CHP Dosimetry and CHP Consultants had a booth last month at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. This year we had a booth and discussed radiation dosimetry from natural sources of radiation. Instruments were provided by CHP Consultants to measure radiation background. We had a can of salt substitute that contains Potassium-40 (K-40), a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of Potassium (K). K-40 has a very long half-life, and is ubiquitous in the the natural environment. We look for the K-40 peak when doing whole body counting of people exposed to industrial radiation. If there is no K-40, then either your equipment isn’t working, or you are scanning a space alien. Fortunately we did not find any aliens at the festival. Those that might have been there presented in human form….
We talked about Avogadro’s number and the enormity of the atomic world. We were there with students from Lowell University, the Health Physics Society, and the American Nuclear Society. Next time (with your help) we can have an even larger area and more presentations. Maybe a booth discussing space radiation and the radiation dose astronauts receive on a mars mission, or space stations on mars or the moon. We used our Counts.Pro device to record background radiation and the K-40 in a container of salt substitute from the grocery store. Kids attending the festival got to find radioactive lantern mantles hidden under paper with our instruments.
CHP Dosimetry and CHP Consultants will be at next festival in 2 years. Hope to see you there.
For those of you who have never been to this festival, it occurs every two years and has nearly 350,000 attendees. The free festival has hundreds of booths related to science and engineering. NASA had a big area right near us. There were flight simulators, and all kinds of displays. The event is free and fills the entire Walter E Washington Convention Center. The Festival runs 3 days, and there are classes held leading up to the festival, and all sorts of presentations throughout. It is well worth the trip to DC for the whole family.