Accidental Radioactivity

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Radioactivity is just another aspect of elements that many people fear because it's so different from the normal things we look for in materials (like melting points, strength, reflectiveness, transparency) but all in all radioactivity is just another trait that can easily be used for many useful things. Sometimes though, a material is used for traits that aren't obvious, like glass is chemically resistant and makes perfect gas-tight seals, many uses don't care at all that it's perfectly transparent, even though that's one of it's most seemingly useful traits.

This can happen with radioactive elements too, although most such uses have been banned or avoided because of irrational fear of radioactivity. Uranium, such a terrifying element capable of blowing up cities and causing wars, was once used in bright, cheerful colored ceramic glazes and dyes regardless of radioactivity, just as thorium was used to make things heat-resistant because it's oxide had a high melting point, once again regardless of radioactivity. This page is dedicated to these types of uses.

This is my collection!

Vacuum Tube With Uranium AND Mercury

This most unusual vacuum tube, which serves as a rectifier for high voltage AC electricity, happens to also contain mercury, which vaporizes inside to help the almost-vacuum conduct a little better, and also employs uranium glass in the seals between metal and glass, because adding uranium slightly changes how the glass expands, so by having uranium glass between normal glass and metal, you can avoid the glass cracking/the metal falling out. Quite an unusual piece, a rare combination of three of my favorite things!

Date added(year-month-day):20111012, sample number:14

Tags:accidental, uranium

Thoriated Lens

This is an old Kodak "Pony" camera, vintage 1950-60s or so, I believe 35mm, and the first lens has a few percent thorium oxide mixed in for a higher index of refraction, I.E. smaller lens doing the same work as a big lens. Purchased for $5 from a local flea market, really lucky find.

Date added(year-month-day):20111012, sample number:11

Tags:accidental, thorium

Uranium Glass

Uranium oxides, or other uranium compounds, can be thrown into molten glass to form a beautiful bright green/yellow glass, due to the uranium forming diuranates of sodium, which happen to be highly fluorescent in ultraviolet light. This makes them look VERY vivid green in sunlight, and can make awesome pictures like this one.

Date added(year-month-day):20110903, sample number:8

Tags:uranium, color, accidental

Thoriated 8mm Movie Camera Lens

This old camera was found at one of my favorite flea markets in NH, and was barely detectably radioactive because the thoriated lens was buried under several normal lenses. I purchased it with doubts about it's radioactivity (But hey cameras are fun to take apart anyway, right?) but much to my satisfaction, I found one of the innermost lenses was an excellent example of a single-surface thoriated lens, and the camera is a nice looking piece for my collection. Sadly I think I damaged it beyond use getting the lens out, but I was able to assemble it well enough to look nice again....

Date added(year-month-day):20110808, sample number:7

Tags:accidental, thorium

Thorium Mantle

These mantles where basically bags made of cloth that you'd put over a flame, and the first time you lit them they'd transform from cloth into EXTREMELY fireproof ash. The more fireproof the ash, the more brightly it could glow before being incinerated into useless dust, and just so happens there isn't much in the world that's more fireproof then thorium oxide. Oh, thorium is radioactive? I'm sure that's not a problem. Well, not until about 1990 when people started caring anyway.

Date added(year-month-day):20110726, sample number:3

Tags:accidental, thorium

Uranium-Orange Mini Pitcher

This adorable little orange pitcher was the first orange radioactive thing I owned, and I purchased it at a local flea market from a lady who recognizes me for 50 cents.. I later found it's exact double at an antique store, once again for 50 cents. No brand markings or anything of the sort, probably a fairly cheap brand of the 40-60s.

Date added(year-month-day):20110726, sample number:2

Tags:accidental, color, uranium

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