The Intriguing History of the Smoke Alarm

You are looking at the atomical structure of Americium.

The ingredient that enables the detection of smoke in those alarms.

Its a byproduct if you like of the Nuclear Generation.

That includes Nuclear Medicine, Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Power and of course Nuclear Weaponry.

What they all have in common is science, and that’s why its interesting to ponder the origins and outcomes of the discovery.

The quantum world already exists, but its interesting to see what happens when its discovered and explored by various aspects of humanity.

The historic generational aspects of the 20th century ambassadors harbingers of scientific and political change deserve mention.

For whatever reason the world had been obsessed almost religiously to regular and fierce killing to protect and preserve national and notional ideas of social control (democracy) and an economic ideal based on the principle of scarcity, somewhat at odds with other aspects of science emerging spontaneously at the same time.

And then a generation looking back in horror at the severity and rapid speed of our history, and barely any time to rebuild or consider the costs..our freedom had been preserved and we would continue to explore and the train of energy pushing the global emergence…had not stopped…the new technology was here and would be tested and given the results surely or not it would prove a panacea for this human ailment known as ‘war’? Or not?

That could be a plausible question to the answer of why we are still in shock by what our ancestors and family did, but ironically they sleep quietly in their graves unbeknown of all the fuss and shananigans created in this Nuclear Age. Understanding the generational and historical perspective of the issues which effect us today, may reconcile the differences created in these time belts.  What was the intended justification and as unplausible as it seems in your mind could it possibly be valid – for the times?  Is our protest or indifference the product of this generational shift and our forgetting of part of our own genetic memory, pushed away from the facts perhaps by a desire to reach a better truth.

Should we react with horror at the word ‘radioactive’ and ‘isotope’ and should be collapse at the concept of nuclear fission…how should we react to something which is so close to the truth? Can we be trusted with our own knowledge and do we ever have the awareness to appreciate (at the time) the full implications of our passion and work and who did we trust when we asked questions about the nature of the expected outcome from such a fantastic and powerful gadget?

So many questions to ask people about how they felt the after effects of two major wars and then the demonstration of ‘special’ weapon, courtesy of the intelligencia of academia, corporatoria, and geo and local political reckoners.

The emergence of science and politics follows a peculiar path and the memory distort effect varies over time creating a resonant political echo not necessarily cognisant of the facts.

Its our ability to explore the past human realities and viewpoints that will create a three dimensional viewpoint of our current being and the aspects of ourselves that mirror history, and how we change old programs as we learn to live without intent.

Is the smoke alarm a modern miracle or a residue of a forgotten age that we forgot to delete from our current reality, whichever way it makes you think.

Its probably not the aspects of radiation and contamination and death that disturbs us ( we created the weapon) it may well be something buried deep which speaks about our uncertainty with technology we seem so familiar and yet at the same time elements within us use it as a matter of contempt.

We are our biggest threat not the weapon or the smoke alarm and this is where we need to analyse the messenger as well as whats been spent.

In the meanwhile sleep well knowing that Americium is flying overhead in anticipation of fire or some other unanticipated event.


Don’t sleep and calculate the debris and junk arising from our modern life and nuclear generation.

Americium (pronounced /?æm??r?si?m/, AM-?-RIS-ee-?m) is a synthetic element that has the symbol Am and atomic number 95. A radioactive metallic element, americium is an actinide that was obtained in 1944 by Glenn T. Seaborg who was bombarding plutonium with neutrons and was the fourth transuranic element to be discovered. It was named for the Americas, by analogy with europium.[1] Americium is widely used in commercial ionization chamber smoke detectors, as well as in neutron sources and industrial gauges. (Wiki)

Americium was first isolated by Glenn T. Seaborg, Leon O. Morgan, Ralph A. James, and Albert Ghiorso in late 1944 at the wartime Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago (now known as Argonne National Laboratory). The team created the isotope 241Am by subjecting 239Pu to successive neutron capture reactions in a nuclear reactor. This created 240Pu and then 241Pu which in turn decayed into 241Am via beta decay.[10]

mathrm{^{239}_{ 94}Pu xrightarrow {(n,gamma)} ^{240}_{ 94}Pu xrightarrow {(n,gamma)} ^{241}_{ 94}Pu xrightarrow [14,35 a]{beta^-} ^{241}_{ 95}Am ( xrightarrow [432,2 a]{alpha} ^{237}_{ 93}Np)}

Seaborg was granted a patent for “Element 95 and Method of Producing Said Element,” whose unusually terse claim number 1 reads simply, “Element 95.”[11] The discovery of americium and curium was first announced informally on a children’s quiz show in 1945.[12]

Smoke Alarms are said to contain 1/5000 of a gram of Americinium….60kg is said to be required to create enough critical mass to create a bomb – calculating the hundreds of millions of smoke detectors all over the world – no doubt enough for a few bombs but instead that radiation is distributed evenly across the globe in a innocuous flashing household appliance. Diabolical waste disposal or clever human ingenuity – you be the judge.

Nasa and Honeywell devised the ionising chamber aadjustable smoke detector to protect the Skylab

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. NASA engineers knew that simple fact when they were designing Skylab in the 1970s. Skylab was the first U.S. space station, and the astronauts would need to know if a fire had started or if noxious gases were loose in the vehicle. Teaming up with Honeywell Corporation, NASA invented the first adjustable smoke detector with different sensitivity levels to prevent false alarms.

You can read about smoke detectors in more detail in How Smoke Detectors Work, but the first one to hit the consumer market is called the ionization smoke detector. That essentially means that it uses a radioactive element called americium-241 to spot smoke or harmful gasses. When clean air particles of oxygen and nitrogen move through smoke detectors, the americium-241 ionizes them, which creates an electrical current. If foreign smoke particles enter the smoke detector, it disrupts that interaction, triggering the alarm.