Radiation interference with camera at Chernobyl?

  • #1
Seany110
2
0
TL;DR Summary
Was radiation the cause of bursts of light during video filming at Chernobyl (including rainbows)?
Hi all,

My first post on this forum. I couldn’t think of anywhere better to come than to here with a question I’ve had since a recent trip to Chernobyl!

Whilst visiting Pripyat I took several videos. Great care was taken to stay away from any contamination hot spots and we had an experienced guide. Most of my videos are great quality, but two videos have captured short quick bursts of bright lights and rainbows which appear for very brief moments (a matter of a fraction of a second). My camera was set to film at 60fps in 1080p (IPhone XS).

Does anyone know what would cause this? Obvious answer was radiation but I can’t find information of this anywhere on the net, or at least similar examples. I’ve posted pictures below of the moments where the light appeared. I’ve never seen this before and the phone is fully functionally. I have taken several videos since outside of Chernobyl and I can not replicate it. The Geiger counter at the time of the lights was reading between 0.2 micro s/hour to around 1.5. I took pictures in areas which higher readings and there was nothing showing in the photos. Could I have walked through an area where there was a very high level of radiation perhaps? Wouldn’t the Geiger counter have picked this up? What levels could be expected to cause interference with the electronics in the phone?

For info I think the sun was behind me during the filming when the lights appeared. At the very least it was behind clouds and trees.

Thanks for any thoughts!
Sean
 

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Answers and Replies

  • #2
geoelectronics
97
19
Summary: Was radiation the cause of bursts of light during video filming at Chernobyl (including rainbows)?

Hi all,

My first post on this forum. I couldn’t think of anywhere better to come than to here with a question I’ve had since a recent trip to Chernobyl!

Whilst visiting Pripyat I took several videos. Great care was taken to stay away from any contamination hot spots and we had an experienced guide. Most of my videos are great quality, but two videos have captured short quick bursts of bright lights and rainbows which appear for very brief moments (a matter of a fraction of a second). My camera was set to film at 60fps in 1080p (IPhone XS).

Does anyone know what would cause this? Obvious answer was radiation but I can’t find information of this anywhere on the net, or at least similar examples. I’ve posted pictures below of the moments where the light appeared. I’ve never seen this before and the phone is fully functionally. I have taken several videos since outside of Chernobyl and I can not replicate it. The Geiger counter at the time of the lights was reading between 0.2 micro s/hour to around 1.5. I took pictures in areas which higher readings and there was nothing showing in the photos. Could I have walked through an area where there was a very high level of radiation perhaps? Wouldn’t the Geiger counter have picked this up? What levels could be expected to cause interference with the electronics in the phone?

For info I think the sun was behind me during the filming when the lights appeared. At the very least it was behind clouds and trees.

Thanks for any thoughts!
Sean
This may not have a bearing on your incident, but I owned the company that installed video cameras in nuke facilities, and we had a bad problem with 1) radiation turning the lenses brown, and 2) the electronics going crazy. Problem was the cameras were held in a hot cell for quarantine before we could service them, and the electronics always went away. After many sessions of this I figured out which chip was the problem, and analyzed the problem as copper inside the chip becoming activated by neutrons, causing the chip to turn on gates that were never supposed to be on. After the short lived neutron activated copper went to ground state, the source of ionization went away.
We started switching to military grade, radiation hardened ICs with the same part number, that problem went away immediately.

Lenses still turned brown, it was decided it was cheaper to replace them on a schedule than buy the equivalent radiation hardened lenses.

Geo
 
  • #3
Seany110
2
0
Attached is the raw video footage
This may not have a bearing on your incident, but I owned the company that installed video cameras in nuke facilities, and we had a bad problem with 1) radiation turning the lenses brown, and 2) the electronics going crazy. Problem was the cameras were held in a hot cell for quarantine before we could service them, and the electronics always went away. After many sessions of this I figured out which chip was the problem, and analyzed the problem as copper inside the chip becoming activated by neutrons, causing the chip to turn on gates that were never supposed to be on. After the short lived neutron activated copper went to ground state, the source of ionization went away.
We started switching to military grade, radiation hardened ICs with the same part number, that problem went away immediately.

Lenses still turned brown, it was decided it was cheaper to replace them on a schedule than buy the equivalent radiation hardened lenses.

Geo

Very interesting. Perhaps radiation was effecting the electronics, maybe the sensor picked up the radiation and the electronics/sensor reacted to the radiation in the same way it would have done to UV light from the sun. I.e the radiation activated/switched on part of the sensor or electronics which is usually activated by sun light. Hence why the picture shows large amounts of ‘sun light’ where there is none, it was actually picking up radiation?

Shame I can’t find any info to back this up online. Maybe it’s an issue with the camera I was using and isn’t typical of cameras to react this way.

Sean
 
  • #4
DEvens
Education Advisor
Gold Member
1,203
460
Looks like perfectly ordinary lens flare. Possibly in combination with your camera doing whacky things trying to set the exposure and white balance.
 
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  • #5
geoelectronics
97
19
Attached is the raw video footage


Very interesting. Perhaps radiation was effecting the electronics, maybe the sensor picked up the radiation and the electronics/sensor reacted to the radiation in the same way it would have done to UV light from the sun. I.e the radiation activated/switched on part of the sensor or electronics which is usually activated by sun light. Hence why the picture shows large amounts of ‘sun light’ where there is none, it was actually picking up radiation?

Shame I can’t find any info to back this up online. Maybe it’s an issue with the camera I was using and isn’t typical of cameras to react this way.

Sean

I'm no scholar but we do use silicon and germanium detectors in the radiation detection lab. Most of those must be operated in total darkness, because they also respond to visible light, as they are actually photocell technology.

If you are the OP and this seems like something you might be interested in exploring, and is in line with your question, I could post a few pictures, data sheets etc. if you ask.

Geo
 
  • #6
Rive
Science Advisor
2,357
1,771
Does anyone know what would cause this?
Likely some unfortunate reflection you did not even notice there. Do you have a ring for example, what could cause reflection?

Radiation related artifacts on modern (semiconductor based) cameras are white spots (as some gamma hits the sensor): some artifacts on compressed/recorded images/videos and damaged files (rare: memory/chip problems due radiation), malfunction of the camera/restart/freeze: same reason as before, just not in the image storage area (more frequent, but still rare: it is just usually blamed on software bugs).

Everything on those pictures speaks about regular (optical) source.
 
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  • #7
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
2021 Award
29,159
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0.2 uSv/hr is not very much. For that matter, neither really is 1.5. You probably got more exposure flying to Pripyat than walking around Pripyat. Despite the horror stories on lenses blackening and electronics failing (kind of misleading since they are in environments with thousands of times as much radiation, perhaps even a million) there's no reason to think this is radiation. As others have said, it all looks optical.
 

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