When the news coverage departs from physical reality.

May 02 2011 Published by under Chemistry, Current events

On NPR's Morning Edition this morning, Dina Temple-Raston told Renee Montagne how Osama Bin Laden tried to evade detection:

[O]ne intelligence official told us that nothing with an electron actually passed close to him, which in a way is one of the ways they actually caught him.

Temple-Raston went on to clarify that suspicions were raised when bin Laden's compound (which has been described as a "mansion" and was certainly bigger than the neighboring houses) had neither telephone service nor internet connections.

But, let us note for the record that all the furniture, walls, floors, window treatments -- indeed, Osama bin Laden himself -- were almost certainly lousy with electrons, and that these electrons would have been in motion. Electrons were not only passing close to Osama bin Laden -- they were passing in him and through him. Matter, in this universe, is made up of atoms, and ions, and aggregates of these, that contain electrons!

Verily, in the event that bin Laden's compound was actually electron free, I reckon the strong positive charge of the place would have given him away much sooner.

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