A graphic design conspiracy goes nuclear


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The right wing’s Graphic Design Conspiracy kooks are at it again, this time finding hidden Islamic coding in the logo for the international Nuclear Security Summit, just concluded in Washington.

On Wednesday, a columnist at the New York Post, a blogger at the Free Republic website and the wacky brain trust at Fox News’ morning zoo, ‘Fox & Friends,’ have been echoing one another in a bizarre claim that, in the words of Post columnist Michael Goodwin, ‘the crescent-like design of the [Nuclear Security Summit] logo is not a coincidence, especially at an event where Iran’s nuclear ambition and Al Qaeda’s search for a bomb are prime topics.’


Really? And here I thought the graphic design of a bead traveling on a circular path actually represents the movement of subatomic particles -- an electron revolving around a nucleus -- and not an Islamic crescent.

That symbol for nuclear power, often overlaid on a world map as it is here, has been obvious at least since the days of President Eisenhower’s ‘Atoms for Peace’ campaign of the 1950s. It’s even the motif used on a famous 3-cent U.S. postage stamp, issued at Eisenhower’s request following a nationwide design competition in 1955.

None of the conspiracy theorists have yet explained where, in their paranoid -- and comically politicized -- take on the Nuclear Security Summit design, the star in the Islamic world’s familiar star-and-crescent logo might have disappeared to. (Maybe it’s hiding behind Kenya on the world map?) But if they do, I’ll let you know.

-- Christopher Knight

Upper photo: Participants at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. Credit: Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images

Lower photo: George Cox’s 1955 Atoms for Peace stamp, issued for the International Conference on Atomic Energy in Geneva. Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Follow Times art critic Christopher Knight at KnightLAT on Twitter.



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