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This is a hand made scientific instrument for safely observing scintillations (flashes) caused by alpha particles from Americium 241 decay (from a smoke detector). It is a polished copper casing 43mm long, 25mm diameter, in the style of the original Crooke's instrument from 1903. The spinthariscope was invented by William Crookes in 1903 (he also invented the solar radiometer). While observing the apparently uniform fluorescence on a zinc sulphide screen created by the radioactive emissions (mostly alpha radiation) of a sample of radium bromide, he spilled some of the sample, and, owing to its extreme rarity and cost, he was eager to find and recover it. Upon inspecting the zinc sulphide screen under a microscope, he noticed separate flashes of light created by individual alpha particle collisions with the screen. Crookes took his discovery a step further and invented a device specifically intended to view these scintillations. It consisted of a small screen coated with zinc sulphide affixed to the end of a tube, with a tiny amount of radium salt suspended a short distance from the screen and a lens on the other end of the tube for viewing the screen. (Wikipedia) Alpha particles exist in the world of quantum physics, and therefore are ‘unknowable’ to the human mind. The alpha particle source in the spinthariscope has a half-life of about 400 years. This means that after 400 years you might notice a 50% reduction in the number of sparks appearing on the screen. Good luck with your observations! Alpha particles consist of two protons and two neutrons clumped together just like the nucleus of a helium atom. Travelling at about 14, 484 km per second, they are the most benign of all ionising radiation and can only travel a few cm in air. This is mainly because they acquire electrons from the environment and so become helium atoms very quickly. Each spark you see is the result of a single alpha particle striking the screen at about 14, 484 km per second, that’s just under one twentieth of the speed of light. Dos and Don’ts Do polish the lens with a soft cloth before use. Do hold the spinthariscope in your hand to warm it up, thus preventing misting of the lens when viewing. Please note however, that the alpha emission is not affected in any way by temperature. Do allow your eyes to accommodate to low light for at least 10 minutes in total darkness otherwise you will see nothing (e. g. keep it on your bedside table) Do hold the spinthariscope lens about 1 cm from your eye for best viewing. Do align the spinthariscope with the axis of your eye (look straight into the lens) otherwise a blurred image of the scintillation will r

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Spinthariscope - observe nuclear disintegrations safely

In stock

Product code: 002973
£99.00
This is a hand made scientific instrument for safely observing scintillations (flashes) caused by alpha particles from Americium 241 decay (from a smoke detector). It is a polished copper casing 43mm long, 25mm diameter, in the style of the original Crooke's instrument from 1903.
The spinthariscope was invented by William Crookes in 1903 (he also invented the solar radiometer). While observing the apparently uniform fluorescence on a zinc sulphide screen created by the radioactive emissions (mostly alpha radiation) of a sample of radium bromide, he spilled some of the sample, and, owing to its extreme rarity and cost, he was eager to find and recover it. Upon inspecting the zinc sulphide screen under a microscope, he noticed separate flashes of light created by individual alpha particle collisions with the screen. Crookes took his discovery a step further and invented a device specifically intended to view these scintillations. It consisted of a small screen coated with zinc sulphide affixed to the end of a tube, with a tiny amount of radium salt suspended a short distance from the screen and a lens on the other end of the tube for viewing the screen. (Wikipedia)
Alpha particles exist in the world of quantum physics, and therefore are ‘unknowable’ to the human mind. The alpha particle source in the spinthariscope has a half-life of about 400 years. This means that after 400 years you might notice a 50% reduction in the number of sparks appearing on the screen. Good luck with your observations!
Alpha particles consist of two protons and two neutrons clumped together just like the nucleus of a helium atom. Travelling at about 14, 484 km per second, they are the most benign of all ionising radiation and can only travel a few cm in air. This is mainly because they acquire electrons from the environment and so become helium atoms very quickly. Each spark you see is the result of a single alpha particle striking the screen at about 14, 484 km per second, that’s just under one twentieth of the speed of light.
Dos and Don’ts
Do polish the lens with a soft cloth before use.
Do hold the spinthariscope in your hand to warm it up, thus preventing misting of the lens when viewing. Please note however, that the alpha emission is not affected in any way by temperature.
Do allow your eyes to accommodate to low light for at least 10 minutes in total darkness otherwise you will see nothing (e. g. keep it on your bedside table)
Do hold the spinthariscope lens about 1 cm from your eye for best viewing.
Do align the spinthariscope with the axis of your eye (look straight into the lens) otherwise a blurred image of the scintillation will r
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