Mar 15, 2011


Debunking a viral blog post on the nuke threat. So Salon has a nice piece out basically outing the author of that viral post "Why I am not worried about Japan's nuclear reactors" as Dr. Josef Oehmen, a, get this, value chain risk management researcher. That's business-speak for a guy who researchs how to order parts. He is neither a physicist nor a nuclear engineer. I don't really blame him. He wrote it as an email to his family in Japan. His cousin posted it on his blog and it went viral from there.

But lots of other news organizations picked it up. The bloggier news organizations that generally regurgitate, well, viral stuff. Discover Magazine, Business Insider,, UK Telegraph. was the most linked to site as it fluttered around my digital universe. Turns out they are a site run by Siemens AG! Siemens of course makes parts for the nuclear industry. You'd think that site would have cleaned up the errors. That's truly scary.

MIT's Dept of Nuclear Science and Engineering was nice enough to clean it up removing the title and the obviously incorrect statement that there was no chance of a radiation release.

It was that last statement that made the article so questionable in my mind. I think rule #1 in engineering is never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. But rule #2 is never say something is impossible or will never fail. Always couch it as it won't happen unless these things occur. The fact that he was so sure of himself in the post suggested he wasn't an engineer. It should have been obvious he was a business guy.

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