I am a scientist, mystic and spiritual healer. My life straddles the worlds of so-called "left-brain" and "right-brain" interests. I trained at the undergrad level in electronics engineering and astrophysics, and at the graduate level in clinical psych, the health sciences and acupuncture, and have a Master's degree in the sciences. I work largely as a research and consulting scientist in some mainstream scientific fields and in fringe science, aka "strange science" fields as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Red Mercury Folklegend Sweeping Middle East: Red Mercury Found in Old Singer Sewing Machines

Much as I have mentioned in the past on some of my list groups, there has, since at least the 1970s, been a long-standing and persistent myth which is particularly entrenched in Europe, the Middle East and the countries which comprised the old Soviet Union that there exists a mysterious, exotic, very rare, extremely expensive (reportedly priced at about a million dollars per gram) and near-mystical chemical compound called "red mercury" which is reportedly produced by an exotic alchemical process and which is claimed to be the secret ingredient needed to make nuclear bombs (either by acting as a secret ingredient in the final explosive device or by acting as a catalyst to provide a shortcut in creating and refining fissionable radioisotopes), and also a critical key ingredient in various non-nuclear explosives, and it is also widely claimed that the exotic substance can be used an essential key to assist in fortune-telling, divination and as a key aid in dowsing for buried treasure. And, some have claimed, the material -- usually claimed to be highly radioactive -- is a key ingredient of the Philosopher's Stone, which can reputedly be used to convert common metals into gold, or to create an elixir of immortality.

This near-magical alchemical compound has been the focus of many myths, legends and fragments of folklore for many years since the advent of the Cold War, and it is also well-documented in the public record that there have been brief periods during which the spy agencies of various governments around the world have fallen for the hoax, and at times some of thse agencies have issued alerts warning that renegade scientists from the ex-Soviet Union (or, alternatively, shadowy scientist/holy men from Turkey or Kazakhstan, or elderly German scientists who had once been in the employ of the Nazi regime) were trying to sell red mercury (for use in fabricating nuclear weapons) to the highest bidder. And, true to form, a number of shadowy vendors have appeared in the international black marketplace over the years, offering "red mercury" for sale to the highest bidder, and, in each of these cases, the material proffered by the vendors turned out to be various types of common powders admixed with red dye. Indeed, belief in the material is so ubiquitous that it has even been mentioned as a key plot component in various spy novels and crime novels, and red mercury has appeared as a fictional item of black market trade in a number of spy movies and TV shows over the past 30 years.

It is almost certain that the modern folklore surrounding red mercury derives from the mentions over many hundreds of years in the world of alchemy of "red mercury", a mysterious red powder reportedly derived from mercury that would, according to some authors, enable the alchemist to create the Philosopher's Stone and could also be used by the alchemist to summon and command djinn (aka jinn or genies) or to talk with (ro gain power over) "spirits" on the "Other Side". Of course, the modern legends about red mercury, which seem to have started during the peak of the Cold War era, have evolved the older legends of red mercury from the world of alchemy considerably, and have spun it into the form that we see today, a mysterious and exotic red powder offered at times on the international black market to terrorists and governments of small countries at prices approaching a million dollars per gram.

There are also other components of the legend of the modern red mercury: many red mercury "true believers" in Europe and the Middle East and the ex-Soviet Union belive that cell phones may somehow be used to detect, locate and identify red mercury; most of the legends claim that a cell phone will "act weird" or emit beeping noises if it is in the vicinity of red mercury, and that the beeping or other sounds will increase in volume as the cell phone is brought nearer to the red mercury.

Since tiny amounts of red mercury are believed to be a key ingredient in many types of military explosives, peope around the world have taken to exercising great effort and ingenuity to locate and procure unexploded ordnance from testing sites and then to try to open the undetonated weapons in an effort to find and extract the tiny amount of putative red mercury contained inside. A great number of these people have, of course, been killed when the weapons detonated during their "extraction" effort.

The reality is, of course, that there is no real substance known as "red mercury" which serves as a secret key ingredient in nuclear weapons and can also be used for divination, treasure-hunting and for creating the Philosopher's Stone. However, due to human nature, perception and belief have historically had little to do with facts and reality, and so the tales about the modern version of red mercury continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

One of the funniest recent pieces of modern red mercury folklore to emerge over the past few years is the belief that smal amounts of red mercury may be found in old sewing machines, particularly old Singer sewing machines, and that it may be identified, isolated and removed from the sewing machines with the aid of a cell phone used as a "detector". Some of the tales claim that hte red mercury is contained in the needles, and others claim that it is contained inside the metal body of the machine, near the motor and gearbox. This myth has surfaced/re-surfaced recently in Saudi Arabia with an amazing intensity, and tens of thousands of people, believing the myth, are offering vast sums for old Singer sewing machines; some are selling for as much as $50,000 USD. A great number of articles about this odd folk phenomenon have hit the international media over the past week, and one of the better ones is the following news story at the UK's BBC website:
Another good news story on the phenomenon may be found at:

To me, what is really funny about this whole obsession about Singer sewing machines is that the legend has totally missed the mark; the reality is that about the only two consumer appliances in which red mercury has ever been used in any significant quantity are old Kelvinator refrigerators and old Sears Kenmore top-loading washing machines (no, I cannot reveal the exact years and models, for obvious reasons....)!

Well, I must confess that it has been brought to my attention that there exists at least one more rather commonplace device which reportedly contained small amounts of red mercury, although the device in question is, strictly speaking, not seen as solely a consumer product, but rather a product which was sold to consumers, hobbyists and small conmmercial ventures alike. Without further ado, I will name the device: it is widely claimed that certain old models of Lincoln arc welding machines, made between 1949 and 1984, contained small quantities of red mercury.

Okay... and well... you see, the reality is that there is also the matter of claims about the tiny amount of red mercury reportedly found in the carburetors of certain early Studebaker automobiles, but that is a rather moot issue, due to the limited availability of old Studebakers.

And, here are some late-breaking followup notes to append my original note immediately above:

First, I realize that I failed to mention, in my original mention about the ongoing frenzy in Saudi Arabia to find and purchase old Singer sewing machines, the fact that the Saudi Arabian government has, in response to the folktale and its economic effects, been conducting a vigorous public education advertising campaign to advise its citizens that the existence of red mercury is a myth and that the belief that old Singer sewing machines contain red mercury is mere folklore, with no basis in reality. They are also arresting and imposting stiff fines upon people caught profiteering from the fad.

Next, while performing a Google search for yet more information on red mercury, I stumbled upon the odd fact that, according to the automated topic summary engine at Yahoo Groups, the matter of "how to make red mercury" is a frequently-discussed topic on a quixotic, campy and flaky pop culture list group called "Quicksandgirl". Amazing!

I have learned, from a member of one of my list groups to which my red mercury not was originally posted, the odd fact that it was not only Saudi Arabia which was swept recently by a red mercury myth, but that a similar phenomeon has unfolded in Turkey over the past few
months, where a rumor to the effect that the picture tube in certain brands of old black-and-white TV sets contains red mercury has spread like wildfire, causing people to seek out and pay enormous sums for old B/W TV sets. And, much as in the case with Saudi Arabia, the
Turkish government has apparently been engaged in a massive public education advertising campaign toadvise its citizens that the existence of red mercury is a myth and that the belief that old B/W TV sets contain red mercury is mere folklore, with no basis at all in reality.

It appears that one of the features of the fabled exotic and rare "Russian red mercury" is that it is not only claimed to be radioactive, but that it is also reported to be super-conductive at room temperature; and this "fact" was reported by no less an authority than the Russian newspaper Pravda.

You may recall that in my original post on the red mercury myth, I reported that there exist many rumors that a cell phone can be used to detect the presence of red mercury. For a bit more detail, it seems that the most common form of this myth asserts that a cell phone will lose all signals and will "go quiet" when placed near even a tiny quantity of red mercury. This is really useful to know, particularly when browsing weekend flea markets looking for old appliances and commodity items that may contain red mercury.

I have also learned that some conspiracy theorists and free energy researchers believe that red mercury is a vital secret ingredient in many esoteric and suppressed designs for anti-gravity devices, and that some of these folks also believe that some old Nazi inventions from the late 1930s and early 1940s were anti-gravity devices that employed red mercury as a secret and critical key ingredient.

Lastly, just as we all know that red mercury CANNOT be found in any of the following:
  • old Singer sewing machines
  • certain old Kelvinator refrigerators
  • certain old Sears Kenmore top-loading washing machines
  • certain old models of Lincoln arc welding machines, made between 1949 and 1984
  • carburetors of certain early Studebaker automobiles
  • certain brands of old B/W TV sets
  • pint containers of Ben and Jerry's Rocky Road ice cream that have been wrapped in ten layers of wax paper and then buried at least eight feet deep, along with a wooden crucifix, in a mountainous region in soil/clay that is rich in volcanic matter and then dug up after at least 12 years of burial and the contents exposed to the light of a full moon overnight before microwaving the remaining mass, alongside a ripe organic Red Delicious apple, for 11 minutes at full power in a microwave oven atop which a wooden or carved or stone image of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa has been placed.
Okay? Got it? Good! Well, in closing, I just want to be sure that you also know that red mercury cannot be found in the original (i.e., original manufacturer-produced) flyback transformers found in certain old console-type black-and-white Zenith TV sets nor can it be found in certain types of radioactive automotive spark plugs made by Firestone in the 1950s (and incidentally, these spark plugs also contain polonium to help to ionize the gases in order to ensure quicker ignition.)

Good! Glad we got that straight!

Have fun!

with care,

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