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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 227

…The P.I. talks to her people before the Comiskey Park Greater Chicago Crusade Revival Grand Finale…

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She saunters over to the shorter Martin Kamen to plant a kiss on top of his head. Of all the people and situations that Fanny and she have encountered, it is Willard Libby’s closest colleague who has been there every step of the way. Whatever it took, whenever it was needed, Martin stepped out of his comfort zone to make things happen. He opened his home to two strange ladies and allowed them to take the lead.


“Without Martin, I am afraid we are not standing here ready to ride around a baseball field filled with people, in C-14 Coaches. He discovered carbon-14, which prior to very recently, we thought were 14 pieces of burnt toast. If he doesn’t get someone else involved, Willard may still be squirreled away in a mental hospital, right Dr. Steinberg?”


Looking at Willard’s Aunt, she comments, “I understand that you and our man of many names, let’s see: Jesse James/Agent Daniels/Bernard Spencer/The Rogue and whatever else Penty and Forever Mastadon calls him, have bonded over that lightning strike; Mother Teresa meets Elliot Ness meets Mother Nature.


“You’re a man who travels in more circles than a carnival pony, Jesse. If you ever want to write a book, I have a friend named Gwenny who can help you with that; such are the quality stories you can tell. But even if you keep your secrets close to your vest, you have renewed my faith in government employee and again, without your dances with the devil, we’re not successful.”





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Constructive Radioactivity – WIF Science

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When Radiation Comes in Handy

We already know that radioactive elements can be used to make electricity, treat cancer, and create bombs with massive destructive power. But radiation is also has many other uses in our everyday life that might not have occurred to you.

10. Sterilize Food


Yep. Food. Meats, shellfish, vegetables, and even spices have all been approved by the FDA for irradiation. Exposing food to radiation kills any bacteria or organisms that may cause nasty illnesses like E. Coli or Salmonella. The process also kills any bugs that may be living on fruits shipping from tropical locales. Anyone who has read about the Brazilian Wandering spider knows this is a very good thing.

While putting the words ‘food’ and ‘radiation’ together may sound scary, the process doesn’t make our food radioactive. In fact, you really can’t tell the difference between irradiated and non-irradiated food in terms of taste, texture, or nutritious value. But you definitely will be able to tell the difference between lettuce with E. Coli and lettuce without E. Coli. Trust me on this one.

9. Treat Pain


In the medical world, radiation can be used to treat patients with severe pain resulting from late-stage cancer. This procedure is called palliative radiation therapy and it can really transform the quality of life for cancer patients.

In some patients, the cancer can metastasize to the bone causing painfultumors. Shooting these tumors with radiation can shrink them and result in significant pain reduction for the patient. This treatment will not cure the cancer, but it can be a lifesaver for patients with advanced stages of cancer. A study was published in 2010 that demonstrated the incredible effects of radiation therapy. The study examined five patients with bone marrow cancer. All suffered from intense pain. Some were even wheelchair bound as a result. After receiving radiation therapy, the majority were pain free, and the results lasted as long as three years. Pretty amazing, right?

8. Test Welds for Cracks


Picture this. We’re standing on the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, admiring the beautiful view of Dubai. Beneath us is almost 55,000 tons of steel rebar and 110,000 tons of concrete. This is the time we should be really thankful for radiographers. They are the ones that test welds for cracks, irregularities, or weak spots. Here’s how it works: radiographers place a detector behind the weld and then use a small radiation source to shoot x-rays or gamma rays at it. Any places where the weld is thin or cracked will allow the rays through where they are picked up by the detector, giving a clear picture of any weld deficiencies.

7. Track Substances in the Body


If you have ever had a heart attack, you may be familiar with this one. This nifty application allows scientists to attach a radioactive “tracer” to a substance and use the radioactivity coming from the tracer to follow the path of the substance. This is used a lot as a diagnostic test to determine heart health. The patient is injected with a radioactive isotope with a short half life (so they aren’t leaking radioactivity all over the place for weeks), usually Technetium-99. Doctors can then get a clear picture of how the blood is moving through the heart. A similar method can be used to trace groundwater movement. By adding tritium (a radioactive hydrogen isotope) to water, we can see exactly the path the water is taking. Three cheers for science!

6. Carbon Dating


Now this is one you have probably heard of. In case you haven’t, carbon dating is a method of using radioactivity to determine the approximate age of an artifact, as long as that artifact was once alive. For example bone, wood, fabrics can all be dated. Metal, stone not so much. This is because carbon dating requires that the object contain a little carbon-14.Plants get it by absorbing carbon dioxide. Animals get it by eating the plants. When the animal or plant dies, it stops taking in new carbon-14 and the radioactive element slowly decays away with a half-life of 5,700 years. By measuring the current amount of carbon-14, scientists can figure out how much time has passed. Even though it can’t be directly used on non-living things, any particles attached to an artifact that do meet the carbon-14 criteria can be tested (i.e. a stone bowl with some linen particles embedded), giving a rough age estimate. And when we are talking in terms of thousands of years, a rough estimate will do just fine.

5. Smoke Detectors and Exit Signs

Neon Green Exit Sign set on black

When we accidentally burn our morning eggs, radiation comes to the rescue in the form of a smoke detector. The vast majority of homes have ionizing smoke detectors in them. These detectors have teeny tiny amounts of radioactive material (typically americium-241) and electrically charged metal plates. The radiation ionizes the air, creating an electrical current between the plates. When the smoke from the eggs enters the chamber, the smoke particles disrupt the current causing the detector to alarm and giving us plenty of time to put out the egg fire. But what happens if we put on our super noise cancelling headphones to have a quick pre-work dance party and totally miss the alarm until the rapidly descending smoke layer becomes noticeable? Well then we will see radiation at work again in the form of exit signs. These handy signs sometimes have radioactive tritium gas in them that glows in the dark, lighting our way even when the power goes out.

4. Genetically Mutate Plants


As we all learned from Spiderman, radiation exposure can cause DNA mutations. In humans, this can lead to not so good stuff like cancer. But doing the same thing to plants can result in some pretty useful changes to plant DNA that can improve taste, yield, and even resistance to disease. This method is already pretty widely used and scientists think it could make a dent in solving the world’s food crisis by producing crops that are easier to grow and use less land and pesticides. Now if the idea of mutant Hill People food makes you nervous, fret not. It doesn’t make the food radioactive and it is not the same process used to create Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) where DNA is spliced into a species, adding material that wasn’t there to begin with. Plants experience natural mutations all the time, this process just speeds that up. It’s the equivalent of hitting shuffle on your favorite party playlist. The songs are the same, but the vibe can totally change.

3. Ice Cream Quality Control


Did you ever wonder how every tub on Ben & Jerry’s is perfectly creamy and delicious every single time you eat the whole tub while binge watching Netflix in your PJs? The answer lies in radioisotope density gauges. A radioactive source is directed at the product, the material reflects some of the radiation back the source, where a sensor records it. The ratio of the source that is reflected back versus passes through can be used to calculate the density. Any carton that doesn’t make the cut isn’t shipped to stores. I think a lot of us would heroically volunteer to help out with the subpar sweets. These density gauges are used all over the food industry to ensure consistency in soup, beer, and coffee, amongst many other things. They can even be used to test egg shells for thin, weak spots. It definitely isn’t as important as the ice cream thing, but I guess it has to be done.

2. Blue Topaz


Blue topaz does occur naturally, but most are artificially made by exposing more common varieties of topaz to radiation. The radiation changes the structure of the stone, knocking the atoms around and causing the gem to change color. The gem is then heated, producing a lovely blue color. The stone is stored until the levels of radiation emitted fall below allowed levels. This same process is also done to diamondsand other gems to produce fancy colors at less than fancy color prices.

1. Check Food for Metal


Have you ever bitten in to a hot dog and gotten a mouthful of bone? No? Well you may have food x-ray scanners to thank. Many manufacturers have started requiring that their food go thorough specialized x-ray machines that can check for metal shards, bones, rocks, and any other items that we generally don’t want in our pizza or ice cream. The scanners use sophisticated software that does the hard work of detecting any foreign objects.

Constructive Radioactivity

– WIF Science


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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 183

Chapter Sixteen


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…Random ramblings from the principles of Libby Affair…

“Are you saying the landing gear locks were disabled or was there a mechanical failure?” Ace Bannion asks the Civil Aeronautics Board inspector the same question for the second time. They are standing next to the fallen Angel of Blue Ridge.

You were mugged? You have to be crapping me!” Constance has just found out that Worth Moore was beaten on afternoon of the plane crash. She is getting tired of F M’s assault on all things Libby.

“I’m so sorry Worth! I cannot believe that you are a target. That means none of us are safe.” The CCI 2nd female is genuinely worried about a man for… maybe the first time. She tends to him like a Florence, not a Fanny.

Did you hear about that crash out at Midway Airport? It was Rev Graham’s plane and Ace Bannion was the pilot.” Eddie Dombroski speaks to wife Edie from a place of sympathy. Even as he is on the mend, he still feels like a member of the team.

“I am 90 percent sure that Forever Mastadon is fronted by the Department of Justice. The FBI is up to their neck at 5046 and way in over their heads when it comes to knowing what this whole battle is about.” Agent Daniels is up front with his assessment of the Libby Affair.

“Half of my staff are either bandaged or in splints. Do you want me to carry on with the Chicago Stadium alter call?” Reverend Billy Graham is speaking to his Lord, a habit that he will never lose and an example of living his faith.

“What do I have to do to put an end to these people? The Divine One is set against the Great Deception.” Pentateuch would be talking to L. Dick Cannon directly, had he been up front with the man and told him who he really was. Instead Cannon slithers away to his true delusional followers.

“Maybe we should abandon Project Forever Mastadon. Would it be the end of the world if “they” find out that humankind has only been around for 20 thousand years?” Gilbert Conroy, the science dork, asks the Deputy Attorney General Ross.

“My fellow Americans, I speak to you as a believer, a believer in the grace of Jesus Christ, not as your President,” President Harry Truman is making good on his promise that he would use his weekly radio address to urge his fellow Americans to affirm their faith in God.

”Is a scientific breakthrough worth all the trouble it has caused?” Willard Libby wonders.



Not-so-random orders from the top…



“I am here Lord.”

“It is time.”

“I understand.”

dot dot dot





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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 125

…Since returning to from their trans-global Beelzebub ball-busting, Constance must indoctrinate Ace in the ways of The Libby Affair…

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Since returning to from their trans-global Beelzebub ball-busting, Constance must indoctrinate Ace in the ways of The Libby Affair. This means he must be taken on an introductory tour, beginning with the subject and the subject’s subject, i.e. Willard and his carbon-14, “Carbon dating doesn’t mean a Brazilian beauty named Gabriela Carbõn  doing the samba at Carnival.”

Willard Libby is both grateful and gracious in Constance’s presence and he gladly does a breakdown of his research for the newcomer. But first, “Why is your hair as white as a Chicago blizzard, Mr. Ace?”

“My bell was rung while playing rugby in Australia; been white ever since.” Simple enough

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Back to the old science-aroo, he covers things that Constance could only skim through in the course of their recent travels. He lays out the cold hard facts concerning the real age of mankind and its connection to carbon dating.

“Originally, I found evidence that science could not accurately formulate the age of the universe, or even the planet; which is true but we have had to modify that, because of certain Creation facts. Currently, I am prepared to put the earliest existence of life on Earth at 20,000 B.C.”

“That’s not what I’ve been taught,” comments Ace.

“No it is not, but every day, all around the world, in 10,000 languages children are reading that mans’ ancestors began emerging a million years ago. That is hogwash.”

“Well I am not going to argue the point. All I know is what’s happened in my 30-some years,” Ace puts his arm around Constance, “too many good people support you.”

Libby, for example, grabs Martin Kamen by the shoulder, “Like this guy!” The time they have spent in sequestered isolation has created an unbreakable bond between them. If it had not been for Martin’s proactive pursuit of independent investigation, Willard Libby may well have withered into hopeless obscurity.



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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 25

…“Maybe this entire hubbub about carbon whatever is leading us down primrose lane…

“As for you Martin, you best hope that they didn’t find what they came for.”

“You may think we scientists are a bungling bunch of bumstumblers, but Willard Libby is no one’s fool. If you remove exclusivity from a clinical position, you may have just wasted 10 or more years of research.” Kamen knows of which he speaks. In 1940 he and Sam Ruben collaborated on the discovery of the radioisotope carbon-14. But they were lacking the connection between 14’s half-life and the predictability of previously existing antediluvian verve (scholastic for old ideas).

Constance remembers Martin mentioning that Libby was a player in the building of the atomic bomb. “Maybe this entire hubbub about carbon whatever is leading us down the  primrose path; a war-busting bomb seems to be a more inviting target than arguing how old a sedimentary rock or an Egyptian mummy is. Who cares?”


“My mummy is going to be 65 this year, looking forward to my father retiring from the railroad,” Fanny has a sense of humor only a mother can love.

Feeling that her dim-wit is being ignored, she adds something of substance, “Whoever messed up this office was not worried about being caught. They were not wearing gloves, can you believe it!? But the fingerprints are nondescript smudged, grimy, useless. ”

“That’s because they didn’t know what they were looking for.” Martin heads for electronics  terminal in the office. “Willard had the good sense to store his efforts using the Failsafe Method, one being the backup for the other. Palpable paper would be the obvious choice, but electronic storage makes sense too. At he time I was wondering why he was insisting on giving me the binary title code for such an important file.”

“There are smudgy fingerprints on that screen too; looks like they tried to pry it away from that gadget panel.”

“We’re not dealing with the brightest crooks in the crookery.” Caraway continues her crime scene assessment. “I think this means that wherever your Willard is, they still don’t have whatever they were after.”

“Maybe it isn’t just what he knows that they were after. Maybe they want to keep the man himself quiet.’

Just like the noise muffling attachment on the end of a handgun. It is called a silencer.

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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 22

…“Where do we start Miss Caraway?…

Martin Kamen finds out that Willard was in regular communication with Vatican City, among others. What is the connection between the theory of evolution and radiocarbon dating? He chimes in with his nuggets:


  • Pope Pius XII wanted Willard to come out against the growing scientific leanings in favor of the theory of evolution.
  • Willard lives in Olympia Fields. Tolentine is a monastery of Friars on the edge of that sleepy Illinois village.
  • Billy Graham is an evangelist and crusader who has a degree in anthropology of all things.
  • McGraw-Hill is the unrivalled publisher of textbooks in the US and has a vested interest in all things taught.
  • The United Nations sent Willard a cable concerning some mystery group that had gotten their attention; must have been serious enough for them to exhibit care about an organization that has spread its wings around the globe.


“When this is all over and we have untangled this briar patch, well in this case ‘friar-patch’, you should come back to Florida with us. I like the way you think.” Constance picks up on the growing connection between those seemingly stray Libby contacts and Martin’s investigative talents. He would be a welcomed addition to CCI.

“Not only that, Libby had called the FBI before they called him! What would a scientist have to do with government types, especially the spy kind? He must have sensed trouble,” adds Fanny.

“It looks like the entire planet was taking notice of his work.” In most instances that is the point of scientific research. Martin’s sense of security is waning.


“And yet you are as clean as a whistle and without a scratch on that pretty-boy face.”

“At least for now. And so is Sam Ruben, a vital colleague of hours, part of the precious few, so-to-speak. I spoke with him the day before last and he too is getting spooked.” He speaks of their carbon-collaborator from University of California-Berkley.

“And we know that we’re not dealing with a jealous husband or wacko lady friend,” Fanny notes, removing the love triangle aspect from the fray. Human emotion is generally the spark that ignites the fuel for the private investigatory engine.

“Where do we start Miss Caraway? There are a dozen angles to consider here.”

Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 22

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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 14

…“You have to understand what the man’s life was like; he did not have one…

Fanny’s simple solution may have some holes.

“That would seem logical, Miss Renwick, but we have a new, state-of the-art, and panoramic film camera system that records everything…..and I mean everything that goes on here.

“I went over the pictures with Security two days before the Carbon-14 Summit was to start and then three days after we suspected that he had gone missing.” People at a Top Secret government facility just don’t walk away unnoticed.

“You have to understand what the man’s life was like; he did not have one. He’s been like a bloodhound on the trail of raccoon, obsessed by radiocarbon dating. With little family, no wives or children and a general distaste for conventional forms of entertainment, all he has was his work and the respect that it provides.”

“Too bad security wasn’t this tight back in ’42,” Constance refers to the double-agent case they worked and chronicled in CONSTANCE CARAWAY: SPIES AT WAR. “The Feds were all over Los Alamos, so we mopped up here at Argonne.”

“Wow, I was working on my Masters way back then,” young Martin spouts inoffensively.

“Ouch, thank you for reminding me of my age—-I mean years of experience,” some offense taken.

“That is how I learned about your investigative prowess.” He respects his elders. “I do my homework and you were the one who exposed James East as Victor VonOeste.”

“We got lucky there. Most of the secret selling came from within the nuke program. VonOeste had only acted as if he was double-crossing the Germans, when in fact they were as thick as thieves.” In perhaps her best-ever masquerade, Constance had been inserted into the program as a micro-technician (Fanny was a cleaning woman and not happy about it). That was only thing small about her investigation. “But enough about the past; we are looking for your friend and colleague who left the grounds undetected.”

Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 14

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