Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory

Dangerous Toys: The Atomic Energy Lab

The Atomic Energy Lab was released by the A.C. Gilbert Company in 1950. The kit’s intention was to allow children to create and watch nuclear and chemical reactions using radioactive material.

The lab contained a cloud chamber that allowed the viewer to watch alpha particles traveling at 12,000 miles per second (19,000,000 m/s), a spinthariscope that showed the results of radioactive disintegration on a fluorescent screen, and an electroscope that measured the radioactivity of different substances that were in the set.

This toy has been called “the world’s most dangerous toy” because of the radioactive material included in the set. Gilbert claimed that none of the materials could conceivably prove dangerous. However, the instructions cautioned that “users should not take ore samples out of their jars, for they tend to flake and crumble and you would run the risk of having radioactive ore spread out in your laboratory. This would raise the level of your background count.”

Product Description:

“Produces awe-inspiring sights! Enables you to actually SEE the paths of electrons and alpha particles traveling at speeds of more than 10,000 miles per SECOND! Electrons racing at fantastic velocities produce delicate, intricate paths of electrical condensation – beautiful to watch. Viewing Cloud Chamber action is closest man has come to watching the Atom! Assembly kit (Chamber can be put together in a few minutes) includes Dri-Electric Power Pack, Deionizer, Compression Bulb, Glass Viewing Chamber, Tubings, Power Leads, Stand, and Legs.”
– Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory

Fredric Durrette served one tour in Vietnam, retired as E8 in the navy submarine service after 23 years. Major hobbies are collecting old stuff from the 20s and restoring old racing bicycles. Worked as a commercial photographer at JL Hudsons in Detroit and continue photography as a hobby. Love Sade, sixties soul, seventies rock, and all jazz. Attended Woodstock in 69!