The Radioactive Boy Scout

The Radioactive Boy Scout

The True Story of A Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor

Book - 2004
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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. InThe Radioactive Boy Scout, veteran journalist Ken Silverstein recreates 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and gas lanterns--both of which contain small amounts of radioactive material--and following blueprints he found in an outdated physics textbook, David cobbled together a crude device that threw off toxic levels of radiation.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. An outrageous account of ambition and, ultimately, hubris that sits comfortably on the shelf next to such offbeat science books as Driving Mr. Albert and stories of grand capers likeCatch Me If You Can,The Radioactive Boy Scoutis a real-life adventure with the narrative energy of a first-rate thriller.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2004.
ISBN: 9780375503511
037550351X
Characteristics: xviii, 209 pages ;,19 cm.

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GingerKaren
Feb 24, 2009

Traces a boy''s fascination with science and nuclear physics, which compelled him to misrepresent himself to the government and build a reactor in his back yard, causing an environmental catastrophe in his quiet Detroit town.

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