AW: [ RadSafe ] AW: Museum Specimens

Franz Schönhofer franz.schoenhofer at
Tue May 15 10:57:10 CDT 2007

Dear Dan,

You should be very thankful, that I did not mention more places I visited
during my unfortunately short stay in New Mexico...... Especially
unforgettable is for me meeting one of the - in my opinion - most valued
posters on previous RADSAFE. I think I need not mention her name ... or do
I, Ruth? 

I have planned several times to return to the South West during the last
years, but not only other committments, but also the attitude of immigration
services of the USA and the reports of many friends - all on the academic
level - about their problems when entering the USA have kept me from doing
this - and my friends in the USA told me "We understand you.".  

There sure is a relevance to RADSAFE besides the NORM issue in this message.
There is fortunately and even supported by international organisations a lot
of personal acquaintance and friendship evolving among scientists - and then
some legislation is simply cutting it off or at least obstructing it. In
Austria there is right now a very fierce protest of the universities about
the restrictions and obstacles for foreign researchers.  

Hope you return to Vienna some time and will have time for a few beers - or


Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Dan W McCarn [mailto:hotgreenchile at] 
Gesendet: Dienstag, 15. Mai 2007 17:23
An: 'Franz Schönhofer'; 'Robert Barish'; 'RADSAFE'
Betreff: RE: [ RadSafe ] AW: Museum Specimens

Dear Group:

I was feeing a little nostalgic for all of those places in New Mexico from
Franz's description.  I do remember driving up the "back way" to Las Alamos
with a former Russian IAEA colleague (a Safeguards person) when we stopped
at the "Soda Dam" (travertine) just uphill from Jemez Springs on the way up
the south flank of the Valles Caldera. "Yikes"! Shouted Valerie as his
wristwatch started beeping loudly!  It turned-out that the thermal springs
associated with the travertine is just loaded with radium and radon and is
20-30X background.

Dan ii

Dan W McCarn, Geologist
Houston and Albuquerque

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] On Behalf
Of Franz Schönhofer
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 09:43
To: 'Robert Barish'; RADSAFE
Subject: [ RadSafe ] AW: Museum Specimens

Dear Rob,

Thank you for this explanation, which I admit I had not thought of. Because
my messages to RADSAFE are monitored I refrain from commenting on the
hysteria you describe - do people really behave like that in the USA? This
reminds me on WW II propaganda on both sides to look out for spies. Now it
would be dirty bombs or persons who had undergone nuclear medical
tests...... We had comments on RADSAFE on such events. 

I can give you a good example for the contrary. A few years ago I visited
for the first time New Mexico with all its great sights from White Sands NM
to Taos etc. and of course the "atomic museum" at Albuquerque. They had a
beautiful large "stone" containing pitchblende there. I had my pocket dose
rate meter with me and I can tell you, that the reading was at least
comparable with the reading on my transcontinental flight. I joked with the
people at the museum, but it seems they did not even understand that this
piece of stone was radioactive..... 

Another example: About two weeks ago plumbers called in order to check
whether my bathtube - you know, the one in which I separate the bomb-grade
plutonium from the irradiated fuel elements..... - was tight. They used a
fluorescent dye, most probably Eosin, and then tried to detect any leakage
by UV-light. I told them to direct their UV source to my collection of
uranium glasses and uranium ores - they were fascinated! When I explained to
them that this was due to uranium they did not shiver at all and until now I
have not been called for interrogations to the police. ("I have to
interrupt, because somebody is knocking on the door....") 

Best wishes,


Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
MinRat i.R.
Habicherg. 31/7
A-1160 Wien/Vienna

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: Robert Barish [mailto:robbarish at] 
Gesendet: Dienstag, 15. Mai 2007 03:07
An: franz.schoenhofer at
Betreff: Museum Specimens

Dear Franz:

My comments about 9/11 reflect the current situation where many thousands of
individuals are walking around the USA with radiation detectors ranging from
sophisticated muti-channel analyzer versions in the hands of reasonably
trained personnel on the lookout for the components of "dirty bombs" to
ordinary citizens who carry wristwatch-type G-M detectors for "protection"
from real or imaginary threats. With the large number of visitors to a
museum, there will certainly be people whose devices will "alarm" in the
vicinity of some of these mineral specimens. Of course, it's highly likely
that chaos would then result. This would certainly not have ever happened in
the pre-9/11 world.

Best regards,

Rob Barish

>From: =?ISO646-US?Q?Franz_Sch=3Fnhofer?= <franz.schoenhofer at>
>Date: 2007/05/14 Mon PM 04:10:14 CDT
>To: 'Robert Barish' <robbarish at>, radsafe at
>Subject: AW: [ RadSafe ] Museum Specimens

>Robert and RADSAFErs,
>About five years ago I prepared a draft for an Austrian ordinance on NORM.
>(The id..t who happened to be my supervisor in the relevant ministry
>regarded it as unimportant and ignored it. In the meantime an even worse
>id..t has replaced him, but I am in the meantime retired.) In this
>I made provisions about both specimens related to art, culture and history
>of science (e.g. uranium glasses) and minerals and their exhibition. This
>might have been self-serving, because I have a few (dozen) uranium minerals
>at home, some collected during my visit to the US Southwest, and many
>of uranium glasses and uranium glazed items (Fiesta Ware) up to a few
>historic items like radon-water providers, from the Biedermeier Time to pre
>WWII times. But it is not only self-serving, because I cannot imagine
>anything worse than destroying all those items not only valuable as per
>price but also as historic and artistic items. Anybody ever considered
>Unfortunately I do not have access any more to Health Physics. In case you
>could send me literature on this topic I would be glad. 
>Your comment on the pre-9/11 world provokes my comment: What has really
>changed as to museums? I flew to Brussels a few days later - we missed at
>the conference the US participants. About a month later I flew with my son
>to Honolulu to a conference and spent almost two more weeks in the area.
>Radiation people always arguing with probabilities should have a sound
>relation as to other probabilities. 
>Best regards,
>Franz Schoenhofer, PhD
>MinRat i.R.
>Habicherg. 31/7
>A-1160 Wien/Vienna
>-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
>Von: radsafe-bounces at [mailto:radsafe-bounces at] Im
>von Robert Barish
>Gesendet: Montag, 14. Mai 2007 21:24
>An: radsafe at
>Betreff: [ RadSafe ] Museum Specimens
>My paper in Health Physics in 2001 relates to the topic of "natural"
>radioactive mineral specimens of the sort displayed at the British Museum.
>Of course, it was written in a pre-9/11 world.
>R.J. Barish. Radiation Protection Analysis for a Rare
>Mineral Specimen. Health Phys. 81 (Supplement 2):S67-S69 (2001)
>Robert Barish, Ph.D., CHP
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