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I saw this para while reading my physics textbook which said that radioactive substances were kept in thick lead containers with a very narrow opening. I understood the purpose of the lead but what is the purpose of the opening? Won't this lead to leakage of radiations?enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Physics SE! Please consider writing descriptive question titles with appropriate punctuation, grammar, and formatting. See this meta post: How do we write good question titles?. $\endgroup$ – user191954 Oct 30 '18 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ One presumably needs an opening to get the material out. But I agree that it is horribly worded... $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Oct 30 '18 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster so the function of the opening is just to retrieve the contents of the container, right? $\endgroup$ – SidM Oct 30 '18 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ That doesn't sound like a storage container: It sounds like a collimator. The opening is,... um,... open, and because it is narrow and deep, the radiation that escapes through it is confined to a narrow cone. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Oct 30 '18 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ ...Of course, the same vessel can serve two purposes. If you put a plug in the opening, it becomes a storage container. When you remove the plug, it becomes a collimator. You can move it around, and you can turn it "on" (i.e., remove the plug), and you can turn it "off" (replace the plug) without ever handling the source. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Oct 30 '18 at 13:06
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I think it probably isn't saying that the container must be open (albeit narrowly), but rather that such opening as it obviously must have for accessing the contents ought to be narrow. Radiation particles travel in straight lines, without even any significant diffraction at edges (the wavelength of γ-radiation is extremely small even in comparison to the sharpest possible edge in a macroscopic substance); and having a narrow opening minimises the chance of the contents lying in a line-of-sight to whomever is opening it.

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