Videos from my recent trip to ChernobylSeptember 17, 2011
Two videos from my most recent radioactive scavenger hunt in Ukraine’s Chernobyl exclusion zone are now on YouTube. One features a pinhead-sized piece of spent nuclear fuel (pictured at left) that was carefully excavated from under about six inches of soil with the aid of a CDV-700 Geiger counter probe, taken back to our hotel through Checkpoint Lelev (where the scintillation portal monitor was conveniently out of service), and analyzed using a scintillation detector and Marek Dolleiser’s “PRA” software—a clever MCA emulator that uses one’s computer audio device as a nuclear ADC. Check it out (I recommend selecting the HD format at the bottom of the window):
The second video illustrates some environmental radiochemistry at work, namely the affinity of the beta emitter Sr-90 for the phosphate matrix of deer antlers. In this video I show that although the gamma activity (i.e. Cs-137 activity) in a pair of shed antlers is no different than local background, the beta activity is much higher. The reasons for Sr-90′s notoriety are tangibly apparent: a decades-long half life that keeps it cracklin’ long after the accident, and alkaline-earth chemistry that favors uptake in bone.