...A Few Hours...

It's not MAD science...just disappointed.

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...A Few Hours...

Postby Wafath on Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:35 pm

Okay, then stick it in the neutron generator for a few hours until it is
radioactive again.


Hearing that, I am glad I went to a school with a functional and regularly operating reactor. We would just drop it in for about a minute or two. Fresh, hot sources, ready to go. :)

(and I am amused at today's strip. Bravo.)

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Re: ...A Few Hours...

Postby Gav on Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:50 pm

Wafath wrote:Hearing that, I am glad I went to a school with a functional and regularly operating reactor. We would just drop it in for about a minute or two. Fresh, hot sources, ready to go. :)

(and I am amused at today's strip. Bravo.)

W


Actually, I overstated the time for comedic emphasis.

But still, somehow I actually forgot that there is a reactor in the reactor room in the Nukees universe. Doi! Even so, I like "neutron generator" better.

And thanks! Today's was one of my geekier strips, but I think you can get it without being a physicist, which is always my goal.
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Postby the Siliconopolitan on Sat Jan 27, 2007 12:56 pm

I thought it very amusing, but as a chemist (sorta) I'm part of the intended audience. I find it more a joke about Safety Regulations and Officers than physics per se.
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Postby CodeGuy on Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:29 pm

I know nothing about nuclear physics, but I still liked the joke. The joke really wasn't about nuclear physics, it was about getting around bureaucracy and a dumb law. That's universal.
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Postby bloodeye on Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:39 am

Heh. At my college, didn't have anything fresh and hot, but did have a fairly hot bit of material in a nice think lead and cement container, with a little plug could shove thigns in to let them roast for a while, use the lesser radioactive results in various experiments. Well, the slot for sticking things to roast in just happened to be the right size for a couple of quarters...
They recomended that you spend them quickly and not keep any in your pockets.... :nervous:
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Postby Wafath on Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:42 pm

Well, depending on the source, a few hours might be exactly right. I remember my senior physics lab had one experiment that had a very weak neutron source, and most of the time they suggested a few hours of exposure.

Having worked the other side of things for a very brief period of time, the question wasn't "what is it?" but "Why don't you know?"

(Maryland is one of the states that effectively sub-contracts out ratiation rules and procedures from the federal governemnt. In some other states, the NRC regulates things, but in MD, there was a state organizeation that did everything except reactors. Over-all, they were pretty reasonable to work with. But we never screwed up that bad where I was. They had a slide show about a guy we called "stumpy" who had all of his fingers except his pinky amputated on both hands, and three of his toes on both feet. He deliberately disabled safety shutoffs on a linear accelerator. They used the pictures as a "don't let this happen to you" training class. Good times.)

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Postby Stig Hemmer on Tue Jan 30, 2007 4:39 pm

Reminds me of the blind man teaching us laser safety and optics. He had looked into the laser with his remaining eye.
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Postby Gav on Tue Jan 30, 2007 10:12 pm

Wafath wrote:Well, depending on the source, a few hours might be exactly right.


Yes, depends on the source. I just thought "hours" was funnier than "minutes," especially to non-physicists. The idea is that the source is as radioactive as possible before disposal, after all. Ack! You tricked me into discussing a joke!

Having worked the other side of things for a very brief period of time, the question wasn't "what is it?" but "Why don't you know?"


I worked the "other side" for three years, actually. I became a Health Physicist after I took so long to finish my thesis that I ran out of funding.

That strip is actually based on a real incident. I once tried to dispose of a "legacy" radioactive source that was mostly decayed, but the waste people wouldn't take it because no one knew what the non-radioactive bits of it were ("legacy" is tech speak for "hey, what the hell is this?"). If it's just radioactive, the waste people dispose of it for free, but if there is "hazardous" material mixed in (like lead), it becomes "mixed waste" and costs many many thousands of dollars.

So I stuck it in a neutron generator and tried to identify the materials from the prompt gamma rays given off. In the process, we made it way more radioactive than it was before.

...including the previously non-radioactive part. :shifty:
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Postby Wafath on Wed Jan 31, 2007 1:10 pm

Stig Hemmer wrote:Reminds me of the blind man teaching us laser safety and optics. He had looked into the laser with his remaining eye.


HAH!

Gav wrote:Yes, depends on the source. I just thought "hours" was funnier than "minutes," especially to non-physicists. The idea is that the source is as radioactive as possible before disposal, after all. Ack! You tricked me into discussing a joke!


It wasn't what I was after, but now that you mention it...

YEAY!!!!

I get a point!

Gav wrote:So I stuck it in a neutron generator and tried to identify the materials from the prompt gamma rays given off. In the process, we made it way more radioactive than it was before.

...including the previously non-radioactive part. :shifty:


Don't leave us in suspense, man... what was it?

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Postby Gav on Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:43 pm

Wafath wrote:Don't leave us in suspense, man... what was it?


Heh. Actually, I don't 100% remember. The results were rather strange. I remember seeing gamma lines for silver in there, and before irradiation, there was only a meta-stable state of a particular isotope that you would never normally see in anything. As near as I can figure from the results, the thing was probably activated in a neutron field 30 years earlier and most of the main stuff had decayed away and left behind a bunch of longer-lived, but far less abundant, isotopes that were just impurities of the main stuff. I'm pretty sure it turned out to be copper wrapped in cadmium.

The cadmium part sucked. It made it "hazardous" and therefore "mixed waste."
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Postby Drooling Iguana on Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:17 pm

They should've just given Archimedes a neutron generator.
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