One of the major requirements of an illuminated exit sign is it has to keep glowing no matter what. That means that, if power is cut to the building, or if the sign itself gets knocked around, power has to keep flowing. What's the power source? Radiation. But there's no need to panic.
Behold, the miserable relic of a toxic era! Its denizens scurry through it, unaware or unable to avoid the poison it gives off. Seriously, though, Grand Central Station gives you a dose of radiation when you go through it, thanks to the granite used to build it.
If someone were to put a pint of beer and a pint of carrot juice in front of you, telling you to pick the safer option, you'd go for the carrot juice, right? You fool! Sure, beer is full of alcohol, but compared to carrot juice it's relatively free of something else — radioactivity.
A group of Duke University scientists have found concentrations of radium, a highly radioactive substance, in a stream near a facility that treats wastewater left over from hydraulic fracturing. The concentrations are 200 times higher than background levels — and they're in the water supply.
We all know the clicking of Geiger counters from movies, and we all know that the faster the counter clicks, the worse things are. But how exactly do they work?
The famous radium girls took the reputation of radium from the savior of the sick to the killer of the poor. Working in a factory at a time when radium was considered the best way to improve health, by the time they died, they were exhaling radon gas and their hair glowed in the dark.
After the release of Prometheus, craftmaker Steve was so inspired by a tweet by Bad Astronomy's Phil Plait that he went out and constructed his own "Giger Counter" using a half-scale model skeleton (and not other simulcra of the human anatomy). And luckily for Steve, his home made for a poor testing ground:
As poisons go, polonium-210 is a bit of a mixed bag. Is it effective? Absolutely. If you eat a piece of polonium-210 the size of a grain of salt, it'll probably be enough to kill the average adult. That said, the highly unstable element is notorious for leaving an unmistakable calling card: ridiculously high levels of…
Last Wednesday, Mike Apatow was getting on to Interstate 84 in Newtown, CT, when police stopped him for no reason he could determine. When the cop told him that his car had set off his radioactivity detectors, it started making sense: Apatow was most certainly radioactive.
In the wake of last year's disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the world is once again dealing with contamination from a nuclear catastrophe. Now researchers have repurposed mining technology into a capsule that could make radiation tainted water drinkable.
Radioactive elements in your local Super Wal-Mart or camping store! It sounds like a bad five o'clock news headline, but gas lamps containing the radioactive element Thorium are extremely common, with millions sold annually.
Back in the day, you could shove all sorts of goods containing that miracle chemical radium in your body. There were radium-infused beers, chocolate, and suppositories. But radium-mania didn't stop with quack remedies.
The chart of relative doses of radioactivity that appeared on io9 yesterday set many minds at ease, but also raised questions. Questions like, "Why do you get dosed with radiation when eating a banana?"
The nuclear disaster in Japan has left many people in danger of exposure to radiation and radioactivity. Some are simply fearful. What exactly is this radiation? And what threat does it pose? We've got some answers below.
A must-read entry for all future dictators. Take a look at the meaning of "enriching uranium," why it's necessary, and some of the processes used to do it.
The famous blue Hope Diamond glows bright red when exposed to ultraviolet rays, even after the rays are turned off. This red blaze has been a mystery for years, but a new study credits the diamond's mixture of boron and nitrogen for the transformation. This discovery could help to "fingerprint" diamonds and identify…