Who would have thought that an underachieving student from Princeton would have his term paper confiscated by the FBI? That’s the story of John Aristotle Philips. Let’s find out what happened.
John Aristotle Philips wrote a term paper on nuclear proliferation. The report he made also included designs for an atomic bomb which was quite similar to the one dropped on Nagasaki. He got an A+ on his report, and the FBI seized the said term paper.
The Controversial Term Paper
In order to improve his grades, John Aristotle Philips had to write an exceptional term paper in 1976. He was not a great student. In fact, he was described as an underachieving one. He decided to write a paper on nuclear proliferation. The paper he wrote included specific design models for an actual atomic bomb, quite similar to the one that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. He used publicly available books and resources to make the design and got an A+ on his report. The FBI promptly confiscated his paper.
I wanted it to be simple, inexpensive and easy to build. The idea was not to use any classified information. I wanted to do it with what was available to the public.John Aristotle Philips
According to Frank Chilton, a nuclear physicist from Palo Alto, California, Philips had overcome the significant challenges in building the nuclear device. The technology in the paper is 20 years behind but was still more advanced than the original Hiroshima bomb. Though Philips did not actually build the said bomb, the size is estimated to be as small as a beachball weighing approximately 125 pounds.
A portion of Philips’ term paper has been withheld from the public since it deals with the critical problem of the high-explosive component needed to trigger the blast. The so-called underachieving student figured out the answer to the problem with the help of nuclear engineering textbooks he had access to.
It’s very simple. Any undergraduate physics major could have done what I did.John Aristotle Philips
When Did The FBI Confiscate John Aristotle Philips’ Term Paper?
In 1977, Philips was contacted by a Pakistani official who was trying to purchase the design of his bomb. At this point, the Federal Bureau of Investigation confiscated his term paper along with the model of the bomb he made in his dorm room. (Source: Knowol)
Where is John Aristotle Philips Now?
From being the underachieving student who played the tiger mascot at the Princeton Games, John Aristotle Philips is now an entrepreneur specializing in political campaigns. He founded Aristotle Inc. in 1983 and has since then, led as the CEO of the company.
The company has served every occupant of the White House since Ronald Reagan’s term and currently consults for several political committees. In 1998, he talked about the importance of political campaigns targeting the masses on the world wide web. By 2009, he observed that 8.9% of the registered voters were not qualified to vote because they had moved or passed away. (Source: Washington Times)