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

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Nation Books, 2006 - History - 276 pages
6 Reviews
How did a fluke experiment in 1998, involving a used dental X-ray machine and a dubious sample of radioactive material, become the Pentagon's pet weapons project? It had been rejected by one of the Pentagon's most important advisory groups, but the Pentagon found an eccentric scientist who believed that a super "isomer" bomb could be built, and deliver the punch of a two-kiloton nuke packaged in a hand grenade. Ideologues at the Pentagon claimed that the Russians were in the process of building one of their own, and that the weapon was essential to the Pentagon's arsenal.
"Imaginary Weapons" tells the story of the battle that ensued, pitting the nation's leading nuclear physicists against the Pentagon's top brass, and the military against nuclear arms control advocates, as funds and experiments for the "isomer weapon" miraculously reappeared even after the project had been shelved numerous times, even by Congress.
This book also illuminates the dangerous trend that the Bush administration continues to follow of putting politics before science. The bomb is imaginary, and the only explosion produced by the "isomer weapon" will leave a hole in the nation's budget and a fallout of the nation's best and brightest scientists.

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

User Review  - Jani-Petri - Goodreads

Entertaining history of hafnium bombs. She writes on the crazy intersection of science,crackpots, politics, corruption, and national security. How pseudo-science thrives in darkness in the climate of fear. Read full review

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

User Review  - Hugh Hyatt - Goodreads

I read the first 50 or so pages amd found it slow-going and, contrary to my expectatiin, not a very interesting read. Read full review

About the author (2006)

Sharon Weinberger writes regularly for the Washington Post magazine and Slate. She has just been appointed the editor in chief of Defense Technology International, a new magazine that covers a full range of defense technologies. Previously she was a foreign service officer in the State Dept., a defense reporter for Aviation Week Group's Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, and a defense research analyst for Systems Planning Corporation.

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