Scav Hunt https://mag.uchicago.edu/scav-hunt en The homemade breeder reactor https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/homemade-breeder-reactor <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/19Summer_Golus_Reactor.jpg" width="2000" height="929" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span>Fri, 08/09/2019 - 07:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Fred Niell, AB’99 (left), and Justin Kasper, AB’99, in front of the nuclear reactor they built for Scav. The radiation bunny suits were “just theater,” Niell says. (Photography by Buffy Wajvoda, SB’01)</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/fred-niell-ab99"> <a href="/author/fred-niell-ab99"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Fred Niell, AB’99</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/core" hreflang="en">The Core</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Summer/19</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>An excerpt from <em>We Made Uranium! And Other True Stories from the University of Chicago’s Extraordinary Scavenger Hunt</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em><strong>Item 240. </strong>A breeder reactor built in a shed, and the boy scout badge to prove credit was given where boy scout credit was due. [500 points]</em></p> <p>It was spring quarter 1999. <strong>Justin Kasper </strong>[AB’99] and I were roommates and physics majors, and we had just sent our acceptances to graduate school. We were looking forward to coasting for the last three months of college and we weren’t really concentrating on our studies. We were too busy ... “accessing” the physics department after hours for our assorted nefarious purposes. Once I assembled a 1.2GW (that’s right, gigawatt) pulse power system for—well, let’s be honest. It was for blowing stuff up. Justin (J for short) and I had stolen some parts and bought others, used the machine shop at all hours, and basically hewn this thing from the primordial forces of nature herself. It was amazing, and in the following weeks we blew up whatever we could get our hands on. We vaporized apples and made water explode like dynamite. We were gods in the lab from eleven at night until six in the morning. We cleared out before any of the staff arrived to open up.</p> <p>We were misbehaving, but not in a malevolent way. We were applying what we had learned in our advanced lab classes in a practical setting. In essence, we were being good experimentalists. The faculty may even have known this, but plausible deniability, in the words of one of my favorite physicists, goes a long way.</p> <p>This paradise, this Eden of partying and blowing stuff up for class credit while breaking as many university rules as possible, lasted for a few months. Then the 1999 Scav Hunt came along.</p> <p>Initially, I wasn’t interested in putting much time or effort into Scav that year. I was by then working full time at the Fermilab, a Department of Energy national lab near Chicago specializing in high-energy particle physics, while also taking a full load of those core classes I was supposed to have already finished. Every night I brought home cheap beer, and J and I blasted techno from our embarrassingly large and complex stereo system and threw parties in our dorm room. Cocktail parties and Tuesday parties and “day-of-the-week-ending-in-Y” parties. Why would I plug into the frenetic energy required by the Hunt when I was already burning the candle at both ends and dousing it with gasoline? On the night of List Release, I skipped the midnight reading. I went downtown instead and had some fun with my friends.</p> <p>The next morning, in the dining hall, I was minding my own business (working the newspaper Jumble) when <strong>Connor Coyne</strong> [AB’01] ran up to me and threw down his tray. He nearly spilled his breakfast on me, grinning like an idiot and saying something about “the reactor.”</p> <p>“What?” I said.</p> <p>“There’s a nuclear reactor on the List!” he said. “There’s an article about him—the Nuclear Boy Scout. You have to go look it up! You know how to make a nuclear reactor, right?”</p> <p>I figured that Connor had slept maybe thirty minutes in the last seventy-two hours, and it was only Thursday morning. His tone bounced somewhere between desperate and manic. I explained that a nuclear reactor is a complex device, and that the physics involved is too complicated for a Scav Hunt item. He answered that the item was worth, like, infinity points and that if we (Justin and I) built something, Mathews would totally win. Back then, Mathews House was its own team, and all forty-five or so of us faced the barbarian hordes alone. I told Connor that I would look into it, but I still didn’t believe that there could be something as insane as a nuclear reactor on the List. I mean, really, how irresponsible were the Judges, and how lame were the “reactors” that other teams put together going to be?</p> <p>After work I stopped at the library and found an article in <em>Harper’s</em> about David Hahn, “<a href="https://harpers.org/archive/1998/11/the-radioactive-boy-scout/">the Nuclear Boy Scout</a>,” who had built a modest but plausibly functioning nuclear reactor in a shed in his backyard. Much has been written about David (RIP) in the intervening twenty-plus years, but in the end he did accomplish something in his garden shed. He had assembled a neutron source of some impressive strength for a total amateur, and when unleashed, it met the loosest definition of a nuclear reactor one can imagine. Then the Environmental Protection Agency got involved—but that’s another story. An idea was seeded in my brain. On the way home, I ran into <strong>Geoff Fischer</strong> [AB’00], a friend and a Judge. No hello or anything. “Are you guys really going to build a nuclear reactor?” he asked. The rumor mill was already in full swing.</p> <p>I told him I’d need a little clarification on what they meant by “nuclear reactor,” and Geoff put me on the phone with <strong>Tom Howe</strong> [AB’00, SM’07], the Head Judge. “A net-power-positive nuclear reactor that could power a city or even a hair dryer is incredibly dangerous and insane,” I told Tom. “It’s certainly not in the spirit of the item.” Item 240 said that the Judges would give credit where Boy Scout credit was due. It clearly referenced Hahn’s experiment and not the type of multimegawatt fuel-recycling reactor that Connor and Geoff seemed to be envisioning.</p> <p>The breeder cycle, for those of you who don’t know, creates a larger amount of fissionable fuel material than it uses. By recycling this product, it is able to efficiently generate a large amount of nuclear power, which is why these reactors were popular in the first place. “We can demonstrate the breeder cycle,” I told Tom. “We can turn thorium into uranium and uranium into plutonium.”</p> <p>“That’s all we want,” said Tom, “but we’ll have experts there to make sure you’re not jerking us around. So be prepared.” And he hung up.</p> <p>By now it was Thursday night. J came home from work and we talked about the idea over a few beers. We agreed that we could use a simple, highly active alpha source to create a weak neutron howitzer that could, in turn, create thermal neutrons. Just like what we used in our physics lab experiments. From there we could make small quantities of whatever isotopes we wanted.</p> <p>With thorium*, it’s only a double capture up to uranium with a big cross section.</p> <p>From there it’s another capture up to plutonium, but whatever. We had all weekend, man.</p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="Fred Niell, AB'99, and Leila Sales, AB'06" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="245c7eff-c7f0-44c9-9c14-65f0ee740a83" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/19Summer_Golus_Reactor_SpotB.jpg" /><figcaption>Niell and Lelia Sales, AB’06, editor of <em>We Made Uranium!</em>, after a book launch event at the Seminary Co-op, held during Scav weekend 2019. (Photography by Nathan Keay)</figcaption></figure></div> <p>All we needed was a proportional tube and a pulse height analyzer, a NIM crate with preamps and high-voltage power supply, and a few check sources to do a rock-solid calibration. I already had a good alpha source (a few microcuries of radium from World War II–surplus aircraft gauges) and thorium dioxide (from the inside of junk vacuum tubes from old TVs that we had salvaged). All we really needed was analytical equipment to verify that it all worked.</p> <p>The next day, Justin and I visited our favorite lab coordinator, Van Bistro, and asked him ever so nicely if we could borrow a pulse height analyzer, proportional tube, and all the other stuff we needed “for an experiment.” Plausible deniability in full effect, Van even loaned us some check sources so we could do an appropriate calibration. All told, we probably signed out on the order of $20,000 worth of highly sensitive equipment. Van basically told us that if anyone so much as sniffed in his direction, he’d claim it was all stolen. And that he had photos of the thieves. We thanked him and carted the junk off to our dorm room.</p> <p>That night, Justin and I went out to Fermilab to pick up some radiation bunny suits before disappearing into the machine shop. We soldered together some pieces of scrap metal to make an appropriate holder for the radium and thermalizing carbon sheets. It was mostly built of aluminum scrap pieces, but you know—even a boring piece of aluminum I-beam looks impressive with a bit of ingenuity and some face milling. We assembled the main reactor around eight or nine on Saturday night.</p> <p>By midnight we had finished the energy calibration of the detector. Since our neutron source (the thing driving the nuclear reactions) was laughably weak, we needed to be able to detect down to a single atom whether or not we had indeed created the reactions associated with a breeder reaction. This is where the $20,000 worth of sensitive equipment and our calibrations came into play. By two or three in the morning we had detected the characteristic radiation from neutron capture of thorium, and from there we knew that it was just a waiting game.</p> <p>At six in the morning we had a solid 3-sigma signal (&gt; 99.7 percent likelihood) demonstrating the production of 235U. You may have heard of 235U as “weapons-grade uranium.” That’s right. We had created the highly fissile isotope of uranium from garbage found under our dorm room workbench. It was an amazing, Promethean moment. We ran down the hallway screaming “We did it! We made uranium!” at the top of our lungs—but this was the Sunday morning of Scav Hunt. Nobody was asleep. As the sun came up on Judgment Day, J and I acquired the same statistical evidence for the production of 239Pu. Weapons-grade plutonium.</p> <p>Mind you, this might all sound scary, but we detected something like 8,000 individual atoms of uranium, and 2,000 atoms of plutonium, or something like 1×10-18 grams, or way, way less than can be detected by typical chemical tests. This is below the threshold of what might be considered detectable, even in good lab conditions. Our experiment detected the radiation emitted when these elements are created instead of detecting them directly. To detect them directly, given the mind-bogglingly small quantities, would have required a considerable investment of time and effort—two things scarce on Scav Hunt budgets.</p> <p>Realizing that we would need to show the results to the Judges at some point, we decided to jot down some numbers and essentially write up the experiment like we would in any undergrad physics lab. At 8:45 a.m. Tom called to say that he was at the front desk of the dorm and that he had brought some guests. Next thing we knew, our hallway was filled with four Judges and a jovial but somewhat skeptical guy in his forties. He identified himself as a nuclear engineer from the Kansas City nuclear reactor facility, and he would be passing judgment on our apparatus.</p> <p>We all piled into Justin’s room, some of us tripping over the empty cans. Clothes lay strewn everywhere, over and under crumpled beer cans, and piles of cigarette butts and physics textbooks littered the floor. The nuclear engineer, doubtless accustomed to hyper-clean safety gear and class-10-plus cleanrooms, was less than impressed.</p> <p>But then Justin and I went into full-on thesis defense mode. J presented some numbers on the capture cross sections and explained the entire capture-decay-capture chain, and I showed him our equipment and explained the design of the reactor and the energy calibration that proved the system’s functionality. Five minutes into our argument, the engineer’s look turned from mild amusement into complete shell shock. After ten minutes, he had a grin on his face. He wanted to hear all the details of the capture cross sections and the energy calibration. Needless to say, he vouched for us with Tom and the other Judges.</p> <p>Tom told us to show up at Judgment with our apparatus and a shed to get the points. We piled the reactor in my car and headed over. We threw up a six-cubic-foot drywall shed and spent the rest of the day in radiation suits, dancing to techno music. We kept a cooler in the shed for VIPs. Included among them was a writer covering the Hunt for the AP Wire and another for the <em>New York Times</em>. The AP guy seemed afraid of us and, frankly, more interested in the keg toss. The <em>New York Times</em> guy, on the other hand, was happy to share our bottle of Veuve Clicquot, as was the winner of <em>College Jeopardy!</em> from that year.</p> <p>Mathews House placed second in the Hunt that year, which was quite an accomplishment for a team of that size. The reactor and all of its baby isotopes were disposed of in accordance with all applicable regulations the following week. A few days later, the editor-in-chief of <em>Scientific American</em> contacted us but eventually decided that it wasn’t a good idea to publish detailed plans for the production of isotopes in an internationally known magazine, no matter how safe the experiment.</p> <p>The fallout on campus was pretty mild, all told, although the Resident Heads of the neighboring house evidently asked college housing for our expulsion. Fortunately, the head of housing was familiar with our escapades. As far as I know, any university-level complaints ended at her desk. J and I defended ourselves on several online bulletin boards and communities for the first several months, and then the whole thing more or less faded from the zeitgeist. But the nuclear reactor lives on as a Scav Hunt legend, the prime example of just how far Scavvies will go.</p> <hr /><p>* Thorium (atomic number 90) has 90 protons in the nucleus. Transmuting an atom of thorium into uranium (atomic number 92) requires adding two protons. This is accomplished by bombarding a sample of thorium with slow neutrons from a device called a neutron gun. These neutrons can interact with the thorium nucleus and become “captured” there. After a single successful “capture,” the atom of thorium becomes a “heavy” isotope, 233Th. This isotope quickly decays into an isotope of protactinium (atomic number 91). A similar capture and decay process brings the atomic number to 92: uranium.</p> <hr /><p><em>Fred Niell graduated from U of C in 1999 with a degree in physics. He lived all four years in Mathews House and Scavved for that team in 1996 and 1997. After Mathews House’s dismal outing in 1997, Niell took a year off from Scav in 1998 (save for a spud gun and small item support). Niell went on to graduate school at the University of Michigan and then a string of start-up companies in Boston. He now runs an electrical engineering design consulting company in Tampa, Florida, specializing in high-power and pulsed applications. <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/niell">Read a Q&amp;A with Niell. </a></em></p> <p><em>Essay by Fred Niell. Reprinted with permission from </em>We Made Uranium!<em> edited by Leila Sales and published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2019 Leila Sales All rights reserved.</em></p> <hr /><p><strong>Read more in the web exclusive “<a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/niell">Physicist with a Wrench</a>.”</strong></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/excerpt" hreflang="en">Excerpt</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/homemade-breeder-reactor" data-a2a-title="The homemade breeder reactor"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fscience-medicine%2Fhomemade-breeder-reactor&amp;title=The%20homemade%20breeder%20reactor"></a></span> Fri, 09 Aug 2019 12:01:50 +0000 admin 7126 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Physicist with a wrench https://mag.uchicago.edu/niell <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/19Summer-Golus-PhysicsWrench.jpg" width="2000" height="1128" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/rsmith" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">rsmith</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/31/2019 - 08:21</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Fred Niell, AB’99, at the Seminary Co-Op in May 2019 for the launch of <em>We Made Uranium! And Other True Stories from the University of Chicago’s Extraordinary Scavenger Hunt </em>(University of Chicago Press, 2019), to which he contributed an essay. (Photography by Nathan Keay)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/carrie-golus-ab91-am93"> <a href="/author/carrie-golus-ab91-am93"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Carrie Golus, AB’91, AM’93</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/web-exclusives" hreflang="en">Web exclusives</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">08.09.2019</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Fred Niell, AB’99, helped build a nuclear reactor in a dorm room. Did he ever make anything else?</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Twenty years ago, physics majors <strong>Fred Niell</strong>, AB’99, and <strong>Justin Kasper</strong>, AB’99, became campus legends when they built a working breeder nuclear reactor for the 1999 Scav Hunt. (The Scav item was inspired by a 1998 <em>Harper’s</em> article, “<a href="https://harpers.org/archive/1998/11/the-radioactive-boy-scout/">The Radioactive Boy Scout</a>,” about a Michigan teenager who tried the same thing with less happy results.) </p> <p>Niell and Kasper created the reactor from junk they found in their physics labs and dorm rooms. “It’s kind of scary how easy it was to do,” Niell <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/19/us/campus-it-s-that-season-chicago-phd-s-have-taken-back-seat-degree-silliness.html">told the <em>New York Times</em> at the time</a>. Kasper, a University of Michigan professor, now <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/something-new-under-sun">makes parts for NASA</a>, while Niell runs consulting firm <a href="http://nielltronix.com/">Nielltronix</a>.</p> <p>During Scav 2019, Niell was in Hyde Park for a launch event for the book <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/scav-files-truth-out-there"><em>We Made Uranium! And Other True Stories from the University of Chicago’s Extraordinary Scavenger Hunt </em></a>(University of Chicago Press, 2019), edited by <strong>Leila Sales</strong>, AB’06. Afterward Niell told the <em>Core</em> about other projects he’s worked on—including a cyclotron, a “bridge” across the Midway, and an update to the Navy’s extremely low frequency radio system.</p> <p><em>This interview has been edited and condensed. </em></p> <p><a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/homemade-breeder-reactor"><em>Read an excerpt from </em>We Made Uranium!</a></p> <hr /><h2>First of all, how dangerous was this breeder reactor?</h2> <p>Not dangerous at all. Less dangerous than what we did in our advanced physics lab. What we did in our dorm room was pathetically small in comparison.</p> <h2>Why are you wearing radiation suits?</h2> <p>That was just theater. </p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="Fred Niell and Justin Kasper, both AB'99" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f150a53f-af18-4b0e-bfae-52f33115e30c" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/19Summer-Golus-PhysicsWrench_SpotA.jpg" /><figcaption>Fred Niell, AB’99, and Justin Kasper, AB’99, stand outside their “not dangerous at all” breeder nuclear reactor at Scav 1999. (Photography by Buffy Wajvoda, SB’01)</figcaption></figure></div> <h2>When you were a junior in high school, you built a cyclotron.</h2> <p>I was always the kid doing science fair projects. In eighth or ninth grade, they started edging into dangerous. Each year I would win some money, which became seed money for next year’s project.</p> <p>I did actually build a working cyclotron out of parts from scrapyards. It was about 2,000 pounds and the size of a bookcase, three by four by two feet, roughly. It required a lot of electricity. It sounds scary, but the levels of radiation involved were less than a dental X-ray. I ended up winning the International Science and Engineering Fair in 1994.</p> <h2>Why go to UChicago, rather than a school that offered engineering?</h2> <p>I like to say I play an engineer on TV. The math is all the same. </p> <p>The type of engineering that I do—high power, esoteric electrical engineering—is just physics with a wrench. </p> <h2>Did your Scav teammates know you’d made a cyclotron?</h2> <p>They did not. I write about this in the book: Justin and I had commandeered a lab where we built a pulse power system, which was basically a destructotron. Its only practical use was blowing stuff up.</p> <p>Justin had delayed his art requirement until the final quarter of his fourth year. We used that as an excuse. When things blow up, light comes from the explosion, and if you’re doing it in full darkness, you can get a really beautiful photograph. I believe he got an A. </p> <p>So our reputation got around as people who could get stuff done that was impossible and crazy and involved physics. </p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="A photograph of an apple in the &quot;destructotron&quot;" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="296f8def-3e59-4fb2-a090-22214db6cbb4" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/19Summer-Golus-PhysicsWrench_SpotB.jpg" /><figcaption>An apple at low energy (1,000 Joules) in the “destructotron.” (Photography by Justin Kasper, AB’99)</figcaption></figure></div> <h2>It sounds like the nuclear reactor laid the groundwork for your entire career. </h2> <p>You have no idea. </p> <p>I finally broke down and stuck it on my résumé in 2009. Before that, <em>Popular Science</em> magazine had it as the No. 3 college prank in history. That one article ended up getting me so many jobs.</p> <h2>In an earlier Scav, you built a bridge across the Midway.</h2> <p>We took “bridge” in the loosest possible sense. I do a lot of mountain climbing, and my dad and I ran a climbing gym at my high school, so we had a lot of rope. I called him up and asked him to please FedEx some rope. </p> <p>The Midway is 350 feet from one side to the other and has some pretty stout trees. We strung a rope from one stout tree to another. You need a lot of tension on the rope to support a person’s weight at the center of 350 feet. So we set up a pulley on one side and attached it to the bumper of my car. </p> <p>I had a guy attach himself to the middle of the rope, and I drove forward until he lifted up off the ground. That was our bridge. And it worked. We went hand over hand across the Midway without touching the ground.</p> <h2>More recently, you were selling Nixie clocks on eBay and Amazon.</h2> <p>During graduate school [at the University of Michigan], around 2002, I read an article in <em>IEEE Spectrum</em> magazine—the industry rag for electrical engineers—about how <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixie_tube">Nixie tubes</a> were coming back. Nixie tubes came about in the ’50s, and were used in computers and lab equipment until the early ’70s in the US, when they were fully displaced by newer technologies like light-emitting diodes. In the USSR they did not have LEDs. </p> <p>I found some shady source in Ukraine for some Nixie tubes, bought them, and made 24 clocks. They sold out in about a month.</p> <p>In 2009 they were still really popular. I thought, ok, now’s the time. I bought 1,000 tubes from a manufacturer in Czechoslovakia, designed the circuit boards, did the programming, built them, and put together a very Web 1.0 web page. A friend suggested that I send it to <em>Boing Boing</em>. </p> <p><em>Boing Boing</em> said cool, but not really our thing. Then at 9 a.m. the next day one of the guys said, “Dude, you’re on the front page of <a href="https://www.engadget.com/2009/06/04/indicator-6-nixie-clock-is-handsome-functional-khruschev-appro/"><em>Engadget</em></a>.” Within eight hours, I sold out.</p> <div class="story-inline-img"> <figure role="group"><img alt="clock" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="68d082bc-696f-4df0-8c93-707caa359d86" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/19Summer-Golus-PhysicsWrench_SpotC.jpg" /><figcaption>Nixie tubes make a comeback in Niellʼs clocks. (Photo courtesy Fred Niell, AB’99)</figcaption></figure></div> <h2>Have you made other projects like that?</h2> <p>I’ve been doing small projects like that professionally for a long time. Since 2009, when I first started my company, I’ve been doing short-run custom electronics, usually prototypes for various industries—defense, semiconductors. Most of that work is not commercial. It’s stuff you see in a lab or bolted to a tank.</p> <h2>Give me an example.</h2> <p>I helped upgrade the extremely low frequency radio transmitters that the Navy uses to communicate with submarines. </p> <p>Communicating with submarines is tough, because radio doesn’t really transmit through sea water, and submarines don’t want to give away their location by putting an antenna up. In the 1950s, the Navy developed a technology based on something that the Germans were working on in WWII: extremely low frequency radio, like 20 kilohertz. Broadcast is in megahertz—hundreds of megahertz.</p> <p>And it’s enormously, grotesquely high power. Two megawatts is typical. That’s two or three orders of magnitude more than a radio station. </p> <p>These are fully one-way communication. It is the doomsday method of communicating to submarines, “It’s time to launch.” A submarine doesn’t have any way to say, “What?”</p> <p>But these transmitters have a fundamental limitation in their performance that we’ve known about since the ’50s but haven’t had the technology to get around. I wrote a proposal to the Navy a few years ago and it got funded. </p> <h2>What’s the weakness? Can you explain it simply?</h2> <p>I can. Let me think. </p> <p>The communication rate—the number of characters you can send per minute—is very low. If you want to send anything faster, you can’t really do that with the antennas they have. So you have to do some magic in the transmitter, which drives the antenna. </p> <p>That magic requires some very tricky stuff. It boils down to creating an electronic switch that’s capable of switching tens of megawatts of power in submicrosecond speeds. That technology didn’t exist in the ’50s, but it exists now, and is bolted to some transmitters because of the work I did. </p> <h2>Any future projects? Are you going to save us from climate change?</h2> <p>I have clients right now that are working on clean water technology—point-of-use water systems to purify and sanitize water for developing countries. </p> <p>There’s a company in Israel that’s well known for irrigation systems, and they’re looking to add sanitation through an advanced oxidation process. It’s basically using lightning in a glass tube to sterilize water. That’s oversimplifying.</p> <p>I’ve worked for the military for a lot of my career because they pay well and have crazy projects. But building better guns is a moral gray area. I’m glad that I did it, but I’m also glad that I’m helping build irrigation systems in developing countries.</p> <hr /><p><strong>Read more in “<a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/homemade-breeder-reactor">The Homemade Breeder Reactor</a>” from the Summer/19 <em>Core.</em></strong></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/science-medicine" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Medicine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/engineering" hreflang="en">Engineering</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tags/physics" hreflang="en">Physics</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/college-alumni" hreflang="en">College alumni</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/niell" data-a2a-title="Physicist with a wrench"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Fniell&amp;title=Physicist%20with%20a%20wrench"></a></span> Wed, 31 Jul 2019 13:21:58 +0000 rsmith 7114 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Scav Files. The truth is out there. https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/scav-files-truth-out-there <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/19_Spring_Allen_Scav-Hunt-Listicle.jpg" width="2000" height="1000" alt="Illustrations of a hat, socks, a wedding cake top tier, and a hypnotized chicken" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span>Tue, 04/30/2019 - 15:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Illustrations by Charlie Donahue)</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/susie-allen-ab09"> <a href="/author/susie-allen-ab09"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Susie Allen, AB’09</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Spring/19</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Untold stories from a new book about a beloved UChicago tradition.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Certain <a href="http://scavhunt.uchicago.edu/">Scav Hunt </a>stories are enshrined in campus lore. Most Maroons know, for instance, about the <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/science-medicine/something-new-under-sun">students who built a working nuclear reactor</a> to complete a 500-point item on the 1999 list. </p> <p>But there are years of Scav stories—unexpected triumphs and hilarious misadventures alike—known only to a select few insiders. In the new book <em><a href="https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/W/bo28482568.html">We Made Uranium! And Other True Stories from the University of Chicago’s Extraordinary Scavenger Hunt</a> </em>(University of Chicago Press, 2019), editor <strong>Leila Sales</strong>, AB’06, assembled the very best <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VLa81Xxjpc">Scav Hunt tales</a> for the world to marvel at. We scavenged a few for your amusement.</p> <h2>1. D-Bevs is game.</h2> <p>Shakespeare scholar <strong>David Bevington</strong>, the Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, has come to the aid of several Scav Hunt teams. In 1992 he acted out a scene from <em>Wayne’s World</em> and in 2006 he donned a pair of short-shorts—all for the cause. </p> <h2>2. What if the real hunt is for love?</h2> <p><strong>Nora Friedman</strong>, AB’05, and <strong>Colin McFaul</strong>, AB’05, got engaged in response to a 2005 item referring to Meat Loaf’s “I’ll Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” which instructed participants to “do that.” A decade later, <strong>Emily Pelka</strong>, AB’09, and <strong>Christian Kammerer</strong>’s (AB’03, SM’06, PhD’09) <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXaRg4sxtLE">wedding was an official part of the 2015 hunt</a>. </p> <h2>3. It’s a global phenomenon.</h2> <p>In 2015 alumni competitor <strong>Erica Pohnan</strong>, AB’07, completed item 293 (hypnotize a chicken) from Borneo, Indonesia, where she was doing fieldwork. She successfully entranced a chicken for one minute and 40 seconds, and sent the video to prove it. </p> <h2>4. Scavvies know how to even the score.</h2> <p>Chicago newsman Mike Royko was fond of taking digs at UChicago undergraduates in his columns, so Scavvies fought back by including a Royko-themed item on several years of lists (for instance: a pair of Royko-autographed socks; a letter by Royko on <em>Tribune</em> stationery reading “the University of Chicago is a Great Institute of Higher Learning and a Most Excellent Party Zone”). Royko was so exasperated by the pestering that he began leaving town each year during Scav. </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/college-alumni" hreflang="en">College alumni</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/scav-files-truth-out-there" data-a2a-title="Scav Files. The truth is out there."><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Fscav-files-truth-out-there&amp;title=Scav%20Files.%20The%20truth%20is%20out%20there."></a></span> Tue, 30 Apr 2019 20:44:04 +0000 admin 7092 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Alumni poll: The march of time https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/alumni-poll-march-time <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/19Winter_Golus_March.jpg" width="2000" height="771" alt="Washington Prom 1969" title="Washington Prom 1969" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">admin</span></span> <span>Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:40</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The Washington Prom, first held in 1893, was one of the University’s oldest, longest-lasting traditions. The final ball, which included the crowning of Miss University of Chicago, was held in 1969. (UChicago Photographic Archive, apf4-01257, University of Chicago Library)</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/core" hreflang="en">The Core</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Winter/19</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>What’s the best tradition? UChicago alumni have spoken.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In an online poll this fall, alumni got to declare their favorite College tradition.</p> <p>The winner: Scav, with 34 percent of the vote—just beating out Dollar Shake Day, with 33 percent. The other two ballot options were the Latke-Hamantash Debate (21 percent) and Kuvia (12 percent). See the national and global breakdown of the votes at <a href="http://uchicagotradition.com/thankyou.php">uchicagotradition.com</a>.</p> <p>(If the winner in the United States had been determined by an Electoral College–type system, the result might have been different, given that Dollar Shake Day carried California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, while Latke-Hamantash won in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.)</p> <p>After casting their votes, alumni could share stories about their favorite traditions, including such write-in contenders as Washington Prom, the Lascivious Costume Ball, and Sleepout (an annual festival/ordeal in the days before online course registration).</p> <p>Some excerpts of the memories that alumni contributed:</p> <h2>SCAV</h2> <p>My favorite thing people ask about Scav is, “So what do you win?” When I say, “Nothing,” they’re shocked.<em>—Erin Hart, AB’16</em></p> <p>Scav 2003: My first year. Item 156: A picture of a <em>National Geographic</em> editor in a swimsuit (4 points). I called home as early on Thursday as I could to see if my mom still knew anyone working there. My dad groggily answered the phone: “Are you dead?” At Judgment, I had the only un-Photoshopped completion of the item.<em>—Joan Wolkerstorfer, AB’06</em></p> <p>One of the highlights of my 25th College reunion was sharing the Scav tradition with my then-14-year-old son. We formed a team with a grad student and a mom-and-daughter pair at sign-in, quickly exchanged mobile numbers, and sprinted across the quads clutching our lists. We snapped photos in the Heisman Trophy stance, tweeted questions at Rockefeller Chapel, choreographed a phoenix dance for campus squirrels, and begged for a selfie (50 points) with UChicago alum <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/law-policy-society/court-public-opinion">Harvey Levin</a> [JD’75] of TMZ. We won!<em>—Janet Cho, AB’90</em></p> <p>My future husband put an entire orange (with peel) in his mouth at the scavenger hunt.<em>—Anne Skove, AB’91</em></p> <p>Look, Scav Hunt got my name in the <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/07/02/the-hunter-games"><em>New Yorker</em></a>. It’s that powerful.<em>—Grace Fisher, AB’12</em></p> <h2>SHAKE DAY</h2> <p>Even the roughest week could be righted with a dollar shake from C-Shop.<em>—<a href="https://magazine.uchicago.edu/1010/chicago_journal/account-ability.shtml">Greg Nance</a>, AB’11</em></p> <p>I sometimes ate the shake as my main meal of the day.<em>—Sunny Sue Chang Jonas, AB’99</em></p> <p>Something that was within our reach, no matter how we were doing otherwise. Inclusive and delicious.<em>—<a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/education-social-service/nsp-40-please-show-your-work">Shaz Rasul</a>, AB’97, SM’08</em></p> <p>Dollar shake day was legit<em>.—Alex Mobashery, AB’17</em></p> <h2>LATKE-HAMANTASH DEBATE</h2> <p>It was wonderful having Ted Cohen [AB’62, 1939–2014] moderate the Latke-Hamantash Debate, and he is much missed for this and the many other ways he enriched the University of Chicago.<em>—Kevin Robbins, AB’94</em></p> <p><em>Read Cohen’s short story “<a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/ethics-class">Ethics Class</a>” on page 26.</em>—Ed.</p> <p>I love the creativity of the arguments and how the professors dive into the challenge of taking their expertise—no matter what the subject—and creating an argument for one or the other. Also, that it is ALWAYS a draw, so we have to do it again next year.<em>—Margo Lynn Hablutzel, AB’83</em></p> <p>Seeing the cosmic in the trivial; arguing over size, shape, taste, texture, history, culture, meaning, and theology; employing humor as the supreme tool of intellectual inquiry; devoting the finest faculty and student minds to the undertaking; presenting oral advocacy at its finest; pursuing rational discourse through courteous debate; plus empiricists get to sample the subjects at the post-debate reception: What could be more University of Chicago?<em>—Joseph Morris, AB’73, JD’76</em></p> <h2>KUVIA</h2> <p>Sonia Jacobson and I [both College advisers at the time] created this festival in 1983. I found the name Kuviasungnerk in a book on Inuit life. At UChicago, it is a time to look winter in the face and say, “I got this.”<em>—<a href="http://uchiblogo.uchicago.edu/archives/2011/08/beauty_queen_as.html">Jean Treese</a>, AB’66</em></p> <p>Kuvia started while I was an undergraduate. I convinced a few of my friends that “Kuviasungnerk” was an Icelandic word for “Winter festival of the summer flowers.”<em>—Samuel Rebelsky, SB’85, SM’87, PhD’93</em></p> <h2>WRITE-IN</h2> <p>SLEEPOUT!!!! I was lucky enough to experience the last one ever.<em>—<a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/tinged-with-ghosts">Matilda Szydagis</a>, AB’95</em></p> <p>The Shapiro Art Collection. We were allowed to rent a piece of fine art for the quarter. To get a good choice we lined up the day before. I think numbers were issued, deli-style. I had a Chagall once. Someone else got Picasso’s naked men dancing (title forgotten).<em>—Pua Ford, AB’74</em></p> <p><em>The University restarted the <a href="https://mag.uchicago.edu/arts-humanities/where-art">Art to Live With </a>tradition in 2017.</em>—Ed.</p> <p>Geek Bus, i.e. the Shoreland primal scream that greeted the late bus coming home from the Reg during finals week.<em>—Catherine Skeen, AB’91, AM’02, PhD’03</em></p> <p>My favorite: George Washington Memorial Prom on February 21, 1941; first date, fell in love, married her [Shirley DoBos, SB’43, 1922–2011] in 1943 for 68 years.<em>—<a href="https://magazine.uchicago.edu/0412/features/order.shtml">Bradley Patterson</a>, AB’42, AM’43</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/college" hreflang="en">The College</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/kuvia" hreflang="en">Kuvia</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/latke-hamantash-debate" hreflang="en">Latke-Hamantash debate</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1554" hreflang="en">Shake Day</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/alumni-poll-march-time" data-a2a-title="Alumni poll: The march of time"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Falumni-poll-march-time&amp;title=Alumni%20poll%3A%20The%20march%20of%20time"></a></span> Wed, 13 Feb 2019 16:40:55 +0000 admin 7059 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Scav Hunt items worth the most points in 2017 https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/scav-hunt-items-worth-most-points-2017 <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1708_Gregg_Scav-Hunt-items-worth-most-points.jpg" width="725" height="396" alt="Scav Olympics" title="Scav Olympics" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Tue, 08/08/2017 - 12:16</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Scav Olympics 2017: Touched by a churro. (Photography by Joel Wintermantle)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/helen-gregg-ab09"> <a href="/author/helen-gregg-ab09"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Helen Gregg, AB’09</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/core" hreflang="en">The Core</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">Summer/17</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Undersea photography, carousels, snow globes, pinball.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Scav Hunt just turned 30, but this year’s list was full of childhood fun. Throw Scav a grade-school-appropriate birthday party (item #15). Create a UChicago-themed See ’n Say (#176). Design the cover art for Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros.: M. C. Escher (#20). Of the four items worth the most points, three were uncommon takes on youthful amusements.</p> <hr /><h3>Item #191.</h3> <p>You’ve braved the South Pole and flown to the highest heights. Now how low can you sink? Your team’s logo photographed as many meters below sea level as possible. <strong>(5 points per 100 meters, maximum of 549 points conceivably available to be awarded by the boundaries of modern science)</strong></p> <h3>Item #44.</h3> <p>Rotate, turn, circle, spin, twirl, whirl, pirouette, and twist. That’s what your small carousel, capable of riding two judges and fitting within a square fathom, will do. And it will be themed on something else that rotates, turns, circles, spins, twirls, whirls, pirouettes, or twists. <strong>(200 points)</strong></p> <h3>Item #178.</h3> <p>Some people like to collect souvenir snow globes from around the world, but for us, looking at a 2"–diameter sphere from the outside isn’t quite intimate enough. Construct a snow globe inside of which a judge can comfortably explore an intricate scene from any world city. We don’t care about how your snow globe looks externally, but we do expect internal enhancements such as lights, moving parts, and flurries of snow. <strong>(150 points)</strong></p> <h3>Item #73.</h3> <p>The original sin of pinball was policing tilts with plumb bobs instead of just making the machine too big to move. Bring us a scaled-up pinkickball “cabinet” themed after your team’s end-times prophecy and crammed with bumpers, lights, and at least one dynamic hazard. Replace those flippers with flipper-themed shinguards though, because we’ll be playing with our feet. <strong>(125 points)</strong></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/house-traditions" hreflang="en">House traditions</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/college-students" hreflang="en">College students</a></div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/scav-hunt-items-worth-most-points-2017" data-a2a-title="Scav Hunt items worth the most points in 2017"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Fscav-hunt-items-worth-most-points-2017&amp;title=Scav%20Hunt%20items%20worth%20the%20most%20points%20in%202017"></a></span> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 17:16:17 +0000 jmiller 6643 at https://mag.uchicago.edu Game on https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/game <div class="field field--name-field-letter-box-story-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/1306_Muhlenkamp_LoTM.jpg" width="700" height="325" alt="" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/profile/jmiller" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">jmiller</span></span> <span>Thu, 05/09/2013 - 13:33</span> <div class="field field--name-field-caption field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>(Photography by Tom Tian, AB’10)</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refauthors field--type-entity-reference field--label-visually_hidden"> <div class="field--label sr-only">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"> <div about="/author/katherine-muhlenkamp"> <a href="/author/katherine-muhlenkamp"> <div class="field field--name-name field--type-string field--label-hidden field--item">Katherine Muhlenkamp</div> </a> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refsource field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/publication-sources/university-chicago-magazine" hreflang="en">The University of Chicago Magazine</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issue field--type-text field--label-hidden field--item">May–June/13</div> <div class="field field--name-field-subhead field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Test your knowledge of Scav Hunt—and the UChicago state of mind that defines the items—with our true or farce quiz.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Each year since 1987, Mother’s Day weekend has been the mother of weekends on the quads. That’s when the massive University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, affectionately known as Scav, takes place. Many of the items are as outrageous as the lists are long, and every Scav vet has war stories: chugging a six-pack of Jolt in seven minutes; stripping down to a Speedo and gliding across a Slip ’N Slide; swiping a wax penguin from the Brookfield Zoo.</p> <p>In our list, Scav items from through the years mingle with items from other hunts (real and fictional). As this year’s troops prepare for battle, we challenge you to this paper contest. Can you sort the real from the faux?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h3>Spot the genuine Scav items.</h3> <p><a class="more-link" href="#answers">Answer key below.</a></p> <ol> <li>Freeze an egg on the sidewalk.</li> <li>Play “Duck Duck Goose” with real ducks and geese.</li> <li>Go to a book signing and have the author autograph your chest.</li> <li>Dress a window mannequin at Old Navy in your own clothes.</li> <li>Balance 20 pennies on the end of your nose for at least ten seconds in one try.</li> <li>Scale a silo of ice.</li> <li>Eat a stack of Pringles vertically inserted into your mouth.</li> <li>Simple loaf of bread made with flour, water, and Yeats.</li> <li>Nail Jell-O to the wall.</li> <li>A “forgotten man.”</li> <li>Recite all of the American presidents in order.</li> <li>Note from a Pulitzer prize winner with a spelling error.</li> <li>Send your Greek legions to sack Troy.</li> <li>Clown head from a Jack in the Box eatery.</li> <li>Sing the <em>Speed Racer</em> theme song.</li> <li>Two-foot tall Leaning Tower of Cookies without any adhesive or supports.</li> <li>Live beagle wearing an aviator’s helmet.</li> <li>A Hooters waitress reading a copy of Betty Friedan’s <em>The Feminine Mystique</em>.</li> <li>20 mattress tags, 0 mattresses.</li> <li>Functioning toilet-paper jump rope.</li> <li>Receipts from five identifiably different businesses called “Fred’s.”</li> </ol> <p>There are Scav soldiers and there are Scav warriors. Which are you? Count how many genuine Scav Hunt items you <a class="more-link" href="#answers">correctly identified</a> from the list to claim your rank.</p> <p><strong>18–21: Decorated Veteran</strong><br /> As a judge, you went underground for a year, neglecting schoolwork but laughing fiendishly as you wrote items about edible balloons and fullbody tattoos. As a player, you were in the line of fire: reading <em>Quotations from Chairman Mao</em> while wearing a Ronald Reagan mask; shaving off an entire eyebrow without a second thought; x-raying your insides.</p> <p><strong>14–17: Average Scaver</strong><br /> You asked your dad for his “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for McGovern” bumper sticker. You helped build a dinosaur diorama. You tagged along on a road trip. But covering your body in Post-it Notes or asking the local mortician for embalming fluid? No thanks.</p> <p><strong>0–13: Scav civilian</strong><br /> You either (a) spent 17 hours a day at the Reg and never saw Scav, or (b) have repressed the memories—who ate dinner at the Capital Grille with a puppet?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a name="answers"></a></p> <h3>The answers.</h3> <p>The authentic Scav items are 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 17, 19, and 21. Tally your results (one point for each correct answer) for your score.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Freeze an egg on the sidewalk. (UChicago 2005, Item 269)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>Play "Duck Duck Goose" with real ducks and geese. (GISHWHES 2012, Item 117)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Go to a book signing and have the author autograph your chest. (UChicago 2012, Item 104)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>Dress a window mannequin at Old Navy in your own clothes. (<em>Scav hunt item in the movie Sleepover</em>)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Balance 20 pennies on the end of your nose for at least 10 seconds in one try. (UChicago 1989, Item 18)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>Scale a silo of ice. (Scav hunt item in the movie <em>Cedar Rapids</em>)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Eat a stack of Pringle vertically inserted into your mouth. (UChicago 1997, Item 10)&nbsp; </strong></li> <li><strong>A simple loaf of bread made with flour, water, and Yeats. (UChicago 2011, Item 27)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li><strong>Nail Jell-O to the wall. (UChicago 2007, Item 281)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>A “forgotten man.” (Scav hunt item in the movie <em>My Man Godfrey</em>)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Recite all of the American presidents in order. (UChicago 1987, Item 53)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li><strong>A note from a Pulitzer prize winner with a spelling error. (UChicago 1992, Item 247)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>Send your Greek legions to sack Troy. (Tricadecathlonomania 2002, Item 34)&nbsp;</li> <li>A clown head from a Jack in the Box eatery. (Scav hunt item in the movie <em>Scavenger Hunt</em>)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Sing the Speed Racer theme song. (UChicago 1988, Item 268)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>A two-foot tall Leaning Tower of Cookies without any adhesive or supports. (Tricadecathlonomania 2006, Item 160)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>A live beagle wearing an aviator’s helmet. (UChicago 1990, Item 107)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>A Hooters waitress reading a copy of Betty Friedan’s <em>The Feminine Mystique</em>. (GISHWHES 2011, Item 104)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>20 mattress tags, 0 mattresses. (UChicago 1993, Item 239)&nbsp;</strong></li> <li>A functioning toilet-paper jump rope. (Tricadecathlonomania 2005, Item 177)&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Receipts from five identifiably different businesses called “Fred’s.” (UChicago 1991, Item 182)</strong></li> </ol> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-reftopic field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/topics/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> <div class="field field--name-field-refuchicago field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/scav-hunt" hreflang="en">Scav Hunt</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-refformats field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field--item"><a href="/formats/lite-mind" hreflang="en">Lite of the Mind</a></div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://mag.uchicago.edu/university-news/game" data-a2a-title="Game on"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_google_plus"></a><a class="a2a_button_print"></a><a class="a2a_dd addtoany_share_save" href="https://www.addtoany.com/share#url=https%3A%2F%2Fmag.uchicago.edu%2Funiversity-news%2Fgame&amp;title=Game%20on"></a></span> Thu, 09 May 2013 18:33:46 +0000 jmiller 2063 at https://mag.uchicago.edu