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Q & A: disassembling smoke detector?

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Would it be safe to take out the radiation source in a smoke detector and place it in water to show cerenkov radiation, that blue glow, for a demonstration?... thanks. mike
- mike (age 16)
toms river high, new jersey
A:
I wouldn't do it. There's also the problem that the Cherenkov radiation may be so weak as to be invisible from the source in a smoke detector. Americium decays by emitting an alpha particle (two protons and two neutrons), and also gamma rays are among the decay products.

If there is anything that emits enough energetic particles to produce visible Cherenkov radiation, it is too hot to handle.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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