Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab

Radar Magazine reports: [edited]

In 1951, A.C. Gilbert introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a radioactive learning set. Gilbert, who American Memorabilia claims was "often compared to Walt Disney for his creative genius," had a dream that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of children everywhere.

For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three "very low-level" radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson cloud chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a spinthariscope (to see "live" radioactive disintegration), four samples of uranium-bearing ores, and an electroscope to measure radioactivity.

The toy was only sold for one year. It's unclear what effects the uranium-bearing ores might have had on those few lucky children who received the set, but exposure to the same isotope - U-238 - has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma, among other serious ailments.

To view a larger version of the picture click here.

1 comment:

ConradGempf said...

There are wonderfully geeky comments and corrections in the comments on the site of the original article (RadarMagazine), along with links for places to buy the main contents of the set as separate items, including low-level uranium-bearing rocks for $15.