recommend the following: Learn about background radiation levels. (If you think that "normal radiation" levels are "zero", you are firmly in the grip of OMG RADIATION!!1!.) Learn how X-Rays work and how they compare to background. Learn about how smoke detectors work; odds are very good that you are within a few tens of meters of an OMG RADIOACTIVE! substance. This will either break you of panicking, or give you a heart attack; either way you'll be free of OMG RADIATION!!1!.)
      • Too many people think of radiation as this magical, unstoppable death ray; I call this the OMG RADIATION!!1! attitude.

        But it's so much fun when you hold a geiger counter up to them and yell, "OH MY GOD! YOU'RE EMITTING THOUSANDS OF BECQUERELS OF RADIATION!"

        Then watch them go nuts for a few minutes before you finally explain to them that the postassium they need in their diet is a smidge radioactive. And God-forbid that our descendents might date our corpses with the Carbon-14 we're carrying around...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by b0s0z0ku (752509)
          Then watch them go nuts for a few minutes before you finally explain to them that the postassium they need in their diet is a smidge radioactive.

          Not to mention sleeping together with someone increases your dose from the Evil Potassium. (Still about 0.1 millirem per year extra :) By contrast normal background is about 50-100 mrem/yr, and smoking a pack a day gives you about 1000 mrem/yr.

          -b.

      • by BMonger (68213) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:14PM (#17037814)
        I avoid radiation at all costs. Most of the time I sit safely in front of this CRT screen here reading Slashdot.
    • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:45PM (#17037324) Homepage

      But *WHY* is this stuff freely available?

      It isn't. It's only available in very tiny quantities.

      Shouldn't it be a controlled substance of some sort?

      It is. Maybe you should read the article, or at least think a bit more critically that perhaps both Slashdot and Information Week are just trying to sell eyeballs here and are willing to overlook the fact that the amount available in incredibly tiny.

      It almost seems that there are drugs and booze that have tighter restrictions.

      Funny, I don't recall being able to buy arbitrary quantities of Polonium down the street from my local drug dealer (liquor stores included).

      I'm curious. Are you always so reactionary to news stories, assume the worst, and don't bother thinking critically, or only when the word "nuclear" or "radiation" is in the article?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gnasher719 (869701)
      As the article says, these guys are selling quantities of 0.1 microcurie. The maximum allowable dose for ingested Polonium-210 is 0.03 microcurie according to Wikipedia. (Quote: The maximum allowable body burden for ingested polonium is only 1,100 becquerels (0.03 microcurie), which is equivalent to a particle weighing only 6.8 × 10-12 gram. )

      Note that "Maximum allowable body burden" is far from lethal. That is the amount where your employer has some explaining to do if you work at some place using pol
  • by Lane.exe (672783) * on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:22PM (#17036900) Homepage
    Will work on moose and squirrel, yes?
  • Polonium and Smoking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Venner (59051) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:25PM (#17036952)
    I found it a bit amusing when they stated that Polonium was hard to obtain. It is actually drawn from the soil into Tobacco plants and is one of the Really Bad Things implicated in smoking and cancer (along with
    the also-radioactive Lead-210, which emits gamma rays and decays into Polonium eventually.)

    Polonium-210 is an alpha emitter - something you really don't want to ingest.
    I'd have to look up dose-equivalents, etc, but if I remember correctly, it was estimated a two-pack-a-day smoker gets the radioactive equivalent of something like 300 chest X-rays a year. And remember that these are heavy metals that stay in the body for a long time!
    • by selex (551564) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:36PM (#17037156)
      Oh come on, why don't you people stomp my only joy in life some more. It causes cancer, it smells, it yellows your teeth, it stunts your growth, it makes you sterile, it slaughters small puppies with a chainsaw...and now its radioactive. Son of a bitch! I'm about to start smoking crack...seems less harmful.

      Selex

      Does the United Nuclear's webpage sell that too?
    • The dose makes the poison. Most people working in buildings with granite sheathing are getting higher gamma doses than nuclear plant workers are allowed by law to be exposed to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Venner (59051)
        Oh yes. It's astonishing how much higher the levels of dangerous nuclide being belched out of coal plants are than are detectable around nuclear plants, for example.

        Radon, as a heavier-than-air gas, obviously sinks. A person living in a basement apartment might have 1000% greater yearly environmental radiation exposure than someone living in a high-rise.
        And I'm sure flight attendants who routinely work the long trans-Atlantic routes get hit with a lot from space. Etc.
  • by eneville (745111) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:25PM (#17036968) Homepage
    ... polonium-210 find you!!
  • antistatic brushes (Score:4, Informative)

    by chroma (33185) <{moc.gnirpsdnim} {ta} {amorhc}> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:27PM (#17036992) Homepage
    Theorore Gray (of wooden periodic table fame) also says that Polonium 210 is used in antistatic brushes for film negatives [theodoregray.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mmontour (2208)
      Yes, available here [2spi.com] for example. The 3" model ($47.84) has 500 uCi of polonium-210.
  • Wow... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:28PM (#17037006)
    According to here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonium [wikipedia.org]

    "The maximum allowable body burden for ingested polonium is only 1,100 becquerels (0.03 microcurie), which is equivalent to a particle weighing only 6.8 × 10-12 gram. Weight for weight, polonium is approximately 2.5 × 1011 (250 billion) times as toxic as hydrogen cyanide. The maximum permissible concentration for airborne soluble polonium compounds is about 7,500 Bq/m3 (2 × 10-11 Ci/cm3). The biological halflife of polonium in humans is 30 to 50 days.[18]"

    The toxic dose is 0.03 micro-curies

    http://www.unitednuclear.com/isotopes.htm [unitednuclear.com]

    Lists their polonium source as 0.1 micro-curie. Now Polonium is only REALLY toxic when inhaled, where alpha particles do the most damage.

    I know they probably track source sales like mad, but yeah, that seems a bit too convenient. I don't know what the disks are made off. If they are, say, ceramic based, it's probably resistant to most methods of extraction. Anything else, well...

    I don't know how much longer then that this will be a 'legal' alpha source.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...and is sometimes produced under dubious standards in Central America or India.

    It does not meet the stringent FDA requirements that approved CIA spy poisons must and is therefore illegal to posses without a prescription from your local block captain.
  • 30 ml can be lethal to adults in some cases - usually more like 100 ml. And it tastes sweet, so it can be mixed into a drink or accidently drunk by a child or pet. Some variants are yellow or red rather than a sickly green. And (at least for dogs) the death produced is an unpleasant one - basically, it's metabolised into oxalate which then crystallises and slices the kidneys to death. The funny thing is that a safer alternative - propylene glycol - already exists but isn't common because it's about 2-3x
  • Ripoff (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:37PM (#17037168)
    Don't buy this stuff... it's some kind of scam. I ordered a bunch, and I set it aside until I got around to needing it. About one year later when I wanted to use it, more than 80% of it had mysteriously disappeared into thin air! Talk about planned obsolescence... and this stuff ain't cheap. This is worse than inkjet cartridges.

    Since then, I've found a place that will send me Polonium *209*. It costs more, but so far it doesn't seem have the self-destruct feature that the Polonium 210 shysters build into their product.

  • Huh -- we now have front page news that a certain commodity item can be bought on the internet. I'm sorry, but anybody whos ever even just googled "Po210" already knows this. Where is the "news" aspect of this? Are we going to see headline news now that tells us that books can be bought online at Amazon.com?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:43PM (#17037282) Homepage Journal
    OK, Christmas cookies. Or maybe free beer, probably even more popular in Chicago (like anywhere else).

    At $69:0.1uCi, for a lethal dose of 0.03uCi, that's $66M to poison every Chicagoan. Before the volume rate discount.

    I can split hairs with you all day long. It still doesn't get my toothpaste on a plane.
  • I remember finding my dad's old 50's-era chemistry set at my grandma's when I was little, and seeing a little button cylinder with a viewport on the top, so you could see the lump of uranium or whatever glow. Unfortunately, no matter how close I stuck it up to my eyeballs, I didn't see any glow. When I told my dad, he promptly confiscated the cylinder. Interestingly, he left me the dangerous chemicals, organic solvents, etc.
  • by toby (759) * on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @01:45PM (#17037318) Homepage Journal
    here [independent.co.uk] but pasted in full, in case it "disappears":

    Polonium 210 was cancelled due to signal failure

    If this was carried out by a state department, Putin will announce it's to be privatised

    Published: 29 November 2006

    They must be bemused in Chechnya. Because they had about 50,000 people blown up by Putin and no one gave a toss. They probably made countless attempts to interest politicians and reporters from the West, who said: "Hmm, you've had your hospital destroyed by a tank, have you? Well it's a bit 1940s I'm afraid. Have they killed any of you with rocket-propelled bird flu or a remote-controlled piranha - something a bit sexy?"

    While Putin's army was destroying Chechnya, Tony Blair welcomed him to Britain, and described him as a "great moderniser". And that certainly applies to whoever killed Mr Litvinenko. Because there can hardly be a more modern way of murdering someone than with radioactive sushi. In many ways the two men are so similar that when Putin makes a statement on the incident, he might say: "This is not a betrayal of KGB values. It represents traditional assassination in a modern setting."

    And if this was carried out by a state-run department, Putin will announce it's to be privatised so it can bid for outside contracts. By now they've probably already made a showreel to publicise their work called "Ready Steady Poison", in which a Russian version of Ainsley Harriott chortles: "Now you only need to add a pinch of this stuff. Too much is a waste. Not only that but it's a bit heavy on the palate, and just because you're killing someone, you don't want to drown out the subtle flavours of the salmon."

    Most commentators have suggested the killing couldn't be linked to the hierarchy of the Russian government because it's too clumsy and risky. But this is to underestimate government agents. The CIA's attempts to assassinate Castro included placing a bomb inside an attractive sea-shell, in an area of the beach that he strolled on, in the hope it would catch his eye and he'd pick it up. So by comparison this effort was dry and straightforward. Maybe the world's older secret service agents meet up in gloomy pubs to drink bitter and complain: "Youngsters today have it easy. In the old days, if you wanted to murder someone with sea-food you were up all night making an exploding whelk."

    But this case represents more than one murder, because it's forced much of the British establishment to acknowledge that Russia has gone wrong. This leaves them in some turmoil, because when the Soviet Union collapsed this wasn't just seen as the demise of a tyranny, but the ultimate triumph for capitalism. Big business had won so freedom and prosperity would surely follow. Businessmen scrambled for their piece of this private wealth, and this was celebrated as an example of the new liberty. George Soros, the West's most quoted financier of the time, wrote: "It's robber capitalism, it's lawless, but it's very vital and viable."

    One flaw in this logic was that most of the newly rich Russian businessmen had previously held senior posts in the Communist Party, which is how they got access to this new treasure. Which means the attitude of the country's new owners was: "Under the old system I believed it was my right to be pampered in luxury, while most people were poor under communism. But now I realise it's actually my right to be pampered in luxury, while most people are poor under capitalism. Truly we should be grateful for this historic change."

    If you pointed this out at the time, you were scowled at like someone who suggests the week before a World Cup that England aren't going to win. Now, 15 years later the place is in chaos, to the extent that life expectancy for men has fallen from 65 to 59. Which must be another sign of the new freedom, because in the old days people were forced to endure six extra years of turgid communism, but in the f

    • by freedom_india (780002) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @02:12PM (#17037782) Homepage Journal
      This is not the first time that the West has had its Foot in Mouth delibrately.
      After all history is ripe: the US state dep.t files describe Mussolini as a "Great Man" and Hitler as a "Great and Able Administrator".
      This was in 1930s when Hitler enslaved Germany, and forced people into Labor at cheap cost,. Of coujrse companies like GE and others made a killing in Germany before the stupid Jap attack blew their plans.
      Blair is not welcoming Putin: It is BIG business which is welcoming him.
       
  • i hope the seller is sensible enough to cease sales during the current time of popularity. there must be lots of people out there wanting to pin things on the KGB.
  • Why am I reminded of the episode of Family Matters where Urkel builds a nuclear bomb?
  • by muridae (966931)
    United Nuclear sells 0.1 microcuries. Polonium 210 emits 4500 curies per gram [1], so that is about .0002 grams per curie. So they are selling 0.00002 micrograms, 0.02 picograms, or if you want to make it look really big, 22 femtograms [2]. How toxic is that? Well, I would suspect there is several times more cyanide in a single apple seed [3]. And wouldn't it be cheaper to get the Polonium from a photography shop, and not a monitored source of radio isotopes? [1]According to http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/doc [anl.gov]
  • As several others have pointed out, what United Nuclear is selling isn't dangerous. Please don't make it harder for scientists that may need this element. It's already a PITA to get Sudafed that works instead of the PE version. For those who don't know, Sudafed and others who use pseudoephedrine as a active ingredient have a odd thing...you get a CARD off the shelf and the pharmacy has to be open. You may only buy 1 box PER day AND you must show ID to buy that box! The reason is because you can make Me
  • You cannot get enough from such a source to conduct a poisoning such as what happened in London. This is a TINY sample. Nothing like the right amount.
  • Annually, whenever I seal my Hemoccult card in the self-addressed stamped envelope my personal physician provides and drop it into a mailbox, I wonder whether I'm going to get a visit from Homeland Security for illegally mailing biohazard waste.

    So far, I've yet to have the doctor "The lab doesn't understand what's happened. They couldn't run the test. They say it's almost as if the sample got electron-beam sterilized [epa.gov] somehow."
  • by obtuse (79208) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @03:13PM (#17038848) Journal
    http://www.unitednuclear.com/isotopes.htm [unitednuclear.com] Here's their explanation.

    Not enough to poison someone, almost impossible to extract, etc. Poor United Nuclear will probably be run out of business just like everyone else who helps amateur scientists.

  • by jopet (538074) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @05:42PM (#17041226) Journal
    Everyone now already knows that this is FUD and what UN sells is just a tiny fraction of the toxic amount which is already just a tiny amount.

    What I still do not understand is why anyone would want to use Polonium210 to kill somebody in the first place? There are dozens of substances available to everyone and probably thousands available to a secret service and all of these substances would be as efficient, cheaper, and less problematic for the one who applies them.

    So why on earth use Polonium210?

    My only explanation so far is that it is an extremely sadistic way to kill somebody: no antidote, it takes days and is extremely painful.

Fundamentally, there may be no basis for anything.

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