Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon's Scientific Underworld

Sharon Weinberger, Author , Nation $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56025-849-0

The Pentagon's fascination with fringe science is old news, writes veteran defense reporter Weinberger in this incisive study, but the Bush administration has pushed it to new levels of wackiness. After reviewing our government's pursuit of antimatter weapons, psychics and telepathy, she focuses on a "nuclear hand grenade" that may cost billions and seems certain to fail. Before the War on Terror and the avalanche of government money for advanced new weapons, few paid attention to physicists who said they could harness the energy of unstable atomic nuclei, or "isomers," through a wildly expensive process involving atomic reactors. But in recent years, a group of fringe scientists aided by defense industry insiders has convinced the Pentagon that America's post-9/11 survival depends on developing an isomer bomb. While proponents compare it to the Manhattan Project, opponents point out that independent researchers have not been able to duplicate the results attained by isomer enthusiasts, and that many assumptions behind the bomb contradict the laws of physics. Though Congress canceled isomer bomb development in 2004, the Department of Energy found $5 million to continue the research. (July 1)

Reviewed on: 04/10/2006
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-1-56858-329-7
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