A new haul

From: Mike Cesari <mcesari_at_comcast.net>
Date: Sat Feb 5 20:44:05 2005

On Feb 5, 2005, at 5:47 PM, Tom Jennings wrote:

> On Sat, 5 Feb 2005, Mike Cesari wrote:
>> A particle accelerator could do it. (Think SLAC (Stanford Linear
>> Accelerator)
>> or the Tevatron at Fermilab.) Low-level radiation (alpha particle
>> emission),
>> but enough to alert site safety people and require enough DOT
>> paperwork to
>> shield the device. Stuff like this generally sits for a few years
>> until the
>> levels go down to background.
> But seeing how alpha particles don't travel far outside of a
> vacuum (what, 7cm? in air) I don't see how that does it. Short of
> being next to a damaged reactor core, eg. for a lot of neutrons,
> the only thing that could contaminate gear is a big leak, spray,
> dusting, etc of something radioactive.
> I do understand that "exposure" could mean essentially a
> "bureaucratic" exposure amounting to only a *potential*
> contamination, subsequent quarrentine, etc, but the posting did
> say that a PDP-8 was "radioactive".

I wasn't clear about the alpha particles: that is what the contaminated
mostly emitted (Neutrons, too, but not much. Otherwise we wouldn't have
gone anywhere
near the stuff). The computing equipment I'm familiar with (pdp-11s and
vaxen) were close enough to detectors, etc. to be affected by high
energy protons.
Now this contamination wasn't bad enough to keep us from servicing them
(equipment service
only occured during a shutdown), but the powers that be would not have
wanted this gear
to get out around the general public. Bad, bad publicity. A good deal
of this is bureaucratic,
but nobody wanted to take any chances. DOE comes down like a ton of
bricks if there's even
the *hint* of a safety violation. Especially radiation related.

But having said all that, there isn't much hazard on site, as long as
you stay out of the
various beam lines when things are running. Yep, flinging protons
around at 1.2 TeV causes
interesting things to happen.

I know I'm forgetting details, but I don't do that stuff anymore.

Received on Sat Feb 05 2005 - 20:44:05 GMT

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