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Chief of Plutonium 16
  • 11 May 2010 19:15:40

Since some people, especially in nuclear physics or otherwise, may wonder what the meaning of my title being listed as Chief of Plutonium on the about page means or where it comes from, I decided to post a page before I get some strange emails of inquiry.

In short, this is a reference to a horrible Bollywood movie a roommate's mother recommended to us as 'a very good film.' That's actually a total lie. I told my friend before we watched this that all Bollywood movies I ever saw either involve tons of unnecessary (and wretched) singing and dancing or too much cricket. Furious P indicated to me that neither of these things were in the film; he was wrong — there was horrible singing and dancing for no good reason.

That film is Kaafila, which apparently I had the unfortunate experience of viewing Clockwork Orange style within one year of its release! In that film, some students end up being basically kidnapped by some stereotypical terrorists, and in ways unrelated to the film's plot, one of these terrorists had the title the Chief of Plutonium. At this point in the film, I was beginning to understand the concept of the pain of unending death, and I was physically and verbally mocking the cinematic absurdities, which was at that point a majority of the movie. So, upon hearing this ludicrous suggestion of a Chief of Plutonium, I declared something about "bollocks" (or other less kind words) and "I am the Chief of Plutonium!" It was about this time I began to hope all the characters in the film might experience the kind of absurd and amazing physical abuse as only cartoons can deliver.

The suggestion of this title for the character in question was, to me, absurd for two particular reasons. Firstly, no characters in popular film (nor screenwriters) display any knowledge of any kinds of physics whatsoever, so being the Chief of something the character displayed no actual knowledge concerning was ironic. In terms of realism, any group attempting to obtain hazardous and regulated material illegally might do better not to have such obvious titles for themselves, since clearly they would be concerned about the dropping of eaves and avoiding confrontation with authorities. Thus, while one might imagine the film writer wanted to convey the serious nature of the plight the characters found themselves (after all, no one wants to mess with the the Chief of Plutonium), it was much more like travesty in the way the film was released.

Since I actually study nuclear physics, then this reference from my friend has been used with some regularity since that time, including a nameplate (see top of page) and emails beginning ATTN: Chief of Plutonium. In reality, although I understand the basic workings of nuclear weapons, my only experience with plutonium is as a PuBe neutron source, for educational and calibration purpose.

Although some might view such mockery to be in poor taste, it should be understood as making fun of a fictional work rather than any real events in the world. Of course I make jokes in poor taste anyway, so it doesn't really matter what you think anyway.

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