If you live in the United States and if you've watched TV in the past few years chances are you're at least somewhat familiar with the popular primetime science series NOVA. The series has, since 1974, aired on a weekly basis to a wide and varied audience educating millions on the scientific endeavors and issues of the time.
However, thanks to recent discoveries many are beginning to question just who might be responsible for at least some of NOVA's extensive sponsoring.
According to Reddit user u/BlueMetalware in a comment on a popular r/AskReddit thread, on several occasions when listing their sponsors at the end of the episode a vague image with the caption "The Plutonium Atom Foundation, Archimedes Plutonium" can be seen and is read off by the announcer. Curious, the poster claims that when he researched the foundation the only result was a description of a small company with less than 20 employees. The poster then went on to research what Archimedes Plutonium was. However, it turned out this what was rather a who.
That's right, Archimedes Plutonium is a man whose only internet presence is a minor mention on an extremely obscure Wikipedia page. The page, which is a description of eccentric and noteworthy personalities on the pre-internet Usenet, describes Archimedes as:
"noted for his many posts about his own theories of physics, mathematics, and stock market investing and in particular his "Plutonium Atom Totality" theory, which posits that the universe is a giant plutonium atom and that galaxies are "dots" in the electron dot cloud of this atom."
As is obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of modern physics this theory is absolutely insane and illogical. So, how could it be that a nationally broadcasted and reputable television series could be sponsored by someone so behind in their scientific beliefs?
As user u/Twotimeloser would go to show the strange rabbit hole that is Archimedes Plutonium and his Plutonium Atom Foundation only goes deeper. After doing some extensive digging through databases and other outlets, u/Twotimeloser posted a reply to u/BlueMetalware's initial comment offering several links to numerous articles, online forums, and even books that connect the foundation as well as Archimedes Plutonium to Dartmouth, South Dakota, Democritus, and an unsolved murder case.
One of the most important links leads to a post on a Google groups forum on August 31st, 2008 that essentially gives a summary of Archimedes Plutonium's life. The post describes how Archimedes was born Ludwig Poehlmann to a German immigrant family but after being adopted by a foster family and changing his name numerous times, subsequently discovered his life goal and his theory which, he claims, crowns him the "King of All Science".
This theory, the Atom Totality Theory, implies that the entirety of our galaxy is contained within the 94th electron of an immensely large plutonium atom. Archimedes developed the theory while working as a dishwasher, despite his degree in mathematics from the University of Cincinnati as well as a masters in education from Utah State University, at Dartmouth College.
Although merely an eccentric character on campus whom many students and staff made fun of for his wild ideas, it wasn't until Dartmouth gave all its employees email accounts that Archimedes Plutonium found his way to international fame.
Archimedes began to use his email to systematically express his theories of the universe across Usenet on a daily basis. Naturally, these ideas on physics and mathematics were met by both extreme criticism on one end and extreme support on the other. The mysterious and strange man was often ridiculed by credible scientists on Usenet as well as common people with a basic knowledge of such subjects.
To such criticisms, Archimedes merely placed himself in the same category as many misunderstood scientists such as Democritus who, years before it was to be officially discovered, theorized atomic theory and was met with extreme criticism and all but forgotten hundreds of years.
According to the post, Archimedes now lives in South Dakota in an airstream trailer. However, how he ended up in South Dakota leads us to another link posted by u/Twotimeloser which redirects to a section of the book The Dartmouth Murders by Eric Francis. The book gives a brief description of Archimedes presence on campus but also describes his demeanor towards the college.
As much as Archimedes used Usenet to express his ideas about Atom Totality Theory he also used it to air his grievances towards Dartmouth's mistreatment of its employees. Our user also provides links to these posts, now archived on Dartmouth's website, which shows Archimedes' rambling nature on various topics. Archimedes recent forced resignation, close relationship with both victims of the famous murders, and recent posts on Usenet suggesting the police stop looking at the case as a homicide and instead as a double suicide placed him as a prime suspect in their investigation. However, when police contacted him in regards to the murders his Usenet posts at the time of the murders helped to substantiate his alibi.
Other than a few other links describing in overwhelming detail the stock dealings of Archimedes Plutonium and his Plutonium Atom Foundation the trail runs cold here.
As of the time of this article, no other information has been found on this mysterious man or his foundation. His influence as well as contribution to NOVA remains unknown and seemingly shrouded in mystery with what looks like no hope of clear answers anytime soon.
Is Archimedes Plutonium a well kept secret genius with connections to national organizations or is he merely some crazy physics buff with a bulky trust fund and somewhere to spend it? With a lack of access to Usenet as well as the ambiguity of his history it appears that, for now, this mystery will remain unsolved.
Update: During the time this article has been written user u/Twotimeloser has deleted his comment including all links to the mentioned articles but here is the initial thread if anyone still wants to check it out: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/8aszq7...
One user in the replies to this comment has also set up a separate subreddit for the purpose of exploring this mystery further for anyone interested: https://www.reddit.com/r/ArchimedesConspiracy/