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May 26, 2005

Radioactive Boy Scout   (book)

Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor
Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor

"Growing up in suburban Detroit, David Hahn was fascinated by science, and his basement experiments - building homemade fireworks, brewing moonshine, and concocting his own self-tanning lotion - were more ambitious than those of other boys. While working on his Atomic Energy badge for the Boy Scouts, David's obsessive attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard garden shed." In The Radioactive Boy Scout, veteran journalist Ken Silverstein re-creates in brilliant detail the months of David's improbable nuclear quest. Posing as a physics professor, David solicited information on reactor design from the U.S. government and from industry experts. (Ironically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was his number one source of information.) Scavenging antiques stores and junkyards for old-fashioned smoke detectors and gas lanterns - both of which contain small amounts of radioactive material - and following blueprints he found in an outdated physics textbook, David cobbled together a crude device that threw off toxic levels of radiation. His unsanctioned and wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental catastrophe that put his town's forty thousand residents at risk and caused the EPA to shut down his lab and bury it at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah.

The first couple chapters of this book were kind of partisan. I don't remember why, but it was kind of annoying. The author really beats up the kid's parents too. But it was an informative read, about nuclear stuff and radioactive crap and all that, if you're into that sort of thing. Yay nerds!

Posted by yargevad at May 26, 2005 01:02 AM

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