In this week’s Cyborg #19, by Kevin Grevioux and Cliff Richards, there were some magical doings happening, and some good and not-so-good science, too. Let’s take a look and see what’s what!

Not sure why Cyborg is so stunned that this meteorite isn’t radioactive. Despite Hollywood portrayals to the contrary, most really aren’t.

Meteorites are meteors that fell to Earth. Meteors (or “meteoroids,” when they’re still in space) are usually pieces of asteroids that broke from the belt between Mars and Jupiter. And asteroids are really just chunks of rock left over from the formation of the solar system that were unable to coalesce and form a planet, thanks to Jupiter’s ridiculously strong gravitational forces.

So then, you wouldn’t expect meteorites to contain a greater percentage of radioactive elements than the Earth does — which is to say, not all that much. A good rule of thumb is that the higher an element’s atomic number on the Periodic Table, the less abundant it is in the solar system (though the Oddo-Harkins rule messes with that on a small scale). And yeah, there are a lot more meteoroids made up mostly of lighter silicate minerals than there are those rich in heavier metals.

Radioactive minerals are even rarer. Iron, one of the main components of metallic meteoroids, has an atomic number of 26. Uranium is way up at atomic number 92. And even if there somehow were a bunch of uranium in a meteorite, you probably wouldn’t find it in localized deposits, like you do on Earth.

That’s because many ore deposits form from very terrestrial processes, ones that never got to occur on asteroids. Uranium deposits, for example, happen when water leaches the uranium out of a rock, like granite, and accumulates it all in one spot.

Silver’s usually found in rocks from the bottom of a sea floor. Gold deposits happen in lots of different ways, but they all pretty much depend on plate tectonics. And we all know diamonds don’t form without tremendous heat and pressure, and the only way you’ll get that in asteroids is if they smash against something (like the Earth). But even then, they’re teeny-tiny.

Too good to be true, indeed.

Horn of Plenty

But maybe not, if MAGIC is involved!

In the real world, people don’t believe a rhinoceros horn will bring them treasure from heaven, but since 2008, many citizens of Vietnam think it can cure cancer or, more importantly — hangovers. That’s due to a rumor that a Vietnamese politician’s condition was cured by the keratin creation.

So because of this magical, unsupported thinking, a rhino’s horn can go for $300,000 on the black market, and poachers have brought about the extinction of all species of the animal in Vietnam. But it gets worse. Albino people have been killed in South Africa and Tanzania, because their body parts are thought by witch doctors to have magical properties.

Way worse than any wish a monkey paw could grant.

Travel Warning

Cyborg’s in the Sudan, though. All the horns and spleens in the world won’t save him from MALARIA!

There’s a reason the Centers for Disease Control recommend being up to date on all your usual vaccinations before traveling abroad. If you’re heading for the Sudan, you’d better also have inoculations against Hepatitis A, typhoid and yes, malaria. Depending on where in the country Victor Stone is, he should be wary of yellow fever, meningitis and even rabies, too.

But he shouldn’t go trying to “boost” his immune system, like so many quack medical treatments want you to do. Even if it’s out of practice, what he’s got won’t get any better with a few pills, and what does it mean to be “boosted” to begin with? An overactive immune response is the kind of thing that causes autoimmune DISEASE. I doubt Vic needs lupus on top of his malaria.

Robot parts not lookin’ so bad now, huh? That’s what happens when you trust magic over science! 😀

Related Posts