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Radioactive Americium 241 Answered

I have 4.4 µCi of Americium 241. Anything fun i can do with it? can i generate light or electricity or make it do something?

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katgirl2000
katgirl2000

4 years ago

If it was obtained as an encapsulated source no problems. Lots of things, diy cloud chambers, spark gap, scintillation detectors but naturally all would be designed so that the α could actually pass the detector's container etc. A little neutron generator or source for a diy accelerator too. If not encapsulated (and that isn't easy to obtain) glove box for the same reason as slicing fissionables. Hey particle emitters are a lot safer than microbiology or often undergrad chem research and I've done all of it (physics weight in nuclear and accelerator operator). You can detect radioactive material, pathogens you can't and I had some serious close calls with high energy inorganic chem! :)

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richgrise
richgrise

7 years ago

If you had a geiger counter sensor, you could electronically capture the random events and use them to generate true random numbers.

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Kiteman
Kiteman

11 years ago

I wouldn't hang on to it.

As an alpha emitter, it would be extremely unwise to risk getting it within your skin, as alpha particles cause far more damage than beta or gamma radiation.

Remember the Russian killed by radioactive poison? It was a tiny amount of an alpha emitter.

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

Why, oh WHY did I ever drop out of the Boy Scouts??!!!

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KentsOkay
KentsOkay

Reply 11 years ago

Why, oh WHY did I never join?

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

I thought they'd do dangerous and cool stuff. I guess I was in the wrong troop. ;-(

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thematthatter
thematthatter

Reply 11 years ago

They never said if he became an eagle scout or not?

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

I don't think they said. He could be a real poster-boy for scouting! "Kids, Work long and hard, be prepared and you could be like this meth-head... Uh, I mean Nuclear-Hobbyist". On my honor, I will do my best, to not NUKE my neighborhood.

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Big Bwana
Big Bwana

Reply 11 years ago

Skin wounds, teeth falling out, etc go both hand in hand with meth use and radiation exposure.... If you look at some of the old video footage of the Manhattan project scientists several of them are grossly disfigured from radiation exposure, and several died from doing things like "licking the dragons tail" (( they did later explode that "Demon Core" but it managed to kill two people when it went critical and super critical before that and it caused burning, skin peeling, and other miserable rad sickness symptoms ))

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 11 years ago

..."licking the dragons tail"...

I just googled that phrase, and came up with one hit - your post.

What does it actually mean?

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noahspurrier
noahspurrier

Reply 9 years ago

I know this is old, but for future reference he meant to write "TICKLING the dragon's tail". Search for "Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.".

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 9 years ago

OK, thanks.

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

I know. I was just being difficult. On a side note, I live near one of the worst (if not THE worst) accident sites from the Cold War. In 1965 a silo caught fire and 53 men were killed. That's like a mile from the house. It's a deadend road where I taught my kids to drive.

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Big Bwana
Big Bwana

Reply 11 years ago

Ouch one welding rod in the wrong place. Thats got to suck ... It's strange to see how some thing so small and normally harmless can lead to the deaths of some many ......

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

Yep. I'm just glad it didn't "go nuclear". It's way out in the sticks, but still would've wiped out tens of thousands with radiation. Now there's a little plaque that honors the dead, but other than that, you'd never know it was there. I know the people that live (and raise cows) on that property.

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thematthatter
thematthatter

Reply 11 years ago

There are some shady people involved in Boy Scouts. Its a nice role model for today's youth when your council was investigated for fraud by the government. (true story)

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

I hate that... My grandfather was involved in scouting. I was too, for like 6 months, but the whole thing seemed to have lost it's value. It's a tradition I really respect, but they need to SERIOUSLY start screening the scoutmasters!

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thematthatter
thematthatter

Reply 11 years ago

They do background checks but only to check for sex offenders.

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Big Bwana
Big Bwana

Reply 11 years ago

He did make the rank of eagle scout eventually, and the super-fund clean up cost was only $60,000 USD... He even got a job in the navy working on a nuclear powered ship, they how ever wouldn't even allow him to tour one of the eight nuclear reactors on board (( Not even a little peek through the door crack )) he's probably exceeded his life time dose of radioactivity though his own ignorance, and an apparent lack of safely handling / storing radioactive materials......

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Goodhart
Goodhart

Reply 11 years ago

that eagle never landed..... reference to a book written in 1975 by the name, The Eagle Has Landed (film in 1976)

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yourcat
yourcat

Reply 11 years ago

Believes he "only" took five years off his life, huh? There's quite a lot I would do for five extra...

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Sandisk1duo
Sandisk1duo

Reply 11 years ago

Nice, an average person could probably do the same thing, since there is SOO much information about this subject on the internet

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gmjhowe
gmjhowe

Reply 11 years ago

erm, i thort it was gamma? ( i could be wrong)

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 11 years ago

Gamma and alpha, apparently - the gamma's not ionising radiation, though, and far less dangerous.

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lemonie
lemonie

Reply 11 years ago

I realise this is a bit late, but gamma radiation is ionising. It may penetrate further before causing ionisation, but it does. How dangerous it is depends upon the intensity. For example Cobalt-60 sources are used to sterilise various things - potentially totally lethal.
Like noise can damage your ears: it's a question of how loud?

L

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gmjhowe
gmjhowe

Reply 11 years ago

ah ok, well i still told him to get rid of it!

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LinuxH4x0r
LinuxH4x0r

Reply 11 years ago

gamma is safer?

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kelseymh
kelseymh

Reply 11 years ago

I was going to write a long reply for you and Kiteman. Instead, please see my topic in the Physics forum.

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Masterdude
Masterdude

Reply 11 years ago

Alpha radiation is deadly but it is weak and can be stopped very easily. It cannot penetrate skin but if it gets into your body it can kill you.

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 11 years ago

That was kind of my point - your skin will stop it, but if you swallow it, breath it in or get it under your skin any other way, then it's Goodnight, Vienna!

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Big Bwana
Big Bwana

Reply 11 years ago

Fingers those can be cut off, Americium 241 likes to concentrate in your bones and liver try losing the latter to cancer and see how long you live....

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Tool Using Animal
Tool Using Animal

Reply 11 years ago

It looks more like Mr.Hahn is suffering from Meth Face than from radiation poisoning.

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LinuxH4x0r
LinuxH4x0r

Reply 11 years ago

haha, I wouldn'y be surprised if thats what really happened

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 11 years ago

Radiation sickness can seriously reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, leading to slow-to-heal skin lesions.

Or he could have been beaten up with a cheese grater?

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whatsisface
whatsisface

Reply 11 years ago

Also worth noting that the substance he was killed by decayed to lead, so he also got poisoned by that.

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Kiteman
Kiteman

Reply 11 years ago

Nah, he was dead long before he got enough lead in his system to be dangerous.

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Sandisk1duo
Sandisk1duo

11 years ago

I have about 2 pieces of indium, each the size of a grain of rice, it's not radioactive or poisonous, right?

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kelseymh
kelseymh

Reply 11 years ago

Here's the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for indium metal. It is a lung irritant and has toxicological effects on the liver and kidneys. It may also cause developmental damage in children.

For your reference, always look up the MSDS (just use Google with "MSDS <whatever>") for a new chemcial if you're not familiar with it. They tend to be overly conservative about personal protective gear, but the quantitative data (LD50, flammability, etc.) will be accurate.

The tox effects are primarily from ingested or inhaled dust, or subcutaneous exposure. If you have solid pieces, keep them that way.

Are you an element collector?

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NachoMahma
NachoMahma

Reply 11 years ago

> They tend to be overly conservative . I used to work at a hazmat incinerator and it was always fun to watch the newbies read their first real MSDS. "I gotta work around this stuff?!?!? It'll kill ya!" Then we'd show them the MSDSs for some household chemicals.

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kelseymh
kelseymh

Reply 11 years ago

My favorite? Water, followed closely by Air. And just to round things off, Earth; all of them contain Fire already.

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yourcat
yourcat

Reply 11 years ago

ROFL!!!

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Sandisk1duo
Sandisk1duo

Reply 11 years ago

That's pretty funny!

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Big Bwana
Big Bwana

Reply 11 years ago

those are classic.. I can't wait to put in a request at work for the MSDS on air and water just to see the look on the safety guys face, and I though the request I made last month for the MSDS on liquid paper and fluorescent lights was ignorant ..... now I wonder if they have one for coffee and creamer to (( ok the safety guy is not the most pleasant guy at work ))

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kelseymh
kelseymh

Reply 11 years ago

Here's an amusing one for coffee.

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skunkbait
skunkbait

Reply 11 years ago

Wow! That made me think two things: 1) Man, I hate HazMat courses and ops! 2)I could really go for an Irish coffee right about now!

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Sandisk1duo
Sandisk1duo

Reply 11 years ago

element collector? no i just happen to have some indium

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Big Bwana
Big Bwana

Reply 11 years ago

well 95 % of Indium is radioactive, its a very very weak Beta emitter with a half life of about 4 times longer then the planet earth has existed so it's pretty safe... And for the most part it is not toxic and it's worth about $1000 / Kg and the cost is only going to go up with more and more LCD's being produced..... (it's used to make the transparent conductors on the glass)

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LinuxH4x0r
LinuxH4x0r

Reply 11 years ago

any way to get it out of lcds? 1000 a kilo!