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Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps-to-a-tricorder dept.
mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."
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Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup

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  • Impressive series of images in the article showing how they get clear data after about four weeks.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Uhhhh... did they just admit to not keeping track of where they've been keeping nuclear fuel rods?

    • by Tanuki64 (989726)

      I interpreted it that way that they put them on purpose there. To test the scanner.

  • Nifty. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) on Friday August 29, 2014 @04:50PM (#47787329)
    I'm normally pretty mean to particle physicists, but this gear seems pretty nifty. More good info about something is rarely a bad thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth

    That is some bullshit and whoever wrote this summary must be joking.

    Muons are produced by high energy collision in the upper atmosphere. Muons (heavy form electrons) can have more than 1 TeV energy. To say "the don't damage anything" is the most retarded statement in the world. They are one of THE principal reasons for cosmic radiation at ground level. If people were transparent, you could detect 1+ muon exploding inside you. And you'd also see a nice trail of ionized flesh along its entire path.

    How do I kn

    • by Anonymous Coward

      To say "the don't damage anything" is the most retarded statement in the world. They are one of THE principal reasons for cosmic radiation at ground level.

      So according to you, we're all dead due to all this cosmic radiation? My wife is going to be very annoyed when she finds out, and I'm none too happy about it, either.

    • It's happening anyway. They don't add to the muon radiation to the background because the background is already enough.
      It's apparently not really dangerous because we have all grown up under this radiation.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:01PM (#47787393) Homepage Journal

    I get the feeling there's a superhero origin story somewhere in all this "Let's bombard active nuclear fuel rods with muons and see what happens".

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      except active mouons of sufficient energy are unlikely to be emitted on the fly. A mouon has a life expectency of some few dozen milliseconds, tops.

      The reason that we have mouons from the sun this far into our atmosphere?

      The mouons are created when highly energetic protons and iron nucleii from the solar wind hit our upper atmosphere. (Collisions many times more energetic than anything currently being done at CERN), and these resulting mouons have a significant imparted inertial energy behind them-- they c

      • by radtea (464814)

        Mouons that come into being from fission decay reactions arent quite as energetic-- but still useful for imaging purposes.

        There are (almost) no muons produced by fission. Fission events produce energies of around 200 MeV. Muons have a mass of just over 100 MeV. The phase space available for muon production is essentially nil because so much energy is almost always carried away by the fission products. Basically, to make a muon you have to have everything else stand still. The production rate isn't quite zero, but is close enough to it to not matter.

        The technology they are using in this case is to look at cosmic ray muons passi

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        Dr Manhattan is unlikely to come into being from energetic mouons interacting with fissile reactor fuel rods.

        I'm sure they said a spider-man was unlikely to come into being from being bitten by a radioactive spider, too. But guess what happened.

        Either way, as someone who doesn't know from nothing, I'm completely in favor of bombarding nuclear rods with muons. Because I like saying "muons". "Muons...muons..." If you watch yourself in the mirror when you say "muon" your mouth makes a little kissyface. F

  • ... or they couldn't be detectable. In order to measure muons, they need to interact with the instruments, which are clearly part of earth. This alone shows that most of the summary is bunk. Muons can very well damage the materials they pass through.

    As usual, please do not use Slashdot summaries for your physics education.

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      Mouons are interesting things. Too bad that they need to have tremendous energies behind them to exist for any useful period of time-- As you have pointed out, they can and do cause damage.

      It would be nice if they were more easily contained and or directed; Mouon induced fusion would be a very interesting thing to explore if focused high energy mouons were a thing. []

      Firing such a beam through some hot water would be a very interesting thing indeed.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"