Radioactive Exit Signs Are Great For The Environment

Radioactive exit signs are great for the environment

During the years leading up to World War II, a young boy who lived in Great Britain, loved to watch the movements of his uncle’s radium clock. It had been opening and closing its gold leaves for more than thirty years. The boy’s uncle told his nephew that the same movement was guaranteed to continue for more than one thousand years. Therefore, the radioactive exit sign could well be viewed as a source of perpetual light.


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Radioactive exit signs

Yet those who look for further evidence that the radioactive exit sign is great for the environment must learn more about the chemistry behind radiation. The discovery of radiation provided chemists with some insight into the two different aspects of an atom. One aspect reflects the changes caused by chemical reactions. The second aspect produces changes that actually alter the atom’s most fundamental characteristics. By doing so, it manages to transform an element, forcing it to assume a new identity.

Inside a radioactive sign

Certain facts associated with radioactivity can sounds slightly unsettling upon first hearing them. For example, scientists have determined that every second exactly one hundred and thirty-six thousand million atoms disintegrate inside a gram of radium. After each disintegration, alpha particles shoot out into the surrounding region. This fact has not prevented medical professionals from using small quantities of radioactive materials in the treatment of certain conditions.

Isolating the radioactive substance

In fact, the difficulty associated with isolation of a radioactive substance has just about ruled out any possibility that a manufacturer could profit from securing and using a large amount of any such substance. Marie Curie and her husband encountered that problem, when undertaking the task of isolating radium from several tons of ore. That pair could not rely solely on the chemical and spectroscopic techniques because only an infinitesimal amount of radium could be extracted from a vast amount of ore.

It took that couple many years to isolate and identify the element that had intrigued them for so long. Yet their dedication and efforts aided discovery of something special, a phenomenon that paved the way for making of radioactive exit signs. The newly-discovered phenomenon concerned the production of a glow.

History of radioactive derivation

When Marie’s daughter Eve wrote a biography of her mother, she included a passage that offered details on the discovery of that glow. Apparently one night, after starting a fractional crystallization, the Curies chose to return to their lab located close to their home. Upon opening the door of that lab, the couple saw a strange glow coming from the glassware that contained the substance that was being crystallized in a fractional manner.

Eventually, the couple learned to anticipate the luminosity of their bottles and capsules. Its appearance provided them with a sense of joy. At that time, a trained chemist might categorize the appearance of such a glow with other miracles.

Application of radioactive signs

At that time, chemists had learned that neither energy nor matter could be created or destroyed. It could only be transformed from one state to another. Yet the glowing materials in Curies’ shed seemed to have their own source of power. That is what powers the exit signs today. That fact explains why the radioactive exit sign keeps glowing, even in the absence of any form of electrical power. It does not need to receive flowing electrons in order to light up. Ongoing decay serves as a source of electrons. That is why these exit signs are good for the environment.

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