Tuesday, November 11, 2008

That Faint Glow Coming from Allston-Brighton

Living in a dense, urban environment results in substantial airglow that inhibits seeing all but the few, brightest stars in the night sky.

Those who think the night sky particularly bright in Allston-Brighton might have a new explanation: glowing, radioactive beer kegs.

Bloomberg News reports that scrap metal sometimes contains trace (but significant) quantities of radioactive elements, which then get processed -- often in factories in the developing world -- into consumer products like beer kegs:
Abandoned medical scanners, food processing devices and mining equipment containing radioactive metals such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 are often picked up by scrap collectors and sold to recyclers, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear arm. De Bruin said he sometimes finds such items hidden inside beer kegs and lead pipes to prevent detection.
Given all the college students in Allston-Brighton, those kegs start to add up. Airglow? Maybe...

Image of beer kegs by marinegirl provided through a Creative Commons license.

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