At simply the thought of such a creation, I'm already bamboozled. Nuclear power generation takes place in ginormous plants with towering cooling towers and these supply energy to entire cities. How is it possible to condense that system into a video game console and carry out that feat while still ensuring it stays safe for the person that uses the finished product? Fortunately, Charnas explains the whole process in the video (which, if you're more of a visual than a verbal learner, is down below).
Tritium is a radioactive hydrogen gas distributed in vials that is available to the average Joe without the requirement of a formal physics qualification or reason why you want to purchase large quantities of radioactive material. Nice timeline we've got here. When tritium loses a neutron that then becomes a proton, electron and antineutrino, the electron will interact with a phosphorus base compound inside the vial, causing the strip of gas to glow.
If you've had enough of my scientific chit-chat and want to see the cool glowy tritium rods for yourself, check out the video here.
Charnas then bought all the colours of tritium vials to see which wavelength generated the most power at low light levels through a solar cell. The green vials were sandwiched between two solar cells, thereby serving as the nuclear generator for the Game Boy. However, the generator only produced a millionth of a Watt in power and the console requires almost a million Watts to switch on and be playable. Not a fantastic situation for Charnas.
What he did to solve this issue is track down a collection of knock off Game Boys until he found one that used a thousand microwatts. The question was then whether or not the nuclear generator could effect and store power for the Game Boy to siphon off every time the player wanted to use the console. After a lot of head-scratching and weeks of searching, a thin-film solid state battery would be just the ticket. But, here's the catch. Two month's worth of charging the battery through the nuclear sandwich amounts to... an hour of play time.
Why on earth would you ever spend the time on an invention like this? Well, Ian has one reason at the very least. Every entry to win this nuclear powered Game Boy raises money for Chernobyl Children International, a charity that supports those who are still affected by the disaster. As per the charity's website, approximately 6,000 children are born every year in Ukraine with defects like "Chernobyl heart," which are multiple holes found in the heart that trigger complications like strokes. At the time of writing, over $500 has been raised from the raffle and it ends on August 13th.
Featured Image Credit: Caleb Oquendo via Pexels, 20th Century Fox
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