Damn there is a lot of radiation here in Colorado! My Geiger counter tells me so. And it doesn’t lie.
Amazing little thing, this is. The Geiger-Muller tube, the thing that detects “some” radiation, requires 400 volts to operate. My counter uses two AAA batteries totaling about 3.1 volts. The miracle of electronics I guess…
BTW, did you know that smoke detectors contain the highly radioactive element Americium-241? A very tiny amount that is not harmful, but whose radiation is most definitely detectible. I won’t go into the details, but the radiation is a necessary component of detecting smoke. Americium is a synthetic element, meaning that it doesn’t occur in nature but is man-made. It was discovered, or rather made, during the Manhattan project experiments and is now in almost every building in the country. That may sound trivial, but think about this. It is an atom that was made by humans and does not exist anywhere else in the universe.
Also, it turns out that lantern mantels are made of Thorium, a naturally occurring radioactive element. Again, not harmful in the small amounts used in the mantles. But interestingly, it is used in lanterns because it does not follow black-body radiation characteristics. HUH?!? you might say… What that means is this: As you head a material it starts to emit radiation in the form of photons. Think about an electric stove burner. Notice how intensely hot the element becomes before it starts to glow red. That’s a lot of energy to make an tiny bit of light. To get your oven to produce the brightness of a lantern you would melt the stove and burn your house down. Most substances fall into this category, you’d have to use an exorbitant about of energy to make useable light. But it turns out you can carry a lantern around without burning yourself. That is because Thorium is one of those rare substances that does not follow a black-body radiation curve and glows brightly without producing, or requiring, much heat. Thus it is a great material for lanterns. And it turns out coincidentally, is radioactive!
Ok, enough of that. The next piece of equipment I need for my nuclear reactor is a high voltage power supply, much higher than what comes out of a plug in the house which is about 120 volts. Something with tens of thousands of volts! Lightning generators! Ebay?
Posted in Nuclear Fusion Reactor by Mark with .