Building A Glowing Demon Core Lamp

The so-called Demon Core was a cursed object, a 6.2 kilogram mass of plutonium intended to be installed in a nuclear weapon. Instead, slapdash experimental techniques saw it feature in several tragic nuclear accidents and cause multiple fatalities. Now, you can build yourself a lamp themed after this evil dense sphere.

A later recreation of the infamous “Slotin Accident” that occurred with the Demon Core. Credit: Public Domain, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Creator [skelly] has designed the lamp to replicate the Slotin incident, where the spherical Demon Core was placed inside two half-spheres of beryllium which acted as neutron reflectors to allow it to approach criticality. Thus, the core is printed as a small sphere which is thin enough to let light escape, mimicking the release of radiation that doomed Louis Slotin. The outer spheres are then printed in silvery PLA to replicate the beryllium half-spheres. It’s all assembled atop a stand mimicking those used in the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1940s.

To mimic the Core’s deadly blue glow, the build uses cheap LED modules sourced from Dollar Tree lights. With the addition of a current limiting resistor, they can easily be run off USB power in a safe manner.

The Demon Core has become a meme in recent times, perhaps as a new generation believes themselves smart enough not to tinker with 6.2 kilograms of plutonium and a screwdriver. That’s not to say there aren’t still dangerous nuclear experiments going on, even the DIY kind. Be careful out there!

15 thoughts on “Building A Glowing Demon Core Lamp

  1. The demon core gets a lot of coverage on youtube, but what gets forgotten are the incidents where multiple workers at los alamos were injected with plutonium solutions as guinea pigs. My pet theory is the demon core story is a way of painting government facilities as safe places to work when viewed with modern safety procedures, rather than a pile of treachorous backstabbing snakes.

    1. I’ve never heard of this study so I poked around, what a horror story. The “by any means” attitude of state scientists around the globe during that era is truly abhorrent.

      Here’s a pretty readable summary of what went down and the civilians who were unwittingly caught up in the mess:

      1. Thanks for the link, though I had to search Simeon Shaw on DDG because the Medium article demanded that I sign up.

        What a terrible story. I am very very confused why Australia wants to spend 360 billion on US nuclear subs, when this is how the US nuclear industry has historically treated our citizens.

  2. Ummm.. Technically green is not the right color. It should be a bluish colored light. The blue flash you see is highspeed radio active particles being slowed by the water in your eyes. Look up Cherenkov glow.

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