Bring Your Own Geiger Counter

prospecting for atomic materials cover

Prospecting for Atomic Minerals
Knoerr and Lutjen

Those of you looking to change your career, here is an option to consider. Why not collect all those fancy minerals they use in an atomic bomb? It’s perfectly safe and easy for anyone to just pick up a shovel and start digging. You will be rich before you know it! What could possibly go wrong?

Worldcat shows only a handful of public libraries. Most holding are in university collections, especially those with technical programs related to engineering and mining. My copy looked like it had been doing field work given the condition of the cover and all the markings inside.

A few years ago we posted a similar book that had a more “get rich quick” tone compared to this book. I guess dropping the bomb is also a business opportunity in the making. I think these odd books have value just in the weirdness, and would probably be a fun display. Amateur mining sounds a bit outside the scope of my service population, however.


atomic mineral mining back cover

prospecting for atomic minerals

gieger counters for mining



  1. I think I remember seeing this book (or something similar) on my grandfather’s bookshelf, over fifty years ago. He had been a prospector in northern Ontario in the early 1900s and, although too old to actually do field work any more, must have purchased books such as this to keep up to date in the subject. (Regrettably, I did not have too many opportunities to talk to my grandfather, after whom I was named and who I apparently resemble physically, since he died when I was about 11 and living far away.)

  2. I’m reminded of the opening of the 1953 film version of War of the Worlds, when the sheriff notices something ticking in the back of Clayton’s car, and this college professor who was out camping in the woods just casually says, “Oh, yeah, it’s my geiger counter. I thought I might do some amateur prospecting on my vacation.”

  3. In TV shows from the 1950s and 60s, uranium prospecting was often presented as a “get rich quick” scheme that at least one character fell for. I’m sure there were plenty of scams back then, but were there cases where people actually did get rich through uranium?

  4. I find the use of the word “Atomic” in the title interesting. Of course the book is specifically about radioactive minerals; since everything is made of atoms, of course, all minerals are “atomic.” It’s just such a 1950s usage–“atomic bomb,” “atomic war,” …

  5. This reminds me of a book my parents had, Miss Pickerell and the Geiger Counter, about this very subject. Interestingly, it was the measles-infected sheriff who was doing the prospecting.

  6. I like the cool guy with the Geiger counter’n’cigarette combination. Hope he remembered to stop smoking when he was handling the TNT, however…

  7. …And then get a nice visit from some men dressed in black suits who want to ask you a lot of questions…

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