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David Hahn
Born (1976-10-30)October 30, 1976
Died September 27, 2016(2016-09-27) (aged 39)
Other names Nuclear Boy Scout
Radioactive Boy Scout
Known for Building a neutron source in his mother's backyard

David Charles Hahn (October 30, 1976 – September 27, 2016) was an American who attempted to build a homemade neutron source at the age of 17. He is sometimes called the "Radioactive Boy Scout" or the "Nuclear Boy Scout".

He was a scout in the Boy Scouts of America. Hahn did his experiments without anyone knowing. He did them in a backyard shed at his mother's house in Commerce Township, Michigan. While he never actually was able to build a reactor (what he built was a neutron source), Hahn got the attention of local police when he was stopped for a different reason. The police found things in his vehicle that troubled them. He warned that it was radioactive. His mother's property was cleaned up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ten months later as a Superfund cleanup site. Hahn attained Eagle Scout rank shortly after his lab was dismantled.


Hahn was born in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Creation of the neutron source

Hahn was a Boy Scout. He was interested in chemistry. He spent years doing amateur chemistry experiments. Those experiments sometimes made small explosions. He was inspired by reading The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, and he tried to get samples of every element in the periodic table. This included the radioactive ones. He later received a merit badge in Atomic Energy. He became interested with the idea of building a breeder reactor in his home. Hahn got a lot of radioactive material by collecting small amounts from household products. It included things such as americium from smoke detectors, thorium from camping lantern mantles, radium from clocks, and tritium from gunsights. His "reactor" was a bored-out block of lead, and he used lithium from $1,000 worth of bought batteries to purify the thorium ash using a Bunsen burner.

FBI Investigation

On April 23, 2007, the FBI heard that Hahn may have a second breeder reactor in his freezer. The FBI contacted him via telephone. Hahn said that he did not have any radioactive material. The FBI decided he was not a terrorist threat.


Hahn died on September 27, 2016. He was 39 years old. Hahn died in his hometown of Shelby Charter Township, Michigan.

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