Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Kcurie and polonium

by kcurie Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:23:16 AM EST

I know I know.. I owe you a diary about my computer world. You may know that my computer at work still does not work properly.. yeah... lucky I have my laptop.. It will be hilarious..

I also know that I must do a diary about transport of goods in Spain and the Spanish dependence on oil... to  start-up the public communications campaign in Spain about it (well at least some kind of draft we will be able to send around.. and pass around).. I google it on my free time. Promise.

But today it is time for something completely different. We and polonium...


As you may know I do not like to talk across the pond.. I just typically feel that I do not have the right or the time or the knowledge or the.. whatever.. I just do not feel like it. or just do not care.. I am not sure.. Of course.. when there is something about anthropology or biophysics I really have to take a deep breath and a cold shower.. no no no.. I should not do that... Once I cross posted at Booman one diary about politics and anthropology.. I am still not sure about it... but one thing is anthropology and biophysics and  another completely different thing is physics.. for godsake I just can not shut up.. damned.

So If you cross the pond, around the Booman area there is a Putin and spies debunking diary...

soj debunk

And here is my comment edited diary about it….

I may agree with soj that it is very difficult to know what exactly happened.. after all, this is a spy novel in real time.. or so it seems. There is no way to know what really happened unless you were involved.. and maybe, with a little bit of luck if you are a british officer in charge of the investigation.

That said, there are serious flaws and mistakes in soj’s argument (I am sure he is acting in good faith, but other people could say that he was distorting information).

Soj has very good arguments to state that there is no proof that Putin did it, I think he is absolutely right. But he has two arguments to enforce that they DID not do it. The "why he was not killed before?" and the ""it is a big lie, no way it could be Polonium" argument. Both completely wrong.

Saying that he was not killed before is actually not argument, it is a rhetoric phallacy. It is not serious, or at least it does not sound serious. In Italy, judges were killed by the mafia, but not immediately, not at the moment they became dangerous, but much more later. When Borsellino was killed was well after he had managed to put in prison large chunks of the mafia.. something like 5 years for the first attempt and another 10 (roughly.. deGondi knows) to really make it. Killing someone takes time.. specially if there are protection services around.

Besides, we just do not know when or where he may have became dangerous to Putin or Russian mafia or whoever. This does not mean than Putin did it... but in no way shows that they have nothing to do.. actually , they do have something to do, at least because the murdered says so.... of course he may be lying... that's what spies, ex-spies, and political or mafia friends of Berezoski do or may do. We just do not know.. but as an argument for saving Putin.. no way.

Now for the serious flaws in the second argument: Polonium. Here soj is really off the park. I do not know if he is physicist or works in the nuclear business.. but his data is particularly accurate in some aspects but completely wrong in others. Either he really has no knowledge and got some bits of information here and there without any criteria or he just knows about it and just writes false information. And this is basically his main argument against the Russian government implication.. when this falls, the rest also falls down.. and I repeat ad nauseam, I am not saying that Putin or the FSB did it.. I am stating that you can not say that they did not do it.

So, let me set the record straight.

Yes Polonium is very difficult to obtain.. it is not that difficult in the sense that there are a lot of people that could get it.. but they should be very well connected with the nuclear industry. Actually, some break of security is probably the most probable source.

NO, you do not need the low level of milligrams you say to kill a person. You can have much more. Actually, a standard protection you can build on your own house is enough to make it completely save for you to carry it... and put it later whenever you want. When we physicist talk about mortal danger, and kcurie dose etc.. we always alarm more than necessary because, well, if you get an overdose.. the results are alarming. You can safely put the polonium you want in any food... not eat it.. be around for an hour or two.. and nothing will happen to you (if he'd know how much the great Madame C took it and how long she lived, she was a goodness in disguise with ultra powers.. really.. everybody around was dead and she was happy .. for quite a long time)

On the other hand, if you have ingested this quantity of Polonium you will die for sure, there will be traces of radioactivity in any body fluid. Furthermore.. you would become a constant source.. so if anything is very close to you, depending on the dose, it might not be safe to be close to the victim for more than a day.. so, if Polonium was found or radioactivity was found in the body, all nurses and doctors will be checked up..and put on prevention.. not very much they can do about it (actually take the pill.. the I pill)

Also autopsy could become a problem depending on the level of radioactivity, doctors will have to use protection to check the level or radiation with the body open and try to compute the quantity of the substance...I guess we will be hearing about that for a long time..

And of course.. if radioactive traces are found .. all the places where he stayed for more than half a day will be checked to know the level of radioactivity..I am sure British authorities will be on it...

Summing up, killing someone with Polonium is perfectly possible, and a FSB or Putin murder is perfectly possible... this does not mean that there will be any proof in the future... their best hope is tracking the source of Polonium, as you say, it is not that easy to get.. .but knowing the dose and guessing the origin is their best chance right now.
Well I still remember when I measured radioactivity and protections in the physics lab for the first time… it is amazing how well lead works… concrete is fine but the guy in charge of Polonium would have need  around a meter thick (probably)…Oh those radioactive days….

And that was it.. but there are a lot of others things you may know around here. Was a break in security absolutely necessary to get the polonium? is there any source to get it that I can not think of? And what about the best way to get it…where exactly, at which point of the process, any bets?
I also have more questions about possible hints….. please come around with any idea or answer you may have!!!

Display:
yeah I wills tart. I simple wiki search recalls already explains you that radiation of Po210 is alpha... meaning dead easy to stop .. anybody could deal with it  using a little bit of care and some centimeter of lead or concrete.. not very diffciult really.

Unfortunately youc an not use too much because it heats too much and maybe the guy could notice... it should be low doses and clod food.. or a higher dosis and warm food....

If I were to use it I would use of the order of 0.1 grams, big enough to catch it with simple protected hands, not warm enough or bright enough to call the attention...0.01 seems too small to carry in an easy way.. 1 gr.. well is too much light to put in food. Myabe he coudl take it ina weird dring.. this si true... but still 1 gr is even too much .. you wnat to go around for a couple of hours without being worried about an overdose.

A pleasure

My guess.

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:34:04 AM EST
Litvinenko was, as I read it, under the protection of British secrutiy services - a safe address etc. He himself frequently changed mobile and email such that even his close friends had difficulty staying in touch.

But the man was in touch with many people in his campaign of exposure of the services and methods he used to work for and with. He had even travelled to Georgia. So it would only be a matter of time before one of these interfaces with the shadowy world he moved in would enable those who wanted to get rid of him to get a fix on him. It could have been Organized Crime in Russia (one of his areas of expertise), other officials in the FSB (he was in the FSB anti-corruption unit), or Government departments connected with anything from Chechnya to Oligarchs.

The choice of assassination tool however is the key. It is a warning.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:07:01 AM EST
A warning that.. ei we can get polonium .. adn you will have a quite brutal death... even if you are protected.... this kind of warning?

Well.. it really seems effective then...
I had no information about the british actively protecting him, good to know.

And finally, there are two completely different pictures coming out about the guy, one  is the "he was exposing", the otheris soj's one of an obscure, radical, thug ex-spy. Can both be correct. A thug ex-spy doing vendetta?

Just wondering.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The warning is, of course, that punishment will be painful and demeaning, and may come from your everyday environment - and there is nothing you can do about it.

Streetwise as he was, he chose always public places for meetings. This warning says that even in public we can get you - whoever 'we' might be.

He also had, apparently, 15 dossiers of evidence about some of the plots that he was involved in - including assassinations. I assume he has been debriefed on all of these by the Brits. They would protect him for exactly this inofrmation. But it may be these dossiers are some kind of fail-safe that is often used by people with information under threat ie "if I am killed there is a mechanism to release these to the public". I don't think the British security services would want that. Such information is more powerful when it's detail not known - keep the other side guessing.

Boris Berezovsky (Platon Elenin)  was one of these targets as covered, I suspect, by the dossiers. Boris has been paying for Litvinenko's living in London and according to one report shelled out half a million for just one press conference involving flying dozens of journalists from Moscow.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 12:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well you've got to think that if you'd just gone up and shot him, there's a chance that medical services would have saved his life, whereas with this method once he'd been exposed, that was basically it, he basically was waiting to die, probably in fairly extreme pain.

If you wanted to send a message to your opponents, or keep your current employees in line, then this is a fairly good method, if you have a certain lack of morals. another thing about this is that it is such a bizzare method, the media would have to be actively prevented from reporting on this, so if you wanted to send a message, then this method lets you use the entire media as a megaphone.

Both of the two competing theories could be correct, it depends on how fractured internally the FSB is. he could be a member of one faction, who has got to the situation where another faction is beginning to see him as a threat. The fact that he has left may be part of an obvious "the west"(i know i'm using it again) versus the FSB game. where in his mind and internally to the FSB it could appear to be part of the faction A versus faction B game.

 On the other hand have another theory that can't be ruled out, if the man has been planted with false information (that he dosn't know is false) then induced to defect. Then killing him would reinforce the reliability of the information that he has passed on.

We are working with a very limited  set of information,  one of several groups of people have killed a man with an obscure but horrifying method, Beyond that all is speculation.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 12:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like very much your secon paragraph. Never thought about the idea of keeping employees in line. It is nto necessarily a mafia thing just becasue fo the coverage.

It can certainly be a faction fight...

BUt of course, the most intriguing thing here, it is the involvement of Berzoski and the british secret service at the same time. This last item makes me guess that things are much more complciated that pure killing becasue he was learning too much about Anna murder in Moscow.

There must be certainly more than this...I have to close with your last apragraph. "one of several group have killed a man with an obscure and horrifying method".. beyond that.. jsut pure spy novel speculation.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 01:33:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the idea that it's purely a hit to stop him looking into the death of a journalist, seems somewhat excessive. as you say there's got to be more to it than just that.

You note the involvement of the secret service, and Brezhoski, and if you want to stretch that a bit further you could add an entire cast of assorted spooks and  crooks who can be summoned up with motive with no problem whatsoever.

I think I probably prefer your versionof my last paragraph.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 05:22:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Broken link to Soj's diary... This is the correct one.

Does Soj still have front-page rights on ET? Why isn't their diary cross-posted?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:48:44 AM EST
Thanks migeru. i do nto know why but there were some weird stuff included in the diaries and i prmise I did nto put it. It msut be soem code that it is introduced or soemthing. Weird.

I clean it by ahnd.. and now it seems it works.

Thanks a lot.

Regarding soj.. I also would like to know if he has FP rights.. he does some points worth cosnidering. I also donto know why he did not crosspsoted.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 12:00:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Too many tired old sceptics here ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 12:20:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whaaaat? Soj posts on Booman because they're more gullible? Surely not.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:28:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're snarking me again :-)

They are nice, mostly intelligent democrats at Booman, though the rock, if you suck it, does not say 'we want washington' all the way through. But it can be too sweet to my tooth. Martin is however totally solid.

More rabid at DKos, beef jerky.

What are we here? Socialists? Synarchists? Greenies? Hippies young and old? Cybernomads?

None of the above. First and foremost Europeans, looking both inward and outward. But not particularly westwards - and I mean that entirely geographically without any need for PNing.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:22:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Soj has disappeared from ET, as far as I can ascertain, and is no longer considered a FP.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 01:02:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the info.. indeed.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 01:29:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One would have thought that those nasty russkies would poison the poor twat with the other chemical elements, say, #44 Ruthenium or at least #105 Dubnium.

If #71 Lutetium had been used then the French would've been in charge (those from the Parisienne branch of  state criminals).

CIA would've used #95 Americium or #98 Californium

But #84 Polonium's usage shows without doubt that the Poles are responsible for the case.

Beware, Boris Berezovsky!
Polish twins have  more crap just for you  -
# 96 Curium will be brought into your house and put into your bog by some humble Polish plumber (ex-PhD in chemistry from Warsaw University)

;)

by lana on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 02:41:41 PM EST
I meant to comment of yesterday's Evening Standard but, it being 24h old already, it's probably somewhat out of date. It's still interesting.

The front page screams 'Murdered by the Kremlin'. I only now realised the quotation marks, but the quotation is unattributed. Maybe it comes from the "Russian exiles in London" in the first paragraph of the story. The front page also claimed that "Yard probbe leads to Moscow".

The article points out that Litvinenko was employed by Boris Berezovski, who "was in no doubt about what killed the ex-spy". As the paper was printed before the Po 210 claims surfaced, the paper just talks about the initial hypothesis of Thallium poisoning, but also that as late as yesterday the doctors were considering "natural causes". I am personally rather baffled that it took until after his death for polonium to be detected in his urine. He was admitted to hospital on November 1 already!

Anyway, here's what wikipedia has to say about Polonium...

A very rare element in nature, polonium is found in uranium ores at about 100 micrograms per metric ton (1:10^10). Its natural abundance is approximately 0.2% of radium's.

...

Polonium is so exceedingly rare that only about 100 grams is believed to be produced each year.

...

Polonium has 25 known isotopes all of which are radioactive. They have atomic masses that range from 194 u to 218 u. 210Po is the most widely available.

...

Polonium 210 is an alpha emitter that has a half-life of 138.376 days. A milligram of 210Po emits as many alpha particles as 5 grams of radium. A great deal of energy is released by its decay with a half a gram quickly reaching a temperature above 750 K. A few curies (gigabecquerels) of 210Po emit a blue glow which is caused by excitation of surrounding air. A single gram of 210Po generates 140 watts of power. Since nearly all alpha radiation can be easily stopped by ordinary containers and upon hitting its surface releases its energy, 210Po has been used as a lightweight heat source to power thermoelectric cells in artificial satellites. A 210Po heat source was also used in each of the Lunokhod rovers deployed on the surface of the Moon, to keep their internal components warm during the lunar nights.

Polonium is really only dangerous if ingested, then as
Because of their charge and large mass, alpha particles are easily absorbed by materials and can travel only a few centimeters in air. They can be absorbed by tissue paper or the outer layers of human skin (about 40 micrometres, equivalent to a few cells deep) and so are not generally dangerous to life unless the source is ingested or inhaled.
However,
the amount of material required to produce a lethal dose of radiation poisoning would be only about 0.12 micrograms (1.17×10−7g). [...] the effective half life in humans of polonium is 37 days. The biological halflife is 30 to 50 days in humans.

So, continuing with the Standard, it had another background piece which is a veritable gallery of unsavoury characters. According to this story, Mario Scaramella met Litvinenko to give them "a hit list" on which both their names appeared (allegedly Scaramella came to London out of fear, and to ask Litvinenko's advice). Although the Standard claims that they got to see the documents yesterday, and that the papers bore "the name of a man [Litvinenko] knew wanted him dead", we're not told who this man is. Here's the interesting bit...

The papers ... name a group called Dignity and Honour as a potential threat. A man closely connected to it, Mr. Litvinenko knew, was his mortal enemy.

The organisation, which operates out of Moscow, is made up of ex-KGB spies who offer themselves for hire.

So, the papers don't actually bear the "name" of who wanted Litvinenko dead, or do they? And is this how the probe "leads back to Moscow", which on the front page was insiuated as Moscow = Kremlin = Putin?
"They are old-fashioned spies who couldn't give up the game", a Moscow security source said. "Technically, they are all retired. But most people see them as an extension of Putin's secret service."

Mr. Litvinenko's friends believe rogue elements in Dignity and Honour may have been involved in the decision to assassinate him.

Notice the rogue.
The group has close links to Russia's [...] Federal Security Service, the renamed KGB, and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) [...]

The organisation was instrumental in freeing a Dutch doctor, Arjan Erkel, who was kidnapped in Daguestan in 2004. ...

This contributed to a suspicion in security circles that the old spies were being used by the FSB and SVR to do their dirty work. The Moscow source said: "If it's dodgy and it goes wrong, the government can say 'it wasn't our guys'..."

Vladimir Putin, a former head of the FSB, is said to be an admirer of Dignity and Honour. One of its leading members is believed to have been Putin's station commander in Dresden...

Interesting, but I can't help but notice the unnamed sources, and the interveaving of (much) hearsay and (few) facts. Here comes the interesting bit (linking up to the "rogue elements within D&H" above
If the murder of Mr. Litvinenko was not directly ordered by the Kremlin, or overseen by its security apparatus, it would explain why it took place at an embarrassing time for Mr. Putin. He was at the Asian summit agreeing the terms of Russia's entry to the World Trade Organisation with President Bush. A rogue hitman would not be directly answerable.
"An embarrassing time", just like Politkovskaya was murdered on Putin's birthday.
The documents Prof. Scaramella showed Mr. Litvinenko also linked Dignity and Honour to the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya...
And then the piece turns to the internal struggle among Russian expats, and within Russia
London, [those close to the world of Russian exiles] say, has become a battlefield in a new Cold War being fought between an increasingly authoritarian Russia and a new generation of dissidents and others it sees as enemies.

The city has long been a haven for such people. The most famous refugee from Mr. Putin's Russia is Boris Berezovski, the billionaire oligarch the Russians have been trying to extradite for alleged fraud.

...

... Mr. Litvinenko was on Mr. Berezovski's payroll, but he was only one man in the former oligarch's campaign.

Part of his strategy is to hit back with high-powered PR. He has recruited Lord Bell, the doyen of London's public relations executives...

Indeed, Mr. Berezovski believes the Kremlin spin machine will suggest he was somehow involved in the murder. If it makes Putin look bad, the reasoning goes, it makes Berezovski look good.

In this dark new combat, the Kremlin has its own PR Batteries. The Russian government has signed a multi-million pound contract with the American PR firm, Ketchum. They are using two heavyweights in London: Tim Allen, a former Downing Street spin doctor, and Angus Roxburgh, a former BBC correspondent in Moscow. ...

The Kremlin won [the Yukos] battle, but Mr. Nevzlin, [the dollar billionaire who worked with Misha and] who now lives in Israel, has not abandoned the fight. ...

One man who has kept himself out of the fray is Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club. Although Mr. Putin describes him as one of the oligarchs who "took advantage" when Russian state assets were wold in the early Nineties, he was allowed to sell them back at what was believed to be a market price, leaving his estimated £7 billion fortune intact.

Alexander Litvinenko said, shortly before he was poisoned, that Mr. Abramovich has a special relationship with the Kremlin. "He is Putin's accountant," he said.

The Standard chose to highlight this one statement in a large-type inset in the middle of the page, though amusingly (or anoyingly) it went on to say
It's the kind of statement, without supporting evidence, that Mr. Litvinenko often made.
Oh, goody.

It's all very interesting and introduces what might be a fairly complete gallery of characters, but the journalistic style [measured by the highlighted text and the headlines] is sensationalist and borderline dishonest.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:22:05 PM EST
this kind of stuff makes it much more weird.. and less clear cut..There is quite a lot of dishonesty around...from suggesting that he poisoned himself to saying that it was clear Putin cut...I do nto think anybody can guaranteee anything.

Regardign radioactivity and the time delay to detect.. well you basically must look for it.. it doe snot come out ina nomral test. You need to know that first, you ahve a poisoned patient.. and then guess that radioactivity can be the case...

SO.. unles yu have the brilliant idea .. you do not do the test.

Regarding Polonium 210..the main problem for transport and use I think is heat or porobably light.
Being alpha and not neutrons makes it very easy to shield...

Still... I woud not put a gram of substance because of the brilance..

Thanks a lot for the comment.. great

A pleasure


I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:14:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding Polonium 210..the main problem for transport and use I think is heat or porobably light.
Being alpha and not neutrons makes it very easy to shield...
According to wikipedia 1g of Po210 produces 140W, that is, hotter than a 100W incandescent bulb. Also, the density of Po is about 9g per cubic centimetre, so a cubic millimetre weights 9mg. That's still "large enough to handle", to use your same words, but would only generate 0.14W of heat and would be 75000 times the deadly dose. Also according to wikipedia, polonium dissolves readily in acids. What is the Ph of miso soup, or of soy sauce?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:25:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MMhh.. you are going for the 0.01 gr..mmhhhhh.

mmhh a cubic milimeter takes too much effort to control...I prefer soemthing alittle bit larger... around 3 mm on one direction if it is a salt grain type..10 cubic milimeter for me with rughly 0.1 g... 1.4 watts...

yeah I see... I thougt it was less than 1.4 watts for my killing dosis...

It is amazing how mcuh detaisl you can get if you google it.. you really can make until the last detail... 1.4 watts-- yeah maybe alittle bit toomuch.

I will put it on 50mg with the precise data yu bring to the table....

But in any case.. I would have get an A+ in the order of magnitudes funny exam in first year of udnergraduate...my teacher will be proud..

How many "afinadores de pianos" are there in Chicago..and how much mass of Po210 would you use if you want to poison someone .. I now know both answers... :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:37:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mmhh a cubic milimeter takes too much effort to control...I prefer soemthing alittle bit larger... around 3 mm on one direction if it is a salt grain type..10 cubic milimeter for me with rughly 0.1 g... 1.4 watts...
Bah, a cubic millimetre (75000 the deadly dose) is about the size of a grain of coarse salt. Hardly difficult to handle. and for transportation Just wrap it in tinfoil or something. Or, even better, dissolve it in vinegar or soy sauce. Remember you only need to put 1/75000 of the product in the food, and the rest you can flush down the toilet. Plus, the plastic or glass container for the soy sauce will provide you with good shielding.

By the way, looking at wikipedia's Radiation poisoning page, we can guess the dose he received. It was no more than 6 Sievert (based on the time it took for him to feel indisposed)

6-10 Sv (600-1,000 REM)
Acute radiation poisoning, near 100% fatality after 14 days (LD 100/14). Survival depends on intense medical care. Bone marrow is nearly or completely destroyed, so a bone marrow transplant is required. Gastric and intestinal tissue are severely damaged. Symptoms start 15 to 30 minutes after irradiation and last for up to 2 days. Subsequently, there is a 5 to 10 day latent phase, after which the person dies of infection or internal bleeding. Recovery would take several years and probably would never be complete.
and at least 3 Sievert (based on his hair loss)
2-3 Sv (200-300 REM)
Severe radiation poisoning, 35% fatality after 30 days (LD 35/30). Nausea is common (100% at 3 Sv), with 50% risk of vomiting at 2.8 Sv. Symptoms onset at 1 to 6 hours after irradiation and last for 1 to 2 days. After that, there is a 7 to 14 day latent phase, after which the following symptoms appear: loss of hair all over the body (50% probability at 3 Sv), fatigue and general illness. There is a massive loss of leukocytes (white blood cells), greatly increasing the risk of infection. Permanent female sterility is possible. Convalescence takes one to several months.
Back to the Polonium wikipedia article, 3 to 6 Sievert requires 5.8 to 11.6 million Becquerels, or 0.035 to 0.070 microgrammes of ingested Polonium to kill in this fashion. Ingesting 50 milligrammes will give you a dose of 4 million Sieverts, and
More than 80 Sv (>8,000 REM)
U.S. military forces expect immediate death. A worker receiving 100 Sv (10,000 REM) in an accident at Wood River, Rhode Island, USA on 24 July 1964 survived for 49 hours after exposure, and an operator receiving 120 Sv (12,000 REM) to his upper body in an accident at Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA on 30 December 1958 survived for 36 hours; details of this accident can be found on page 16 (page 30 in the PDF version) of Los Alamos' 2000 Review of Criticality Accidents.


Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 05:01:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are a fucking genious of wiki...

my god.. never imagine that search!!

But we have a problem here with the does and the days in hospital.

I mean. If he really took only 6 Sv, 1 mg is also way too much.

there is soemthing wrong in these figures. It does not match what I thought I had read. I will be back.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 06:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe there should be a Wikipedia version of El tiempo es oro,  the old quiz show with Constantino Romero.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it normal that radiation poisoning would lead to heart failure, by the way?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:53:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let us say that instead of 50 mg as I propose we take 1 mg of POlonium.

One miligram emits the same amoung of radioactivity than 5 gram of Radium. The radioactivity of 1 gram of Ra.. which is basically 1 Curie

So we are dealing with 150 GBq.. roughly

But the realtion between the decay and the energy is not straigthforward. I do nto know how many Bq produce 1 Sievert. It actually depends onthe enrgy carrier.
Int his case alpha particles. Bq is just the time per second that an alpha particle hits ana rea..how many energy carries 150G alpha particles?

From this you get the enrgy accumulated.. this msut be divided by one or two other of magnitudes depending onthe tissue, the distance and all that stuff.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 06:20:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm, the wikipedia article has been updated since I used it last night...
At a committed effective dose equivalent (CEDE) of 5.14×10^−7 Sieverts per Becquerel (1.9×103 mrem/microcurie) for ingested 210Po and a specific activity of 1.66×10^14 Bq/gram (4.49×103 Curies/gram)[4] the amount of material required to produce a lethal dose of 10 Sieverts would be only 0.12 micrograms (1.17×10−7g). The biological halflife is 50 to 30 days in humans.
Basically, whoever it was added the information that the "lethal dose" is taken to be 10 Sievert. The numbers are taken from a "nuclide safety chart" from the North Carolina Health Physics Society, so I assume the figures are correct.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:26:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
me four orders of magnitude wrong.

One order could be explained by effective dose and another rounding problem, tissue staff, effective values and so on. But three orders of magnitude is too much.

Problem is micrograms are very difficult to transport..

I quite do not believe I can be so off the park. and that micrograms and not miligrams is the appropriate order of magnitude.

I will check it again.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:12:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can transport the microgram dissolved in vinegar (or soy sauce).

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like it because is independent on wether you need miligrams or micrograms. You just ened soemplace to make the mixure accurately.. and then transport and delivery is just like any other poison.

Although miligrams would make the mixture extremelly easy...while micrograms.. well you need certain basic infraestructure.. first to trasnport the Po 210 probably mixed among other powder and then transported.. homogonize the mixture adn then mix it with the liquid.

It tkaes a ini-lab... something anybody can get ( i can do it in my house I know ehre to buy the stuff).. but it needs some tiem indeed.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 07:55:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a serious msitake.

It says that the specific activity is 1.66 10^14 Bq/grt
when actually Po 210 is like 5 gr of Ra.
1 Ra generates just 1 Curie or 3.7*10^10

So we are talking about roughly 1.6 *10^11 and not 1.6 *10^14... Here there are three orders of magnitude.

Am I wrong?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:20:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One mg of Po 210 is said to be liked 5 gr of Ra.. here the three orders of magnitude.

So if this ratio is correct I guess  there is some problem with the way the energy reaches to the tissue or I had a missmatch of three orders of magnitude.

I would bet that the ratio between Bq and actual energy in the tissue is not the given in the wiki article.

I will need some proof about this ratio.

Another option is to mix the amount of polonium in another substance so that alltogether is easy to handle.. but this would require some studd that you can not have at home..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:27:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Check the PDF source. It is indeed 1.66e^14 Bq/g and 5.14e-7 Sv/Bq (ingested) or 2.54e-6 Sv/Bq (inhaled). So maybe the comparison with Radium is wrong. Also, the alpha particles emitted by radium might be much less energetic than those of Polonium. Radium 226 has a half-life of 1602y, so its alpha emission must also be much less energetic than that of Po210. I would expect thee kinetic energy of the alpha particle to be inversely proportional to the half-life. You get a factor of 4000 that way. Am I wrong?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, the first time I read your comment I couldn't figure out what piano tuners had to do with Polonium... LOL

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 07:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Both could perfectly be exam questions in order of magnitude classes...

IN our case knowing that 1mg of Po210 is as radioactive as 5 gr of Ra..

:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:06:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yikes, 9mg would generate 1.26W, not 0.14W...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 05:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regardign radioactivity and the time delay to detect.. well you basically must look for it.. it doe snot come out ina nomral test. You need to know that first, you ahve a poisoned patient.. and then guess that radioactivity can be the case...

"Radioactivity", but not Polonium - radioactive thallium - was mentioned much earlier than this weekend. How much time does one need to check out urine for a pretty strong alpha radiation?

by Sargon on Mon Nov 27th, 2006 at 01:12:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The most common radioactive Thallium is a beta-emitter. But it is famous as chemical poison.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 6th, 2006 at 09:56:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:29:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not what you know, but what you know how to search.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 05:11:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 06:12:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have some Polonium in my basement. There is a brand of anti-static photographic brush which includes a strip embedded with Polonium to help dissipate the charge on the film as it is dusted:
http://www.2spi.com/catalog/photo/statmaster.shtml

I have no idea how much material is included, but it is safe enough to ship the strips through the mail. They last about 18 months and then need to be replaced. So I assume that the person who administered the poison got it from a source which manufactures it on a regular basis. This would be a commercial on state-owned facility with access to a nuclear reactor. This seems to imply state participation.
 

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:46:05 PM EST
<blockquoteI have no idea how much material is included, but it is safe enough to ship the strips through the mail. They last about 18 months and then need to be replaced.</blockquote>It is safe enough because the paper in an ordinary envelope is enough shielding to protect you from the alpha radiation emitted by the Polonium.

18 months is just under 4 half-lives of Po210, but Po208 has a lifetime of almost 3 years and Po209 a lifetime of over 100 years, so the photographic strips are almost certainly not made of Po210, otherwise it means the brand new strips contain over 10 times more polonium than necessary. However, according to Wikipedia Po208 and Po209 are less abundant than Po210 and expensive to produce in the lab, so I don't know.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:55:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By "lifetime" I mean "half-life". Ack.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 03:58:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The manufacturer states explicitly it is Polonium 210.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 04:50:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back to the "human elements" in the Litvinenko poisoning - Scaramella's back in the story, This Is London has a somewhat bemused interview including most unlovely pic, also sniffed around his highly radioactive precedents and bemusingly sleight-of-hand credentials... worth reading.


"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:11:00 PM EST
Broken ink... here  is a correct one.

You know what? I remember reading that Litvinenko expressed puzzlement that Scaramella wanted to meet him in person to show him his "dossier" because, allegedly, it was a printout of an e-mail, and he could have equally well have e-mailed it to him.

Sleight of hand? Just what you need to slip 1 microgram of poison in someone's food.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:17:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why, of course, I read it in Your own diary on Litvinenko. You quoted this from the Times Online:
"We met at Piccadilly Circus," said Litvinenko. "Mario said he wanted to sit down to talk to me, so I suggested we go to a Japanese restaurant nearby.

"I ordered lunch but he ate nothing. He appeared to be very nervous. He handed me a four-page document which he said he wanted me to read right away. It contained a list of names of people, including FSB officers, who were purported to be connected with the journalist's murder.

"The document was an e-mail but it was not an official document. I couldn't understand why he had to come all the way to London to give it to me. He could have e-mailed it to me."

Timeo Italos et dona ferentes?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Timeo Italos et tuna ferentes?
by Matt in NYC on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:18:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooops, bad link. Try this

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:18:01 PM EST
what??

well I guess you can find nuclear experts anywhere now..

why not in a sushi bar?

A plesure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:19:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He's just a con artist.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stuff has been pretty fucked of late, it's like the whole planet has turned into Italy.

Yesterday I read about Conrad Gerber, the boss of tanker tracker Petrologistics. What friends
he had, and what friends his friends had! Jesus Christ, follows those links and the sub links, what a network.

Anyway, it's pretty funny in a dark sort of way if they have to ship that dead russian ex-agent to Sellafield to do his autopsy in a hot cell.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 08:43:37 PM EST
Seen on Booman...

The Independent: Litvinenko: police probe claims he may have killed himself (26 November 2006)

Detectives investigating the death of Alexander Litvinenko were last night examining the possibility that the former spy killed himself to discredit Vladimir Putin.

Increasing concerns over the reliability of the Russian dissident's death-bed testimony have prompted police to check every detail of Mr Litvinenko's version of events on 1 November, the day he said he was poisoned.

The Russian dissident's death on British soil has triggered an unprecedented investigation headed by Scotland Yard's anti-terror branch and involving forensic experts and nuclear scientists from the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. They are still trawling through hours of CCTV footage and conducting detailed searches of the places he visited on the day he fell ill.



Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:01:00 PM EST
Detectives investigating the death of Alexander Litvinenko were last night examining the possibility that the former spy killed himself to discredit Vladimir Putin.

This had crossed my mind early on, but I'm not sure he was weird enough to take his own life.  Yet, who else was close enough to him to have polluted three locations he visited (including his home) with Po?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It should come as no surprise that his home was polluted. He spent the first day or two vomiting, and you would expect to find polonium in his toilet in any case as in the end polonium was detected in a urine sample.

One thing these stories don't tell us is where the traces of polonium were found by the police.

The fact that he met the two Russians before and not after going to the sushi restaurant means that, if Po traces were indeed found at the hotel he might not have been poisoned at the sushi restaurant. But that is just weird...

What if he had inhaled the polonium and the traces are the result of some of it being exhaled back?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:30:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that he met the two Russians before and not after going to the sushi restaurant..

Not quite clear in what order the meetings took place, the earliest press reports said he met the Russians at the Millennium hotel before going to the Sushi restaurant, but some of the more recent ones say it was the other way round.  

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:43:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They met after meeting with Scaramella.

Echo of Moscow has an interview,  in Russian, with Russians who met with  Litvinenko on the 1st of November:

Andrey Lugovoy, Vyacheslav Sokolenko and Dmitry Kovtun.

Lugovoy was an officer in KGB department responsible for ceremonial and protection duties in Kremlin, which in early 90ies was reformed into separate Secret Service, was Berezonsky's bodyguard while in the government service, and had left the service in 1996 and been running his own businesses (security consulting first, mostly wine and soft drinks now) since.

According to the interview, about one year ago Litvinenko contacted him and suggested his help organizing partnership between British companies and Lugovoy's business. Since then they were meeting from time to time when Lugovoy was coming to London and understanding was that they are going to be partners in this new venture.

Dmitry Kovtun is ex-USSR military, and Lugovoy's friend and partner, who stayed in Germany after 1991 and currently is a consultant for doing business in Russia. He also participated in the meeting and for whatever reason was called "Volodya" in early media reports.

Vyacheslav Sokolenko is from the same military colledge as Kovtun and Lugovoy and currently heads a private security company in Russia.

From what they are saying, they came to London for a football match and met with Litvinenko to discuss their business project. Meeting was in hotel and lasted 20-30 minutes, Lugovoy and Kovtun ordered drinks, Litvinenko did not eat or drink anything. At that time Sokolenko was showing London to Lugovoy's and his own families, and met Litvinenko shortly at the end of the meeting when they were back at the hotel.

by blackhawk on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:05:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It gets thicker. So, traces of polonium are found both in sushi bar and the hotel?

Traces of killer substance at London hotel

POLICE revealed yesterday that several rooms in the London hotel where Alexander Litvinenko met two Russian businessmen had been contaminated with polonium-210, the substance that killed him.

At the Millennium hotel in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, two policemen were posted by the revolving entrance doors yesterday. Inside, the Pine Bar was closed and fenced off with a wooden screen. One guest said bedroom 441 was blocked off and guarded by police.

by blackhawk on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:46:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inhalation would probably be the most effective way of delivering a dose from an alpha-emitter like Po-210. If it were placed on documents handed to the victim in an envelope, and he pulled them out of the envelope over a plate of food, he would inhale some of the isotope and the rest would fall on the food.  If he had any cuts or open sores on his hands, more could enter that way.

The paper of the envelope would protect the bearer, if he were careful, from exposure and would shield the isotope from being detected by radiation sensors.

Polonium evaporates if left in the open for more than three days.

I think he was poisoned by a relatively fresh supply obtained from a government reactor.

Could it be that he was being exposed over time to the isotope?

Some interesting stuff about Po-210, which is used to give lab animals malignant tumors--injecting it into their lungs, for instance:

 

Health effects of polonium

Polonium is studied in a few nuclear research laboratories where its high radioactivity as an alpha-emitter requires special handling techniques and precautions.

Polonium -210 is the only component of cigarette smoke that has produced cancers by itself in laboratory animals by inhalation - tumors appear at a level five times lower than the dose to a heavy smoker.

Lung cancer rates among men kept climbing from a rarity in 1930 (4/100,000 per year) to the No. 1 cancer killer in 1980 (72/100,000) in spite of an almost 20 percent reduction in smoking. But during the same period, the level of polonium -210 in American tobacco had tripled. This coincided with the increase in the use of phosphate fertilizers by tobacco growers - calcium phosphate ore accumulates uranium and slowly releases radon gas.

As radon decays, its electrically charged daughter products attach themselves to dust particles, which adhere to the sticky hairs on the underside of tobacco leaves. This leaves a deposit of radioactive polonium and lead on the leaves. Then, the intense localized heat in the burning tip of a cigarette volatilizes the radioactive metals. While cigarette filters can trap chemical carcinogens, they are ineffective against radioactive vapors.

The lungs of a chronic smoker end up with a radioactive lining in a concentration much higher than from residential radon. These particles emit radiation. Smoking two packs of cigarettes a day imparts a radiation dose by alpha particles of about 1,300 millirem per year. For comparison, the annual radiation dose to the average American from inhaled radon is 200 mrem. However, the radiation dose at the radon "action level" of 4 pCi/L is roughly equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

In addition, polunium-210 is soluble and is circulated through the body to every tissue and cell in levels much higher than from residential radon. The proof is that it can be found in the blood and urine of smokers. The circulating polonium -210 causes genetic damage and early death from diseases reminiscent of early radiological pioneers: liver and bladder cancer, stomach ulcer, leukemia, cirrhosis of liver, and cardiovascular diseases.

The Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated that radioactivity, rather than tar, accounts for at least 90% of all smoking-related lung cancers. The Center for Disease Control concluded "Americans are exposed to far more radiation from tobacco smoke than from any other source."

Cigarette smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths. Only poor diet rivals tobacco smoke as a cause of cancer in the U.S., causing a comparable number of fatalities each year. However, the National Cancer Institute, with an annual budget of $500 million, has no active funding for research of radiation from smoking or residential radon as a cause of lung cancer, presumably, to protect the public from undue fears of radiation.

http://www.lenntech.com/Periodic-chart-elements/Po-en.htm

Someone mentioned taking potassium iodide as protection against Po-210.  But KI only protects the thyroid by blocking uptake of radio-iodine.

by Plan9 on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to dangerous..everythign in the air is toomuch to the mercy of air currents and convection...

Uness you have a close room and the killer is dispensable.

If we are talking about micrograms is better to disolve it...(even with miligrams is probably better than putting it among salt or among a food dish)

then you need a complex system to put the approprite amount in the liquid.. but then delivering is just a piece of cake.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 07:52:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point about air currents.  But to obtain maximum damage, the killer would have to get his victim to inhale the Po-210.  Sounds like the dose was a big one, so it would do damage in whatever way it was delivered.
by Plan9 on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 09:21:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the average amount of Polonium 210 in tobacco these days? That way we can figure out what the expected "background" level of Po 210 should be.

I am saying this because if people start looking they're going to find "traces of polonium" anywhere that anyone has smoked indoors in the past 130 days.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 09:04:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The radiobiologists working on this case will be aware that because background P0-210 is a progeny of radon decay, and radon-generating material is in rocks, soil, building materials, smoke from tobacco and coal combustion as well as from phosphate production and other industrial stuff, a certain level of the isotope will show up with sensitive detection.  

To see the decay chain, go to http://www.ccnr.org/radon_chart.html

What the investigators are looking for is excessive Po-210, and believe me, the reactor-produced isotope that was so lethal was indeed excessive enough to be tracked.

Unlike chemical and biological agents, radiological ones are traceable to a very sophisticated degree.  That's why I think that whoever killed Litvinenko   wanted to send a message--wanted the means of his murder to be discovered.

Whoever delivered the Po-210 may not have known what he was doing and would also be at risk or dead by now.  Hence my theory about documents L. was handed. I imagine hospitals in London are being checked.

You know, someone could have just bumped into L. in an enclosed space, like a cloak room, as if by accident, and released the material.  Or in a restaurant or bar, L. could have been distracted by a staged incident and the poison delivered to his drink.  Delivery of something so tiny would be pretty easy.

by Plan9 on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 09:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he screwed up the dosage?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:34:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suppose whoever poisoned Litvinenko didn't want to kill him, just to scare him (if it was an enemy) or just to make him sick (if it was a friend, or himself). Now consider the fact that polonium is 5 times dealier if inhaled as it is if ingested. Also consider that it is much harder to control the dosage when inhaling.

I argued upthread that it looked like Litvinenko got a dose of around 5 Sieverts. Suppose this happened by inhalation: the same amount of polonium, if ingested, would result in exposure to about 1 Sievert, which would  be spectacular but not likely to be deadly with access to advanced medical care:

1-2 Sv (100-200 REM)
Light radiation poisoning, 10% fatality after 30 days (LD 10/30). Typical symptoms include mild to moderate nausea (50% probability at 2 Sv), with occasional vomiting, beginning 3 to 6 hours after irradiation and lasting for up to one day. This is followed by a 10 to 14 day latent phase, after which light symptoms like general illness and fatigue appear (50% probability at 2 Sv). The immune system is depressed, with convalescence extended and increased risk of infection. Temporary male sterility is common. Spontaneous abortion or stillbirth will occur in pregnant women.
Having inhaled the polonium it is possible that he would have exhaled trace quantities of it in the hotel and the sushi restaurant. If he had ingested it, it seems harder that he would leave traces everywhere.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 09:50:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you could be right, if exhaling is sufficient to cause contamination. If that were the case, however, wouldn't the contamination be detectable almost everywhere he breathed.  Or maybe they just checked the most likely locations. Hard to say.

Anyway, pretty good detective work by the physics crew on ET!  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the Po-210 was on papers he was given, it would be on his hands, and therefore on his clothing, in his nose, on doorknobs, etc.
by Plan9 on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 11:20:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is indeed possible.

Imagien that we are dealing wiht order of magnitudes of microgram. Of course, if they are using it themselves and carrying out you should know what youa re doing.

You cna botch it up by making a bad homogenization of the initial powder. You can botch it but leaving up int he air to much time with no shield. You can make mistakes inthe residuals  and not cleaning them appropriately.

We more or less know what could go wrong.. and still a msitake is always possible...so it could also happen to them..

the weak point here is that you would never do this alone.. actually you 'd better take a good chemistry and a good lab officer to deal with it, better from the nuclear industry so he knows how to deal with alpha particles ina  safe way (it is not difficult if you know about it).. someon who would not do the obvious mistake.

And still if they made a mistae.. more than one person should be poisoned.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:01:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It took weeks for the doctors to think of radiation poisoning.  They were stuck on the thallium hypothesis.

So L. did not get the treatment he needed up front.  Although Prussian Blue would have perhaps helped him a little with the radioactive material, and he did receive that to detox him from the supposed thallium.

One of the problems here is that medical people never see a case of radiation poisoning and it is just not the first thing doctors think of.  Incidents worldwide are very rare.

by Plan9 on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 09:59:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking more a long the lines he was killed by his fellow defectors who do include some extremely nasty characters, but maybe....
Everyone is missing the who benefits from the death angle. Certainly Putin does not. However, the motley crew of defectors and former oligarchs are definitely back in the limelight now and Putin is being tarred. Their resugence into the media has only come about courtesy of teh poisoning an ddeath of Mr. Litvinenko.
by observer393 on Sat Nov 25th, 2006 at 10:58:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just astounding... With a critical assay to soj... and a whole untangling of radioactive isotopes, now a gang of ET Scoobies emerges... I'm going to let this sink in. Slowly, and with a cup of mango tea.

Besides, the fact that kcurie manages to post a diary with her own handle in the title is gold in itself. I should start writing about nomads...

by Nomad on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 05:30:05 AM EST
kcurie is a unit of radioactivity. Roughly the activity you would get with a gram of Po210

That's teh reason. I would never dare to use my own name... except for a snark :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 07:27:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can see is how you'd get the dose just right.

I don't believe the Po210 was in a powdered form on documents because if you were the perp it would be impossible to guarantee your own safety. You'd be spreading it everywhere and you'd have no way to be sure that you wouldn't give yourself a nasty, possibly fatal dose. You'd need a double- or triple-sealed envelope and a suspicious 'Open this at home' to work that one.

I'm more convinced by poisoned vinegar or sauce. Or some other liquid. But there's still the problem of exactly how you apply it, and exactly how much. The difference between one drop and three drops is the difference between almost instant death (with high risk to you through aerosolisation if someone is splashing the liquid around) and minimal effects.

But it's hard to see how you could either swap in poisoned sauce and guarantee the right dose. It's easier to see how you could drop 1mg on someone's food and hope it mixed in. But unless someone ingests it immediately you'd be exposed to beta radiation yourself until they did eat it.

You could drop it in someone's tea or drink, but it will sink right to the bottom immediately and won't dissolve as easily as in vinegar.

And so on. It's really not a simple way to kill someone, and it's potentially very risky indeed for the perp and for bystanders.

The perp might be considered dim and expendable. But poisoning a lot of people is usually considered a bad idea. And the risk of a number of fatalities makes this a dangerous strategy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 07:40:13 AM EST
And what about the iodine in the seaweed of the sushi nori?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:08:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But it's hard to see how you could either swap in poisoned sauce and guarantee the right dose. It's easier to see how you could drop 1mg on someone's food and hope it mixed in. But unless someone ingests it immediately you'd be exposed to beta radiation yourself until they did eat it.

Polonium 210 is a pure alpha emitter. Quite safe.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:20:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Crap. Alpha of course.

Which means you won't be irradiating anything more than a few cm away. Which in turn makes it quite a bit easier than I was thinking originally.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 09:10:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One Gray, which is what they say L. got, is too little a dose to kill someone that quickly.  The chemical toxicity may be another matter.  If it was ingested, it would have been mostly excreted - depending on the chemical form of the Po.

I suspect it was inhaled. And to get someone unwittingly to inhale, you have to arrange  circumstances in a particular way. The finer the powder, the more damage the alphas would do to the respiratory tract.

I keep thinking of a particular practice. In epidemiology classes, a professor will sometimes sprinkle some powder on a piece of paper with text on it.  He does not inform the class of what he has done.  He merely hands the paper to the nearest student and tells the class members to read the paper and pass it on.  After the paper has gone all the way around the room, the prof turns out the lights and people see that they have smears of glow-in-the-dark stuff on or in their mouths, noses, hands, and clothing.  This is to demonstrate contagion--and to show how much we touch our noses and mouths, helping to spread it.

by Plan9 on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 12:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wonderful! What a great experiment!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 02:50:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6185514.stm

I am tempted to think he may have been poisoned by US agents using Baloney.

I know this is not in good taste, but he started it.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:04:09 AM EST
a 1 Siev does receiver-guy

Defintely. :)

a pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:11:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many samples do one have to get from this or this source to get a lethal dose? Are more subtantial amounts commercially available?
by blackhawk on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:15:29 AM EST
Those are 0.1 microcuries...
the amount of material required to produce a lethal dose of 10 sieverts would be only 0.12 micrograms (1.17×10−7g) or about 525 microcuries.
You'd need thousands of them to produce a lethal dose and at least 25 to induce any symptoms of radiation sickness:
0.2-0.5 Sv (20-50 REM)
No noticeable symptoms. Red blood cell count decreases temporarily.

0.5-1 Sv (50-100 REM)
Mild radiation sickness with headache and increased risk of infection due to disruption of immunity cells. Temporary male sterility is possible.



Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:30:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What a great idea!!!!

It says that it gives 0.1 microCurie. this measn 10-100 Bq depending on the particular sample..

Given that you need ten million Bq to get a dangerous dose.. I would say you need 100.000.. may be 10.000 if youc an find a slighter higher option (there should sell 1 microCurie as well. I guess).

So roughly 10.000....You woud need samples of 10 microCurie to get a reasonable one thousand....and still...

But the relevant stuff is..!!!!! If you knwo the comapny doing this... well.. yo just can get the micrograms of Polonium you need and all the equipment is there !!!!!

So it does not have to be a break of security ina nuclear reactor!! It can be way afar from it..

So, we have three possibilities, break in nuclear station, break in the disposal company adn three break in the industries that recycles them to some comercial use...

Great!!!

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 08:33:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, now we are looking for anyone (1) who may have higher than normal traces of Polonium on their skin, or more likely garments, or on personal effects/documents, body fluids, etc.

(2) persons who may have been in contact with the victim who have had some professional connection to the nuclear or chemical industries.

(3) anyone seeking medical assistance with symptoms of radiation sickness.

What else?

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 10:24:31 AM EST
I t will eb very useful to know if ti was inahled or digested.

If it was digested, the unfortuante self-killing hypothesis is dead (unless he was very very very very dumb). It it was inahled, then it is possible that he was the source of an accident.

I would also say that inhaled makes murder quite difficult, in this case, the set-up is very important, and not that easy. Specially if the killer want to reamin alive and not be detected later on in a hospital. certainly not impossible. tehre are ways to deliver an alpha source enclsoed and knowing taht the subject will be alone, leaving him in the same room during some hours with the given source knowing that noone would use the room for roughly a week (given the half-life). So if it was inhaled, the possible scenarios for murder are reduced a lot.. so much that the police could check the different possibilities and return with an answera bout when and where.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 11:06:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Guardian-Observer take

An investigation was under way last night into Russia's black market trade in radioactive materials amid concern that significant quantities of polonium 210, the substance that killed former spy Alexander Litvinenko, are being stolen from poorly protected Russian nuclear sites.

......

Privately, however, there is deep scepticism in Whitehall about whether the Putin administration would be willing to risk a crisis in British-Russian relations by directly authorising an assassination of a British citizen on British soil, particularly using a method that might involve other Britons being contaminated. The two countries are currently engaged in delicate negotiations over energy security.

More than anything, the death of the London-based former KGB spy has placed Russia's still thriving trade in radioactive material under scrutiny. 'From the terrorism threat standpoint, these cases are of little concern but they show security vulnerabilities at facilities,' said an IAEA spokesman.

In 1993 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reported that 10kg of polonium had disappeared from the Sarov, which produces the rare radioactive material and is described as Russia's own version of Los Alamos, the US government's nuclear research base in New Mexico.

Globally there have been more than 300 cases during the past four years where individuals have been caught trying to smuggle radioactive material. In 2005 there were 103 confirmed incidents of trafficking and other unauthorised activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials, many involving Russia.

Well.. all very nice.. if it was inahled.. what about a migeru's accident in the trade?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Nov 26th, 2006 at 11:11:12 AM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries