The Radioactive Boy Scout
Just got back from picking the boys up from Boy Scouts, and was thinking that I should sign up to be a merit badge counselor now that I don't have to go to sea anymore. One of the merit badges offered by Boy Scouts is for Nuclear Science, so I figure I could do that one, as well as Citizenship in the Nation (having been of officer of the United States, I figure that gives me enough experience.). This got me thinking about the classic story of the Radioactive Boy Scout, which I link to for the night crew to enjoy. Any true story about a teenage boy that contains the following passage is probably pretty entertaining:
With neutron gun in hand, David was ready to irradiate. He could have concentrated on transforming previously non-radioactive elements, but in a decision that was both indicative of his personality and instrumental to his later attempt to build a breeder reactor, he wanted to use the gun on radioisotopes to increase the chances of making them fissionable. He thought that uranium-235, which is used in atomic weapons, would provide the "biggest reaction." He scoured hundreds of miles of upper Michigan in his Pontiac looking for "hot rocks" with his Geiger counter, but all he could find was a quarter trunkload of pitchblende on the shores of Lake Huron. Deciding to pursue a more bureaucratic approach, he wrote to a Czechoslovakian firm that sells uranium to commercial and university buyers, whose name was provided, he told me, by the NRC. Claiming to be a professor buying materials for a nuclear-research laboratory, he obtained a few samples of a black ore--either pitchblende or uranium dioxide, both of which contain small amounts of uranium-235 and uranium-238.
Update 0451 24 Feb: Provided actual link to the story I was discussing... Also, to add some submarine interest, I'm including a link to another story that mentions the Carter crew. This one, from the base newpaper in Groton, is interesting because of it's apparent revelation that noted chicken expert Frank Perdue has started a university in Indiana:
"I met the Chief of the Boat and the PCO (prospective commanding officer) at Perdue University while I was recruiting for the recruiting district of Indianapolis," said Miller. "At Perdue they told me about the Jimmy Carter and the next thing I knew, I was talking to the detailers, getting screened and becoming a crew member."
One time's a typo; twice means that the JO3 who wrote the piece must be from Arkansas...