Saturday, March 11, 2006

radioactive fun!

Recently my mom decided to pass on to me some of her photography equipment that she has when she was a student. Included in it was a Staticmaster brush. It came in a oversized clear plastic case, but more importantly, it has a caution label proudly declaring the following:

caution Radiation from polonimum is dangerous if the solid material is ingested or inhaled. Do not touch strip under grid. Keep away from children. See instructions. Guar. until:
SEP 74 B
MODEL NO. 1C 200

Nice. Needless to say, I was a bit curious as to how radioactive the thing was. After a quick google search, I found that the element Polonium has a half life of 138 days. Since it's been about 33 years since the manufacture of this brush, that calculates to about 87 half lives.

Remaining Polonium? How about 6.46 x 10^-27 percent of the original amount. For those not familiar with scientific notation, that would be:


Does that make the brush worthless? Absolutely not. It's still a nice camel hair brush, useful for cleaning all sorts of stuff (like my fancy screen). Does the radioactivity help? Maybe. But also consider that this product was first created in the glory days of radioactivity... similar to how today is the glory days of trans-fat, carbs, the letter X (Xtreme!!), and the letter i (iPod, iTunes, iRobot???). Want an example? How about some sweet radioactive spark plugs? Sure, deionizing air in the combustion chamber may help a spark travel through the air/fuel mixture, but probably not. And just ignore the fact that the Polonium would be 75% gone in less than a year after production (not installation). Isn't marketing fun?

1 comment:

Michael said...

Wheee....I found this site because I just got one of these brushes from oneone on freecycle. It was mixed in with a bunch of other photographic equipment. Interesting post -- thanks!