I have recently been accused by a number of acquaintainces of being a mad scientist! I end the last sentence with an exclamation (!) to emphasize the “madness.” And I quote the word madness to emphasize madness. Which means, if you accept the common stereotype, that madness is more appropriately described as manic. And if that is true, then it may also be true of me. For some reason, this reactor project has had that effect on me.
To that end I acquired a TIG welder, pictured above. Why? This is what you need to weld stainless steel, the most common reactor chamber material. I have components that need custom adapters welded to them, the main one being the diffusion pump. I decided to learn to do this myself rather than have a shop do this work. Because that is what a mad scientist would do!
I took a half day welding class last summer. Wow, it was fun! Melting metal with plasma, there are few better (legal) activities for a barely controlled pyromaniac.
My mom, who will read this (hi mom!) might remember when I was about 12 years old attempting to make a radiation shield/neutron moderator. I won’t go into exactly why I was making this, let’s just say I was setting up for radiation experiments… I collected a bunch of lead from fishing weights and car batteries and put it all in a cooking pan. I placed it on the kitchen stove burner and turned it on high. As soon as the lead started melting, I threw in a brick of paraffin. It rapidly melted and smoked furiously, and then caught on fire. Just then, mom came into the kitchen, no doubt drawn by the savory smell of marinading wax and lead. She saw the pan on fire, grabbed a glass of water and threw it on the flaming concoction. It exploded in a fireball of sputtering wax and lead all around the stove. She then grabbed the pan handle and threw it in the sink, extinguishing the fire.
Yow! To this day I have no idea what I told her I was doing, whether it made any sense to her or even if she remembers it. It was just one of the uncountable outlandish stunts I pulled as a kid.
Sorry mom, but as you can see, the madness continues today! 😉