Tag Archives: Geiger counter

Radioactive Camera Lens

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This is my new Pentax Asahi Takumar 1:1.4/50mm lens… but it also happens to be radioactive! It contains Thorium 232.

Ruggles Uranium Mine Trip! (Uranium Mine)

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I traveled to Ruggles Mine, New Hampshire to find uranium (and other minerals too!). The trip was fine until I learned I could not use my radiation detectors… which was terrible news! They did sell burgers and drinks and even had uranium for sale in the giftshop lol WARNING! There is uranium on-site, so keep control of the kids or don’t bring them. No need letting children get too close to uranium.

Pros:
Large area to mine.
Loads of minerals.
Wonderful giftshop.
Food on site

Cons:
Cannot use radiation detectors! 🙁

Coronal Mass Ejection – Detection

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On July 14, 2012 at 1424 EDT (1824 UTC, and 2:24PM local time) I believe that I detected a Coronal Mass Ejection, herein CME, an event where the sun bursts a massive amount of charged particles into space. These events are akin to solar flares, though not actually the same thing. The CME was detected by various organizations around the world and easily seen at SpaceWeather.com. At exatly 1824 UTC my detection units both noted a spike in high energy photon readings (gamma or X-ray from 10keV to 5 MeV).

Methods:

The Nekonome II Gamma Spectrometer, using a Radiation Sensors 6S6P1.5VD NaI(Tl) scintillation detector and a UCS30 MCA was run in multi-channel scaling mode, allowing for a gross count of detected photons for 60 second periods. The results were displayed as an x/y graph with the vertical y axis representing counts and the x axis representing time in increments of 60 seconds. A pancake Geiger Meuller detect with an LND7317 tube and an SE International Geiger counter was placed over other scintillation crystal. As a result, any photon radiation from the sun which impacted the crystal must also pass through the Geiger tube. Both units ran in concert for about an hour and the results were examined.

Coronal Mass Ejection

Coronal Mass Ejection

Results:

Both the output from Nekonome II and Geiger Graph software running on RadiationNetwork.com displayed a larger peak at 1824 UTC. This peak coincided with data from SpaceWeather.com indicating the strike of a CME at that same time. The most likely cause for the detection was a localized particle shower, yet the heavy lead shielding around the crystal detection ensure the energy detected must be above 500 keV and is more than likely above 1 MeV in energy. Without a high range gamma spectrometer, there is not conclusive proof of this find, but very probable data.

From Geiger Graph and the Geiger counter
68 7/14/12 02:21 PM 43 2,262 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59
69 7/14/12 02:22 PM 40 2,302 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59
70 7/14/12 02:23 PM 31 2,333 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59
71 7/14/12 02:24 PM 59 2,392 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59 < - Note the elevated reading.
72 7/14/12 02:25 PM 35 2,427 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59
73 7/14/12 02:26 PM 36 2,463 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59
74 7/14/12 02:27 PM 40 2,503 33 38.295861 -77.491647 59

From Nekonome II (UCS30)
60: 130 | 130 | 126 | 145 | 114 | 150 | 128 | 145 | 139 | 142 |
70: 169 | 129 | 115 | 127 | 150 | 153 | 140 | 145 | 146 | 150 | < - Note the elevated reading at minute 70 (minute 70 is 1824 UTC)
80: 134 | 161 | 125 | 137 | 127 | 135 | 132 | 158 | 139 | 128 |

Nekonome II:
_______________________________________________________________
mean 138.953
median 139. (8 occurrences)
s.d. 12.0346
minimum 109. (element 24)
maximum 169. (element 70)
Total 17,786

169 – 138.953 = 30.047 / 12.0346 = 2.5 StdDiv

Geiger Graph:
_______________________________________________________________
mean 34.0816
median 34. (10 occurrences)
s.d. 5.55697
minimum 21. (element 56)
maximum 59. (element 38)
Total 3340

59 – 34.0816 = 24.9184 / 5.55697 = 4.5 StdDiv

Waterford Crystal – Radioactive!

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Waterford Crystal – A beautiful addition to any home! It shines, looks lovely, and it is radioactive!


I recently tested a piece of Waterford crystal to see why it was radioactive. For a long time I have wondered by my Geiger counter went crazy when near it. The truth was quickly revealed by Gamma Spectroscopy! The little Angel statue contained potassium 40, (element K). All potassium contains 93+ % Potassium 39, stable potassium, and a little bit of the isotope Potassium 41, perhaps 6+ %. But, all potassium also contains a tiny fraction of the radioactive isotope of potassium, Potassium 40 (K40). Potassium 40 undergoes three forms of decay, beta -, rarely beta+, and electron capture. The last step emits a gamma ray with an energy of 1461 keV. It is this gamma ray that I detected.

Amazing!

Waterford Crystal Angel

Waterford Crystal Angel

Waterford Crystal - Gamma spectrum

Waterford Crystal - Gamma spectrum

Radioactive Banana! Peeling Away the Mystery

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Radioactive Banana! Peeling Away the Mystery

All bananas contain potassium (element K). All potassium contains 93+ % Potassium 39, stable potassium, and a little bit of the isotope Potassium 41, perhaps 6+ %. But, all potassium also contains a tiny fraction of the radioactive isotope of potassium, Potassium 40 (K40).

Potassium 40 undergoes three forms of decay, beta -, rarely beta+, and electron capture. The last step emits a gamma ray with an energy of 1461 keV. It is this gamma ray that I detected.

My calculations for the typical radioactivity of a banana:

The number of Potassium (K) atoms per gram of potassium:
(Avogadro’s Number / Atomic Weight of K40) = 6.022 x10^23 / 39 = 1.544 × 10^22 K Atoms/gram

The amount of Potassium in a Banana (approx):
grams of Potassium in a banana = 0.442 grams

Natural abundance of K40 per normal Potassium (A): 0.000117

Half life of Potassium: 3.9357×10^16 seconds (T 1/2).

Calculation:
((Avogadro’s Number) / (Atomic weight)) x (0.442 g) x (A) x (ln 2) / (T1/2)
(((6.022*10^23 / 39)*0.442) x 0.000117) x ln2 / (3.9357×10^16)
=14.0633 decays per second per banana
= 14.0633 Bq Banana^-1
=lol

Practical Gamma Spectroscopy Links

For $350 USD – $500 USD
http://beeresearch.com.au/ – Quality and inexpensive MCA
http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/~marek/pra/index.html – PRA software for viewing peaks.

You can often find a good scintillation probe on eBay for a few hundred dollars (USD), but you have to shop for it.

$4,000-$5,000 USD
http://spectrumtechniques.com/ucs30_system.htm — Entry lab-grade setup.

Some potassium and banana sites!!!
http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/consumer%20products/potassiumgeneralinfo.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose
http://www.chiquitabananas.com/Worlds-Favorite-Fruit/bananas-and-potassium.aspx
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000089/