Red mercury, the mythological and lethal substance that has been causing as much obsession as scams for decades

  • 21

Difficult, very difficult, to find a mineral as versatile as red mercury. Over the last few decades, it has been credited with amazing abilities to improve the anti-radar coating of aircraft, such a destructive power that no more than a baseball would reach enough to generate a nuclear explosion, and it has even been sold as an elixir. miraculous that would trace its origins to the Egypt of the pharaohs and the pyramids. Already put there are those who speculate with its supernatural properties, including some worthy of Count Dracula himself.

Incredible true? And it is so because it is. Literally. It has been speculated that red mercury is that and some other equally fascinating things, but of course if something is clear it is how unbelievable the story that surrounds it and its fanciful properties are. Its nature fits better in the fictional stories or urban legends than in science textbooks.

“It’s a lie, a hoax, it doesn’t exist”, remarks, emphatically, Manuel Regueiro, president of the College of Geologists of Spain. What point at ThoughtCo It can be speculated whether this label has been given to one or another substance, or even if it was used as a code name in its day; what is already more complicated is to literally believe that there is something similar to the mythical red mercury, which has been attributed from healing abilities to a surprising destructive power.

Miraculous elixir… and lethal substance

Red Mercury

Capture of one of the videos that show the supposed fantastic properties of red mercury.

is known cinnabar or vermiliona mineral composed of sulfur and mercury with a reddish color, or the mercury(II) iodide; but no, emphasizes Regueiro, the legendary red mercury that over the last few decades has fueled the imagination of the most fanciful and the mischief of those who have seen in its aura of mystery an opportunity to sell vials and pipettes at the price of gold.

In full 2022 they circulate Internet ads accompanied by out of focus photos and a halo of mystery. Of course, only for “interested people”… and willing to pay its generous price.

And all this despite the fact that over the last few years experts have made an effort to undo the myth through large international media, such as the bbc network, Radio Free Europe either Guardian. “It’s a scam and the risk is that they deceive or rob people,” warned Lisa Wynn, from the department of anthropology at Macquarie University, to the BBC in 2019, when videos of people willing to sell small reddish doses in exchange circulated, in Sometimes thousands of dollars.

can still be seen today pieces on youtube with thousands of views from people bent on showing off the supposed fantastic properties of red mercury, some directly vampiresque and that would make Bram Stoker smile ironically, like the repellent effect that garlic has on its drops or that when one is shown in front of a mirror no reflection appears.

The history of Unobtainium, the material that explains all science fiction from 'Avatar' to 'X-Men'

What is the origin of red mercury?

It is not easy to pinpoint. Especially considering that its properties stretch more than Boomer gum. Among those who believe that it is a powerful elixir, the story circulates that it dates back to Ancient Egypt and was introduced into the throats of the pharaohs. Others, convinced that it looks more like a powerful military weapon, believe that it came from the laboratories of the Soviet Union.

There are even those who believe that the US authorities took advantage of the hoax to use it as a decoy and hunt down criminals who wanted to buy it for its vaunted destructive capabilities. in 2015 New York Times came to publish that terrorists had been arrested in Turkey while trying to buy some… exact, red mercury.

Other versions claim that it is a code name for nuclear material that was smuggled through the Iron Curtain or that “red” would actually be related to its origin. “We can safely assume that under the cover of ‘red mercury’ dealings, international financial machinations are taking place,” I reflected in the early 90s a commission headed by the Russian Alexander Rutskoy: “Valuable strategic materials may have been exported under the guise of ‘red mercury’.”

In 2004 Guardian echoed also from experts who did not see it as unreasonable for the Soviets to develop some substance that did deserve attention, such as the popular physicist Samuel T. Cohen. As for red mercury, as such, the International Atomic Energy Authority’s opinion at the time was quite clear: “Red mercury doesn’t exist. It’s all a bunch of nonsense.” In 2015 also New York Times echoed of the broad consensus in the scientific community that there is no similar component with explosive capacity.

There are theories to give and take, enough for Ken Follett can put together a trilogy with a thriller with esoteric touches in which bombs, vampires and mummies are mixed.

Cover image: J. J. Harrison (Wikipedia)

Difficult, very difficult, to find a mineral as versatile as red mercury. Over the last few decades, it has been…

Difficult, very difficult, to find a mineral as versatile as red mercury. Over the last few decades, it has been…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.