Alpha radiation visualizer

alpha visualizer

[Jared Bouck] certainly has a unique project on his hands this time. He started out wanting to build a somewhat complex system for visualizing Cherenkov radiation. With a little investigation he found some new ideas and decided to build a really compact apparatus. Cherenkov radiation is seen as a blue flash when a particle passes through a medium at a speed greater than the speed of light in the medium. Jared used a webcam CCD as the medium and a small piece of radioactive americium sourced from a smoke detector. The camera housing is sealed from any light leaks and is shielded to block EMI. Watching the camera output you can see flashes of white and blue streaks.  It’s a neat home built demo and I bet it could be used as a random number generator as well. In the real world, scientists use Cherenkov radiation detection to determine fission reaction intensity, measure radioactivity in spent fuel rods, and detect the origin of cosmic rays. Similar techniques are used in neutrino detectors like the massive IceCube project.

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