Friday, 5 August 2011

Richard's Reactor

A Swedish man who wanted to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen has been arrested and all his radioactive stuff has been confiscated.

The amazing thing is that he was blogging about his intention to build a reactor to split atoms at home.  Fortunately he has had to cancel his project now, but perhaps he has already contaminated his environment with radioactive materials.

This was of course a fission reactor - the 'normal' kind of nuclear reactor.  Had he instead built a fusion device he would have avoided all this trouble with the authorities, as you can see on a web site about a project to build a fusion machine in a domestic environment.  (At this scale it would not only do no harm, it would also do no good, but its a lovely hobby!) 

You might find this story surprising, but you might also be interested to know that the very first nuclear (fission) reactor, Chicago Pile-1, was built, not in a kitchen, but in a squash court.  (There is an urban myth that due to a translation error, Russian reports of this device placed it in a pumpkin field instead.) Read more about Enrico Fermi's work here.

It seems that nobody noticed Richard's blog, or at least nobody in authority took it seriously!  This brings one ray of hope to us bloggers.  Perhaps the authorities are not reading all our blogs looking for reasons to arrest us for stirring up unrest in the world after all.  Big brother must have been snoozing.

1 comment:

John Chapman said...

I seem to remember reading years ago about a boy in the US who collected radioactive materials and used them in experiments producing a dangerously 'hot' spot. He gathered a bottle of radium paint (found inside an old clock from which he was scraping the luminous numbers on the dial) and numerous sources from smoke detectors. Using old 'Amateur scientist' articles in Scientific American he bombarded these with a home made accelerator which made them quite deadly.