Sweden: Don’t split atoms in your kitchen

08/04/2011

One can just hear the old line by George Costanza of Seinfeld fame being repeated after a Swedish man was arrested by police after he tried to split atoms in his kitchen recently.

“Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to plead ignorance on this thing, because if I had known that sort of thing was frowned upon…”

Richard Handl 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 told The Associated Press 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.”

The police raid took place in late July. If convicted, Handl could face fines or up to two years in prison.

Although he says the police didn’t detect dangerous levels of radiation in his apartment, Handl now acknowledges the project wasn’t such a good idea.

“From now on, I will stick to the theory,” he said.

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