Archive for the 'General' Category

Journalism Fellowship at MIT

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

What I’ll be doing for the next nine months.

New Book Website

Friday, May 30th, 2008

A Nuclear Family Vacation now has an official site.

Nuclear Family Vacation Book Covers

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Nuclear Family Vacation.jpgNuclear Family UK.jpg

The U.S. cover is on the left, the U.K. cover on the right. I love both, but the U.K. one cracks me up.

 

The Daily Show ‘Imaginary Weapons’ Segment

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

I just found my interview on the Daily Show online, so I figured now is as good a time as any to post it (The segment is from last year)

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Q: Why aren’t you updating your personal blog?

Sorry, too busy. Between the book and the blog over at Wired, I’ve run out of time.

Q: Why did you leave Defense Technology International?

A: To finish my new book.

Q: What’s happened to Defense Technology International?

A: It’s now being run by the very talented Bill Sweetman, with help from other great folks like David Axe, Joris Janssen Lok, and Sean Meade. Make sure to check out the latest issue, available here, and their blog, Ares.

Q: What’s your new book about?

A: Nuclear weapons.

Q: What happened to the hafnium bomb?

I have no idea. Last I heard, it was bouncing around like a rubber ball in the Department of Energy. Call them up! Let me know what you find out.

Q: Do you plan to write about mind control again?

A: Never say never, but I have a lot of other obligations right now. I remain interested in the issue.

Q: When is the paperback of Imaginary Weapons going to be out?

A: May 2007. In fact, I think it’s already out.

Q: Will you be speaking again soon on the Pentagon and weapons?

A: I have a couple speaking engagements this summer. When I get around to it, I’ll add an “events” page to this site, but not today. My next talk is this week at the American Physical Society’s Northwest meeting.

Q: I’m a victim of mind control, can you help me?

I receive frequent letters from people who say they are victims of mind control. I typically ask those people to share their concerns with their doctor and their family, who will be in a much better position to help them than a journalist.

Q: I would like to get more information on the latest in defense technology, where should I look?

Over at Wired’s DANGER ROOM, we are writing every day about defense technology. You should also read Defense Technology International, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Jane’s Defence Weekly, and Defense Daily.

Check out the Danger Room

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Some changes on the horizon. I’ve been pretty light posting here over the past few months — mostly because I’ve been on nonstop travel and working under some crushing deadlines.

That’s about to change. I’m now in the process of transitioning to full-time book writing, along with working on a couple pet projects. I’ll also be contributing to a new Wired blog on defense technology, called Danger Room.  

Danger Room is the brainchild of Noah Shachtman, who founded and ran the Defense Tech blog for several years. Its contributors are some of the usual suspects: David Axe, my colleague at Defense Technology International, the incredibly talented Arms Control Wonk, and a few other regulars from the Defense Tech world.

My first posting for the Danger Room is on, you guessed it, a possibly stupid weapon (or actually, in this case, a stupid countermeasure). In either case, the blog is off to a great start, so please check it out.

Speaking Today

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Skeptic.jpg The National Capital Area Skeptics have invited me to speak today at Tysons-Pimmit public library in Falls Church, Va. on my book Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon’s Scientific Underworld.

While Imaginary Weapons will be the primary focus of my talk, I plan on speaking a bit about some of the lessons learned from my recent Washington Post Magazine article on mind control (which ironically, has been criticized for not being skeptical enough).

The point I hope to make is that skepticism doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand (and sometimes even empathize with) those who believe things that appear far-fetched.    

Washington Post Magazine on Mind Control

Friday, January 19th, 2007

mind_control.gifSunday’s Washington Post Magazine published a cover story I’d been working on for the past number of months about an extremely large group of people who believe the government is targeting them as part of a “mind control” campaign.

I wrote a brief item at Defense Tech, over the weekend, and Noah suggested that I check back in a few days and post an update with the response to the article. Well, let’s just say life is an adventure, and the article has elicited strong reactions. What response?

Well, first there are the 70 or so blog entries related to the story, the online discussion and the nine full pages of comments appended to the Washington Post Magazine article, most from people who say they are victims of mind control. There are also some notable reactions at Defense Tech; and my e-mail inbox (by the way folks, Gmail was wrong about “never deleting another e-mail” — my account has hit its limit). Reactions came at two extremes: There were a number of “TIs” (short for Targeted Individuals) who graciously thanked me for writing their story, and then there were skeptics who attacked the article for not concluding the TIs are all schizophrenics in need of medical help.

My favorite comment from the Post’s site was simply: “Good grief, Sharon, what have you done?!”

I’ve often asked myself that same question.

There were a few people, however, who seemed to agree that whether the TIs’ claims are true or false, there’s something to be said about trying to understand why so many people believe the things they believe.

But for anyone who thinks that all TIs are mentally ill people in need of forced medication, I suggest you check out some of the extremely sane tactics they employ. For example, their organized response to the article would make some political campaigns jealous. As one mind control blog advises:

We must write the Washington Post in high numbers to show that this story merits a follow up. We must get our side of the story out, before the perps start inundating them with letters that we are crazy. Please take part in this to give the accurate side of what is really happening and remember to forward any supporting evidence.

There’s also a few researchers raising a fascinating question in the medical literature:

One of the defining features of a delusion is that it should not be a belief “ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture”. Nevertheless, some researchers have noted that there is no clear measure of what is ‘ordinarily accepted’. It is also possible that cultures or subcultures could be based around beliefs that would otherwise be diagnosed as delusional. Until now, however, there have been no obvious examples of such subcultures identified. In the Psychopathology paper, ten websites reporting psychosis-like ‘mind control’ experiences were identified. The reports were anonymised and independently blind-rated by three psychiatrists who confirmed that they reflect experiences stemming from psychosis.

One final thought: Some of the documents I dug up through a Freedom of Information Act request indeed confirmed that the Air Force Research Laboratory patented a device to send sounds and voices into someone’s head as a “psychological warfare tool.”

So, I guess that begs the obvious question: even if you dismiss everyone who claims they are a victim of mind-invading technology, what do you think the Pentagon plans to do with such a device?

Last Day for Bidding

Monday, December 11th, 2006

sim.jpg

Now here’s an auction that’s a bit on the unusual side in the post-9/11 world. United Airlines is allowing frequent flyers to bid on time in a flight simulator. Note: Open to U.S. citizens only. Current bid: 292,000 miles.

Flight Simulator

Put yourself in the captain’s seat!  You and a guest will visit United Airlines’ state-of-the-art flight training facility in Denver and experience firsthand the rigorous flight simulators that help make United’s pilots the very best in the business. You will receive a tour of the facility and then experience the excitement of flying firsthand from the flight deck of a United Airlines flight simulator. A highly qualified United Airlines flight instructor will guide you and your guest through your two-hour-long simulator experience. Itinerary Your experience will include a tour of the training facility and a two-hour long simulator experience.  Type of fleet aircraft simulator may vary depending on availability.

Vital information

Participants will be subject to a security screening and must comply with FAA security regulations. Participants must be at least 13 years old. Participants must be U.S. Citizens. No camera or video equipment is permitted. Airfare to the Denver training facility is not included in this packageParticipants will be subject to a security screening and must comply with FAA security regulations.

Your experience will include a tour of the training facility and a two-hour long simulator experience.  Type of fleet aircraft simulator may vary depending on availability.

Your experience will include a tour of the training facility and a two-hour long simulator experience.  Type of fleet aircraft simulator may vary depending on availability.

Isomers, Cold Fusion, and Antimatter, Oh My

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

dtra.jpgI’ve been on a self-imposed hiatus from updating this site since I’m facing multiple magazine and book deadlines, but lately I’ve received a slew of e-mails and calls from people alerting me to an upcoming meeting in the Washington area on “advanced energetics,” something of a fancy term in this case for things that could potentially go boom.  

The Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency — not an agency known for messing around with imaginary weapons — is sponsoring next week’s meeting on this topic, part of an going series that has, by coincidence, brought together a number of people and issues discussed in my book, Imaginary Weapons.

While Imaginary Weapons focused on the debate over the hafnium bomb, a theoretical weapon that would use the nuclear isomer hafnium-178m2, it also touched on the Pentagon’s interest in such exotic areas as antimatter weapons and cold fusion research.

I’m told that everyone who’s anyone in the world of (possibly) imaginary weapons will be at the meeting next week: isomer enthusiasts, anti-matter hawkers, and more than a few cold fusion researchers (going under the more acceptable nomenclature of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). 

What makes this conference fundamentally different (and great), is that rather than inviting only “believers,” the organizers, from what I understand, have really attempted to gather together everyone from the virulent skeptics to the die-hard believers and a bunch of people in between. In fact, the JASONs — the secretive group of science advisers to the Pentagon – will be taking part in a classified session, I’m told. (The JASONS, by the way, did a full report on a related area — high energy density materials – in 1997, and then another specifically on the hafnium bomb in 1999).

The man behind the meeting — a former Pentagon official involved in weapons research –was one of the true voices of reason in the hafnium bomb debate, and he apparently continues to be very even-handed, so it’ll be interesting to see what — if anything — comes out of it. I sincerely doubt it will be another hafnium bomb.