Nehama (med_cat) wrote in 1word1day,
Nehama
med_cat
1word1day

Friday word: Spinthariscope

A spinthariscope is a device for observing individual nuclear disintegrations caused by the interaction of ionizing radiation with a phosphor (see radioluminescence) or scintillator.


(A quality toy spinthariscope taken from a 1950s Chemcraft brand "Atomic energy" chemistry experimentation set)

Invention[edit]

The spinthariscope was invented by William Crookes in 1903.[1][2] While observing the apparently uniform fluorescence on a zinc sulfidescreen created by the radioactive emissions (mostly alpha radiation) of a sample of radium bromide, he spilled some of the sample, and, owing to its extreme rarity and cost, he was eager to find and recover it.[3] Upon inspecting the zinc sulfide screen under a microscope, he noticed separate flashes of light created by individual alpha particle collisions with the screen. Crookes took his discovery a step further and invented a device specifically intended to view these scintillations. It consisted of a small screen coated with zinc sulfide affixed to the end of a tube, with a tiny amount of radiumsalt suspended a short distance from the screen and a lens on the other end of the tube for viewing the screen. Crookes named his device from Greek σπινθήρ (spinth´ēr) "spark".

Toy spinthariscopes[edit]

Spinthariscopes were quickly replaced with more accurate and quantitative devices for measuring radiation in scientific experiments, but enjoyed a modest revival in the mid 20th century as children's educational toys.[4] In 1947, Kix cereal offered a Lone Ranger atomic bomb ring in exchange for a box top and 0.15 USD that contained a small one.[5][6]Spinthariscopes can still be bought today as instructional novelties, but they now use americium or thorium.

(Source: Wikipedia)

(thanks to acelightning for the word!)

Tags: greek, noun, s, scientific, wordsmith: med_cat
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