How tough is it to build a dirty bomb?

[YouTube Link]

On PBS NewsHour, Miles O'Brien reports on the threat that radioactive "dirty bombs" could pose to cities in the U.S., and what's being done to prevent a radiological attack from happening.


Boing Boing readers may find this segment of particular interest because it features two unique characters familiar to our community of happy mutants. First, David Hahn. Miles explains:

Hahn is the man who earned the sobriquet "The Radioactive Boy Scout" in 1995 when he came very close to building a breeder nuclear reactor in his backyard in suburban Detroit. I am serious as a meltdown.

There's a book about Hahn here, and a Harper's article here.

The NewsHour piece also includes Bob Lazar, the guy behind United Nuclear. BB pal Steve Silberman's epic profile of Lazar and his DIY science business is here, and I can't even count how many times we've blogged about Lazar's aerogel chunks and Neodymium "supermagnets."

Watch "How Tough Is it to Build a Dirty Bomb?" video on YouTube, read the transcript here, or download an MP3 of the audio here. Miles is on Twitter here, and so is PBS NewsHour.

A two-way chat between Miles and PBS NewsHour's web host, Hari Sreenivasan is embedded below—more backstory on how DIY science, anti-terror, and dirty bombs intersect, and how to separate the FUD from fact. And a related blog post from the reporter is here.

[YouTube Link: "If a Boy Scout Can Get Nuclear Materials, What's Stopping Terrorists?"]

[ Image, via Wikipedia: "The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945 rose some 18 kilometers (11 miles) above the bomb's hypocenter." The so-called dirty bombs discussed in this story are incapable of this sort of destructive force; rather, their threat lies more in the disruptive, contaminating, and terrifying effect possible in concentrated urban areas. ]