When Tech Blogs Fail At Science

or… making a Star Trek reference does not make you a nerd.

     A recent article on Wired.com attempted, and failed, to inform people about a genuinely interesting and potentially groundbreaking development in propulsion within our solar system.

     While utilizing Star Trek as a way to bring attention to, and interest people in, science is laudable, it is abhorrent when both it and science are abused by allegedly technologically minded people for the purposes of a cruddy article.

     Ignoring their clumsy, and misleading, attempt to call attention to the article by insinuating that faster than light warp drive was nigh, the real problem lies with the crux of their article: Lithium for use as fusion fuel for a spaceship. The author writes:

“[T]his fusion reactor would be fueled by “a few tonnes” of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) and lithium-6 (a stable molecule of lithium) in a crystalline structure — hence the “dilithium crystal” claim. Technically, dilithium is a molecule with two covalently bonded lithium atoms, while lithium-6 features six bonded atoms, but we can forgive them for the temptation of using a little poetic license.”

     This is factually incorrect. 6Li (i.e. Lithium-6) is neither a “a stable molecule of lithium” nor six lithiums bonded into a single discrete molecule. It is an isotope of lithium with three protons and three neutrons, in contrast with 7Li (Lithium-7) which has four neutrons instead of three.

     This would be excusable if it were posted by a 6-year old was recounting what he heard from Al “ManBearPig” Gore, but for a “tech” writer who ought to get at least the gist of the technology he/she/it is talking about, it is beyond pathetic. Even Captain Picard agrees:

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