back to article Nature pulls ‘North Korean radioactivity’ story

Prestigious science journal Nature has had to scramble to kill a story that it says turned out to be mistaken. The piece – posted as “news” rather than peer-reviewed science – made the claim that measurements of Xenon-133 provided further evidence, if that was needed, that North Korea had indeed detonated a nuclear device as …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conspiracy theories

    in 3, 2, 1,...

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Conspiracy theories

      Nature is in fact controlled by the North Korean government? That would explain the popularity of the anti-science brigade in the US!

      1. ukgnome

        Re: Conspiracy theories

        This is so typical in the conspiracy communities - A+B=X

        Everyone knows that Nature is controlled by lizards from the lower fourth dimension, although I am not ruling out the Kims as humans controlled via the shadow method of imprinting. I don't believe they are true lizards like the rothchilds etc

        1. NomNomNom

          Re: Conspiracy theories

          "izards from the lower fourth dimension"

          lower FIFTH dimension.

          Try not to make silly errors or no-one will take you seriously.

          1. ukgnome

            Re: Conspiracy theories

            No - I definitely meant lower 4th - don't they teach kids Icke these days

            not for the gullible

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Conspiracy theories

            "izards from the lower fourth dimension"

            I never did trust Eddie :)

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Coat

    Worlds most handsome man...

    ...farts. Gets blamed for global warming. Pictures in Nature.

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: Worlds most handsome man...

      He's a North Korean who farts Xenon-133?

      I bet he's a bit sore. You wouldn't want to be in a confined space with him either.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Worlds most handsome man...

        Hey, don't knock it. I've had curries like that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

    The former Minister of Defense and National Security Adviser of Japan, Yuriko Koike, even suggested last Spring that the previous NK nuclear tests were faked.

    "The ghost of North Korea"

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201242373036724717.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

      No doubt the North Koreans will threaten to set off another nuke unless they receive foreign aid in the form of 10,000 tons of fuel oil and ammonium nitrate. You know, for transport and fertiliser.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

      Actually faking a nuclear test isn't as ridiculous as it sounds.

      Britain faked H-bomb tests in the 50s:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-hbomb-tests-in-1957-were-a-bluff-research-shows-even-us-was-fooled-by-uk-claims-to-have-thermonuclear-weapon-1557484.html

      If you can fake an H-bomb with an A-bomb then it is not inconceivable to fake an A-bomb underground test, where the only confirmation comes from seismic monitoring.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

        "If you can fake an H-bomb with an A-bomb then it is not inconceivable to fake an A-bomb underground test, where the only confirmation comes from seismic monitoring."

        Faking it in the 50s is a little different from faking it today, when there are eyes on the area, though.

        Obviously being underground makes it a whole lot easier, but you can bet that there is little that's not being done to verify and analyse the blast.

      2. Mike Richards

        Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

        Fission-derived isotopes were detected after the first test from as far away as Canada, so it was definitely nuclear.

        The real question this raises is why is North Korea so bad at making bombs? Every other country has been able to get 12-20kt out of their first nuclear test. NK's first test was 500t, their second 2.4kt, their third might be as much as 7kt.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

          Be very worried. Koreans are like that. Early Hyundais were pretty crap, then they were quite good, now they are heading up to be a world beating car maker.

          Before long North Korea will be selling really cheap but quite adequate nukes, the next thing is they will be offering to build a plant in the US to supply the American market, and recruiting all those unemployed nuclear engineers. Then every survival nut in the US will want their own H-bomb in case the bad guys also have one.

          I just hope to die of natural causes before the mass extinction event that will cause such puzzlement among the cockroaches when they eventually evolve civilisation.

          1. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: "Koreans are like that"

            There are some very major differences between North and South Korea -- to compare the two is just like dismissing the differences between West Germany (vorsprung durch technik) and East Germany (vault-spring durch espionage) in the 1980s.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Koreans are like that"

              I know that. The entire post is not to be taken seriously.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

    With Al Qaeda dead and/or dying on the vine, is it only right and proper that a new bogeyman be invented for tormenting.

    Wake up, sleepy heads, to the reality of your sublime, sub-prime programming.

    This Informative is brought to you from the Office Space of CyberIntelAigent Security and Virtual Protection, and One and All are Free to Use IT as the Future decides IT and its Fitness to Be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      Welcome back! Feeling better today?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

        > Welcome back! Feeling better today?

        Has he had a major upgrade or overhaul or something? He's been making way more grammatical sense lately.

        Hopefully he's not going all Skynet on us though....

    2. LPF

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      Your kind of stupidity is why Mars is a dead planet now!

    3. Psyx
      FAIL

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      "With Al Qaeda dead and/or dying on the vine"

      I wished I lived in the alternative universe where that was true. But as far as I can see it there are more armed Islamic factions actively engaged in warfare in more parts of the world than there were ten years ago.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Reading between the battle lines .... for chaos rules

        I wished I lived in the alternative universe where that was true. But as far as I can see it there are more armed Islamic factions actively engaged in warfare in more parts of the world than there were ten years ago. ... Psyx Posted Wednesday 20th February 2013 11:35 GMT

        Has the West been arming them to justify fighting against them, Psyx, whenever homeland security systems respond to insurgence and undemocratic mobs baying for change which destroys everything they built over generations before ..... to be left in chaos with nothing working without foreign intervention and leadership.

        Sounds like a mighty fine, sinister Master Plan to take over whole nations to me, Psyx. Or is it a pioneering Eastern plot?

        Things are never as they seem or as how media presents them? That is the madness which prevails and makes fools of ignorant tools and tools of ignorant fools.

        1. Psyx
          Facepalm

          Re: Reading between the battle lines .... for chaos rules

          "Has the West been arming them to justify fighting against them, Psyx"

          No. Got any evidence otherwise?

          " ..... to be left in chaos with nothing working without foreign intervention and leadership. Sounds like a mighty fine, sinister Master Plan to take over whole nations to me, Psyx. Or is it a pioneering Eastern plot? Things are never as they seem or as how media presents them? That is the madness which prevails and makes fools of ignorant tools and tools of ignorant fools...."

          That's about 5,000 words short of the usual thing found scrawled on asylum walls.

          I'd lay off the caffeine.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      With Al Qaeda dead and/or dying on the vine, is it only right and proper that a new bogeyman be invented for tormenting.

      Sadly, I suspect you're actually right on the button here. At present, signs are that the whole terrorist activity is now shifting to Africa, and while that shift is taking place, nothing happens that justifies the continuation of the massive budgets all the anti-terror setup have gotten comfortable with.

      Ergo the need for a new bogeyman. If nothing else, it will distract from the stark reality that practically nobody has been brought to justice for the real threat to our societies: Wall Street bankers and their supporting cast of well paid politicians.

      1. Psyx
        Stop

        Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

        "Sadly, I suspect you're actually right on the button here."

        WTF? No.

        It might have been out of the scope of tabloid headlines, but DPRK have been a major issue for about decades. In case you didn't notice, they are the reason the US still supports the use of land-mines and has spent untold millions stationing a crap-ton of troops in South Korea for the last 50 years. DPRK were fingered in the bombing of airliners and other terrorist activity over 30 years ago.

        Just because it's been outside of your own awareness, it doesn't mean that they're a 'new' threat or bogeyman in any way whatsoever, so far as Western governments are concerned. DPRK has always been a sabre-rattling bunch of maniacs. Remember a couple of years ago when they decided to shell South Korea? Or when they decided to torpedo a patrol boat? Or the last bunch of nuclear testing they did?

        "At present, signs are that the whole terrorist activity is now shifting to Africa, and while that shift is taking place,"

        Again: Old news. Terrorism and Islamic extremism has been a massive issue for 30 years. Lochabie bombing? Somalia? US bombing the crap out of Libya 20 years ago? That is not a new threat. At all.

        "nothing happens that justifies the continuation of the massive budgets all the anti-terror setup have gotten comfortable with.""

        Huh? In what way is the threat diminished. anti-terrorism budgets are there to combat domestic attacks. Please explain how there is less threat now than there was ten years ago. Are there currently either more or less people in the world who have been inspired by religion / pissed off enough / have nothing left to lose enough to consider attacking Western interests?

        "Ergo the need for a new bogeyman."

        Please tell me how North Korea threatening 'total annihilation' of South Korea and owning nuclear weapons justifies counter-terrorism spending.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

          I have always assumed that Locherbie was Iranian retaliation for a US missile cruiser shooting down an Iranian passenger aircraft - and for which nobody in the US was ever brought to trial, let alone convicted. Libya may have given the Iranians access, but surely it wasn't on their own account.

          Locherbie was nothing to do with Islamic terrorism and everything to do with a monstrous crime committed by the US. And I write that as someone who agrees 100% with Salman Rushdie on the Iranian theocracy.

          1. Psyx

            Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

            "I have always assumed that Locherbie was Iranian retaliation ... Libya may have given the Iranians access, but surely it wasn't on their own account."

            Why 'surely'?

            Iran weren't the only people hating on the West. Libya spent twenty years giving money to terrorists (including PIRA) independently of Iran. It was Libya, just like over a dozen other terrorist attacks in the West.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

              "hating on" - I hate that Americanism.Just a thought.

              Iran doesn't hate the West. The Iranian Government has very anti-American elements in it, and some anti-British elements. Shooting down a passenger plane is likely to give ammunition to the anti-Americans who wanted to make a retaliatory gesture - but not so obviously that the US would then bomb them. One assumes it was meant to happen over water, leaving the cause as a mystery, but the bomb went off too soon.

              Libya supported PIRA because the PIRA told Quadhafi that they were Trotskyites and committed to world revolution. They forgot to mention the bit about Catholicism. Quadhafi thought he was helping liberate a small oppressed country from the Imperial yoke. There was logic, although crazy logic, in what he was doing. Bringing down a plane, what was the point of that?

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Ranting and Raving

          Psyx, you do realise that you are outing yourself as a prime example of the efficacy of brainwashing aka Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] ..... a MkUltra Sensitive Discipline for Manchurian Candidate type operations, trolls and shills?

          You do know how easy it is to make up news and spin a tall tale, surely? Did WMD in Iraq on a 45 minute trigger not teach you anything about everything? Oh well, I suppose that it just what the system relies on, .... ignorance and arrogance in spades which allows wonderful wacky wizards to cast their spells and feed their sells and cells. But hey, and I know it is only cold comfort, don't worry unduly about it, for you are certainly not alone with those thoughts.

          1. Psyx

            Re: Ranting and Raving

            "Psyx, you do realise that you are outing yourself as a prime example of the efficacy of brainwashing aka Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] ..... a MkUltra Sensitive Discipline for Manchurian Candidate type operations, trolls and shills?"

            Brainwashing is not NLP.

            Nor does NLP owe anything to any of the alleged MKU experiments.

            "Oh well, I suppose that it just what the system relies on, .... ignorance and arrogance in spades which allows wonderful wacky wizards to cast their spells and feed their sells and cells. But hey, and I know it is only cold comfort, don't worry unduly about it, for you are certainly not alone with those thoughts."

            So you condemn people for being arrogant, but then arrogantly assert your own supremacy for being wise to conspiracy. Which is the crux of conspiracy theory really: The desire for control. The desire to somehow posses some inner knowledge that makes one superior and which makes everything ordered and controlled. Odd really that people would rather believe in malign strategy than they would in chaos and ill fortune.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: Ranting and Raving .... with further comment on novel virtual control?

              Methinks, Psyx, really odd people would rather believe in malign strategy than they would in chaos and ill fortune because it then delivers the very exciting likelihood that the future is controlled and life for those into play in that great game are overwhelmingly more powerful than would normally be generally imagined ...... especially, and quite probably only, whenever they somehow possess some inner knowledge that enables them to exercise it with ...... well, Remote and Relatively Anonymous Virtually Real Cyber Command and Creative Control of Computers and Communications would be quite an ideal achievement and worthy aspiration in a world with myriad worlds of mediocrity and sub-prime toxicity.

              And we'll have to agree to disagree on the views that brainwashing is not NLP, nor does NLP owe anything to any of the alleged MKU experiments, for surely an increased awareness and super hyperactive psychotropic state can result from all of them.

              Thanks for the chats, Psyx, teasing and easing all of that out into the wild for further open source development. It is much appreciated.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    North Korea?

    Does that place still exist?

    I thought they had all crawled up the ass of the great leader and disappeared.

  6. Wzrd1

    Let's see now.

    Xenon-133 has a half-life of 5.2475(5) days.

    "The artificial isotope 135Xe is of considerable significance in the operation of nuclear fission reactors."

    A nuclear warhead is a sort of nuclear reactor, though on steroids to the point of *BANG*.

    Or is it boom.

    First off, it's not a natural isotope. Blast away at Earth with the chemical mixture of your choice to insanity's content, it'll not be released.

    Set off a nuke or vaporize a nuclear reactor or its rods, literally, find it in some quantity.

    Considering recent news cycle information, considering this result, considering overall reality of North Korea playing brinksmanship in a game that they cannot win if it became real, it is reality as usual.

    A group of idiots hoping China supports them in that which China wishes to not play in that game.

    And will be mutually treated as such, complete with potential sanctions.

    Much later.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Pump up the Volume, Stoke up the Fires of Paranoia, Feel the Heat and Reap the World Wide Whirlwinds

      :-) IT's Magic, Wzard1 .... but not as tele-vision shows it and news pimps and pumps and dumps it on the masses with sub optimal trails to toxic waste and crazy intelligence leads ...... false hopes in failed and fading dreams and vivid nightmares and mad fears?

    2. John Deeb
      Boffin

      Wzrd1 "Set off a nuke or vaporize a nuclear reactor or its rods, literally, find it in some quantity."

      Xenon-133 with its five days of half-life is a common medical isotope as well, not that difficult to produce by primitive research reactors (which NK has one probably operational but certainly available from partner in nuke Iran) or to import at various black markets (if you can transport it quickly enough).

      The point is that NK has just as much to gain from deception as from an actual nuclear explosion. The only difference is that deception might be the easier and cheaper route! This is why this story was interesting but the bet is well played in every case: nobody is going to take risks to call this type of bluff. But the political game is well understood and it's one that is always extremely defensive, calculating and deceptive. It always was like that.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge
      Mushroom

      I believe that the correct term for the effect of a nuclear warhead is; "KABOOM!!".

      The yield is identified by the number of trailing exclamation marks, so something like the Tsar Bomba gets; "KABOOM!!!111!!!!!!one!!11!!OMFG!"

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        "Kaboom"....?

        "I believe that the correct term for the effect of a nuclear warhead is; "KABOOM!!"."

        No, it's K. By the time the A starts, your eardrums have been vaporised. By the B, your genes have been torn apart to the point where even Findus wouldn't be able to tell the difference between you and horsemeat.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Mushroom

        The correct term-

        for the NK bombs so far seems to be PHUT!!!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    The Kim Dynasty

    Never underestimate the Kims. This has all the earmarks of a coverup.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Local G
    Happy

    The United States warned North Korea not to detonate a nuclear device.

    And they were so afraid of us that they didn't. (check memory hole for alternate version)

  10. The Jase

    Norks

    Having been up to the DMZ, you know the difference between the elite North Korean and South Korean guards there?

    The South are about 2 inches taller.

    The Elite Norks are still starving...

    1. Richard Wharram
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Norks

      Norks.

      Teehee

  11. David Pollard

    'Nature' simply made a mistake

    It looked to me as though the original report was of nothing more than a slight increase in background levels. There wasn't any data on xenon 135m and 133 levels which might have indicated if it was a plutonium or uranium device that had been set off. Nature probably removed their 'news' item when someone realised it how embarrassing it was and hoped no one would notice.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: 'Nature' simply made a mistake

      Since the link to the original report simply puts up a log-in page, I confess to feeling a bit wary about this.

      What I wonder is where the raw data came from. Is it somebody jumping the gun, or what? Knowing how politics can warp what comes out of the think-tanks, I wonder what pushed this story out.

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Mere deletion [...] would seem more sensible

    "Whether or not the story was in error, mere deletion rather than a correction alongside the original would seem more sensible than offering the world a chance to scour up copies of the original story to see what the fuss was all about."

    Sorry, but I don't understand that at all. In science, retractions should make at least as much of a splash as the original. Nature have presumably taken the view that no-one at all viewed the original article and therefore there is no mis-apprehension to correct. The fact that El Reg is able to dredge up the original story shows that this isn't the case and a proper retraction should have been posted.

  13. bearded bear can
    Childcatcher

    And what about that "stone" that crashed into Russia?

    Don't you see the obvious?!?!

    1. JohnG

      Re: And what about that "stone" that crashed into Russia?

      In a poll on the RIA Novosti website, just over a third of voters apparently believe that the object over Chelyabinsk last week was some kind of US secret weapon.

  14. Silverburn

    We played this wrong.

    When we (the civilised world) declared we were going to test for evidence of the detonation, then later admitted we'd found jack shit, we ended up looking stupid.

    What we should have done was use NK's own tactics against them, and just made some shit up. Like:

    "oh yeah, we found *tons* of Xenon-133 in the atmosphere. Definitely. We should therefore crush the evil communist devils under our mighty tank tracks and free the world from their nuclear menace."

    It worked for Iraq and WMD...

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