Tell me – Since the discovery of radioactivity in 1896, this phenomenon has been put to good use in many areas of life. But in the past, people made some strange inventions powered by nuclear and radioactive energy, which became obsolete in a short time and were not widely used.
Here’s a collection of the strangest things invented or that run on nuclear and radioactive fuel, according to the Audi website:
Radium hand sanitizer
The 1930s were a strange time when you could find household items, beauty products and other medicines containing the most exotic additives such as radioactive radium. Among these innovations was the so-called radium hand cleaner produced by the Radium Compound Company of Phoenix, New York. The manufacturer claimed that this hand cleaner was more effective than non-irradiated products, and was marketed under the slogan “Remove everything but skin”.
Another strange product from the early 20th century is the radiator. This patented drug was based on the radioactive hormone theory, which claims that small amounts of ionizing radiation are beneficial to the body. As such, the remedy consisted of triple distilled water and a small percentage each of Radium 226 and 228. And this remedy was supposed to cure almost everything.
The fraudulent ‘doctor’ who marketed this drug claimed to treat any disease, from rheumatism to impotence and even stomach cancer. Radithor even had a staunch supporter, businessman and industrialist Eben Byers, who reportedly drank 1,400 bottles of it in his lifetime. Byers died mysteriously of various types of cancer as a result of radiation in 1932. His body was so exposed to radiation that his skull began to collapse and when his lead-lined body was exhumed in 1965, his bones were still highly radioactive.
Radiant golf balls
Dr. Davidson developed a golf ball that contained 1/50 gram of ‘radioactive material’. He believed that golfers could always find lost balls with a Geiger counter and a pair of headphones. The problem was that the balls weren’t radioactive enough, and the players had to practically stand next to the ball with a counter to find it.
M29 Davy Crockett rifle
After the invention of the atomic bomb, armies around the world began a nuclear arms race. In the United States, this led to the unveiling of the M-28 Davy Crockett in 1961. It is a recoilless rifle—basically a bazooka—armed with a 51-pound nuclear warhead. The gun can fire the mini nuke at a target up to three miles away. But at that distance the launcher itself could suffer its deadly consequences, and if the winds blew in the wrong direction, the radiation would be pushed back. Not surprisingly, Davy Crockett has never been used in real combat.
Convair NB-36H aircraft
The US military was not satisfied with the nuclear bazooka. They still wanted to drop full-sized nuclear bombs, but planes couldn’t carry them very far at the time. The question was ‘Why don’t we build a nuclear plane to carry the nuclear bomb?’ This led to the Convair NB-36H, a nuclear-powered bomber with a theoretically infinite operational range. The cockpit was covered with a radiation shield to protect the pilots.
The reactor itself was also submerged in a large water tank to catch the leaking radiation. However, after the production of this aircraft, there were fears of its crash and its consequences, and due to these concerns and a set of developments in conventional aircraft technology, the Convair NB-36H bomber was abandoned.
Forget airplanes, what about nuclear powered cars? In 1957, a designer at Ford had this idea, which led to the Ford Nucleon concept car. Instead of a combustion engine, Nucleon had a small nuclear reactor in its trunk. This vehicle operated like a modern nuclear submarine, using uranium fission to convert water into steam energy. As in the case of the nuclear aircraft, there were fears that this motor would crash, and with these fears and the inability to build a sufficiently small reactor, production of the Nucleon motor ceased.
A low-energy nuclear reactor developed by Chicago businessman Louis Larsen is as small as a microwave oven and can power a home with ‘near-zero’ emissions.
NASA is currently funding research into LENR reactors, with the hope that they could one day power homes and spacecraft. Because a functional nuclear reactor is exactly what the average home should have.