The gaping hole in my childhood

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh man, my childhood microscope, chemistry set, plastic Babbage's machine, short wave radio, all of it -- even my brother's toy steam engine -- pale in comparison to the wonder known as the Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab.

It included: a U-239 Geiger radiation counter, an electroscope to measure radioactivity of different substances, a spinthariscope to watch "live" radioactive disintegration, a Wilson Cloud Chamber to see paths of electrons & alpha particles at 10k mps, three very low-level radioactive sources (Alpha, Beta, Gamma), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, Nuclear Spheres (used to visual build models of molecules), the book "Prospecting for Uranium", the "Gilbert Atomic Energy Manual", the comic book "Learn How Dagwood Splits the Atom" and three "Winchester" Batteries (size "C").

A Geiger counter, radioactive samples, a "Dagwood Splits the Atom" comic book and Nuclear Spheres? Yowza! Can you imagine the look on a modern Helicopter Mom's face if her kid unwrapped a present and found that inside?

Details and more pictures can be found at and American Memorabilia.


PatriotUSA said...

I had one of these when when
I was about ten. Along with the American Flyer train set(I still have). One wonders if today this kit would be seen as politically incorrect which would be a shame as I learned quite a bit from my kit. AC Gilbert made alot of neat items for kids back then.

Thanks for a wonderful reminder of a time when things were quite different, and being a kid was not so fraught with the trappings of growing up today. I showed this to my 13 year old son and thought it was quite cool.