Red Mercury



Red Liquid mercury is a material with an unknown composition that has been employed in the development of nuclear weapons and other military systems.


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Red mercury is a discredited substance, most likely a hoax perpetrated by con artists who sought to take advantage of gullible buyers on the black market for arms.These con artists described it as a substance used in the creation of nuclear weapons; because of the secrecy surrounding nuclear weapons development, it is difficult to disprove their claims completely. However, all samples of alleged “red mercury” analyzed in the public literature have proven to be well-known, common substances of no interest to weapons makers


Several common mercury compounds are indeed red, such as mercury sulfide (from which the bright-red pigment vermilion was originally derived), mercury(II) oxide, and mercury(II) iodide, and others are explosive, such as mercury(II) fulminate. No use for any of these compounds in nuclear weapons has been publicly documented. “Red mercury” could also be a code name for a substance that contains no mercury at all.

A variety of different items have been chemically analyzed as putative samples of “red mercury” since the substance first came to the attention of the media, but no single substance was found in these items. A sample of radioactive material was seized by German police in May 1994. This consisted of a complex mixture of elements, including about 10% by weight plutonium, with the remainder consisting of 61% mercury, 11% antimony, 6% oxygen, 2% iodine and 1.6% gallium.The reason why somebody had assembled this complex mixture of chemicals is unknown; equally puzzling was the presence of fragments of glass and brush bristles, suggesting that someone had dropped a bottle of this substance and then swept it up into a new container.

In contrast, an analysis reported in 1998 of a different “red mercury” sample concluded that this sample was a non-radioactive mixture of elemental mercury, water and mercury(II) iodide, which is a red colored chemical.[1] Similarly, another analysis of a sample recovered in Zagreb in November 2003 reported that this item contained.

uses of Red Mercury

Some uses depend on mercury being a room-temperature metallic liquid. Tilt switches are an example. Tilt switches not only measure “tilt”, but when combined with bi-metallic strips they formed temperature switches (thermostats). Mercury also wets some other metals, so for some relays which need to operate quickly with minimum bounce, small drops of mercury are included in the contacts. It helps with bounce because the mercury damps the vibration energy, and helps with switching reliability because any arcing is healed by the mercury droplet.

Some uses of mercury depend on the formation of unstable compounds. Blasting caps and the primers in bullets are historical examples. But, the mercury contaminated the brass cartridges. Mercury is no longer used for primers.

Some uses of mercury exploit both the liquid phase and the specific gravity. The Wilson observatory 60 inch reflector telescope was floated in a bed of mercury, leaving only 5 percent of the weight to be supported by the conventional bearings. 650 pounds of mercury were sufficient to float the 21 1/2 ton telescope frame.

Another use of mercury that uses the liquid phase and the specific gravity are manometers. These are u-shaped tubes with mercury in the bottom of the U. Differential pressure between the two sides of the tube displace the mercury so that it is higher in one column than another. A mercury barometer is a manometer in which one side is exposed to vacuum and the other to ambient atmosphere. The difference in the height of the mercury between the two sides measures the atmospheric pressure, typically measured as 760 mm of mercury.

Mercury was used in thermometers, perhaps because it was easy to see. Concern about mercury toxicity has eliminated mercury thermometers from consumer use. The high metallic coefficient of thermal expansion coupled with the visibility of the mercury column when passed through a capillary tube made mercury a great combination of sensor and indicator.

Mercury forms amalgams with other metals, including silver and gold. Amalgams are complex structures involving the mercury dissolving some of the other metal, and pushing into grain boundaries. The net result is a material that can be formed for a few minutes before becoming a hard material without expansion or shrinkage. Amalgams of mercury were used for many years to fill holes in teeth. This use has been largely replaced by special materials which adhere to tooth surfaces, and cure to a hard state, typically through the application of UV light.

Some final uses of mercury depends on the plasma characteristics of mercury, and its ability to lose outer electrons easily based on electric force. Mercury vapor rectifiers were used to produce high DC currents efficiently. Mercury is also the ingredient in fluorescent lamps (and the smaller, CF lamps) that produces the UV light (from the return to ground state after being ionized by electric force) which excites the phosphor on the inside of the glass, which in turn causes the phosphor to fluoresce, or glow.

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