Nuclear-powered Tetris handheld generates power for a century

Have you ever picked up a forgotten handheld and thought: "I want to play you, but I know I'll have to charge you."?  What If I said you'd barely have to worry about charging your device again for the rest of your life? Well, one YouTuber has an unconventional solution: a nuclear-powered Tetris game.

Nuclear-powered Tetris

Created by YouTuber Ian Charnas, the “Nuclear powered Gameboy" runs on a DIY nuclear battery.  Designed to generate power for the next century, the device uses 25 miniscule tritium tubes sandwiched between two solar panels.

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When sandwiched between two solar panels, this battery only generates 1.5 microwatts. A real Gameboy requires "almost a million microwatts".

The two solar panels keep all outside light away from the tritium, which shines a bright green. Despite finding the most energy efficient tritium tubes for the size, the tiny nuclear generator isn't enough to power a Gameboy. Charnas’ claim of a nuclear-powered Gameboy is rather disingenuous; it’s actually a nuclear-powered Tetris handheld.

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That's Tetris.

Even by using a low-power Tetris handheld, the nuclear battery isn't efficient enough to power the device real-time. Instead, Charnas uses the battery to charge a collection of solid state batteries that only leak 2.5% of generated power. Over time, the stored power is enough to play a game of Tetris.

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The waiting game

Initially, the nuclear-powered Tetris machine was supposed to be capable of a one-hour game after a week of charging. Unfortunately, a bad batch of batteries pushed the project back. With newer, smaller batteries fitted, Charnas waited one month to test the device.

Success! After a month of charging, the YouTuber’s Tetris handheld not only worked, but it lasted far longer than expected. Instead of just ten minutes of sweet puzzle action, the game lasted almost an hour on the nuclear battery.

Charnas does make sure to mention that the nuclear-powered Tetris game is completely safe. The handheld generates the same amount of radiation as a slab of outside granite. However, it is wise to keep the device away from children; biting down on a tritium tube would not be safe at all.

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