Tape. With superpowers.

“Sticky tape emits X-rays”:http://www.nature.com/news/2008/081022/full/news.2008.1185.html. I’m not making this up.

A group of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles have shown that peeling ordinary Scotch tape emits light, including X-rays.

The radiation is strong enough to produce an image of the researcher’s finger, as shown in this video:

This light release is an example of triboluminescence, which is energy released by mechanical manipulation of solids. The fact that peeling tape emits light and X-rays is not particularly suprising, but the intensity of the X-rays released suggests that the charge density on the tape is ten times more than previously thought. The researchers are now trying to figure out why.

There is, however, no need to worry about using tape. The tape produced X-rays only in a vacuum.

I would like to know exactly how the researchers came up with the idea for this experiment. Apparently tape X-rays is not a new idea, it was first suggested by Russian scientists in 1953. But its not clear from the reports is the scientists suspected that tape would produce X-rays, or if it was an accidental discovery.

Either way it’s a surprising find—but we’ll have to see where it leads. Some have proposed that the charge density might be high enough to trigger nuclear fusion. If it does, it would lead to a system that can easily trigger fusion.

But for now, the scientists are trying to figure out exactly what is happening here, starting with testing different kinds of tape.


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