This week’s photo, which is posted mid-week instead of at the beginning is one that I only took this Monday. I was away all day at the Royal Military College SLOWPOKE-2 reactor doing some neutron activation of cesium and calcium. We were making minute quantities of Cs-134 and Ca-41 for research purposes on the accelerator mass spectrometer. This photo is one that I was able to take while we were running the reactor. I am planning on doing a post on the SLOWPOKE reactor in the near future…sometime this month, but I thought I’d show this picture as a start.
The photo is of Cherenkov radiation in the cooling water around the reactor. Cherenkov radiation is caused by a charged particle such as an electron or a gamma photon enters the water at a speed greater than the speed of light in water. This results in a the wavelength of the particle lengthening when it enters the water and causes the water molecules to polarize (gain opposite charges) and revert rapidly back to neutral (normal charges). This change in charge in the water molecules releases the blue glow.