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.
After the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, scientists began a massive effort to monitor radioactive contamination of food grown nearby. And one good thing did come out of it—we learned how radioactivity moves through the ecosystem.
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.
People do some pretty dumb things for YouTube videos. Derek Muller does them for the sake of science, though. The host of Veritasium, a YouTube channel about science, recently visited the most radioactive places on Earth for a TV show about how Uranium and radioactivity affected the modern world. And he lived to tell…
America has currently no plan for its nuclear waste. It did, however, at one point, have a supremely ambitious plan to bury it in a mountain for 10,000 years. From color-changing radioactive cats to rotting kitty litter, this essay from Method Quarterly explores the mythical and the mundane problems of nuclear…
On December 21, 1898, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive element radium (in the form of radium chloride), extracting it from uraninite. They first removed the uranium from the uraninite sample and then found that the remaining matter was still radioactive, so investigated further. Along with the barium…
Yesterday, we enjoyed The New Yorker's engrossing interactive look at the strange history of NYC's most radioactive place, an auto shop in Queens that occupies a former factory that produced radioactive thorium for the Atomic Energy Commission. Today, after months of study, the Environmental Protection Agency decided…
Like so many NYC businesses, Primo Flat Fix occupies a nearly 100-year-old building. But this Queens, garage sits on a very peculiar piece of dirt: The former site of Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, a rare-earth supplier that furnished the Atomic Energy Commission with radioactive thorium—when it wasn't dumping the…
In this week's landscape reads, we get to see just how screwed we are in the drought, visit a 2 billion-year-old nuclear reactor (all natural!), investigate mysterious fires in North Korea, and tour tornado shelters that look like real-life hobbit holes.
Those Mexican thieves that stole a truckload of cobalt-60? They're virtually sure to die, according to experts.
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?
Japan's nuclear agency wants to raise the severity level of the new radioactive water leak at the Fukushima because the problem is more serious than initially expected.
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.
Think of a random number between one and ten. Most likely, you chose seven—so exactly how random was your choice? Turns out that generating a truly random number is more difficult than you might think—but this video should help you get to grips with the problem.
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.