FAQ - Common public domain sources

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Richard Hull
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FAQ - Common public domain sources

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Mar 17, 2003 4:00 pm

As suggested, here is a brief FAQ concerning publicly available sources. I will not elaborate, for if you are really serious you WILL stop here and go to the "Books and References" forum and immediately order Bill Kolb's book "Living with Radiation - The First Hundred years".

His work is so complete that any attempt by me, here, is a rather shabby effort.

As Beqeurel only discovered radiation in 1896 and the first refined radioactives didn't see the light of day until around 1902, there has only been 100 years of time for radioactive materials to find their way into the market place. But what a glorious hundred years! You'll be happy to know that thanks to market hype, hucksters, the medical profession and countless entrepreneurs, the public is awash in radioactives and radiation. Of course, not quite as awash as in the early 1960's which would have been an estimated peak time of materials still to be found in the public domain both as used or antique product and as readily avaialble new products loaded with radiation.


Minerals - Safe and sound - but expensive

The oldest source of radiation in a movable, portable form would be radioactive minerals. These have been extant from the time this slag heap started to cool into what we now call, Earth. Typically, these minerals are alpha emitters and are all heavy elements of the Uranium and Thorium family. Many of the daughter products of these elemental minerals emit a full range of beta and gamma particles as well.

"Rock Hounds" have collected radioactive minerals for some time, mainly beause many are colorful and pretty. Radioactive minerals are not as popular as they once were thanks to hype and fear of radiation. Many mineral dealers and collectors refuse to sell or carry them in their stock.
When found for sale, they can be relatively expensive considering that the first guy who had the the rock, picked it up off the ground for free.

Thorite and Monozite are the prinicple thorium ores and minerals. Uraninite, picthblende, carnotite, and uranophane are the principal uranium ores with many odd named sub-variants within these classes.

The beauty of minerals are two fold.

First, uranium and thorium minerals are loaded with hot daughter products, having had several billion years to percolate down form the elemental form.

Second, They are totally legal to possess and own in most any quantity as long as they are not processed or reduced or concentrated and are held as original minerals.

Costs vary wildly, but really hot sources like black pitchblend might cost $30.00 or more per ounce although it is really by the specimen's rarity and beauty and not its activity that the mineral is priced. I have seen raw, hot, irregular betafite sell for $50.00 for a chunk the size of your fist. A marvelously formed, betafite crystal the size of acorn can sell for $250.00. Same material. Gem and mineral shows are the place to find this material. Of course, old mines in North Carolina and the southwest would also be a nice place to go if you are lookin' fer free.

Radium - it's everywhere!!

Radium is the most prevalent and commonly found radioactive in the world. It has been distributed far and wide for the full one hundred years in countless millions of products sold to the public. By far the largest contingent of the hotest radium sources exist in the form of radium bromide evenly mixed with phosphorescent paint in millions and millions of watches, clocks, clock radios, air-raid buttons, glow in the dark switches, Buck Rodgers encoder rings, spinthariscopes, aircraft instruments, electronic instruments and personal use medical devices.

These items are common in thrift stores, pawn shops, flea markets, hamfests, tech fairs, yard sales, bric-a-brac shops, antique stores, surplus dealers, e-bay and junk yards all over the planet.

You are not allowed to own radium in any quantity by law.
In common houshold items and as collectables, you can have the material in "as found state" where no effort to extract or redistribute the material is made.

Uranium and thorium elements:

There is close to zero uranium and thorium as metals in the public domain. Depleted uranium is used in many military gun rounds as penetrators for defeating armour.

Thorium however is present as the metal in some red tipped TIG, thoriated tunsten, welding rods in the 1-2% concentration level.

Uranium and thorium salts, as chemical compounds were common to many old chemical laboratories, but are rarely used today. They can still be purchased from many chemical firms. However, few chemical firms will sell to individuals anymore. E-bay sees occassional compounds and even metals of these elements come up for sale.

You are now a bit wiser and if you need a source, I strongly recommend one of the nice, safe, sealed, license exempt radio nuclides offered for sale mentioned earlier in this forum.

If you obtain a source from the public domain, do not alter or concentrate it or you could be in trouble. Let's all play it safe and enjoy the joys of amateur science and the study of fusion.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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