Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Radioactive Boy Scout

By Aussiegirl

Before you read this fascinating -- and true -- story of how a teenage boy succeeded in building a nuclear reactor in his mother's back yard shed, you might want to refresh your knowledge by reading Wikipedia's article about nuclear reactors. Here is Wikipedia's description: A nuclear reactor is a device in which nuclear chain reactions are initiated, controlled, and sustained at a steady rate (as opposed to a nuclear bomb, in which the chain reaction occurs in a fraction of a second and is completely uncontrolled).
Wikipedia also has a short article about David Hahn, the very inventive subject of this Harper's Magazine article, which Ken Silverstein later expanded into a book.
Notice that, along with such exotic materials as americium-241, beryllium, and thorium-232, he made use of the handyman's best friend, duct tape: He surrounded this radioactive ball with a blanket of small foil-wrapped cubes of thorium ash and uranium powder, tenuously held together with duct tape.

The Radioactive Boy Scout

Tale of the Radioactive Boy Scout.

Golf Manor, a subdivision in Commerce Township, Mich., some 25 miles outside of Detroit, is the kind of place where nothing unusual is supposed to happen, where the only thing lurking around the corner is an ice-cream truck. But June 26, 1995, was not a typical day.

Ask Dottie Pease. Cruising down Pinto Drive, Pease saw half a dozen men crossing her neighbor's lawn. Three, in respirators and white moon suits, were dismantling her next-door neighbor's shed with electric saws, stuffing the pieces into large steel drums emblazoned with radioactive warning signs.

Huddled with a group of neighbors, Pease was nervous. "I was pretty disturbed," she recalls. Publicly, the employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that day said there was nothing to fear. The truth is far more bizarre: the shed was dangerously irradiated and, according to the EPA, up to 40,000 residents of the area could be at risk.

The cleanup was provoked by the boy next door, David Hahn. He had attempted to build a nuclear reactor in his mother's shed following a Boy Scout merit-badge project. [....]


At 1:09 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

So, in 1994 it was possible for a seventeen year old boy to scrounge the materials to build a breeder reactor! What have the terrorists been able to do?


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