Nuclear Catfight Goes Surreal

Oh, this is classic. By now, you’re all familiar with Carl Collins, the fringe physicist whose superbomb research Sharon Weinberger dismembers in her new book, Imaginary Weapons. Collins (right) is, understandably, a bit pissed off at Weinberger. He has lost most of his government funding, in part because of her exposs, which showed that no credible scientist could replicate Collins’ experiments. So he’s launched a multi-pronged online campaign against her — including a spoof Imaginary Weapons website.
Denisa_and_Professor_Carl_Collins.jpgStep one in Collins’ push-back effort was to unfavorably compare sales of her book — “a ‘dirty’ book, demeaning to diversity, internationalization, and educators and scientists in countries with emerging economies,” he writes — to those of Kitten’s First Full Moon. (Why exactly he chose this “sometimes slapstick struggle of Kitten, who sees her first full moon and thinks it’s a bowl of milk in the sky,” as his comparison point remains a mystery.) In any event, Weinberger’s recent sales numbers, putting her book in the top few hundred at Amazon, have not been included.
Second, Collins responded to Weinberger on this site, urging readers to “lighten up a bit.” He adds, “I think that the root of my problem has been that for 42 years of academic life I have absolutely refused to accept a ‘Security Clearance’ from anybody.” That’s turned the Pentagon and Energy Department’s “Best and Brightest” against him, Collins writes.
Last — an in no way, least — Collins has set up ImaginaryWeapons.net, a site that looks almost identical to Weinberger’s ImaginaryWeapons.com. Well, except for the plea to “savor Sharon Weinberger’s unashamed bitter and ‘mean-spirited’ exposi of the Bush administration’s arrogant refusal to accept the censorship of scientific discovery by the ‘Best and the Brightest’ of her friends.”

In her book Imaginary Weapons, Sharon Weinberger reminds us that vast amounts of the taxpayers money (about $50,000 per second) are spent on the technology of war. Improving of the technology requires understanding of the underlying science, a complex and challenging task. In order to “simplify” decisions that direct (or redirect) billions of dollars of contracts there have emerged cadres of “Experts” whose massive certainties about what can (and more often, what cannot) be done become the dominant factors in decisions about “who gets the money.” Membership in these elite cadres having been known as “the JASONS,” or “the Best and the Brightest,” is usually secret, self-perpetuating, and void of diversity. In Imaginary Weapons, Sharon Weinberger attempts to make an “in-depth” examination of the inherent conflict between the need for scientific advice that is “good for the taxpayer” and that which is “good for the preferred contractors.” However, in Imaginary Weapons, what she achieves is a portrayal of 2-dimensional actors in a grotesque morality play that is written without concern for the number of casualties that will result from her labeling of real people as being either Good or Evil according to her shallow level of understanding of the issues.

I guess she struck a nerve, hunh?
UPDATE 4:14 PM: It gets better. Collins’ wife, Doina, now has a blog up, dedicated to Sharon-bashing. Here’s a snip from the first entry:

[T]he boys and girls from the fly-over country that Sharon despises in such heavy-footed paragraphs don’t only do great physics, they also write, perish the thought, great books. Like the physicists, they sometimes have trouble getting their work accepted and appreciated. With deep reverence and humble apology to John Kennedy Toole I have to state that to the musings, criticism and such that will follow, no title, dedication, or quotation is more appropriate than his finding in the writings of Jonathan Swift: “WHEN A TRUE GENIUS APPEARS IN THE WORLD, YOU MAY KNOW HIM BY THIS SIGN, THAT THE DUNCES ARE ALL IN CONFEDERACY AGAINST HIM”.

  • DS

    It’s hard to imagine any legitimate scientist taking the route of internet defamy over simple scientific review. If you have proof, than reproduce it for scientific review, and make sure it can be reproduced. Just because something can be done once (if it WAS done once), doesn’t mean that millions of dollars should be thrown at it in an attempt to make it useful. Same could be said for alot of research. Take so-called ‘lifter’ technology. Yes, it has been proven that you can levitate a balsam wood frame-like object using high voltage capacitors. But do you think the USAF is going to suddenly invest a bunch of money in trying to turn this into a manned craft of some kind? Even if triggered release from hafnium isomers was possible, it costs way too much to produce even a miniscule amount of the element. There is only a handful of labs that produce this isomer. One of them is SRS Technologies in Huntsville, AL. The amount of hafnium isomer that they have produced is probably around 12 times less than what is needed to produce any kind of weapon. It’s a specialty item…for research purposes only…and very very expensive. So, in the end it’s not worth it. It’s true that the research continues on other nuclear isomers besides hafnium, but it’s doubtful that some ‘end all’ energy source is going to sprout from such research.
    Oh yeah, and btw….NO scientist in his right mind would turn down an oppurtunity to recieve a security clearance on research. That’s retarded. Having a security clearance as a researcher these days not only increases your employability, but also opens up all kinds of resources not readily available to mainstream scientists. So…there ya go. I say prove your case Collins, but whatever you do, try to retain a bit of credibility by not defaming your critics. Everyone has critics. That’s how you get good at something.

  • Theresa Hitchens

    I think you have to be seriously concerned about the credibility of a scientist who regards himself as a genius surrounded by a “confederacy of dunces” out to get him. That is straying awfully close to tin-foil-hat territory. And the fact that Collin’s wife was making money out of the sale of hafnium doesn’t put him in the same league as everyone else he accuses of simply being out to steer where the money goes? Oh-Kay…..

  • C_h_a_n

    And the Flying Spaghetti Monster will come and eat them all!! ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_spaghetti_monster )

  • NineInchNachos

    Sounds like somebody needs to call a wahmbulence. Just dial nine wah wah carl (after you finish your wahburger + french cries).

  • Sarge

    Jeebus … what’s next for this guy?
    Is he going to start ranting, “The laughed at me at The Institute - LAUGHED I tell you! I’ll show them! I’ll show them ALL!”