Harold Tifft’s Portable Nuclear Bomb Shield

Harold Tifft claimed that his portable shield would "protect the wearer against heat, atomic radiation, atomic fall-out and flying debris in the event of nuclear warfare." When not in use it fit inside a carrying case, but when needed it could be rapidly assembled into a full-body shield. From his patent:

The compactness of the shield (due to the telescoping of the various sections) permits the owner thereof to easily carry it with him from place to place. Also, due to its compactness, it can be easily and unobtrusively stored in either the office or the home. When an alarm is sounded by civil defense authorities, civilians who have the described shield close at hand would be able to fit themselves with the shield in a very short period of time. A civilian thus outfitted could then place himself against the floor, the ground, or a vertical surface and wait until the explosion has occurred or the danger passed. The fact that each lower section telescopes with the section next above it enables the wearer to raise as many sections as may be necessary to permit walking or running in the event that the wearer is suddenly forced to abandon his position in favor of a safer one.

In his patent he never mentioned how much the thing weighed. Carrying the thing around constantly would surely have been a challenge.

Cincinnati Post - Jan 26, 1960

     Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 19, 2024
     Category: Patents | Atomic Power and Other Nuclear Matters | 1960s

Long ago and far away, I ran across the 'recipe' for 'radiation-proof' papier-mâché. Basically, it was adding powdered bismuth, barium, and tin compounds to a mix of shredded brown paper. An important feature was laminating it between sheets of lead foil.

I considered making some. I could 'borrow' the chemicals from the high school chemistry lab (I was a class trustee with a key to the chemical cupboard). The problem was the lead foil. In the thickness needed, you could either buy it by the square inch (lab work) or the square mile (manufacturing)(well, okay, not really that big, but they were rolls something like six feet wide by a thousand feet long).

Lead foil isn't necessarily heavy. Remember when a dentist would take a plastic 'T' shape, put it in your mouth, had you bite down on the leg while the arms sat against the back of your teeth, and then took an X-Ray? There was lead foil behind the film in that gizmo -- it protected the tongue and other tissue from radiation. And then there were those pompous fools on a popular tv program who actually succeeded in making a lead balloon (it floated even with a lean helium/air mix ).

This invention would be unwieldy due to the size/shape of the main piece (#1), but it wouldn't necessarily be all that heavy.
Posted by Phideaux on 02/19/24 at 03:46 PM
I'm struck by the lack of knowledge regarding how pervasive nuclear radiation is & how long it remains in the environment. I am impressed with suggestions of a first aid kit & a pair of boots. Imagine a street filled with these shelters walking around. The plot for the making of a 50's B sci-fi movie...!
Posted by Teri on 02/19/24 at 11:28 PM
@Phideaux: Oi! You do *not* get to call the Mythbusters "pompous fools"!
Posted by Richard Bos on 02/24/24 at 07:20 AM

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