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Did North Korea really achieve clean fusion?  (Source: Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press)

Inside the reactor core of one of North Korea's nuclear plants  (Source: AP)
Many scientists are discounting that the secretive dictatorship made a true breakthrough

A mystery is emerging on the Korean peninsula.  The nation of North Korea, which has long been suspected of developing nuclear weapons, announced on May 12 that it had achieved clean nuclear fusion and was ready to began rolling out virtually free power.  The claim did not receive that much serious attention because it was simply so unbelievable.

Now the mystery has deepened, with the South Korean government scientists revealing that they detected abnormal levels of radioactive xenon gas -- eight times above the normal background level -- only two days after the fusion announcement.

It seems highly unlikely that the fusion reaction occurred as North Korea claims as fission typically produces large isotopes, while fusion uses small atoms like deuterium (a hydrogen isotope).  Granted, many scientists have theorized that fission can be tied to fusion to create hybrid reactors and such reactors 
would likely be capable of producing heavy isotopes.

Professor David Hinde, who is the department head of nuclear physics at The Australian National University says the release is more likely to have come from a traditional fission device.  He states, "It would have to be man-generated unless one came up with some very unusual alternative scenario. The lifetime of those radioactive xenon isotopes, they're not terribly long. So it could not be anything that came naturally, I would say.  Heavy xenon isotopes could be a signature of a fission device of some kind."

The easiest explanation would be that North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test.  It revealed in 2008 that it has several nuclear weapons stockpiled.  However, such a test would have created seismic activity and South Korean officials detected no corresponding seismic events.

Xenon is colorless, odorless, and largely inert noble gas thats found in minute levels in the atmosphere.  The noble gases xenon and krypton are typically used to detect nuclear activity.  The levels of gas detected by South Korea are a clear marker of nuclear activity, but do not pose a health risk to citizens.

North Korea 
did conduct nuclear weapons tests in 2006, which were detected.  It received international condemnation for these tests and UN sanctions.

For now, though, it's unclear exactly what happened in the mysterious nation of North Korea.  While it's highly unlikely the nation has discovered the holy grail of renewable energy, something that has eluded the best researchers in the U.S. and abroad, at this point there are no definitive answers.

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RE: Good grief
By marsbound2024 on 6/24/2010 3:16:50 PM , Rating: 5
We like to think we are reading decent "journalism" on this website, so there is nothing wrong with asking for proper grammar. I'd hate to see news devolve into, "Teh man in charge of plant say, 'We build nuclear fusion stuffz!' and US say somethin like 'No wai man!'"

RE: Good grief
By kattanna on 6/24/2010 3:28:24 PM , Rating: 5
We like to think we are reading decent "journalism" on this website, so there is nothing wrong with asking for proper grammar

as much as i hate to kick this dead horse, all one needs to do is look who posted it up and then one can figure there will be errors

sad, but true.

RE: Good grief
By Al Koholic on 6/24/2010 5:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
Who is "we"?

I like to think that the stock market is going up and I'm making a lot of money but that won't make it true.

Take what you get IMHO. They produce the content and we consume it in some sort of equilibrium. I don't really see the need for constant pestering if the site is able to continue to attract. It isn't difficult understand the nature of the situation...

That said these comments, and my own reply, don't really need a lot of attention. Perhaps they actually make reading the posts a lot less fun.

Sorry for perpetuating this ;-P

RE: Good grief
By BBeltrami on 6/25/2010 9:28:31 AM , Rating: 5
I can appreciate that you don't particularly care. That's fine. But the simple fact remains that eluded and alluded have completely different meanings.

The irony eludes you, that you alluded to the acceptability of modern illiteracy, and in fact defended it. Now if we could just get those silly teachers to stop pestering students with all that learning, then we'd all be in equilibrium. You're right, it doesn't take any thought at all to understand the nature of the situation.

RE: Good grief
By Alexvrb on 6/25/2010 8:28:47 PM , Rating: 3
Don't worry, a lot of teachers these days aren't too worried about that whole edumacatin' buzniss. The rest will fall in line (or retire) soon enough. Public education at its finest!

RE: Good grief
By SilthDraeth on 6/28/2010 2:59:18 AM , Rating: 2
Most likely the reason you are seeing errors like alluded, and eluded is because of Dragon.

A lot of tech editors dictate via Dragon, and it will sometimes drop the wrong word in.

Then, the paragraph is ran through a digital spell and grammar check system. The sentence makes sense with either verb as far as grammar goes, but doesn't make sense in context to the story and actual targeted meaning.

With the amount of blogs, and authors posting on Daily Tech, an actual human editor would probably miss more things than the software that accomplishes the same thing, far cheaper, and quicker.

RE: Good grief
By The0ne on 6/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good grief
By W00dmann on 6/25/2010 3:44:47 PM , Rating: 1
Much as I hate to admit it, I believe Jason's use of the word "elude" was correct. Fear not however, Jason's superb writing skills are always front and center:

"...and was ready to begin rolling out virtually free power."

"Xenon is a colorless, odorless, and largely inert noble gas..."

His sloppy English is however no match for his usual trashy writing style, which is long on hype and short on facts. He never lets that get in his way, though. Go Jason! Don't let your moral disabilities stop you!

RE: Good grief
By Fritzr on 6/26/2010 7:43:23 AM , Rating: 2
The actual word in the article is allude ... the context clearly implies elude should have been used.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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