Growing up in suburban Detroit, David Hahn was fascinated by science, and his basement experiments were far more ambitious than those of other boys. While working on his Atomic Energy merit badge for the Boy Scouts, David's obsessive attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a model nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard garden shed. Ken Silverstein re-creates in brilliant detail the months of David's improbable nuclear quest. His unsanctioned and wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental catastrophe that put his town's forty thousand residents at risk and caused the EPA to shut down his lab and bury it at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah.… (more)
David Hahn's earliest memory seems appropriate in light of later events; it is of conducting an experiment in the bathroom when he was perhaps four years old.
Does David ultimately have the focus and disposition--and support--needed to excel at more conventional forms of scientific inquiry? That's an open question, but given the central role of the atom in his emotional and intellectual life, it' almost certain that David has reached a fork in his nuclear road, not its end point.