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Boy scout stuns neighborhood after building a nuclear reactor in his mom’s shed

Gerrard Kaonga

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Boy scout stuns neighborhood after building a nuclear reactor in his mom’s shed

Featured Image Credit: Macomb County Jail/YouTube/Weird History

Boy scouts are expected to learn how to be self-sufficient and forward thinking when it comes to life’s challenge.

I didn’t know that also included the ability to create nuclear reactors, however.

It seems boy scouts have come a long way if they are leaning into nuclear physics rather than just how to tie knots and navigate.

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In fact, who needs to learn how to start a fire when you can just generate energy with a nuclear reactor.

Although that warm feeling you get afterwards is probably something worth being concerned about.

One troop member, David Charles Hahn, seemed to take the prospect of earning an ‘atomic energy’ badge a little too literally, however.

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The incident happened in August 1994 when David was 15 at his parents' home.

David Charles Hahn. Credit: Macomb County Jail
David Charles Hahn. Credit: Macomb County Jail

It was here in his mother’s shed at their home in Michigan that he got to work creating a homemade breeder reactor.

While attempting to build the reactor, David’s actions didn’t go unnoticed from his neighbors who called the police on him after spotting him loading material into the back of his Pontiac car.

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Rather than building a science experiment, his neighbors believed he was trying to steal tires instead.

Authorities were in for a surprise, however, when they discovered there was no theft going on, but rather they were dealing with radioactive materials.

After scoping out the shed, radiologists found that every item in it had been contaminated with 'excessive levels' of radioactive material - a single can ended up registering 50,000 counts per minute, a 1998 Harper's Magazine article about David wrote.

Holy sh*t.

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David was arrested while the police had to quickly decide how to deal with the radioactive materials he'd been transporting.

The waste from his mother’s shed was later dumped and the would-be nuclear reactor disposed of at a waste site in the desert.

But that wasn't the end of it.

Hahn built the reactor in his mother's shed. Credit: YouTube/Weird History
Hahn built the reactor in his mother's shed. Credit: YouTube/Weird History
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According to the Harper's Magazine article, a 'Superfund clean-up' took place, which the publication said cost around $60,000.

So, what happened to David afterwards?

Well, charges against him were dropped - but only on the condition that he didn't return to his mum's house until the shed was cleared.

Despite what had happened, his father said he was 'proud' that his son had managed to achieve something of that level, adding: "I don't think I could have done it."

David's experiment were later recorded in the book 'The Radioactive Boy Scout', but in 2007, he ended up pleading guilty to in a theft case for stealing smoke alarms.

In 2016, he passed away due to an apparent overdose after a reported struggle with his mental health, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

If you want friendly, confidential advice about drugs, you can call American Addiction Centers on (313) 209-9137 24/7, or contact them through their website.

If you've been affected by addiction and want to speak to someone in confidence, you can call American Addiction Centers on (888) 324-0595, available 24/7, or contact them through their website.

Topics: News, Science, US News

Gerrard Kaonga
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