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How dangerous is a small amount of radioactive material?

  1. Jul 16, 2017 #21
    Thanks for the detailed suggestions. It is definitely helpful to my research.

    As to why I want to do this method, part of it is the strengths of the alien, but part of it is to prevent the alien's secret group from finding out they are about to be exposed. The idea is to cause an illness that may take a couple days for doctors to figure out, thereby giving the "good guys" the information they need in a way that is minimally invasive.

    And also it's just, in my humble opinion, something that would be interesting. I haven't seen anything like this done in this kind of lame fiction before. ;)
  2. Jul 16, 2017 #22


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    You need ~500 mSv for reliable short-term radiation effects. Just four times this dose, 2 Sv, can be fatal already, and 4 Sv will lead to very fast radiation sickness effects with very low probability to survive.
    It will be difficult to distribute the dose uniformly enough.
  3. Jul 18, 2017 #23
    Use a Cobalt 60 source used for sterilization of foods. Install it in a wall or hollow door with the open end of the shielding pointed where you want the radiation to go; although since we're talking about gamma, it's likely the only effective shielding is distance.
  4. Jul 18, 2017 #24
    I did see this article, but that's a lot of Cobolt 60 they stole.

  5. Jul 20, 2017 #25
    I can't resist jumping in here with a real-world (but non-lethal) example.

    In the school year 1960-61 I was a freshman at Stanford and I took a one-credit PE course called "Radiological Health." It was an evening class. We learned interesting stuff, and also how to use Geiger counters.

    The final exam? The instructor says, "I've hidden samples of radioactive materials around this building. Go find them, and then draw a map."

    Really. Can you imagine what kind of storm that would produce now? And no, I can't remember what the isotopes he put out were.
  6. Aug 1, 2017 #26
    If I was you I would follow Rootone's link about the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London, something which caused major international problems and continues to do so. Virtually everything about the attack is now known, even down to the reactor that produced the polonium, there were trails of radioactive material all over the place.
    There are differences in which materials are more toxic depending on how people are exposed, some isotopes are taken up into the body and deposited in tissue, they might have low levels of activity but will still kill people over time. One of the fears of terrorism is of a "Dirty Bomb" in which a Cobolt 60 source, (this used to be used in radiotherapy) was combined with an explosive this would distribute the isotope over a large area, potentially killing large numbers.
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