Can a neutron beam emission from a strong naturally-occurring radioisotope deflect a small sewing needle hung by a thread an inch from the source? I have someone reporting to me of such a thing happening from a meteorite found by them which weighs about 200 gms. Is it proof of neutrons being emitted?

If we place clear water in a bottle with dissolved lithium fluoride does the clear water change its color due to neutron absorption by lithium? If it doesn't change color then there's no point in asking them to try. Is there any other layman's test to detect neutron emission from a source other than going in for a professional neutron detector?

The air around the source in the room is pungent. The source also blows an electric bulb hung from the ceiling 6 feet above it as soon as the light switch is turned on. The bulb turns milky. This happens any number of times with new bulbs. Can a neutron beam or gamma rays cause this? A torch light a foot away also goes off immediately on turning it on. The bulb becomes milky white.

They say that when the source was packed in rubber and placed on a car seat and the ignition turned on, the electrical system of the car failed immediately.

A Gamma-Scout radiation meter ten feet away showed 2 mSV/hr to start with. As it neared the source the reading increased rapidly and it overflowed and went dead afterwards, with the alarm whistling for the next 20 minutes.

Can I believe that these things can happen from a meteorite which could be a naturally-occurring radioisotope?


closed as unclear what you're asking by John Rennie, GiorgioP, Jon Custer, M. Enns, Emilio Pisanty Jun 18 at 12:28

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Chris Jun 18 at 11:18

Certainly not. Based on a radiation reading of $2~\rm mSv/hr$ at $10~\rm ft$, a needle at $1~\rm in$ would receive an acceleration of only around $3\times10^{-11}~\rm m/s^2$ from gamma radiation, far too small to be visible. The exact acceleration you would get from gamma, beta, or neutron radiation is dependent on the energy of the particles, but no reasonable numbers gives anything close to visible. A strong enough radiation source to visibly cause a needle to deflect would deliver a lethal dose of radiation almost instantaneously. Radioisotopes that strong don't occur in nature in any case: radioactivity is inverse correlated with lifetime. A source as powerful as you are describing couldn't possibly have a lifetime of any longer than a few hundred years or so.

It sounds to me like someone is having you on. Just in case, you should warn whoever was telling you about this to call the authorities, as a source of that high of activity in public without proper precautions is a genuine emergency. To put it in perspective, the source involved in the Goiânia accident would have had an dose rate of $400~\rm mSv/hr$ at $10~\rm ft$, and is considered to be one of the worst radiological accidents of all time.


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