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Home » 2014 » October » 23 » Construction Project: Atomic Bomb
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Construction Project: Atomic Bomb

Construction Project: Atomic Bomb


Worldwide controversy has been generated recently by several United States government websites removing, or restricting access to, material regarding technical aspects of nuclear weapons; specifically, how to make an atomic bomb. The reason usually given by the Administration is that National Security would be compromised if such information were generally available. But, since it is commonly known that all of the information is publicly available in most major metropolitan libraries, obviously the Administration's officially stated position is covering up a more important factor; namely, that such atomic devices would prove too difficult for the average citizen to construct. The United States government cannot afford to insult the vast majorities by insinuating that they do not have the intelligence of a cabbage, and thus the "official" press releases claim National Security as a blanket restriction.

The rumors that have unfortunately occurred as a result of widespread misinformation can (and must) be cleared up now, for the construction project this month is the construction of a nuclear device, which will hopefully clear up any misconceptions you might have about such a project. We will see how easy it is to make a device of your very own in ten easy steps, to have and hold as you see fit, without annoying interference from the government or the courts.

The project will cost between $5,000 and $30,000 dollars, depending on how fancy you want the final product to be. Since last week's column, "Let's Make a Time Machine", was received so well in the new step-by-step format, this month's column will follow the same format.


1. First, obtain about 25 pounds (~10 kg) of Plutonium239 at your local supplier (see NOTES 1 & 2). A nuclear power plant is not recommended, as you'll have to extract and separate it from spent fuel rods, and it's a messy job. Besides, large quantities of missing Plutonium tends to make plant engineers unhappy. We suggest that you contact one of the former Soviet Republics, or perhaps the Junior Achievement in your neighborhood. 
Fig. 1The sheet metal and the completed enclosure. A small rolling toolbox was chosen for the design, because of the ease of transport. Note the various stickers, which add believability to the disguise. 

2. Fashion together a metal enclosure to house the device (Fig. 1)Most common varieties of sheet metal can be bent to disguise this enclosure as, for example; a briefcase, a lunch pail, or a Buick. Do not use tinfoil or gum wrappers.

3. Arrange the Plutonium into two hemispheral shapes (Fig. 2), separated by about 4 cm. Use rubber cement to hold the Plutoniumdust together.

Fig. 2 A Plutonium sphere for illustration purposes. Yours will look slightly different.

4. Now get about 100 pounds (44 kg) of trinitrotoluene (TNT). Gelignite is much better, but messier to work with. Your helpful hardware man or local Bomb Depot store will be happy to provide you with this item.

5. Pack the explosives around the hemisphere arrangement constructed in step 4. If you cannot find Gelignite, feel free to use TNT packed in with Playdoh or any modeling clay. Colored clay is acceptable, but there is no need to get fancy at this point.

6. Wrap this entire structure very tightly with duct tape (Fig. 3). Use a whole roll. This shall be the neutron reflector and inertial containment.

7. Insert the assembly from step 6 into the enclosure made in step 2. Use a strong glue such as "Crazy Glue" to bind the hemisphere arrangement against the enclosure to prevent accidental detonation which might result from vibration or mishandling. 

8. To fabricate a detonator for the device, obtain a radio controlled (RC) servo mechanism, as found in RC model airplanes and cars. With a modicum of effort, a remote plunger can be made that will strike a detonator cap to effect a small explosion. These detonation caps can be found in the electrical supply section of your local supermarket. We recommend the "Blast-O-Mactic" brand because they are no deposit-no return.

9. Now hide the completed device from the neighbors and children. The garage is not recommended because of high humidity and the extreme range of temperatures experienced there. Nuclear materials corrode easily, and devices have been known to spontaneously detonate in these unstable conditions. The hall closet or under the sofa will be perfectly suitable.

10. Now you are the proud owner of a working nuclear device! It is a great ice-breaker at parties; is nice to cozy around on a cold night; and in a pinch, can be used for National Defense.



Oversimplified, the device basically works when the detonated TNT compresses the Plutonium into a critical mass (smaller sphere). The critical mass then produces a nuclear chain reaction similar to the domino chain reaction (discussed in this column, "Dominos on the March", February). The chain reaction happens really, really fast, which promptly produces a big explosion. And there you have it, a 10 kiloton party favor!


1. Plutonium (PU), atomic number 94, is a radioactive metallic element formed by the decay of Neptunium and is similar in chemical structure to Uranium, Saturnium, Jupiternium, and Marsium. Not to be confused with Unobtanium or Balonium.

2. Please remember that Plutonium, especially pure, refined Plutonium, is somewhat dangerous. The shavings and dust have a nasty habit of igniting spontaneously, and are practically impossible to extinguish with materials found around the house.


Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling the material, and don't allow your children or pets to play in it or eat it. Any leftover Plutonium dust is excellent as an insect repellant. You may wish to keep the substance in a lead box if you can find one in your local junk yard, but an old coffee can will do nicely. 

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