: Just saw a promo for Dirty War on HBO:

In a post-9/11 world, how do you prepare for the unthinkable? Is it possible to stop a coordinated radioactive-weapons attack by determined terrorists in an international city? And what, if anything, should the public be told about such a threat?

This HBO Films thriller shows how a “dirty bomb” attack might be planned and executed in London, despite the best efforts of police and intelligence forces – as well as how devastating the consequences of such an attack could be.

Well, I’m selfishly glad that for once, the theoretical ground zero of such an attack is not Times Square and my office address. But still, I’m not sure this is what I’d classify as entertainment. Then again, if it scares the pants off a few people, that could be a good thing.

  • Oh there you go again, selling the politics of fear you dirty right-wing bastard!

  • ;-)

  • Steve J.

    Q: What are the differences between a dirty bomb and a nuclear bomb?
    Kathleen G.
    Lake Zurich, IL
    A: The differences between a dirty bomb and a nuclear bomb are profound. A dirty bomb is not a nuclear bomb even though it uses radioactive material. While a nuclear bomb is surely a weapon of mass destruction, a dirty bomb is at best a weapon of mass disruption. Few people, if any, would die shortly after exposure to the ionizing radiation from a dirty bomb. Perhaps many (at most hundreds) would die from the conventional bomb blast associated with a dirty bomb. In contrast, many thousands to tens of thousands of people would likely die from the explosion of a nuclear bomb (assuming one roughly as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb, which was modest compared to modern nuclear weapons). As Dr. Allison writes in the companion essay on this Web site, he has “compared the difference between a dirty bomb and a nuclear bomb to the difference between a lightning bug and lightning.”

  • paladin

    This must be the latest media fad. The current issue of The Atlantic has an article by Richard Clarke (yeah, THAT Richard Clarke) called America Attacked: The Sequel setting out another one of these horrific scenarios about future terrorist attacks. This time terrorists attack Las Vegas hotels, shopping malls in various cities, subway systems in Atlanta, Boston, Baltimore and Philly, cyberattacks, etc. Clarke seems to think that while a nuclear attack by terrorists is possible, it’s not likely.This looks like it may be a trend, so be prepared for more of these frightening “what if” stories to appear.

  • Spaceman

    This be a follow-up to last year’s NOVA on public TV, complete with ominous music in the background and cartoon renderings of cells morphing into cancer cells. Ooooooh -it’s evil radiation, throw yourself off the building and save yourself from dying slow.
    Hey, I’ve worked in a nuclear plant 30 years, this will be another scare-um that cycle thru about yearly. I recommend “Atomic Twister”, it at least had Carl Lewis which was probably the high point of the show. But woe, he couldn’t outrun the twisters. Just as well, the radiation would have got him later in the movie.