[ RadSafe ] School Becquerel kits

Bailly, Helen A Helen.Bailly at icp.doe.gov
Wed Apr 23 12:16:30 CDT 2008

Dan - 


Thanks for sharing your story - Your early exposure to the School
Becquerel Kits certainly was a great stimulus, but I imagine someone
with the curiosity, tenacity, and ingenuity you describe would have been
inspired by almost anything.


Qualities you come by honestly, not every Mom would be comfortable
transporting liquid nitrogen!



Life is short - Break the rules!  Forgive quickly!  Kiss slowly!  Love
truly! Laugh uncontrollably!... And never regret anything that made you



helen Bailly

Radiation Dosimetry Records Unit


Mail Stop 4147

(208) 526-5261

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-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On
Behalf Of Dan W McCarn
Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:22 AM
To: 'Min Sook Kim'
Cc: 'Clayton J Bradt'; radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] School Becquerel kits


Dear Min-Sook:


Thanks, in part, to those kits, I developed a strong interest in the

measurement of radiation and had built several cloud chambers by the
time I

was 12 or 13 (62 & 63) which provided me many hours of fascinating

observation.  By 16, I was quite adapt at high-vacuum techniques and
built a

Van de Graff type linear accelerator (I was only allowed aluminum

as well as a couple of gas lasers by 16 or 17. A radiologist friend kept

safe!  I even spent a summer in a cyclotron lab in 1966 at Howard

So I was quite adapt at technical glass blowing for building gas lasers.

mom would occasionally drive me across town to obtain liquid nitrogen

cold traps) at the steel mills in Birmingham since I was only allowed to

silicone-oil type diffusion pumps (rather than mercury) and had to trap

oil vapor or my lasers would sputter.


One thing led to another, and I spent 5 years exploring for uranium in

western USA. By 1980, I was the youngest technical Officer at the IAEA

the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle where I spent 8 years.  While in

by pure chance, I once bumped into Burney Hannah (Physics professor at

erstwhile Howard College - Samford University cyclotron lab and then

in radiation safety for the State of Alabama) and invited him to visit

Nuclear Safety Section at the IAEA with me the following day.  We had

a time reminiscing about that 15 year old kid who would reek havoc in

lab 20 years earlier.


I've since worked 14 years overseas on various nuclear projects

two years on a restoration project on Chernobyl, mine sites in Brazil,

China, Czech Republic and Kazakhstan, and nuclear waste sites in Mexico

Slovakia as well as the USA.


But of all the things I've seen, I think it was my home-built cloud

that captured my curiosity and imagination as a kid and formed a basis

de-mythify "radiation".  I'd spend hours tinkering when them, playing

magnetic fields, and comparing sources until the dry ice evaporated.

a great way to spend a summer's day as a kid in Alabama - reading every

issue of Scientific American since the 40s and building so many of C.L.

Strong's "The Amateur Scientist" contraptions, and avidly reading Martin

Gardner's "Mathematical Games".  The first laser light that I ever saw

from a gas laser of my own making at age 16.


I feel sorry for kids now because we have institutionalized "fear of

radiation" in them from an early age, and they no longer seem to have a

wandering curiosity about a simple home-built cloud chamber let alone

a couple of sources to play with.


Now we seem to be coming to the day that only the State is allowed to

measure radiation, and I run the risk having my scintillation counters &

gamma spectrometer taken from me if I operate them in New York.


Dan ii


Dan W McCarn, Geologist

Houston & Albuquerque


-----Original Message-----

From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On

Of Min Sook Kim

Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 6:54 AM

To: radsafe at radlab.nl; radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl

Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] School Becquerel kits


Would anyone kindly explain why these chemicals were widely distributed

middle schools and high schools: why those schools bought radioactive

chemicals anyhow (assume that's how they got those chemicals): why they

needed them before but don't need them any longer so they need to

them now. Thanks.


Min-Sook Kim, Ph.D.

New York State Department of Health

E-Mail : msk02 at health.state.ny.us

TEL: (518) 402-7650



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