The Irvhank Effect was the name given by Irv Farmer and Hank Jeter to an effect they accidentally discovered that could remotely control radioactive decay. The name was created from their first names.

The effect was discovered by accident during a power outage at a laboratory the two worked at. Jeter was looking at his pocket watch when the lights went out and could not read its Radium dial. Later that evening, he looked at it again and saw that the glow was back in dim light. The two went back to the lab, recreated the experiment and saw that the watch no longer glowed. A Geiger counter indicated the radioactive decay of the Radium had stopped. When the lab equipment was shut down, it started again.[1]

The two did not tell anyone about the effect. Instead, they began investigating it on their own, using the lab equipment but on their own time. Indeed they often worked into the wee small hours. The initial effect was very strong, eliminating all radioactivity except for weak background radiation. However, it had a limited range of only ten meters. Over the course of several months, the two experimented and eventually developed equipment that generated a weaker but more extensive effect.[2]

Their calculations indicated that it would stop the chain reaction in nuclear weapons but allow a nuclear reactor to continue to operate. Their calculations also indicated that it would cover most of the United States. Testing this would prove problematic. However, the two determined that the US Government was going to conduct a nuclear test at Nellis Air Force Base. Unsure of the accuracy of their calculations, the two took vacation time and spent it in nearby Las Vegas. On the day of the test, they rented a pick-up truck, loaded it with their equipment and a generator and drove cross-country in the dessert towards Nellis. They stopped well away from the base's boundary and set up. The time of the test came and went with no earth tremors. They waited twenty minutes and then turned off their apparatus. Immediately, they felt a light earthquake.[3]

The two returned home in a happy mood determined to write up the effect and announce it to the world. While Farmer had visions of Nobel Prizes dancing in his head, Jeter had bigger ideas. They set up the device in Jeter's bedroom, powering it from wall socket, and activated it to protect the United States from nuclear attack. Shortly after, Farmer noticed an article on Marshal Pavel Serafimov in the Milestones column in Time Magazine. It indicated he had retired earlier than expected due to difficulties in developing warheads for the new SS-26 ICBMs. This was their first indication that the Effect had a world-wide influence, and not just blanketing the U.S.[4]

Naturally, the world noticed. U.S. intelligence kept the failure of a number of underground tests from the Soviet Union and more importantly from the U.S. Congress. Any and all anomalies related to radiation were reviewed resulting in many man-hours and much computer time being expended. For instance, all nuclear reactors east of the Mississippi River experienced a simultaneous six second "hiccup" which the plant managers tried to hush-up. As well, a number of high energy physics experiments went unexpectedly awry. Also, cases of disappointingly ineffective radiation cancer treatments were investigated.[5]

Many of these events were localized and were plotted on a map. This gave the agency an idea where it was centered. Two physicists in this area were known to have vacationed in Las Vegas when a test in Nellis Air Force Base was inexplicably late going off. An agent was assigned to investigate Farmer and Jeter.[6]

The agent disguised himself as a repairman and broke into Farmer's condo while he was at work. He found Farmer's notes and a half written paper explaining the Irvhank Effect. He quickly skimmed the papers and then stuffed them into his duffel bag and left. The documents indicated the actual device was in Jeter's apartment so the agent left it clear that there had been a burglary and expected Farmer to rush over to see Jeter. His plan was to speak to the two together.[7]

The agent's expectations proved correct. He entered Jeter's building and paused at the apartment door where he heard the two talking. He then picked the lock and entered the room the two were in, brandishing an Uzi with a silencer and a forty round box magazine. The two physicists were startled and the agent cautioned them not to try anything, the gun would sound like Donald Duck sneezing and leave them hamburger.[8]

After discussing their work and discovering that the effect could not be limited to protecting the U.S. while leaving the Soviets exposed, the agent asked what the two hoped to accomplish. Jeter contemptuously explained that they would bring world peace by preventing nuclear destruction. The agent was not impressed and explained that aside from chemical and biological weapons, the Soviets had significant numerical superiority in conventional weapons. In Europe they had a 3-1 advantage in tanks, 2-1 in aircraft and 3-2 in ground troops. Once they realized the nuclear deterrence was over, they would have no strategic obstacle in launching an invasion.

Farmer objected, stating that they would still be subject to bombings and counter attacks with the possibility of losing. The agent indicated that that wasn't much of an obstacle to the Soviets, that Americans had a hard time understanding that the Soviets had done the bulk of the fighting during World War II. The last people that had success in occupying Russia were the Mongols. He further explained that the Soviets had suffered 11-13 million dead troops and 7 million civilian casualties during WWII and would be willing to risk the same again. This shocked Farmer and Jeter but the agent explained that they grew up during the Vietnam War where there were only 50,000 U.S. dead over a dozen years and that they had no idea about a truly big conventional war.[9]

The agent had not liked his orders and had tried to bring the two around to his point of view but it was no use, the situation was to far from their normal thought processes. Reluctantly, Donald sneezed, emptying half the clip into the two physicists killing them instantly. The Agent then searched Jeter's apartment and found his notes along with the device under his bed. The Agent pulled it out and fired off the other half of the clip into it. He then threw both sets of notes onto the floor, doused them with gasoline from a can in his duffel and set it on fire.

The agent escaped and read in the papers that the fire department had managed to hold the fire to only three floors. That way, attention would be diverted from his actions and his trail could be hidden. He reported back and everyone was pleased. The next test went off without a hitch and everything was back to normal. No one debriefed the Agent on the Effect, wanting to keep the details off the record.[10]

The Agent's journal indicated that he was the only one with any knowledge about the Effect and that he really shouldn't be writing about it. It ends with "More later. Somebody's at the d..."[11]

Thus, the Irvhank Effect was successfully buried.


  1. See, e.g., There Will Be War Volume VIII, loc. 1729-1747, ebook.
  2. Ibid., loc. 1776-1814.
  3. Ibid., loc. 1710-1729.
  4. Ibid., loc. 1814-1824.
  5. Ibid., loc.loc. 1824-1833, ebook.
  6. Ibid., loc. 1833-1842.
  7. Ibid., 1842.
  8. Ibid., loc. 1842-1851.
  9. Ibid., loc. 1851-1870.
  10. Ibid., loc. 1889.
  11. Ibid., loc. 1898.