Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fact-checking in the New Year

A belated Happy New Year!

One of my blog-mates over at Cathy Seipp pointed out an erroneous article on polonium-210 in the Jan. 1 LA Times. Polonium-210 is the isotope of polonium used to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko.

The most glaring error I've found so far:

Of polonium's 25 isotopes, polonium-210 is the most stable. After 138 days, half of it decays into a nonradioactive isotope of lead.

Polonium-209 has a half-life of about 102 years. Last time I checked, 102 years was longer than 138 days.

How did this pass through the LA Times' legendary four levels of editors?

UPDATE: doug over at Cathy Seipp's blog has submitted his critique of the errors.

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