20.6.07

Radioactive vases


Radioactive vases
Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Went along to Cafe Scientifique last night for the first time, at the Branch Tavern. It's a bit like the Catalyst Club, only there's just one speaker, and it's free! Pint of Courage Best in my hand I went upstairs to listen to Steve Ashley of the National Physical Laboratory and Uni of Surrey (my old stamping ground) talk about 'Radiation in the strangest of places', basically arguing that naturally occuring Radon gas is much more of a worry than human-made radiation, although there are some surprising highly radio-active artefacts around: the luminous instruments of a Lancaster bomber for example, in home smoke alarms, and in glassware. I put Steve up overnight in my lodgers' room and asked him to test with his Geiger counter the two Pilkington's Royal Lancastrian vases I bought at an antique shop in Compton over 20 years ago, which I've always suspected may have a Uranium glaze. Alarmingly, it made as much noise with the vases as it did when he waved it over a lump of pitchblende back at the Branch Tavern!

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