How to light a cigarette with an atomic bomb

From Under the Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing by Richard Miller:

The day before the test, [atomic physicist Ted] Taylor rode the elevator to the top of the tower to view his device and to catch a glimpse of the equipment display scattered across the desert below. Nearby, a technician worked to clear a conduit pipe; a rat had somehow managed to wedge itself inside, threatening to ruin the shot. A break in even one circuit, regardless of how minor, would scuttle the detonation.

While Taylor was waiting, he managed to locate a concave, parabolic mirror. After determining the point at which the light would converge, he attached a small wire. The next day, June 1, 1952, he would conduct an experiment of his own.

At 3:50 on June 1, the troops in the trenches were told to kneel and lean against the side of the trench nearest the tower. Five minutes later Scorpion/George ignited with a force of 15 kilotons.

At the Control Point, Ted Taylor aimed his parabolic mirror at the intensely bright, fissioning mass. At the end of the wire he had attached a Pall Mall. In a second or so the concentrated, focused light from the weapon ignited the tip of the cigarette. He had made the world’s first atomic cigarette lighter.

It would have been better if Taylor had first radioed the control tower, "Hey, you guys got a light?" and they radioed back, "Sure." Then detonated the bomb.

A 1955 DoD film demonstrated the concept, without using an actual atomic bomb:

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 17, 2019
     Category: Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters | Smoking and Tobacco | 1950s

I still have a parabolic cigarette lighter mirror I picked up at Radio Shack some 40 years ago. Remember when R.S. used to sell small novelty items like that?
Posted by KDP on 10/17/19 at 11:46 AM
I bought one of those, too, but not an RS model. Long after it disintegrated, I kept the box because the company had saved money by printing both sides of the cardboard. When the box was folded one way, it was a parabolic cigarette lighter. When folded the other way, it was a solar-energy campfire starter. I never did think to check if the Boy Scout logo on it was real.
Posted by Phideaux on 10/17/19 at 01:31 PM
Phideaux, mine is made of stamped stainless steel with a folding fork that holds the substance to be ignited in the mirror focus. That's why I still have it.
Posted by KDP on 10/17/19 at 05:09 PM
@KDP -- Mine looked like the same kind of plastic (and coating) as the reflector of a cheap flashlight. It obviously wasn't UV stabilized.
Posted by Phideaux on 10/17/19 at 07:08 PM

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