Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Real Name: Red Mercury
Case: Unusual Phenomenon
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Date: July 27, 1996


Details: Ben Sherwood, author of the book "Red Mercury", practically predicted the 1996 Summer Olympics Bombing in Atlanta, as the book was about a terrorist bombing at the specific event. However, in Sherwood's book, the explosion was much larger and was caused by a mysterious substance called "Red Mercury" which may or may not exist.
Red Mercury was first mentioned in 1968 when Dupont Laboratories experimented with a mercury compound. They hoped it would be useful in x-ray technology; reportedly, the same compound is the basis for Red Mercury. According to nuclear scientists, there is a split between whether or not Red Mercury was real. Several scientists say that the substance could not exist.
Soviet scientists, however, reportedly used the mercury compound from Dupont and transformed it into a compact explosive. The explosive could apparently kill thousands of people via radiation but not cause the same amount of structural damage that a normal explosive would. This type of explosive, called a neutron bomb, was developed during the Cold War. It weighed less than 100 pounds but was clearly a weapon. Allegedly, with Red Mercury, a weapon could be made similar to the neutron bomb that would be virtually undetectable.
Whether the Russians did use Red Mercury to create mini-neutron bombs is not known. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a substance was being sold on the black market that was claimed to be Red Mercury. In Moscow, one chemical company openly offered Red Mercury for sale. They claimed that a letter from Russian president Boris Yeltsin stated that their company was the sole provider of the substance. Others, however, claim that the letter was a fake, created to humiliate Yeltsin.
A British television company was able to purchase a substance that was claimed to be Red Mercury. However, when it was tested, it was determined to be red paint. Despite some claims, the United States government, specifically the Department of Energy, states that Red Mercury does not exist, and that any transactions of the alleged substance have been hoaxes. However, others, such as Dr. Samuel Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb, believe that the substance could exist. The debate over the existence of Red Mercury continues.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the October 18, 1996 episode. The Olympic bombings have been profiled twice on Unsolved Mysteries: first, when investigating a connection between the bombings and bombings in Spokane, Washington; and second, when searching for the bomber, Eric Rudolph.
Results: Unresolved. Eric Rudolph was eventually identified as the Olympic Park Bomber and arrested in 2003. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. However, it is still a mystery how Sherwood was able to predict the bombings in his book. Also, it is still unknown if Red Mercury is an actual substance or not.