It’s amazing Boomer kids survived their childhoods, having playthings like the World’s Most Dangerous Toy. The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab Kit is roughly high on the list of the world’s most dangerous toy with 3 sources of radiation. It even came with a book on how to prospect uranium. This retro “toy” from the 1950s enabled children to dive deep into the world of atomic chemistry. This retro toy is literally radioactive. Take a look:
It wasn’t cheap, though. The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab was an actual radioactive toy and sold for $49.50 in the 1950s (that’s close to $600 today). As mind-boggling as idea of giving kids fissile materials was, the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab had good intentions. Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who was an American athlete, magician, toy-maker, business man, and inventor of the well-known Erector Set, produced it as one of the toys that built “solid American character.” And, of course, understanding nuclear physics *does* have some type of educational significance.
So when you hear Boomers talk about how hard their childhood was, there’s an element of truth. None of us would be allowed near natural uranium-bearing (U-238) ore samples although it’d be cool to have my own Geiger counter.
Hope you enjoyed this discussion, please feel welcomed to dive down the rabbit hole of every other Sci-Friday I’ve published in the past couple years. Don’t forget to play Interactive Top Ten! Have a great weekend! 🙂