What would happen if I touched uranium?

Discussion in 'Tech/Gadget News' started by ItuExchange, Dec 5, 2016.

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    I can give a personal answer, having held a large piece of pure uranium years ago.

    In my teens (in the early 1970's) I was in a tech oriented Explorer Scouts troop. We met at the offices of a defense contractor. I noticed a cylindrical paper weight of dull gray metal on a desk, and at random reached to pick it up. To my surprise, it felt glued down.

    With some additional effort I picked it up and marveled at how heavy it was. It was about the size of a soda can, and weighed maybe 15 lbs (7 kg). A bemused engineer saw us passing it around and explained it was a piece of "depleted" Uranium - that is uranium which is nearly pure U238, with much of the shorter half life fissile U235 removed.

    U238 has a half life of 4.46 billion of years, which means that very few of its atoms decay in a short time, and when they do decay, they emit alpha particles. Alpha particles from the interior of the lump cannot pass through the dense material, and the small fraction emitted from the surface cannot even penetrate skin.

    No one, including the adult engineers in charge of the group, expressed the slightest worry. I don't even think it was suggested we should wash our hands. So, now it is 45 years later, and I'm still here to tell you about it, and as far as I know so are all my fellow troop members.....


    Neteller here:

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