Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Antimony has an atomic weight of 51?

I sent this to NPR today:

In the correction segment broadcast 8Dec09 at 4:48 Mountain time, Robert Siegel said "Antimony has an atomic weight of 51".
Is American Science education so terrible, that even during corrections on radio shows, the journalist gets it wrong?
Atomic Number: 51
Atomic Mass: 121.76 amu

Antimony has an Atomic NUMBER of 51, certainly. But as Anyone who has passed chemistry 101 knows, "Atomic Number" is the number of protons. Along with those protons are neutrons and electrons. All of those particles combined, make up the Atomic Weight, which is 121.76 amu (that's atomic mass units. You can Google it).

When the host gets it wrong, and the editor and fact checkers can't differentiate between something as simple as Atomic Number and Atomic Weight, it is extremely disturbing and disheartening. No wonder the US is falling so far behind the rest of the world. But you have no shortage of Sarah Palin and Tiger Woods coverage. UGH!

Please be more careful in future corrections.


  1. I heard the same piece and had to stop and think - "did I recall that incorrectly?" - thank goodness for Google and i-phones, or I'd have more misinformation stuck in my head. I'm still shocked that NPR didn't fact check and/or didn't state it correctly. I've always thought they were one of the better productions out there.

  2. Thank you ame! I've historically thought NPR to be on the leading edge of "good reporting", but perhaps as the American public continues to hunger for vacuous fluff, NPR is finding it easier to "dumb down" their content.

    I hope occurrences like this are just anomalies and not the new status quo.


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