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Safety

Chemistry in Pictures: Drop & Run

by Craig Bettenhausen
April 22, 2020

 

20200422lnp20-dropandrun.jpg
Credit: LANL

What do you do if you find a cobalt-60 radiation source? “If you sprint away immediately, you might not die,” says Katie Mummah, a nuclear engineer and grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The history of this sample from 1963 is unclear, but 60Co’s intense gamma ray emissions are used in radiotherapy, sterilization, and structural analysis. Careful shielding protects organisms that don’t want a lethal dose of radiation.

20200422lnp20-group.jpg
Credit: LANL
This group of dummy radiation sources are used for training, so "no photographers were harmed in the taking of these photos," says Justin Griffin of OSRP.

Starting at 3540 Curies nearly 60 years ago, this particular sample today probably would throw off about 2 Curies, says archaeologist Ellis Monahan (@GirlArchaeo). That’s not too bad from a meter away, but a real problem if you put it in your pocket, she says.

This sample, about 10 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter, is in the collection of the Off-Site Recovery Program based at Los Alamos National Lab. If you ever stumble on some stray radioactive material, give them a call at (505) 667-7920 and they’ll come get it, worldwide.

Credit: Los Alamos National Lab

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Comments
Dark-Star88 (September 24, 2020 11:16 AM)
That little cylinder is scarier than all the horror movies in the world.

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