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Monitoring cosmic rays August 1, 2006

Posted by dorigo in food, personal, physics, science.

I brought my dosimeter with me today. It is a nice little device that I bought for my brother Martino, when he went in Bosnia for six months with the italian army (he is not a soldier by profession, but he takes adjournment courses sporadically, and obtained recently the grades of “Maggiore” of the Alpini after the mission in Bosnia in 2002). In Bosnia, they had to cope with depleted uranium left by the US bombs, and I suggested him to monitor the radiation activity of the places he visited. So I bought a dosimeter on the web, and after his mission Martino gave it back to me – for sure I can use it more than he does now.

The thing, a MINI 6100 pocket dosimeter (http://www.perspectiveinstruments.co.uk/html/6100_epd.html), is built by Thermo Electron in the UK. It measures gamma rays in the 40 keV – 10 MeV range, and provides several different dose or rate alarms, user-settable. It has a good sensitivity, since it gives an instantaneous reading of the radiation level, with 0.1 mR/hour accuracy.

It is quite fun to travel with it, since you can set it to buzz every 10 nanoRads. At this setting, the normal background radiation will provide a “beep” every 15 to 20 seconds. However, when you are on a plane at 30,000 feet above sea level, it will go 15 times as fast. And all this depends on your latitude, on the solar activity, and on other unfathomable parameters…

Here is the dosemeter, taking readings of integrated dose (the digits on the left, in mR) and instantaneous rate (in mR/h, on the right, the smaller digits). Ignore the glass of wine, it’s a good Australian Shiraz and it’s my business, not yours 😉

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