Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Radioactive Boy Scout

David Hahn is back in the news again. Who? You know the American teenager who almost built a working nuclear breeder reactor by himself, that’s who.

What big science work were you doing in your teen years that was so important? Most teenage science projects are no more ambitious than building the gravity-assisted beer imbiber or mentally de-scrambling Cinemax After Dark programming.

Not Hahn—he was a mild-mannered Boy Scout who earned a merit badge in atomic energy -- but went beyond what was necessary. His obsession and curiosity took him well beyond necessity, rationality and safety. To the public, he’s a certified genius and a certified nut – guess you could say the same thing about the Curies who also sacrificed their health to advance human knowledge.

Unlike his predecessors, however, David did not have vast financial support from the state, no laboratory save for a musty potting shed, no proper instruments or safety devices, and, by far his chief impediment, no legal means of obtaining radioactive materials. To get around this last obstacle, David utilized a number of cover stories and concocted identities, plus a Geiger-counter kit he mounted to the dashboard of his burgundy Pontiac 6000.

Read the whole story here.

How did his obsessive quest end? His backyard got named a Superfund site. He’s not allowed near nuclear reactors of any type, and experts suggest he may have already exceeded the lifetime dosage for thorium exposure.

Has he given up? Now 12 years later, he’s stealing smoke detectors (again), and look at his face. That's a telling face. A clean-cut Midwestern kid forever bears the mark of his literally burning ambition.

The mugshot's almost poetry.


More typo-laden science articles? here

34 comments:

la dolce said...

oh.my.god.

yeastbeast said...

Looks more like meth than meitnerium to me...

Tony's Class Notes said...

why the hell didnt he stop!!

http://tonycai.com

Anonymous said...

The AEC should hire him, or the FBI should shoot him. Either way would be more humane. $50 says he is mildly autistic and fixated on radioacive materials. I have a child who is autistic and fixated. Thank god it is not on something dangerous. He wants to make robots to save soldiers lives. We are learning about BEAM bots right now.

Danny said...

He's hot

OneYearGoal.com - Make Money Online said...

Wow, that's pretty sick.

One Man. One Year. $100,000 online. So I can pay my electric bill instead of stealing thorium.
http://www.oneyeargoal.com

Robert said...

The boy simply wasn't ambitious enough. Had he focused instead on trying to create a sustainable fusion reaction we would be farther ahead in the energy game and he would glow less.

Russell Murer said...

so the interesting thing is i live probably 4 or 5 miles from where this kid lived/ happened lol i came across this once when i wiki'd something and it poped up saying that some kid built a nuclear device lol.

Lokamaf said...

he just wants attention and so he mutilated himself

Anonymous said...

To the guy with the autistic kid learning about robots... you're the greatest Dad..

I was always interested in computer and electronics but no one ever cared about my interest except to tell me my interests are unhealthy or a waste of time. Not helpful, you're the man! :)

And I reckon you're right, i read the whole article and the whole thing screams autism.

7pills meds said...

looks like a meth addict

MO'B said...

That's a picture of a methamphetameine addict. The tell-tale sores from "meth bugs" and the advanced tooth decay are dead give-aways. That's not radiation...

Alberto (my real name) said...

He's an X-men

HystErica said...

So he likes to build reactors when he's tweaking...

Anonymous said...

I admire his tenacity. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice health for science.

Anonymous said...

Super villain in training....

Anonymous said...

No shit, that picture's straight off thesmokinggun.com.

retards.

ppc marketing said...

Clearly this guy is a talent. It's too bad he hasn't found a scientific benefactor to be a sort of guardian for him. I wish he could experiment in some monitored research lab, he seems like the kind of person that could really make some breakthroughs if he had supervision. This really reminds me of Billy Cottrell, who is now in prison as an eco-terrorist (http://www.laweekly.com/general/features/a-terrible-thing-to-waste/15782/?page=1)
it's such a waste for these scientific minds to be swabbing decks or in solitary confinement. Maybe we can set up a mad scientist school in the desert somewhere for just these types of people.

Paul said...

On one hand, I really admire his determination and thirst for knowledge. Most people don’t give a puff about science learning, and the rest of us who do are content to sit around reading instead of getting dirty experimenting ourselves.

But on the other hand, I don’t want to go sterile because the guy next door miscalculated the lead shielding he’d need. If his obsessive interest were computers instead of fission, he’d be in your IT Department and no one would bat an eyelash at his eccentric behavior. But as it stands, his strangeness is dangerous.

To Anonymous Dad: good speculation about the autism! I suspect most science types carry on normally with a mild degree of it, but can to channel their repetitive predilections in a socially acceptable way. They even get rewarded for it. David Hahn was not.

Related: Autistic kids love Thomas the Tank Engine:

http://www.myfavoritetoys.com/autism_thomas.php

ard said...

Being that he blew himself up with Red Phosphorous when he was 15, my guess is that he's well versed in the making of Meth.

Jace said...

I'm kind of confused as to why his face looks like this - can anyone identify the specific ailment/injury here and post some more information?

The reason I'm confused is because, after reading the original Harpers article, it doesn't sound like he did much visible damage to himself. He blew himself up a few times as a kid, went to the hospital, got fixed up, etc. but I never read any mention of lasting adverse effects from any of his crazy experiments. It seems like if he turned himself into a mutant, like how he looks in that picture, it would have been mentioned somewhere in that article (which is a very good read). So maybe this picture is unrelated?

Paul said...

Jace,

Nobody knows. The arresting officers just *suspected* it was related to radiation due to his past. However one of the first symptoms of acute radiation poisoning is open sores, and if that’s the case he’s likely to have much worse such as bloody discharge and partially dead limbs. That’s just right now; cancer would be down the road.

[warning: somewhat graphic image follows in link]

http://www.freeinfosociety.com/site.php?postnum=337

Anonymous said...

The Radioactive boyscout is an awesome book! Check it out!

Christian said...

A geniuos would have wore protective equipment.

Jim said...

" a genius would have worn protective equipment"

uh .. like the Curies maybe..

Jim said...

" a genius would have worn protective equipment"

Steve Iriwn ...? or Ben Franklin..(check out that kite story) heck i think even Einsein poked himself in the eye with a pencil and got a paper cut from time to time.

Baker said...

Comparing him to Steve Irwin or Ben Franklin doesn't quite work. What they were doing was dangerous, they had a chance to get hurt. This guy was guarenteed to get radiation poisoning.

Radium226 said...

I had heard that some super energetic chemical compounds (in 55 gallon drums) was stolen from a base in Norfolk, Va. I had heard that someone was going to pump this into a grave yard, somewhere in Detroit, MIchigan, tonight. There is also supposed to be a freighter arriving in Tokyo sometime next week. The ship is supposed to have something or some creature abord that resembles Godzilla. I guess that disturbed employees at GM or ford were working with some scientists on a super growth hormones for reptiles. I guess that this project was started months or years ago. Good luck, if you are planning on flying to Tokyo, you might just run into GODZILLA!!!!!!! The only information that I have heard about this, is that the creature comsumes 3-8 (LIVE) cattle per day. Imagine how big it is!!!

Radium226 said...

SECRET MILITARY PROJECT: This is related to the Michigan graveyard experiment. There is supposed to be a secret time portal that leads to a replica of a 1960"s mall. This is how it really goes. There is supposed to be a secret enterence that leads to the mall. However, the mall is surrounded by graveyards. You can go shopping there but as soon as you enter, the dead start comming out of the ground and surround the mall. I guess the shopping is easy but getting back through the portal to your place and time and not getting eaten alive is a little rough. Anyone up for a walk through the grave yard tonight? If you head scratching, screaming (or if the ground starts moving), I suggest that you run.

Radium226 said...

Dear Mr. President the auto industry of Michigan needs a boost. I am sure that the investiment will revive the Auto industry. Targeting the correct source of boost is important. One day the vehicles produced in michigan may even be made by the lakes or shore side. There are many people in Michigan that have great ideas. I envision that Michigan will (soon) become a leder of harnessing the elements to produce energy. Not just in-effective or small amounts of energy but more powerful derivatives, of the elements. Hopefully , the elements (wind,water,rain ,snow,sunlight) can be converted into synergistic or enter0twined together to produce a multi-functional form of energy. The key words is synergism and multi-functional-ness. Strings attached may not be as important as forming the correct group[s for leading or paving the way to the correct path. A path that will be bright and pleasing. As we move foward, bring with you what is considerewd "the best of the best". What makes you happy will not be diminished. These words I speak are true. Some may think that I am crazy or not understand.

prentz said...

Saves money on flashlight batteries- the dude glows in the dark. And how did he figure out how to turn meth into atomic energy? The 'bomb' he's creating is about to go off inside him! (Anyone know how many smoke alarms it takes to make a bomb? No one can live that long! Genius? Hmm...)

prentz said...

His car sounds like the atomic energy version of the Ghost Busters Caddie! Da Da Da DADA, Quark Busters! (Who you gonna call? I ain't afraid of no uranium!)
Sad this guy is obsessed with killing himself.

Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting for me to read this post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

Anonymous said...

you know, he's probably just a guy who is overly intrested in science. some of you should get your facts right. like another person posted, read "the Radioactive Boy Scout". It's all about him.