In response to the advertisement for Brenneman’s Everything Bagels, our correspondent Arkadiy asks, “Americium? Is it better or worse than polonium?”

“Better” and “worse” are subjective measurements with no scientific value whatsoever, and therefore are right up Dr. Boli’s alley. You have come to the right place.

Polonium has the edge in practicality, owing to its traditional use in the heads of polo mallets, whence, of course, the name of the element.

Americium is more widely found in ordinary households, however, since it goes into smoke detectors. That means that any one of us might have come into contact with it and be carrying around an atom or two of americium even as we speak. Et in Arkadiy ego, to coin a phrase.

Which one is better or worse therefore depends on how you feel about polo, or, contrariwise, smoke detectors.


  1. The Shadow says:

    Elemental, my dear Arkadiy.

  2. Belfry Bat says:

    Decades of exposure and dubious breeding conditions has led to the Polo pony subspecies, equus polka, becoming an obligate malleavore, and also to its bewildering, shimmering dots, which later inspired the spinthariscope toy in your breakfast cereal box.

    • Belfry Bat says:

      If the poor things don’t get enough polonium their diet, they accumulate Trans-Neptunian Objects in their daydreams.

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