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Does radiation sting?

  1. Feb 6, 2014 #1
    I was doing my casual tuesday experiments class. Me and my 2 "coworkers" were given the task of creating a function that gives radiation as a function of distance. I was given a sample in a black box, the rest of my team was on the sensors. I took it out and it said "Do not handle unless out of absolute neccesity" I had no tools to hold it so I used my hands. In the manual book it said it emotted beta and i think rays too and I thought I fealt little stings during the experiment. I would feel a needle like sting from time to time.

    I am not sure if I was having a placeebo effect, or if it was something else. Or if it was rays hitting something in my nervous system, triggering a "sting".

    Tl;dr: what does high energy radiation feel like?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2014 #2


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    Right now, as you are reading this, your body is being bombarded by radiation (beta, muon, etc.) Are you feeling the sting continuously?

  4. Feb 6, 2014 #3

    Maybe i would if the radiation was exponentially higher and I was taking in a high amount of alpha and beta rays.
  5. Feb 6, 2014 #4


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    In particular:

    At 3:20 p.m., the screwdriver slipped and the upper beryllium hemisphere fell, causing a "prompt critical" reaction and a burst of hard radiation.[9] At the time, the scientists in the room observed the blue glow of air ionization and felt a heat wave. In addition Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and an intense burning sensation in his left hand. Slotin jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor, ending the reaction. However, he had already been exposed to a lethal dose of neutron radiation.[1] At the time of the accident, dosimetry badges were in a locked box about 100 feet from the accident. Realizing that no one in the room had their film badges on, "Immediately after the accident Dr. Slotin asked to have the badges taken from the lead box and placed on the critical assembly".[14] This peculiar response was attributed to "vertigo" and was of no value for determining the actual doses received by the men in the room.[14]
  6. Feb 6, 2014 #5


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    And you think this is what you got from your lab sources?

    Here's a hint: if your lab sources has a high enough radiation that you can "feel" it, it shouldn't be in there in the first place and your school has violated a number of safety protocol.

    If human beings can actually detect radiations, we won't need radiation detectors, and those people who went into Chernobyl would have detected that they were receiving lethal doses of radiation. And I can bet you, what they received was nowhere near what your lab sources are giving out.

  7. May 10, 2014 #6
    Whatever knowledge cannot provide, fear will fill it in.

    Alpha radiation (helium nuclei) are generally the least penetrating of the human body, but breathing high concentrations of radon is not recommended.
    Beta radiation is electrons, so it has difficulty penetrating a metal box. X-rays are usually higher energy than most beta decay, but don't count on it!
    Gamma radiation is the most penetrating type of nuclear decay process.

    When the radiotherapist rotated the holes to expose my upper thorax to the Cobalt 60 source as a treatment for a Hodgkin's lymphoma on the side of my neck in 1980, all of the moisture evaporated from the inside of my esophagus, and the sensation was something like swallowing a mothball (no idea what chemicals were produced).

    Only 45 seconds exposure twice a week for 6 weeks, 3 X One time lethal dosage total.

    Be very careful with exposure to ionizing radiation. They can save your life, but only in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.
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