Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Swede Builds Nuclear Reactor In Kitchen
Swedish man arrested for kitchen nuclear 'reactor'
August 3, 2011
A hobbyist in Sweden has become notorious after his arrest for trying to build a nuclear fusion reactor in his kitchen.
Richard Handl, 31, of Angelholm, in southern Sweden,was arrested July 20 for unauthorized possession of nuclear material after contacting the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority to ask whether it was legal to split atoms at home.
Police and government officials showed up at his apartment in Angelholm, measured for radiation and confiscated all of his materials. He had scavenged radium from old clock hands and americium from household smoke detectors, obtained thorium from a Coleman gas-lantern mantle and bought depleted U-238 from a U.S. supplier.
"When they came they had the police with them. I have had a Geiger counter and have not detected a problem with radiation," Handl told Helsingborgs Dagblad, according to The Local, an English-language news site.
The experiment began in mid-May, and Handl blogged about it. Here's how he introduced his stove-top nuclear stuffings: "My project is to build a working nuclear reactor. Not to gain electricity, just for fun and to see if it's possible to split atoms at home. I would be a breeder reactor, and my primary goals is to carry out two main reactions ..."
A week later he wrote about "The Meltdown" on his electric stove, when a heated mixture of americium, radium and beryllium in sulphuric acid exploded as he tried to blend them. See the results, which he called "not so dangerous."
Handl says police released him after questioning but that he is "still a suspect for crimes against the radiation safety law," and could be fined or jailed for two years.
The citizens of Angelholm were largely unperturbed by their neighbor's experiment, a spokesman for the local city council said, reflecting an attitude of "A man's home is his castle.