Geek Trivia

What Common Office Supply Staple Is Capable Of Generating X-Ray Radiation?

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Scotch Tape
The First Major-Label Recording Artist To Release A Digital Album Was?

Answer: Scotch Tape

In 2008 a group of researchers at UCLA came across evidence of experiments done in the 1950s by Soviet scientists that indicated regular old cellophane tape, commonly known by the brand name Scotch Tape, would emit X-ray radiation if rapidly unrolled. The idea of a simple office staple like tape pumping out radiation was far too novel an idea to pass up and the UCLA researchers set about investigating the claims.

It turns out that when you unroll a roll of tape you create a tiny interaction between the bonds of the adhesive and the tape. Much like chewing Wint-O-Green mints in a dark closet, you can also quickly unroll a roll of tape to create a faint blue glow–a phenomenon known as triboluminescence. The energy generation powers of tape doesn’t end there, however. If you take that same tape, capable of triboluminesnece under normal atmospheric conditions and unroll it in a vacuum, it also generates a surprising volume of X-ray radiation. How much radiation? The researchers were able to use small squares of dental film to create primitive X-ray images of their finger tips simply by resting their fingers atop the experiment enclosure.

Research is continuing on the discovery, one potential real-world application of the technology would be the deployment of x-ray devices in locations where the bulk and nuclear-content of a regular x-ray machine would be prohibitive.