Friday, March 02, 2007

Appalling Ignorance

I've been really struck over the last day or so by the appalling ignorance of basic science. On the news last night, they reported that silicone had been found in some petrol. I was quite surprised. Silicone (polydimethylsiloxane or other similar polymerised polymerised siloxanes) is a modern polymer famous for its use in breast implants and stress balls.

However, the BBC website says it's silicon that has been found. Silicon is a semi-metallic element commonly used to make computer chips. It is present in silicone in much the same way that carbon is present in sugar. The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile says "silicone" but everything they say about it is actually about silicon, including it being an element.

Get an education - I taught that in the first term of 6th form physics! How acceptable would it be if you ran a story about Iraq that was actually about Iran?

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