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Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 3:51 pm
by Nicker
So naturally like other radiological enthusiasts, I have a personal dosimeter I carry around with me for fun.
It’s a Polimaster PM1610, measures gamma/xray.

Anyways, I’ve had it beep at me a couple times, while at school, there’s a dental program and it detected them doing x-rays on the other side of the building.

This morning, around 06:40EST it starts going wild. Records show ~0.40mrem in a couple seconds. Still not something I’m used to seeing, and this was in my house, nowhere near any active sources.

Average reading is usually always floating around 10-11µrem/hr, = ~0.25mrem/day.

So is it safe to assume that this spike in radiation was just a cosmic event?

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:25 pm
by Richard Hull
If cosmic, that was a pretty rough event. I would suspect an electronic instrument burp before assuming some beam of energetic cosmic rays blasted me with 0.4 mrem; especially if it lasted a few seconds.

Gamma ray burster! Gamma Ray burster! (tongue in cheek, of course.)

Richard Hull

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:58 pm
by RealBorg
Probably really a cosmic ray incident, remember that a single high energy particle creates a shower of particles when hitting the atmosphere.
Have you read about the oh-my-god particle (
Although that was a one time detection event, keep in mind that only a small part of the surface of our planet is equipped to detect such an event and that these detectors record thousands of lower enery events every day.

I am dreaming of a network of geiger counters detecting high energy cosmic rays events with high timing precision all over the world so that one day we may be able calculate the source of these particles and point our telescopes there.


Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:20 pm
by Chris Bradley
There is a theory/prediction I forget the name of that shows the maximum particle energy to be found in cosmic rays to be of this order. Supposedly, we should see even unlimited energies, but due to the fundamentals of universal physics this is not so.

It is fascinating to consider that such a proton would have originated from whatever event created it just a few minutes ago, in its time frame, but billions of years ago in ours. It was moving at virtually the speed of light, so might even be an 'ember' from the big bang itself.

In regards the OP, I would tend to look for a more mundane electromagnetic event in the first instance. There is a website showing cosmic ray activity which could be examined to see if anything ties up with the observation.

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:12 am
by Richard Hester
If the counter was in a plastic case/not shielded all that well, it may have also been an RFI event due to proximity to a transmitter. I'd believe that before a gamma/x-ray burst.

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 7:47 am
by Richard Hull
Re-read the original. Definitely not cosmic. A few seconds was quoted and then nothing. .4mrem recorded.

A single particle of that energy would be a single beep. A shower of particles (star) typically occurs above the 10 mile zone and the shower would spray in all directions so that the ground would recieve the shower over many miles area. showers rarely exceed 100 particles; most are of microsec or less lifetimes. If it starred, in the case of detector or even in the ceiling, again only a single click, not seconds.

A non-cosmic event of some sort, and probably not nuclear in nature, as well.

Richard Hull

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:47 pm
by Nicker
Now the more I think of it, there's probably more of a chance of some random driving by with hot rocks that set off the detector than it being a weak cosmic event, but everythings always possible!

I want to get another detector, this way the duality can rule out future possibilities of electronic buggies, maybe something that is directional, that would be sweet knowing where the source was coming from, but I don't think that exists, otherwise it would probably be some sort of expensive lattice of gm tubes.

RealBorg: I've had that thought too! I like to use as my weather website and they've incorportated a large network of citizen owned weather stations, basically outsourcing their live active data points from everywhere. It would be amazing if such a thing existed for high-energy particles! We can dream :]

Richard: Not sure if it was a linear dose or an instantaneous hit, all I know is that by the time I pulled the detector from my bag and silenced the threshold alarms, it was thithering back down to normal range. Of course trying to pull the data onto my computer, there's no supported drivers for the device, but that's what I expect from a Russian company. -.- As for the electronic instrument burp, the device has logged 1/2year worth of data so far, always being on, never displayed any signs before, and was recalibrated 2 years ago from the manufacturer. Not saying thats valid proof against electronic instrument burps, but i'd also figure burps would either be something like an all or nothing burp, not a small slight mrem increase.

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 11:10 pm
by Adam Szendrey
You should've heard my crudely cobbled together geiger counter (years ago) when my mother came home after a thyroid exam that used a tracer...Even before she put the key in the lock in the other end of the flat, the tube was going crazy! I didn't know what the hell is going on, as the click-rate went from a dull backround to the roof...It's a biggish (about 200 mm long) counter tube.

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:41 am
by Bob Reite
The best medical exam reading was on myself after a stress test that used a thallium tracer. Geiger counter almost maxed out and I was "hot" enough to detect for a month!

Re: Cosmic Rays?

Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:42 pm
by Richard Hull
Considering the rather intense and acute internal organ dose from these medical tests, it is amazing to me how many folks are afraid to be around U ore or other far less radioactive materials that are totally temporary and fully external in nature. Go figure. I am sure that most folks who get these tests and are "nervous nellies" regarding radiation, if fully aware of the facts would freak out beyond reason.

I am far more personally afraid of x-radiation which is in milliamps of "radiation current" around our fusors while a hot piece of U ore would register, effectively, in the femptoampere range. Fortunately, few functional fusors operate in voltage ranges where the peak x-ray energies can penetrate the SS shell to any significant degree.

The few fusors of those users working at shell pentration energies are usually properly shielded or distance separated from the operator.

Richard Hull