A Nuclear Disaster Was Traced Back To Some Morons Who Thought Cesium Looked Cool
In 1985, a chemotherapy clinic in Goiania, Brazil moved offices, leaving behind an outdated cesium-based radioactive device. Already, we're not off to a great start: leaving radioactive materials just lying around is a fairly major no-no. Since the building was left abandoned, it soon became a popular squat for homeless people living on the outskirts of the city. Think you know where this is going? We promise, you don't.
On September 13, 1987, two scavengers entered the former treatment room of the clinic and stole the lead cylinder of the cesium device, hoping it was worth something. There was only one problem, as far as they were concerned: they couldn't get the thing open. They also suddenly started feeling extremely ill, but they were determined to dismantle the device. Finally, they managed to crack open the cesium capsule and immediately started scooping out the glowing blue substance they found inside. If you know this kind of person, we probably don't have to tell you that they tried to light it on fire.
Having done all the cool things they could think to do with the device's contents, they took it to someone even dumber than them: their local junkyard owner, who paid them for its scrap metal. After he noticed the glowing blue stuff, he invited all his friends and family to come look and even let them take some of it home. One of them let his six-year-old daughter use it like body glitter. By the time the authorities figured out what happened, four people were dead and hundreds more had simply suffered huge doses of radiation. Those two original scavengers? They both required amputations. Hopefully, it was worth whatever the junkyard owner paid them.
A Broker Threw The Oil Industry Into Turmoil On A Drunken Whim
Go easy on yourself the next time you drunkenly text your ex; at least you didn't screw up a global industry. That's what Steve Perkins did when he got home after a multi-day bender in June 2010, texted his employer that a sick relative would unfortunately keep him out of the office that day, and then bought seven million barrels of oil.
The stock market is equal parts graphs and magic, so we're not even going to try to explain how Perkins's blackout boo-boo pushed the price of a barrel of oil up by almost $2. We can tell you, because smarter people told us, that while that might not seem like a lot, it usually takes a war to see that kind of change. It didn't take long to sort that out, but the company on whose behalf Perkins bought the oil, PVM Oil Futures, needed considerably more coddling. He'd spent $520 million of their money to buy the oil, creating losses of $10 million for the company because, again, finances are wizardry. They were pretty grumpy about that, considering they only brought in $12 million of annual income.