Glowing in the dark

Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned with Polonium-210

That’s the headline of this Guardian piece.

Yasser Arafat was poisoned with Polonium-210.

That’s the headline that people will think they saw.

There are many problems with the suggestion that Arafat and Polonium-210 came together, without his permission, as it were.

First, the half-life of Polonium-210 is 138 days. What does that mean? The level of radiation (amount) reduces by half every 138 days. The bad terrorist boss died in November 2004.  That makes it over 8 years from death to time of testing, or 21+ half-lives. To put it another way, in that time the radiation would fall to less than one millionth of what it was. The levels being reported as present in 2012 (when tested) could only be explained if he were almost literally glowing with the stuff. It does not stack up.

Second, the medical reports say (or said…) that Arafat’s symptoms were not those of radiation poisoning.

So, ignoring the issues like a chain of custody for the samples – which is a mess upon mess – the facts do not support the theory of such poisoning. But since conspiracy theories  need nothing but a willing audience – especially since Israel’s being fingered for it – do not expect this one to wither and die. (Or fade away…)