The Loh Down On Science

X-Ray Tape

A new way to take x-rays: plastic tape!

Crack a rib? Put some Scotch tape on it!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

And on a new way to X-ray. You may have noticed that plastic tape, when peeled, emits sparks of light. But physicist Carlos Camara, from UCLA, wanted to know more.

He built what looked like the inner workings of a VCR. He slapped a roll of Scotch tape on one spool, and unwound it with the other at about an inch per second. He then aimed an X-ray detector at the set-up ... and turned off the lights.

The visual would have surprised even SUPERMAN! The entire scene glowed blue, bottled Aurora Borealis. This little light show, however, was actually high-energy radiation known as, you guessed it, X-rays.

Peeling creates electrical fields between the strip and the roll. Electrons bolt--literally like lightening--from the negative side to the positive one, where their impact produces the X-rays.

Camara even used them to radiograph his finger.

He's already filed a patent for his tape-induced beam generator. Could lead to cheap, portable X-ray machines.

Plus just about the world's coolest party trick. Really!


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