So the geiger counter is now a popular item to own in Tokyo and this had lead to some very interesting and worrying discoveries of radiation spikes that have got absolutely nothing to do with the leak from the Fukushima nuclear plant. The hot spot was eventually tracked down to some bottles being stored in a basement, but this leads to the question, what was this material doing there in the first place? Was this somebody’s failed home experiment?
After-all there have been several cases of people collecting readily available radioactive material, extracting and attempting to build their own reactors, the most recent one I know of is the Swede Richard Handl. His blog, Richard’s Reactor, is disturbing and strangely funny particularly the picture of his cooker after he had an explosion while trying to cook Americium, Radium and Beryllium in 96% sulphuric-acid.
He did reassure his readers that he did not consume the bottle of squash that can be seen to the right of the cooker. It was not long after this that he got arrested and his reactor building was put permanetly on hold.
Mr Handl only got as far as extracting and purifying his materials but in America there is a man who had a really good stab at building his very own breeder reactor in his mum’s potting shed, and he was only in his teens at the time. Makes Handl’s efforts look very puny. This individual is David Hahn otherwise known as the Nuclear boy scout. It started out as a project for his nuclear energy badge that got very out of hand. In 2003 Channell 4 aired a doucumntry about his methods.
Hahn was recently arrested for stealing smoke detectors from his department building. It’s sad that he’s not really been able to take his facination with nuclear science any further but he has always refused to be tested to see what levels of radiation he had been exposed to, and from the looks of the mug shot from his arrest his childhood experiments have done him some real damage.
And this why radioactive anything should be left to the people who understand the dangers of what they are handling.