Category Archives: Basics

Generally basic explanations of the world.

Geiger Counters 101 — The Basics, Part One

Filed under Basics, Radiation
Tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Part one of the Geiger Counters 101 series, by, covers the basic history, usage, and aspects of Geiger Counters. The following topics are covered in the first part:

The history of the Geiger-Mueller tube
Basic Geiger tube concepts
New Geiger counter? What do you do?
Taking a baseline/background reading
various tips and tricks.

There are no prerequisites other than you have an interest in radiation and Geiger counters.

Five things to remember:
(1) Always use CPM (Counts per minute) unless you are calibrated for the specific, known, element and radiation source you are detecting.
(2) There are four common ionizing radiation types: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and X-Ray.
(3) A Geiger Counter which is turned off detects NOTHING. Keep your unit on and stay informed.
(4) You cannot check too slowly. Do not rush your examinations of objects.
(5) Identify and monitor your baselines. A reading without a baseline is of little use.

Rocks and Minerals – Part 1

Filed under Basics, Science
Tagged as , , , , , ,

How to use a Geiger Counter – 101

Filed under Basics, Radiation
Tagged as , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Few Thoughts on Radiation

Filed under Basics, Rants & Misc
Tagged as , , , , ,

I am sitting on my laptop being blasted by solar radiation… My face is being coated by photons of many different wavelengths. The energy of such photons is equal to Planks constant multiplied by the speed of light in a vacuum and divided by the wavelength of the photon. Generally speaking, this radiation is of little concern. Most visible light is just pleasant and not dangerous, aside from long term effects of cancer from the ultra violate spectrum. When any particles radiate from a source, they are called radiation. Technically, the light in your flashlight is radiation, but harmless. Only radiation which disrupts the bonds of molecules is bad. This is called Ionizing Radiation.

Interestingly, most people are not aware that much of the bad radiation is still light…

Gamma rays and X-Rays are actually both just photons. Think of them as very powerful light. Now when I say powerful, I don’t mean intensity, but energy! The shorter the wavelength of the light, the greater the power each bit of it holds! When gamma rays hit your body, they are like little bullets cutting through your DNA. Those who have been exposed to massive doses, just before they died, stated that it felt like pins and needles on their skin. That was the gamma rays cutting their nerves to ribbons…

I’ll help you understand…

Go to a dark room and hold a bright flashlight against your hand. Look at your hand and see a little bit of the light passing through. Imagine if the light were more powerful, would more of it make it through? If you crank the power up to the level of an X-ray you can see your bones! (actually, you see everything but them as they are too thick).

But wait! You said X-rays and Gamma rays, but what about Alpha and Beta radiation?

Well, alpha radiation and beta are different entirely. Alpha radiation comes from energy which breaks off of an atom via decay of an unstable atom. This is called the weak nuclear force. That energy becomes mass, specifically two protons and two neutrons. This means that an Alpha particle is basically the same thing as a helium 4 nucleus without the electrons. This doesn’t mean your party balloon is deadly. The alpha particle also carries a large amount of kinetic force, momentum, and is like a bullet when it hits your body. A can of cat food is not deadly, but if I throw one at you it can be. Lol

Interestingly, some of the helium on Earth comes from nuclear decay of Uranium and other things. Beta radiation is nothing more than a speedy electron (beta minus) or positron (beta plus)! They are also like bullets when it hit you.

I wrote an article on this too lol

A Rant about Valence

Filed under Basics, Rants & Misc, Science

A Rant about Valence

I was asked today, as I ordered a sandwich, about electrons and their role in Valence. Valence simply occurs when an atom can lend an electron between itself and another atom. This was not what interested me as much as the discussion of what matter and energy really are.

I have written a few articles about this:

Where does all the energy go:

What is an atom:

Classical vs. Modern view of Electrons

And a video too!