Thursday, October 23, 2008

A sticky situation that might improve Third-World medical care

Peeling Scotch Tape Emits X-Rays, Startling Study Finds : "NEW YORK — Just two weeks after a Nobel Prize highlighted theoretical work on subatomic particles, physicists are announcing a startling discovery about a much more familiar form of matter: Scotch tape.

It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers. ...
"We were very surprised," said Juan Escobar. "The power you could get from just peeling tape was enormous." ...

He suggests that with some refinements, the process might be harnessed for making inexpensive X-ray machines for paramedics or for places where electricity is expensive or hard to get.

After all, you could peel tape or do something similar in such machines with just human power, such as cranking.

The researchers and UCLA have applied for a patent covering such devices."

But does this mean you need to be afraid of the tape dispenser on your desk? No. "Escobar noted that no X-rays are produced in the presence of air. You need to work in a vacuum — not exactly an everyday situation."

Tape... vacuum... that brings to mind Apollo 13, which was repaired with duct tape after being crippled by an oxygen tank explosion, and made it back home safely. Now we find Scotch Tape is useful in a vacuum, too... how long will it be before the toolkit on the International Space Station is replaced by a 3-M sampler pack?

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