Thursday, October 23, 2008

Scotch tape's hidden X-ray power

Oct 23, 2008

NEW YORK: Physicists have made a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape.

It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers.

Actually, more than 50 years ago, some Russian scientists had reported evidence of X-rays from peeling sticky tape off glass. But the new work demonstrates that you can get a lot of X-rays, a study co-author says.

'We were very surprised,' said Mr Juan Escobar. 'The power you could get from just peeling tape was enormous.'

Mr Escobar, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, reports the work with UCLA colleagues in today's issue of the journal Nature.

He suggests that with some refinements, the process might be harnessed for making inexpensive X-ray machines for paramedics or for places where electricity is expensive or hard to get.

The researchers and UCLA have applied for a patent covering such devices.

So is this a health hazard for unsuspecting tape-peelers?

Mr Escobar notes that no X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum - not an everyday situation.


[A break from the financial crisis]

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