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April Fools "Nuclear Reactor" - Remotely Possible?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by obinice, Oct 31, 2012.

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  1. obinice


    Oct 31, 2012
    Good evening Electronics Point folks!

    Today I stumbled across this April Fools article (link) entitled "Building Nuclear Reactor At Home - From Scratch", and I was intrigued. Now, I only have my school electronics and general common sense knowledge under my belt, the most electronic work I've done in the past few years is replacing components in my transceiver and all the cable/soldering/antenna work involved in setting up a rig. So, my very limited knowledge doesn't cover this stuff, which is why I'm asking for your thoughts :)

    To summarise the article, the author suggested using easilly obtainable Tritium-lit phosphor as the light source, and a solar cell to convert that light into useable electricity to power an LED.

    Now, the basic idea behind it seems sound. If it did work as stated, you could indeed call it a "nuclear reactor", which is the cool part :p

    Being an April Fools article however, I suspect that the truth of the matter is that the light emitted, and eventual conversion to electricity (if any at all), would be far too little to even power a single, tiny LED. And that is my question! Is it even possible to put something together that will run a tiny LED?
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great idea. I can't see anything possibly going wrong with this...

    I just hope you're not dark skinned or have an accent. :D

    The amount of power you'll get from this would be so small that it might be loaded so much by a voltmeter that you don't read anything.

    I joked to some people using telescopes last week that they should replace their batteries with solar panels. Starlight and moonlight is probably brighter than these tritium lit devices and solar panels are well known not to work at night.
  3. obinice


    Oct 31, 2012
    Haha, what a shame. Also, I don't get the "dark skinned or have an accent" bit, what am I missing? Maybe it's because it's almost 3am here....
  4. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    Just imagine word gets out to the authorities that you're building a nuclear reactor in your basement...

    "Hello this is Mrs Jones, my neighbour next door who is (insert foreign nationality) has told me he is building some sort of nuclear reactor. I just thought I should tell someone..."

    Over here we had a comedy show have the same person dress in 2 styles, going out to take photos of a landmark structure. When dressed as a local, he was left alone. When dressed as a "suspicious foreigner" he was moved along quickly.

    Mind you, these are the same group of people that got closer than they should have to the US President by pretending to be a Canadian official party.

    It's not a good joke on my part. Sorry that you didn't get it.
  5. CocaCola


    Apr 7, 2012
    April fools joke or not there are online forums dedicated to doing just this... There are several people out there that have built mini nuclear reactors, and it's legal since the output is so low... I repeat the power output is VERY VERY low but just the same it's a controlled nuclear reaction...

    BTW it's funny how people think that nuclear material is hard to get, I can legally purchase lower grade Uranium without a problem, no license or anything... It's the high grade or enrichment to fuel grade and weapon grade that is complicated and requires all the paperwork and licensing...

    Heck you can purchase some super weak Uranium on But, there are other vendors that will sell significantly more reactive ore...
  6. Raven Luni

    Raven Luni

    Oct 15, 2011
    Screw that - just go to Aberdeen and fill your pockets with the local granite :p
  7. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    When a radioactive element decays, it produces heat and radiation. This is used in spacecraft. There is no reaction, it is an open ended system. Raven's rocks warm up very slightly.

    In a reactor, the radiation is used to split other atoms, the output is then much greater but it needs to be closely controlled or BOOM.
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