Herr Direktor Funranium is the after hours mad science alter-ego of the theoretically mild mannered health physicist, Phil Broughton.
By day, I work in radiation safety as a health physicist at the University of California, Berkeley. My normal duties have an emphasis on radiation producing machines, radiation detection instrumentation, and (unofficially) the weird stuff you find when you open a closet no one’s gone into in 50+ years. Really, health physics is a a very narrow topic but it touches almost every thing you can think of at a university. In my work with ionizing radiation, I’ve dug through former reactor rooms, been sent into student blasted mines from the turn of the last century, gone through special museum collections looking for the radioactive bits, and hiking all around a radio telescope. Every other year for the last eight, I have been an adjunct professor in the Occupational Safety program at Las Positas Comunity College teaching anyone willing to enroll more than they ever wanted to know about radiation safety.
Yes, I used to work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Yes, I used to hold a Q Clearance. No, I won’t tell you any secrets because, duh, I was someone judged trustworthy to give a clearance to. Besides, work in radiation safety isn’t all that exciting. I didn’t build nuclear weapons but I did help at least one go away.
I’m a history nerd who is likely to hit you with old Cliff Claven “It’s a little known fact…” with very little provocation on almost any topic and always happy to receive one in turn. I’m also an advocate for urban exploration as we all should take some pride in the places that we live and know more about them. While I can’t attend Atlas Obscura and Odd Salon meetings nearly as often as I might want, rest assured I support their ethos. The only non-professional organization to which I am a dues paying member is the Long Now Foundation which I similarly support and, frankly, I’d go to their lounge, The Interval, every day if I could.
I spent a year in Antarctica which was a rather transformative event in my life, as you can read about to your heart’s content on this website. At the very least, it left me a much better bartender and with the conviction that the purpose of an alcoholic beverage is the pleasure of spirits well made and a cocktail well mixed. Life is far too short for bad booze and if you’re doing shots, you’ve missed the point of putting things in your body for any purpose other than intoxication.
If you read comics, you may have seen my likeness grace the pages of Atomic Robo, specifically Volume 6 and 8 along with the roleplaying game. Not only has a version of me appeared in a comic book but I also have stats as an NPC for the roleplaying game. I am ridiculously proud of this particular bit of nerd cred and happy that I’ve been able to help contribute in some small way to Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener’s work.
I live in Oakland, CA with my infinitely patient and loving Lovely Assistant, and two very dumb though adorable cats.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about Funranium Labs has been all the people I’ve met thanks to weapons grade coffee and steins, the stories I’ve heard and friends I’ve made. If I have regrets, it’s that I’ll never get to go everywhere I want, do all the things I’d like to do, and meet everyone I’d like to see short of functional immortality. Oh, and I am eternally several months behind on writing projects regarding adventures and rants because I’m too busy having them.
I mean, coffee’s pretty great but it can only go so far.