The Nuclear Boy Scout

Submitted by: squrlz4ever 1 week ago in Science


17-year-old David Hahn had a passion for science. What no one knew was that he was building a breeder reactor in his backyard.
There are 27 comments:
Male 1,365
Yeah...well...I saw a kid build an alarm clock once. It was da bomb!
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Male 4,950
doiknowyou That was good. :)
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Male 4,242
I am I the only one the seen the movie based on this. 
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Male 4,950
dm2754 Quite possibly. I've seen only a few shortish documentaries on Hahn, including this one. Was it a movie in theaters? Do you remember the name?
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Male 4,242
squrlz4ever inspired by but not truly based on.

The Manhattan Project (1986)

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Male 4,950
dm2754 Great. Thanks so much! I'll look around on Netflix and other sources and try to watch it soon.

Update: I just found The Manhattan Project on Netflix--but it only now occurs to me: If this movie was made in 1986, it predates the experiments of Hahn by eight years since Hahn built his breeder reactor in 1994.

I'll give the movie a watch anyway because it will be interesting to see if what Hahn did was in any way similar to what happens in the movie. If so, perhaps Hahn was influenced by it.
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Male 1,082
Being exposed to that amount of radiation I wonder if he'll be able to do his own breeding.
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Male 39,955
LOL He's a real life Jimmy Neutron

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Male 6,158
Read about him years ago, I believe I posted an article about him on IAB
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Male 4,950
thezigrat It's certainly not a new story. Hahn made his breeder reactor in 1994, 23 years ago, and there have been numerous articles, videos, and at least one book about him. I did a search on IAB and I couldn't find any recent posts about Hahn, so I figured the story may be new to some IAB'ers. Plus, I just happened across this documentary and it's the best one I've seen on the topic.

There's a sad footnote to the story, I'm afraid. David Hahn died last year at the age of just 39, apparently due to alcohol poisoning.
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Male 860
squrlz4ever I consulted to a radiopharmaceutical firm over a few years in the late 90's and early 00's.  Thankfully, my work with the research folks specifically excluded working with apha particle generating materials.  We stayed with the beta and gamma emitters only.  This guy's story was often discussed with a mixture of admiration and horror (depending if you were talking with the researchers/ lab workers, the QA/QC folks, or the safety folks).

Nuclear physics is best left to those who really know what they're dong.  A little bit of knowledge is downright deadly.
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Male 4,950
punko Enjoyed reading your thoughts here, Punko. "A mixture of admiration and horror"--LOL--exactly. One of the things I find really interesting about this documentary is the obvious attraction Hahn still was feeling toward all things radioactive. Frankly, it seems like an addiction. I read elsewhere that after his teenage experiments (and possibly after this documentary was made), Hahn was arrested for stealing all the smoke detectors in the apartment building he was living in.

He was one unusual guy, that's for sure.
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Male 6,158
squrlz4ever I found three good websites for you
Best watched before bed time with the lights out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7U2aVUAqPI


Bonus squrlz4ever's reaction to this trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KamNINo0iZI

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/demon-core-the-strange-death-of-louis-slotin

He gave his life for the advancement of Nuclear Science
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Male 4,950
thezigrat Thanks, Zig. I'll check them out!
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Male 6,158
squrlz4ever DYI craft for reusing old fire alarms
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Male 6,158
squrlz4ever BTY i sent you a few pics
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Male 3,492
squrlz4ever How he didn't die from some radiation effects is almost stunning.
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Male 4,950
daegog I agree. In fact, I'm wondering if an autopsy was performed because I have a hard time believing he didn't jack up his body in the course of his experiments.
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Male 3,492
Equal parts impressive and terrifying.

A lot of interest and a little elbow grease and you too can radiate your neighborhood!
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463
I presume it's a spelling mistsake when it says "breeder reactor" xD
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Male 5
layla_wilson It's not. 
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Male 4,950
layla_wilson LOL... well, no, actually. A breeder reactor gets its name from the fact that it breeds, or creates, more fissile material than it consumes. So it really is a breeder.  :)
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463
squrlz4ever wow, once again I have to remind myself not to make presumptions. 

Definitely the most interesting thing I've learnt today, thanks :)
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Male 6,158
layla_wilson Next lesson is Kegalblitz Drives and K-Black Holes
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463
thezigrat just googled them. Definitely too late for me to study blackhole powered interstellar propulsion drives, but "k-black holes" I'll need you to elaborate on that one, can't find anything on it and the only thing coming to mind is "k-holes" and I'm certain that's not what you are referring to lol
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Male 6,158
layla_wilson Kagelblitz "Black" Holes (Not Corn Holes)
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