A Swedish man who was arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen said Wednesday he was only doing it as a hobby. He also blogged about his experiments the whole time.
Richard Handl told The Associated Press that he had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorized possession of nuclear material.
The 31-year-old Handl said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove. Only later did he realize it might not be legal and sent a question to Sweden’s Radiation Authority, which answered by sending the police.
“I have always been interested in physics and chemistry,” Handl said, adding he just wanted to “see if it’s possible to split atoms at home.” While it may be possible, it certainly is not legal under Sweden’s law, and Handl may be looking at two years in prison.
The police raid took place in late July, but police have refused to comment. If convicted, Handl could face fines or up to two years in prison.
Although he says police didn’t detect dangerous levels of radiation in his apartment, he now acknowledges the project wasn’t such a good idea. “From now on, I will stick to the theory,” he said.
Handl’s blog — still available at richardsreactor.blogspot.com — describes his efforts in detail: obtaining hard-to get materials, trying to create nuclear fission and even having a small “meltdown” in his kitchen after trying to “cook Americium, Radium and Beryllium in 96% sulphuric-acid”.
Handl describes details of his arrest calmly and objectively. “I was ordered by the police to get out of the building with my hands up, then three men came, with geiger-counters and searched me. Then I was placed in a police-car, when Radiation Safety Authory went into my apartment with very advanced measure-tools. So, my project is canceled,” he wrote in the blog. [via The Telegraph (UK) and Fox News]