Nuclear Waste Signage Must Last 100,000 Years: Will the Messages Be On Sapphire Disks With Platinum Print Or Pieces Of Broken Pottery?

Humans have been around for 50,000 years and the nuclear waste we’re producing today is going to be harmful for 100,000 years. So how do we create signs that alert our descendents about enormous underground nuclear waste repositories when we don’t know what language they will speak? “A vast underground space with all sorts of curious objects inside… This sounds exactly like where future archeologists are going to want to go...

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Radioactive Artifacts – A Radium Reprise

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the wide variety of radioactive artifacts found in museums, such as uranium glassware, radioactive minerals, Pierre and Marie Curie lab memorabilia and Manhattan project relics. I decided to give radium-containing artifacts their own post, in part because the radium isotope Ra-226 appears in such a curious variety of items from 1898 through to the 1960s. Pretty much anything that needed to glow in...

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Radioactive Artifacts

How do museums deal with radioactive artifacts? The question first popped in to my head when I was standing at the entrance of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, looking at a device built by Pierre Curie in the 1880s to measure radioactivity. Given that the device—a piezoelectric quartz electrometer—had spent decades measuring radioactivity, I guessed it probably was or had been radioactive itself. Then it occured to me that the...

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