STOP CASSINI Newsletter #168 -- August 10th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: The Voice of the Village Idiot: STOP CASSINI #168

Date: August 10th, 1999

Time Frame: Cassini is scheduled to do the flyby of Earth some time next week.

Today's Subjects:

(1) Village Voice gives yet another new time and place:


Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 06:40:35 +0900
To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
From: Richard Wilcox
Subject: Village Voice on Cassini

RDH, This just in. James Ridgeway is a good reporter, he does a lot on enviro issues. But he got a couple facts wrong below, maybe you can contact him. He writes that the plutonium is fuel. RW


The Village Voice
August 11 - 17, 1999


Ringing Indictments
Orbit of Plutonium Probe Stirs

As if allegations of thousands of workers at government weapons labs having been exposed to plutonium aren't enough, a NASA plan to whip a plutonium-powered satellite around the Earth later this month is raising new fears.

Antinuclear activists are concerned that one "slingshot" orbit of the Cassini space probe on August 18, to generate enough power to send the craft to Saturn, poses the ominous possibility that the craft's fuel could leak into Earth's atmosphere. Launched in 1997, the Cassini carries 72 pounds of plutonium 238- a man-made substance similar to the plutonium in nuclear bombs and reactors- as fuel. It is scheduled to orbit Earth and dip to within 725 miles of Earth's atmosphere at 11:28 p.m. on August 18 west of Chile in the area of Easter Island.

To reach Saturn, Cassini needs to feed off Earth's momentum. However, the "slingshot" maneuver is highly controversial. Although NASA claims the chances for reentry into the atmosphere are less than one in a million, Professor Frank von Hippel, who was a White House adviser on science and technology policy in 1993 and 1994, is less optimistic. Von Hippel points out that while Cassini's heat shield was designed for reentry at Earth's orbit speed (about seven kilometers a second), it will be going well over that rate- closer to 20 kilometers a second, or approximately 42,000 miles an hour.

"My concern is that the packaging isn't robust enough, and it will burn up completely in the case of reentry," says von Hippel. If the craft burns, its plutonium fuel will be released in potentially inhalable particles. NASA scientists claim that the amount of plutonium would be negligible in terms of its effect on the world's population, positing a worst-case scenario in which perhaps "120 to 2300 people would develop bone or lung cancer if inhaled." Some independent scientists claim those figures are grossly low. They cite a 1997 NASA report that estimated deaths in the tens of thousands in a similar scenario.

Alan Kohn, a former NASA emergency preparedness officer, is disillusioned with the continued use of plutonium to power space vessels. NASA is currently studying the feasibility of eight space probes similar to Cassini between 2000 and 2015. "The intention is to use this for the indefinite future," Kohn says. "In an indefinite series, there are no such things as odds of failure. Failure becomes inevitable."



It's not a bad article. But I wonder what his source is for the time and place of the closest approach, which he gives as "11:28 p.m. on August 18 west of Chile in the area of Easter Island"? Is that Easter Island local time? Village Voice time? Greenwich Mean Time? Mean JPL time? Even hitting "refresh" on my browser, the NASA/JPL page as of right now (August 10th, 1999, 8:00 pm PST) still says "Cassini's closest approach to Earth occurs at 137 W longitude and 23.5 S latitude, over the South Pacific Ocean" as it has at least since last Saturday morning.

Easter Island is approximately 2,000 miles away from this location.

Of course, regular readers of the STOP CASSINI newsletter could probably guess that James Ridgeway did not interview the editor, because if he had, he would know that the RTGs are not "fuel" they merely provide heat, which is used for a thermoelectric conversion to electricity (and the RHUs, with 3/4ths of a pound of plutonium on them, are also there for the heat they produce). And he wouldn't have (through the quotes he took from others) relied on the "SER" (undoubtedly the 1997 "NASA" document mentioned in the article) as the "other side of the coin". Like NASA's Environmental Impact Statements, the SER presents averaged scenarios as "worst case projections". They present wishful thinking as scientific fact.

Also, Ridgeway would have known that the particles that would be produced are not "potentially inhalable", they are in fact, the IDEAL size for lodging in the lungs of human beings! A Cassini reentry would most likely produce particles that average about 10 microns in size and range from 5 to 58 microns, if the results of an earlier NASA blunder are anything to go by. And he would know that there are millions of trillions of these particles, or perhaps billions of trillions (ask John Glenn, he seems to know).

He would CERTAINLY not have called the plutonium 238 on board Cassini (about 85% is Pu 238) "similar to the plutonium in nuclear bombs", he would have called it HUNDREDS OF TIMES MORE DANGEROUS because that's what it is (about 280 times more dangerous, roughly).

A discussion about the RHU's, plus Dr. John W. Gofman on radiation hazards:

What is a half-life? (Compares Plutonium 238 to Plutonium 239)

(2) Pushing the envelope: Can Cassini be safely maneuvered?


Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1999 14:37:11 -0400 (EDT)
To: (
From: Jonathan Mark (
Subject: Foucault pendulum and Cassini's 8/11 TCM
Cc: Dan Goldin (,
President Clinton (

Re: Cassini TCM for August 11


Based on the uncertainty in the referenced NASA posting about the possible effects of the eclipse on gravity, shouldn't NASA schedule the "trajectory correction maneuver" on a different day rather than on the same day as the last total solar eclipse of the millennium? Why take any chance with the Cassini record plutonium load traveling at record Earth flyby speeds? Why take any chance for a devastating accident that could harm life on Earth for thousands of years?

Please reconsider.



We think they should not do any of the TCMs that push Cassini closer and closer towards Earth.

But we do have something here we wish to complement NASA on: We DO enjoy the many animations at the new web page Jonathan (who else?) has found and alerted us to. I think it's great and my hat's off to the animators that created it! The folks at NASA have done a wonderful job and I wish their Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission in 1995 had been similarly well-prepared, with super-computer models of the dispersals of plutonium throughout the environment, and not to mention, with gruesome pictures of cancer patients interspersed throughout the document -- just an honest portrayal, is all I ask!

But thanks, Jonathan, for showing me something I can compliment NASA on. I liked the animation a lot and thought it was very helpful for the topics they were covering.

Of course, professional pride forces me to admit that my own Assembler language animation engine, which I wrote prior to getting involved in the Cassini issue, could display the same animations much more smoothly, but the Internet browsers continue to deliver smoother and smoother animations all the time, and soon, it won't make any difference. Browsers have many other advantages right now (everyone knows I love the Internet!), but for absolutely super-silky smooth animation, I humbly submit that my own "P11" animation blows away everything else available for the general public (and like Internet browsers, the player is free and the development tool is shareware). PC users can download some samples or ask for a free CD-ROM and decide for themselves.

-- rdh

A sample of a really smooth animation (and a pump NASA ought to be using) is the BALL PISTON PUMP:

This is ANOTHER smooth animation (created in AutoCad, then animated in "P11" for smoothness) of a pump design which is probably better than ANY PUMP NASA IS CURRENTLY USING. It's called the CYLINDRICAL ENERGY MODULE from EP Industries:

Other innovative pumping solutions can be found here in my Internet Glossary of Pumps:

All readers of this newsletter can request a FREE CD-ROM of additional animations and educational software (while supplies last, whatever that means -- it mean's I'll send them out until I run out of money to press the disks and lick the stamps).

So why didn't I use animations to try to teach about Cassini? Frankly, I have no good answer to that question, other than the idea that I didn't know how much time I would end up spending in this realm, and my animations, traditionally, take a long time to create (it is a very tedious job,as ANY animator will tell you!). Besides that, I didn't have any idea how powerful the written word could become, if you keep at it. Mightier than the sword, and almost as mighty as the powerful atom! And lastly, I was, during the past two years, writing a new animated tutorial with my father, about statistics (it will be released very soon, and enhances our Internet Glossary of Statistical Terms with a complete beginner's lesson in college level statistics).

URL for our Internet Glossary of Statistical Terms:


We dissected Part One of Dr. J.A.G.'s comments on Cassini in an earlier newsletter (#161, with followup in #162). He's back with Part Two (still giving Cassini's speed as 36,000 MPH, instead of the far-more dangerous 43,000 mph NASA expects). But all in all, it is actually pretty good! In fact, there are only two or three statements that bother me (which I discuss below). However, those statements are IMPORTANT! They are the crux of the argument, the fruit of the pie, the icing on the cake, the point of discussion, they are where the rubber meets the road. One of them is known to statisticians as "The Gambler's Fallacy".

(Note: A few minor items appear to be missing from Dr. J.A.G.'s statement; it is presented exactly as the item appeared in RADBULL. The "missing links" are presumably complete at Dr. J.A.G.'s web site.)





If we pretend that we are at the center, that moles and kingfishers, eels and coyotes are at the edge of grace, then we circle, dead moons about a cold sun


In Part 1 of this special report, I suggested that on August 18, 1999, when the Cassini space probe passes by the Earth carrying 73.2 pounds of plutonium, traveling at a speed of over 36,000 miles per hour on its journey to the planet Saturn, we all get a good night's sleep. In all likelihood, the passing will be uneventful and will go unnoticed by millions of people. However, the event is representative of a systematic lack of concern for serious risks in our technologically based culture that believes all technology is good, regardless of the consequences.

Opponents of the Cassini mission are quick to blame NASA for the careless way that the risks of using nuclear material are assessed. But after working for NASA for the last 20 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, I believe that our science education and political systems may be the real culprits.

Those systems consider risks of death and critical illness to be acceptable consequences of technological advances. This results in a callous attitude toward all life and the acceptance of technology as a god. And since the days of the Apollo Moon landing program, the reasons for pursuing some of the scientific objectives of the space program are pretty unconvincing and uninspiring to the average person. Exploring space has become more of a job than a pursuit of humanity, and many assumptions need to be challenged.

You get to decide what kind of space program you want, if any. To help you communicate your desires to your elected officials, here are some ideas.

1. The scientific community and the public speak very different languages. The engineer will write documents from a belief that solid technical substantiation exists for every issue. The engineer will also usually feel that he or she comes from a place of knowledge while the public just doesn’t understand. Anyone in the public sector who criticizes a technical claim or risk analysis is viewed as a troublemaker or just plain stupid. An adversarial relationship quickly develops in which the engineer tries to get the adversary to understand the data. Of course, the issues are never about data. They are about fear.

We all should be afraid of a nuclear release. The worst thing that an engineering analysis can do is to try to justify why Plutonium 238 is not as harmful as people think it is. The technical details of why it is not as bad as P239 or the fact that it needs to be pulverized first and ingested before it is harmful are irrelevant.

The engineer is also concerned, but he or she is trained to give a mind-numbing technical analysis, which gives the public the impression that the engineer doesn't give a damn. The engineer cares deeply and does not want a nuclear release any more than anyone else does. Unfortunately, engineering training teaches that all risks are acceptable ones.

2. NASA and JPL project managers look at the environmental assessment process as a bother and an annoyance. It shows in their documents and in their discussions. I have sat in many meetings where the public has been called "stupid" and the environmental assessment process has been called a big waste of time and money.

3. Engineers are trained to downplay risks. They consider a one in a million risk insignificant. But to a lay person who has seen the results of thousands of environmental accidents where the risk was supposedly very low, one in a million seems quite possible. Engineers assume that their audience is making the same numerical assumptions that they do.

4. Modern science condones illness, cancers, and even possible deaths if they advance a technology or turn a profit. Our culture has made it OK to release a drug if the side effects "only" kill two percent of the users under certain circumstances.

The Food and Drug Administration says it is OK that 6,000 people per year die from infected meat products. The Federal Aviation Administration will not order an airline safety measure unless the cost to implement it is less than the cost of paying the wrongful death lawsuits of the estimated victims. Most of our national environmental standards are based on the assumption that it is OK for a certain number of people to become ill, even fatally so.

To a scientist or engineer trained by Western standards, it is acceptable to risk people's lives for the sake of the scientific objectives.

5. The attainment of scientific objectives has become the driving force in space program mission development rather that creating a mission that makes sense. The scientists who create the instruments that take the measurements are considered all-knowing and the objectives they create are taken as law. Yet many science objectives are arbitrary and are motivated by personal and political agendas.

6. As exacting as science claims to be, you will find an awful lot of subjective terminology used, especially in environmental impact statements. Whether something is significant or not is purely a matter of opinion. Someone who has a family member who has been poisoned by "insignificant" releases from a nuclear weapons facility in the U.S. has a very different definition for the word than an engineer does. You will also find engineers using words like "extensive" and "normal." To an engineer, an extensive number of successes may be two out of four, and the threat of cancer for tens of thousands of people may be a normal consequence.

Old style solar panels on Mariner 10 in 1974. With motivation, new systems could be designed for outer planets spacecraft. (Photo courtesy

7. Engineers, particularly young ones, like to rely on past mission successes as a means to increase public confidence. The reality is that past successes should reduce confidence. In 1986, after a series of successful launches, the Challenger exploded. The more successes you have, the closer you may be getting to that inevitable failure in cutting edge, high technology.

8. Engineers will do something the way it has always been done until challenged to do it differently. I have seen a room full of engineers claim for months that new requirements were "impossible." A few months later, they had found the solution.

If JPL engineers were told by NASA that they cannot use radioactive power sources any more, I guarantee that they would find a way to make solar power work in six months. When NASA directed the Outer Planets/Solar Probe Project to cease considering Earth flybys for their missions because of increased public pressure, the engineers complained bitterly, but soon, they found a way to do it.

I am not worried about the Cassini Earth flyby. But I am concerned about a space program - and any high technology endeavor - which minimizes the importance of considering risks. I am concerned about a program that casually impacts spacecraft on the surfaces of other worlds and sees the Solar System as containing more resources to be exploited.

Lunar Prospector - 650 more pounds of toxic junk intentionally crashed

Last week, the Lunar Prospector spacecraft was crashed on the Moon. It didn't find any water on the Moon, but it left behind smashed spacecraft remains. Although its power source is provided by batteries charged by sunlight, those nickel-cadmium batteries now littering the Moon's surface are classified as a hazardous waste on the Earth. And the future Europa Orbiter plans to crash its 9 kilograms of plutonium on Jupiter's moon Europa, a moon that could harbor the beginnings of life.

The science objectives of current space missions are weak at best. Since the Apollo era, NASA has not had a clear vision of its purpose. The U.S. space program began as a response to the Russian presence in space with their Sputnik probe. It continued, mostly as a tool of the Cold War. Today, billions of dollars continue to be spent every year on nebulous goals. But then again, billions of dollars are spent every hour in the U.S. to develop weapons of mass destruction.

So on August 18, 1999 as Cassini passes overhead, get a good night's sleep. But the next morning, get up and write your elected representatives and tell them not to do it again. And while you are at it, tell them to stop making nuclear bombs as well.


ens/aug99/1999L-08-02g.html. The Resources section of that article will give you more information about the mission and its opponents.

2. The works of Neil Postman will help you examine the value of technology ~dgc/influ04.html#A. I wrote an article summarizing his six tests 01-30g.html

3. Learn about modern educational strategies that could change how

4. Visit the Center for Respect for Life and Environment for some

5. Visit the Nuclear Control Institute for a global view of the problems

City/3-1-5.html. We must always remember what we developed nuclear material for originally.

7. Get help figuring out what is really going on in the world from

8. Physicians for Social Responsibility will help you redefine your

9. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and e-mail them. Demand that they require NASA and JPL to stop using nuclear material and using other worlds as toxic trash heaps. Tell them that NASA is in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. If you know jhoffman/congress-email.html. You can also find your representatives

10. Email your concerns to: ˙ ˙Dr. Edward Stone, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at

˙Dr. Charles Elachi, Director of the JPL Space and Earth Science

˙Send a letter to Daniel Golden, the head of NASA at Mr. Daniel ˙S. Goldin, NASA Administrator, NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. ˙SW, Mail Code A, Washington, DC 20456

links in past articles.

{Jackie Giuliano, a writer and a Professor of Environmental Studies, can be found in Los Angeles, California, wondering if our troubled mindsets will ever change. Please send your thoughts, comments, and

is a registered trademark of Carnegie Mellon University.


In item #1 Dr. J.A.G. claims that Pu 238 is "not as bad as P239". This is utterly incorrect and the truth is described here, which hopefully Dr. J.A.G. will read:

In item #3 he claims that engineers are "trained to downplay risks" and that therefore, to them, "one in one million" isn't a reasonable worry. I don't recall seeing "downplay risks" in any engineering textbook I've ever looked at. And besides, such a discussion is fruitless while it ignores the vital other half of any such question, which is that you must consider not just the likelihood of an accident, but, what the magnitude of the consequences are, of that "one in one million" failure. But aside from the consideration of the radiological effects, the question still remains (untouched by Dr. J.A.G.): Is the "one in one million" figure itself, accurate? Or is it really 1 in 100,000? Or perhaps even just 1 in 10,000? Or worse?

In item #7 he states, "The reality is that past successes should reduce confidence." This is known in statistics as "the gambler's fallacy". IN FACT, past successes should INCREASE confidence -- just as NASA says they should! But the question is, HOW MUCH? What do past successes tell us about the likelihood of future successes? The answer often is, NOT AS MUCH as NASA says they do! But they NEVER do what Dr. J.A.G. suggests, namely, give us MORE cause for concern! Success is good, Dr. J.A.G.. But when you are claiming something has a "one in one million" chance of failure, and all you have is one, or two, or a dozen, or even a hundred successes, you have not proven your assertion. If however, you claim to be trying to have no less than a "one in five" failure rate (for example), then a hundred successes is very, very significant! It all depends on what you need the numbers FOR. To indicate you can achieve "one in five"? Or to indicate you can achieve "one in one million"? If it's the latter, then a hundred successes will prove little. But it will prove something -- which is the opposite of what Dr. J.A.G. states! He has expressed the gambler's fallacy perfectly. If you flip a fair coin five times, or a hundred times, and it comes up "heads" every time, that doesn't prove diddly about the odds that it will come up "heads" the next time. The odds are still simply 50/50 the next time you flip the coin. However, for complex space vehicles with millions of parts, past success proves PLENTY about the capabilities of the systems. Dr. J.A.G. surely knows this, so I am utterly perplexed by his statement in paragraph #7.

And lastly, he thinks you should get up August 18th and write your congressperson. But I think it makes a lot more sense to oppose Cassini TODAY so as to eliminate the threat to Earth from the upcoming flyby. By August 18th, A) it will be too late, and B) something else will grab YOUR attention (can Dr. J.A.G. say "Y2K and nukes" in the same sentence?) This week is the most dangerous time for Earth from Cassini, because the probe is coming to a place just a few hundred miles away and it is currently about 7,000,000 miles away, and is hurtling to a hare's breath away from us at about a million miles a day. Dr. J.A.G. isn't worried about that, I think because he has a lot of friends at JPL he doesn't want to upset by telling the public the truth -- that they SHOULD worry about Cassini TODAY.

Dr. J.A.G. has already expressed his lack of respect and lack of appreciation for my efforts, so I don't expect he'll listen now, but the fact is, he should condemn Cassini utterly, because despite the many "apologies" and "excuses" he has offered on behalf of the scientists, it still remains that HE is acting like he UNDERSTANDS the danger we face -- yet he recommends we do NOTHING about it! What does he understand, then? That NASA should always be forgiven no matter how cold-hearted their crime was -- but just be better NEXT TIME, okay, NASA? That the military connection that drives this thing can be stopped by pointing out that some people oppose the coverup story (Cassini) as well? Does he understand the extent of the military connection at all? Is he trying to stop the military uses of plutonium in space, or only the civilian uses? Does he want to expose the military agenda, or does he want to deflect attention from it?

Is he interested in other nuclear threats to humanity, like the nuclear waste problem which some people want to solve by ROCKETING the waste out to space? What about the Y2K-nuclear issues? Has he applied his theory of concern for humanity to that crisis? Will he be telling us all not to worry, but come January 1st, 2000, we should all WRITE OUR CONGRESSPEOPLE and tell them that by the year 3000, they better have this Y3K problem cleared up? Is that how Dr. J.A.G. would solve every problem on Earth? After the threat has past (or hit us), write a letter to a congressperson (if we've survived)?

And if there has been some future golden principal laid down against Earth flybys (as if our objections to the launch have been forgotten), as Dr. J.A.G. claims, I'd like to see the PROOF. Certainly, his word is not enough. As far as I can tell, he'll say anything to attract an audience -- including, he'll cut me down for no good reason.

And he doesn't understand statistics at all, that's clear. Alan Kohn, quoted in the Village Voice article shown above, always speaks much more reasonably about statistical matters, for example, and so does Dr. Michio Kaku and so do thousands of others. Perhaps Dr. J.A.G.'s problem is simply that he is trying to rationalize something he knows is wrong. He says he's been associated with NASA/JPL for decades. I wonder just how deep into the cookie jar his hand has gone?

-- Russell D. Hoffman

(4) Kai Petzke on NASA's moving the target

Kai Petzke has written many excellent statements against Cassini and has a statement about the changing target which readers will find relevant:


Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 00:16:45 +0200 (CEST)
From: Kai Petzke (
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" (
Subject: Re: Can these lies go on forever?: STOP CASSINI #166, August 8th, 1999

*** (1) There can only be two reasons:

There can only be two reasons NASA changed the point of closest approach, since in their weekly report they told us that TCM 11 (Trajectory Correction Maneuver 11) went exactly as planned. One possible reason for the change is, they goofed somewhere in their calculations (or it was all a big typo, which is a goof-up too). The other possible reason is they didn't goof anything, and have redirected Cassini on purpose.

The laws of gravitation are well known. What is not known very well are the gravitational constants and the masses of the planets involved. The results: All calculations of the future speed of Cassini have a noticeable uncertainty. And that uncertainty easily adds up to a couple hours... During those hours, earth rotates below Cassini's trajectory.

No, this is not a thing that I like at all!


Kai Petzke
Kai Petzke, Inst. fuer Theor. Physik, If you don't like
TU Berlin, Sekr. PN 7-1, formulas, then this web
Hardenbergstr. 36 page is made specifically for you!
10623 Berlin


----- MY RESPONSE -----

Hello Kai!

Granted, I grasp what you are stating, but then why, more than two months ago (perhaps a lot longer ago!) did they publish an exact time and place -- to the minute -- and why do we have yet a third such location being given by the Village Voice today? I mean, if they can't say, they should have said that! But that would be an awful political move, wouldn't it? Well, they are "politically" grinding themselves into the pavement now over Cassini!

Thanks, Kai!



----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----

NASA is playing the public for a fool. As a member of the public, I'm trying my best to oblige them. If they tell me it's coming down heading over Africa, I'll take them at their word until they tell me different or circumstances prove their statement to be a lie. If they had said it's "aimed over New York City" I'd buy that lie too, hook, line, and sinker.

Readers may recall that I pointed out when they said it would be aiming towards Africa, that it could easily be changed. It is a small leap to the assumption that I (and my readers) likewise are aware that it's totally CONTROLLABLE by small adjustments now, about one week before the flyby.

But one thing's for certain: There is not one more acre, one more square foot, one more square centimeter of this planet I wish to give up for humanity, to the nuclear demon. Not one more life lost to plutonium or uranium or tritium or cobalt or any other radioactive substance let out into the world by man's careless ways (mostly men, anyway).

I want to live in a world where I don't need to process my food to make it safe, bottle my water to make it drinkable, and hold my breath to protect myself from airborne pollutants. NASA can aim Cassini anywhere on Earth they want. By adjusting the time and angle of small thrust maneuvers right now the time and the place of the flyby can be easily adjusted along the band that encircles the Earth and passes approximately through the various points included in all three "projections" we've heard so far. NASA still can set the exact time and place to a large extent, I'm sure (along that band). Cassini's 400,000 Curies of plutonium is still about 7 million miles away, aimed just .0001% of that distance away from an object with 6 billion human souls, including you, dear reader, and me.

All for a military agenda that is STILL, despite the smattering of press this incident is now getting, being ignored. -- rdh

Recommended reading:
Anything by Karl Grossman

(5) Soylent Black: Some people will do anything for publicity:

There's no fool like an old fool. This next report is really quite comical -- we saw similar silliness around the launch of Cassini, too. But not in between, of course.

Some British fools ate an extremely weak form of Pu Puke in unknown quantities.

At Y2K, they'll probably eat some uranium to prove that nukes won't melt down accidentally and weapons won't get launched! This isn't "risking your life for science" it's "risking your life for publicity", which lots of people do all the time, taking far greater risks than this. Big Deal.

Notice that NO quantity has been given -- so the report is meaningless! And these two are elderly scientists -- plutonium usually kills by causing cancer, often 20 years OR MORE after "exposure"! They should have (for the experiment, that is) inhaled the plutonium when they were infants and seen the effect THEN.

Lastly, TWO people's reactions prove little about the effects anyway. At extremely low levels of exposure, plutonium doesn't kill everyone it touches. NASA in fact relies on this fact to protect it from lawsuits and blame for exposing people to vaporized plutonium.


Dear Mr. Hoffman,

the following was in yesterdays U.K. paper, The Guardian. Someone pointed (a scientist!) it out on the forum, so i went to get it from their site:,3604,72410,00.html

I have hardly digested it, to me it *seems* like a ridiculous attempt! And look at the timing. Also the motivation of this "Dr.Voice" :

"There will in the future be a nuclear war or an accident and we should know how it is going to affect us."

Well great, then they were all along wrong on pu?? I think it should be possible to direct this where it probably belongs: the trashcan.


Plutonium harmless, say scientists who breathed it

Rory Carroll

Monday August 9, 1999

Supporters of nuclear power yesterday said they had been vindicated by a pioneering experiment in which two British scientists inhaled plutonium to mimic the effects of a nuclear war - and showed no side effects from the exposure.

Fears that plutonium is a danger to mankind are unfounded, said Eric Voice, 73, who inhaled the element 18 months ago at the Atomic Energy Authority laboratory at Harwell, Oxfordshire.

Dr Voice, 73, a nuclear scientist, said he and his unnamed colleague, in his 60s, had been well since absorbing a minuscule quantity of plutonium. Doctors praised the courage of the volunteers. Research has been hamstrung by fears that it might kill the subjects. American scientists were vilified after 18 dying hospital patients were injected with the element in 1946.

Dr Voice said ignorance over how plutonium affected metabolism was a gap that medical science needed to fill. "There will in the future be a nuclear war or an accident and we should know how it is going to affect us." The scientists inhaled a mixture of two isotopes and all material excreted by them was collected and measured. The experiment was sanctioned by the industry watchdog, the National Radiological Protection Board, and funding came from the European union's radiation protection unit. The results of the study will be published next year.

"Because of the work already done we now know a great deal about what plutonium does in the bloodstream, and where it goes. "The vital link we're now making is how it gets into the blood in the first place," said Dr Voice, who believes that plutonium has never harmed a human, except at Nagasaki, where the United States dropped a bomb during the second world war. The type of plutonium he inhaled - element 244 - has a enormous half-life, said the scientist. "It's something like 80m years, so it's a very slow emitter. I don't think I need worry too much about what could happen in the rest of my lifetime."

Some cancer experts were not so sure. "You can never say that about plutonium because even a very small amount carries a risk," said Professor Ernest Knox, who sat on the official committee to monitor radiation exposure. The study involved the scientists inhaling a mixture of two isotopes. Material excreted by them in the first three weeks was collected and measured to ensure the radioactivity was insignificant and would not endanger the environment. The research will show how much of the plutonium is excreted from the body and how quickly. It will also provide accurate information on absorption levels in the lungs and the speed with which it travels to the gut. A spokesman for the NRPB confirmed the research had been carried out and said it will help establish how small doses affect nuclear workers. Vivienne Nathanson, head of health policy and ethics at the British Medical Association, said Dr Voice's qualifications and consent meant his participation involved no ethical dilemma.

"It's his field, he's supposed to know about this, so there's really no problem about this experiment. It's like a throwback to earlier times when doctors experimented with vaccinations on themselves."

Nick Parsons, spokesman for the AEA, praised the guinea pigs. "Anyone who volunteers for a medical trial of this sort is brave and unselfish. They are doing a worthwhile and brave thing." Dr Voice was one of 12 volunteers, aged 26 to 67, who were injected with plutonium between 1992-98.,3604,72410,00.html


It's actually nothing like the "old days" when doctors and scientists would regularly inject themselves with test dosages of substances (not to mention the early days of drug research!)

What is different? First of all, there's that pesky problem of them not having published the actual quantity they took in. Second, the main argument against low level nuclear poison is not that it kills everyone if you get a certain dose, but that at even lower doses, it kills in proportion, so that if people receive, say, one thousandth of a lethal dose, it will kill, on average, one thousandth of the people who get that dose.

Following that logic, this experiment proves nothing. It's a cheap, dangerous and stupid publicity stunt.

For better information about nuclear dangers, and for information about Y2K as it affects nuclear power plants, visit these web sites: (Nuclear Information & Resources Service) (Y2K & Nuclear Safety Forum) (Three Mile Island Alert) (The Co-Intelligence Institute)

Article in THE NATION about the dangers of Y2K and nukes (supplied by Bill Smirnow):

Most recent article by the STOP CASSINI editor about Y2K and nukes:

(6) What you can do today to stop the assault against our health:

The hour is very late for Cassini. THIS IS ALSO the most dangerous time -- until the very last few minutes or perhaps, at most the last hour before the flyby (which occurs at an unknown time, probably August 17th for most of the world). THEREFORE, UP UNTIL THE VERY LAST DAY, Cassini should be redirected! It should be redirected away from the Earth's notorious man-made (about 99% manmade, at least) orbital debris field, which goes out about 50,000 miles from the surface of the Earth in ALL directions! Cassini could become a deadly hulk (as can any rocket) just for passing through this mess! If that happens, it would be left, according to NASA's own documentation (page B-4 of the 1995 EIS for the Cassini Mission), in an orbit that could intersect our own! Tell NASA to redirect Cassini TODAY!

To stop Cassini from doing the flyby and other future mad-scientist launches, please redistribute this newsletter to everyone you know! Chances are they have never heard of Cassini, never visited our STOP CASSINI web site, never heard of or considered the effects of the Electromagnetic Pulse that will undoubtedly start a nuclear war if one occurs at all. And chances are good they would not even be able to tell you who played Dr. Strangelove (and two other roles) in the movie of the same name! There is a crisis in education in America and around the world -- you can take it seriously or you can let it kill you. But if we all join together and oppose this impending global destruction, maybe, just maybe, we can convince the powers that be to put down their genocidal toys.

To learn about the absurd excuses NASA used to launch Cassini and its 72.3 pounds of plutonium in 1997, ask them for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini mission, and all subsequent documentation. At the same time, be sure to ask them for ANY and ALL documentation available on future uses of plutonium in space, including MILITARY, CIVILIAN, or "OTHER" (just in case they make a new category somehow!). To get this information, contact:

Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011 or
(818) 354-6478

NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions!

Here's NASA's "comments" email address:

Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address: or

Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:


Be sure to "cc" the president and VP and your senators and congresspeople, too.

Always include your full name and postal address in all correspondence to any Government official of any country.

(7) Subscription information

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Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
Written in U.S.A.
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First placed online August 10th, 1999.
Last modified August 11th, 1999.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman