Building an H-Bomb for Dummies

Last month a Swedish man, Richard Handl, was arrested while trying to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen.  Here’s the fascinating BBC interview, in which Our Hero talks about his brush with surely the highest possible accolade in the Darwin Awards.  Even though Health and Safety jobsworths ruined the experiment, he just blows away his nearest competitor in The One Who Lived To Tell The Tale category, Lawnchair Larry.  Would it surprise you to know that Mr Handl is unemployed, with way too much time on his hands?  I can’t think of a better argument for full employment, so we can nip this sort of thing in the bud.

Handl is really quite proud of himself, judging by his blog, Richard’s Reactor.  Clearly this European has thrown down the gauntlet to America’s best and brightest, who must surely avenge the honour of Lawnchair Larry.  As a dual UK/US citizen, I feel obliged to give them a helping hand to go one better.  Here is a full-proof method for constructing an H-Bomb in the comfort of your own home, from an article published in 1979.  This is my original blog post from 2009.

Go for it, guys! Fuck, yeah!

How to Build an H-Bomb

Making and owning an H-bomb is the kind of challenge real Americans seek.  Who wants to be a passive victim of nuclear war when, with a little effort, you can be an active participant?  Bomb shelters are for losers.  Who wants to huddle together underground eating canned Spam?  Winners want to push the button themselves. Making your own H-bomb is a big step in nuclear assertiveness training — it’s called Taking Charge.  We’re sure you’ll enjoy the risks and the heady thrill of playing nuclear chicken.

Now then, just to be sure, and I apologize to those of you who spotted it right away, this is satire.  SA-TIRE.  But you can’t be too careful these days.  Barbara Ehrenreich was one of the co-authors.  Her blog tells how Binyam Mohamed was tortured in Pakistan, before getting banged up in Guantanamo, on the basis of having read this article.

Anyway, back in 1979, Seven Days magazine published How to Build an H-Bomb.  It became something of a cause celebre among those who care about freedom of expression, and later achieved cult status on the internet.  A sort of Great White Whale, much spoken of but rarely sighted.  When I came across it a while ago, I swore to publicize the article if ever I had a blog.

Obviously the political context has changed dramatically in terms of the actors, and the text shows its age, but has anything else really changed?  Take this quote:

Not that Seven Days supports nuclear terrorism.  We don’t.  We would prefer to die slowly from familiar poisons like low-level radiation, microwaves, DDT, DBCP, aflatoxins, PBBs, PBCs, or food dyes, rather than unexpectedly, say as hostage to a Latvian nationalist brandishing a homemade bomb.  In our view the real terrorists are the governments, American, Soviet, French, Chinese, and British, that are hoarding H-bombs for their own use, and worse still, those governments (U.S., French and German) that are eagerly peddling advanced nuclear technology to countries like South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina so that they can make their own bombs.

Some of the names have changed.  Not much else.

Again, here’s how you know it’s satire:

The heart of the successful H-Bomb is the successful A-Bomb.  Once you’ve got your A-Bombs made the rest is frosting on the cake.

If you find yourself dozing off while you’re working, or if you begin to glow in the dark, it might be wise to take a blood count.

To avoid ingesting plutonium orally follow this simple rule: never make an A-bomb on an empty stomach.

Here’s the article, How to Build an H-Bomb.