That was a kid like many young boys, I was in the Boy Scouts being in the Boy. Scouts is great. They teach you all about self-reliance and life skills, leadership skills that kind of thing it’s, a great program for any young person, any male young person, any straight male young person.
I didn’t enjoy the Boy Scouts, but I did. I feel like kind of miss out on some things, because the guy who ran our troop is the Scout leader. His name was mr. Dunnigan and he was a great guy. He was like having mr.
Rogers as a scout leader, but he was old. He was like 87,000 years old. He actually had tubes up his nose connected to an oxygen tank and because this was the 80s and safety hadn’t been invented, yet he smoked while wearing it indoors around children.
Every meeting had like a 50 % chance of watching him turn into a human blow torch. All of that is to say that, because he was so old, we actually didn’t get to do a lot of camping. Only when I’m, like a couple of camping trips, the whole time that I was in the scouts, but one of the trips that we went on, we had to actually like collect local water like from a well or something like that, and at One point I went to go, take a sip of it and I was struck by how it smelled and tasted it’s terrible so I said something about it, and one of the older Scouts gave me this horrified look and it was like.
Did you drink that water, yeah dude that’s, sulfur water? You can’t drink that Wow. He called over one of the other guys seriously: Chad, Joe drank sulfur water – oh my god, dude. How much did you drink? Oh dude, you’ve, got to throw up dude go ask mr.
Dunnigan. You are going to die if you don’t, throw up right now, so our random mr. Dunnigan tears streaming down my face. I told him. I drank that water and I asked him if he was gon na die and mr. Dunnigan said.
Maybe in a hundred years only guys started laughing. I ran away crying, I mean it was very funny. They got me pretty good. I got ta say it was really funny and no way scarred me for life. David Homme was born in 1976 in Commerce, Township Michigan.
He became a boy scout later on and then became a legend, a damn legend. I have gotten so many requests from this story and then once I looked into it, yeah it’s, an amazing story, so I definitely am excited to do a article about it, but I have to give a quick disclaimer.
This article is filled with really bad ideas and terrible life choices. Don’t, try any of this at home or anywhere. Ok, so growing up David was a bit of a mischievous kid, which is basically another way of saying he blew things up all the time, typical young boy, you might say, but David was specifically obsessed by chemistry.
He actually found an old book of his dad’s called the golden book of chemistry experiments and he set out to perform every single chemistry experiment in this book. But the thing about this book, though, was it was from the 50s, and things were just a little different back then so, instead of having you know a baking soda volcano, he had actual like beakers and Bunsen burners and explosive chemicals.
He was playing with explosive chemicals that blew up and destroyed his room so often that his parents, eventually just kind of like pushed him down in the basement by the way there’s. Gon na be a lot of moments.
In this story we were gon na be like where were his parents, so you can be ready for that, so he was always doing different kinds of experiments, just playing with chemistry and doing things and at one point he was actually had the goal of collecting every Single element on the periodic table and along the way he became really fascinated by radioactive material, and he followed the work of mary curie really closely.
He was just like obsessed with it and so yeah. He was on the Boy Scouts. He eventually went after his Eagle Scout certification and one of the merit badges that he chose to get was the atomic energy merit badge that’s, actually a thing before the merit badge.
He built a little model nuclear reactor, and now this wasn’t anywhere close to a real nuclear reactor. I used the bottles and pipes and stuff like that. It was the demonstration to show how nuclear reactor worked, but his obsession with radioactivity led him to get a little bit more ambitious and he started trying to assemble an actual nuclear reactor.
In order to do this, he had to get his hands on some new active materials and in the beginning, all he had to do was go down to the local Kmart. He got a Maris tinium from smoke, detectors, lithium from batteries and then thorium from old gas.
Lanterns and then he was able to get his hands on radium and the reason he was able to do so is because early in the 20th century, they actually used radium a radioactive material to do glow-in-the-dark lettering on clocks.
I should actually do a whole article on radium. There was this whole radium craze that happened around the turn of the century. They just put it in everything. They said. Oh it’s got energy that comes out of it.
It must be good for you, they put it in toothpaste, it’s. Amazing we’re still alive, but to give you an idea of how strong radium is the way he discovered it was that he actually drove around with a Geiger counter in his car.
Like you do I mean the guy was obsessed with radioactivity and he drove past an antique store and the Geiger counter went off from the street, because there was one clock in the antique store that had radium glow-in-the-dark numbers on it, that’s.
How strong his stuff is – and people just put this clock right next to their heads on their bed stands. How are we still a species? In fact, there were some women called radium girls that were the people that painted these numbers on the clocks and they would use the brush a little paintbrush and like used their lips to get a good point on it and get radium right on their lips and They had all kinds of cancers.
It was this whole thing really should do a article on it. Anyway. Dave was collecting radioactive material from all these different places and he even started making phone calls to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission posing as a college professor, and they were terrifyingly willing to help him find more radioactive material.
Finally, he had collected enough of this radioactive material that he felt like he could create a breeder reactor. A breeder reactor is a type of reactor that creates more fissile material than it starts with the basic idea.
Is you take some fissile material like plutonium and then you surround it by uranium and then the neutrons flying out of the plutonium kind of transforms the uranium into plutonium and generates heat in the process, except instead of a uranium shell? He used the thorium that he got from the gas lanterns and in the middle he put americium and radium and yeah.
The idea was that the radiation from the core would breed the thorium into uranium and possibly the uranium into plutonium. Plutonium don & # 39. T worry, it was heavily shielded by several layers of duct tape and it was kept in a shed.
A wooden shed yeah. His parents had kicked him out into a shed now. Can you imagine how many times he destroyed the basement before there was like just just dude, just go just go in the backyard, whatever just blow your face off, so he put this device together and a few days later he realized that his Geiger counter was going Off and showing high levels of radiation, in fact he was picking up radiation five houses down, so he was thrilled.
This thing was working, but he was also panicking a little bit because it was kind of spinning out of control, so he decided he needed to get rid of this device, so he loads device on some of his equipment into the back of his car in the Trunk of his car and he started driving.
He was gon na, bury it somewhere, but a cop stopped him because apparently somebody saw him loading up his car and thought that he was stealing tires. So the cop asked, if he could look in his trunk and David, gave him fair warning and said: well there’s radioactive stuff back there, so thinking that he might have constructed some kind of dirty bomb.
They called an FBI who came in and secured the device and arrested David at this point. Nobody, not his parents, not any of his friends, knew that he was doing this, that he was building a nuclear reactor in his shed by the way it took the EPA.
The better part of a year to finally get into the shed and determine exactly how bad it was, and it was really bad. It was so bad. They had to declare the backyard a Superfund site and they tore down the shed and shipped it off to bury it with a whole bunch of other nuclear waste in Utah and while the device never quite reached criticality, he does believe that he may have created some Plutonium in the process and the mom after all of this decided that she might get in trouble.
So she just threw some of the stuff in the shed away after David got arrested, which means that garbage collectors were just personally handling this and putting it on a truck and just driving it through town investigators believe that maybe four thousand people got elevated levels of Radiation from this now, a lot of this is just a fun story about a driven young kid who stopped at nothing to achieve a crazy goal, but there is kind of a tragic side to this.
This whole thing created a bit of a media circus. The parents got a lot of scrutiny out of it and sadly, a few years after this happened, David’s. Mom killed herself David later struggled with depression.
Over this he had trouble getting into schools. He eventually went into the Navy where he served for four years was honorably discharged and sadly he died in 2016 and he didn’t die from radiation poisoning, as many people would expect.
He actually died from a combination of alcohol and fentanyl. In the end, he became another statistic in the opioid crisis, which is really unfortunate. He was clearly a really bright guy and if he had directed that energy in the right direction, who knows what he could have done? But it’s, not all tragic.
Thanks to his story, many others have followed in his footsteps with a bit more safety in mind, Taylor, Wilson, a 14 year old from Texarkana Texas, actually built a fusion reactor in 2008, making him the youngest person to ever do so.
What he made was called an inertial electrostatic confinement device called a fuse er, which gained him worldwide acclaim. The book was made about him and even got to visit with President Obama and there not to be outdone.
Earlier this year, Jackson Oswalt a 12 year old from Memphis Tennessee was able to do the same thing. Maybe in the future. This will just be something that kids do at kindergarten. They’ll, be like Lego, fusion sets or something.
So that was a fascinating, over-the-top and ultimately tragic story, and David Han once again, I have to stress: do not try this at home. Do you have a crazy thing that you did when you were a teenager, that’s? Anything like this other than drinking drinking doesn’t count.
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