Roommates can be cool, don’t get me wrong, but because they share the rent, they get to use the kitchen. If you want to make something time-consuming that may produce strong odors—chili, linguini with clam sauce, cedar-planked salmon, weapons-grade plutonium—it’s best to wait until they’re out of town.
So you've decided to make an atom bomb at home—should you ask permission before potentially contaminating somebody’s spider plant or cat with radioactive substances? First rule of the Atomic Bomb Club: It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
You’ll need to stock up for your project surreptitiously, like a mini-Manhattan Project. Thankfully, most of the materials needed to build the bomb that’s right for you are on sale at your local hardware superstore. Instructions? The miracle of the internet—another military spin-off with civilian uses—puts easy-to-follow directions for in-home nuclear explosions a mere mouse-click away.
Start with the Uranium 235 isotope—don’t skimp, get a twenty-five-pound bag. The recipe I found on the web varies slightly from the traditional version in the Fannie Farmer Boston Cookbook—hers calls for turmeric, which will give a rich, custard-like yellow color to your mushroom cloud. As a soon-to-be member of the community of nuclear nations, you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself at first, so stick to the recommendations of an anonymous source on the internet.
“Pipe uranium hexafluoride into the cylinder of a gas centrifuge, then spin at high speed.” You may not want to spring for a brand new centrifuge—a good one can run you $825—until you determine whether you like atom bomb-etry enough as a hobby to stick with it. Rummage around in the pantry to see if any of your roommates underused countertop appliances might do the trick.
Todd’s yogurt maker that has served as an impromptu spice rack since he moved in last September might work. Or the panini maker, or the rice cooker—nope, you’ll need more of a muscle appliance.
The Cuisinart Chloe got for graduation—just the thing! Pick through the detachable blades—slicer, shredder, puree until you find the centrifugal isotope separator.
Pour in the uranium, check the plastic lid to make sure it’s firmly secured, and let ‘er rip. You can’t buy this stuff from Iran because of school-marmish “trading with the enemy” laws, and enriched uranium that comes out of North Korea is about what you’d expect from a dictatorship run by a cult leader who wears platform heels.
What would take literally hours to produce by hand is the work of a minute. Use a plastic spatula to separate the heavier U-238 isotopes on the outside from the lighter, fluffier U-235 isotopes in the center. You can put these aside and use them for cake frosting; Mother-in-Law’s day is the fourth Sunday in October.
Now for the explosives to start the chain reaction. You’ll need a hundred pounds of TNT to “git ‘er done,” as your redneck high school friends like to say. If you’re not comfortable mixing volatile materials, contact your local high school chemistry teacher who may be looking for freelance work due to budget cuts.
No nuclear explosion is complete without a detonator and I recommend the ultra-safe, radio-controlled servo mechanism that…
[Editor's Note: a charred, partial copy of this article was found on Upper Volta Glacier, Westland, New Zealand. Reprinted with permission of the park ranger who generously said, “you can do whatever you want with that.”]