01 Feb My neighbor invited me over for beers and showed me the nuclear bomb he built in his basement
How do you like the taste of that? It’s a traditional English brown ale.
Watch your step. It’s a little hairy getting down here for the uninitiated.
Let me turn a light on so we can see. There, that’s much better.
Roomy, ain’t she? Used to be an old storage room filled with all kinds of junk.
I renovated the whole shebang over the course of a few months. Lots of sweat and toil. After all that effort I am damn proud of this machine shop.
And you’ll never guess what I’ve built in here!
Model trains? Nah, that’s just what I tell my wife. I know she told you that’s what I fiddle with down here, but that was a lie.
And what’s a little white lie between spouses, am I right?
Anyhow, follow me and I’ll show you the pièce de résistance. It’s just underneath this tarp, let me pull it back.
Taadaa! What is it, you ask? Really? You don’t know? I figured it would be obvious.
Okay, I’ll give you a clue. Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
You’re right, those are Japanese cities. What are they famous for?
No, it’s not an engine for a Toyota. . .
That’s right! It’s a nuclear weapon!
Is it real? Of course it is! I’m not into replicas. Why do you think I steer clear of model trains!
No sir, this is a fully functioning hydrogen bomb. I’ve named her Glenda.
I estimate that when she detonates she’ll unleash a three megaton explosion.
Do you know what a megaton is? No, not many people do. Think of it this way: one megaton is equal to one million tons of TNT.
In other words, this contraption in front of you has the explosive capacity of three million tons of TNT!
Hard to believe, ain’t it?
I see you’re looking a little concerned. All I can say is, whatever you do, do not touch that button right in front of you or you’ll kill us all!
Haha you should see the look on your face! Do you honestly think I would put a suicide switch on the side of the thing?
Nah, she can only be activated by a radio signal. When I do finally unleash her fury, I’ll be a safe distance away.
That’s the plan. You notice the Winnebago when you came in? See the giant radio antenna?
I’m hoping to use the RV to transport Glenda across the country. I want to take her for a nice ride before she explodes, find some shithole town I don’t like and BOOM!
Who needs an expensive ballistic missile when all you need is a mostly functional recreational vehicle?
Your beer doing alright? Done? Let me get you another.
Hey, no problem brother. This one is a stout. My fridge is always overflowing with the good stuff.
Anyhow, she was surprisingly easy to build.
Think about it: they constructed the first one way back in 1945 before modern computers and the internet.
So I wondered, how hard could it really be?
I found some schematics online. I didn’t have to dig into the ‘dark web’ or anything like that since a Google search worked just fine.
Most of the parts I could order online or fabricate myself down here in the shop.
The real obstacle came from finding fissile material. You know, the explosive bit.
I had two options: plutonium or uranium. Both came with their own set of challenges.
Plutonium comes from nuclear reactors. The problem is that they keep this material super secure and under tight observation. Since I have zero security clearance, I’m wasn’t likely to gain access anytime soon.
Uranium, on the other hand, is much easier to get. It literally comes out of the ground.
Unfortunately, the natural stuff is all uranium-238. Useless for a bomb. I needed 235 and lots of it. .
To give it that special explosive potential, I would have to enrich it. Boy-howdy it takes a heck of a lot of work and time to make uranium-235!
While my workshop here may look spacious, I do not have the room for a cascade of hundreds of centrifuges spinning all day and night!
I’m sure my wife would have raised heck and asked me all sorts of questions about the constant humming noises, not to mention the power bill.
So I went on Facebook and messaged my brother-in-law. He used to work at an intercontinental ballistic missile silo near Pervomaysk in Ukraine back when it was still the USSR. I asked him if he had any connections with old colleagues who might want to make a few extra dollars.
He said he’d look into it. And you know what? He got back to me the next day. Turns out the new government converted the missile silo into a museum. He said he has an old buddy that’s not making a lot of money giving tours and that he might be interested in making an exchange.
So I interac e-transfer him about $5000 USD.
Sketchy? You bet. But I did it anyway and it worked out just fine.
The hard part was explaining to my wife the sudden withdrawal from our bank account.
I told her I was falling head first into the model train addiction and that I would try to do better with my future expenses.
Do you know what she did? She said, ‘if it makes you happy, keep doing what you’re doing.’ She’s such a sweetheart, ain’t she?
The plutonium arrived by DHL courier two weeks later. I plopped the material into the bomb, closed the hatch and presto a nuclear bomb!
Yes, I know, ‘plopped’ is not a technical term. I’m simplifying my vocabulary to improve your understanding of my process.
Here, let’s sit down. I have a couch setup for when I put in those all nighters. Right next to the mini fridge.
Why did I build Glenda?
That’s a good question. Ever since I was a kid watching Dr. Strangelove I’ve been transfixed by the Bomb.
I think a nuclear explosion has to be the most stunningly majestic creation made by man.
Fireworks just don’t come close. That’s like comparing the wind of a hurricane to the beating wings of a gnat.
But it’s not just their beauty that gets me, it’s their capacity for destruction.
If I put Glenda in the middle of a city, say Times Square in New York, she could kill millions!
Such immense, god-like power in such a small container feels utterly alien and is more intoxicating than the sweetest ambrosia.
Ever heard the term ‘megadeath’?
No, not the band.
Herman Kahn coined the word back in the fifties. Like megatons, it’s a unit of measurement. One megadeath equals one million dead.
Glenda here is concentrated potential megadeath. There’s nothing else quite like her in the world.
And the world will learn about her soon enough.
Why did I name her Glenda? Well, that’s my wife’s name. I couldn’t think of a more fitting way of honoring her.
Actually, I think I hear her now. You are going to love her strawberry rhubarb crisp. Everything is fresh from our garden.
Let’s not keep her waiting and head on upstairs.
What was that? When do I plan on detonating her?
Well, I was thinking of starting my road trip next week. I plan on driving towards the coast, visit all the biggest population centers.
Then, once I come across a town that gets on my nerves. . . KABOOM!
Think you might want to come along?