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Nuclear Spinthariscope

Nuclear Spinthariscope


 Spinthariscopes were popular items back in their day but they have long since disappeared and been forgotten. In the mid 1990s, United Nuclear Scientific designed a new Spinthariscope using modern materials and essentially brought the classic Spinthariscope back to life. Our Spinthariscopes do not contain any dangerous Radium Bromide. Instead, they contain a tiny speck of extremely high grade Thorium ore, specially mined & imported for us from the Great Bear Lake in Canada. The high Thorium content makes this Canadian ore very unique in its chemical composition, and is the only natural occurring radioactive material that will put on the dazzling nuclear display you see in the Spinthariscope. The small speck of radioactive material is permanently sealed within the device and does not pose any health or radiation risk. The tiny radioactive source is encased in a metal tab and permanently bonded within the unit. The target material is a special "activated" blend of ZnS that we manufacture ourselves - sealed under clear plastic. As the source material undergoes natural radioactive decay, atoms of it continuously explode, releasing Alpha Particles traveling at over 20,000 miles per hour. Even at this high speed Alpha particles can only travel a little over an inch in the air.... and can't even penetrate a sheet of paper. They can however hit the ZnS target suspended directly above the source. When an Alpha Particle hits the ZnS target, it releases a photon, the basic component of light. This produces the thousands of tiny flashes (scintillations) of blue-white light you see through the magnifying lens. Alpha radiation (Alpha particles) are just common Helium atoms that have lost their electrons and are traveling at very high speed. The Nuclear Spinthariscope features an adjustable focus, requires no batteries or any other form of energy, and will continue to operate producing tiny visible nuclear explosions for at least 60 years.
Our Super Spinthariscope is similar to this unit except the radioactive source inside is moveable by means of a knob on the bottom. This allows the user to alter the distance between the source and target varying the density and amount of Alpha particles that reach the target producing dramatic changes in the display.

Artist Rendition of Scintillations under a Spinthariscope
Artist Rendition of Scintillations in our Spinthariscope

Each Spinthariscope is individually handmade and assembled by our craftsman.
Fabricated from cast aluminum & high-impact plastic,
the handheld Super Spinthariscope is quite sturdy.
Although it contains a very tiny amount of radioactive material sealed inside,
it is completely safe for both children & adults to use.

Nuclear Spinthariscope: $55.00

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