Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Gamma-Ray Imaging At Fukushima Plant

I mentioned earlier of the muon tomography imaging that was done at the damaged reactor at Fukushima, and tried to highlight this as an example of an application that came out of high energy physics. This time a gamma-ray imaging spectroscopy was performed at the same location to pin-point contamination sites.

But as with the muon tomography case, I want to highlight an important fact that many people might miss.

To address these issues of existing methods and visualize the Cs contamination, we have developed and employed an Electron-Tracking Compton Camera (ETCC). ETCCs were originally developed to observe nuclear gammas from celestial objects in MeV astronomy, but have been applied in wider  fields, including medical imaging and environmental monitoring.

So now we have an example of a device that was first developed for astronomical observation, but has found applications elsewhere.

This is extremely important to keep in mind. Experimental physics often pushes the boundaries of technology. We need better detectors, more sensitive devices, better handling of huge amount of data very quickly, etc...etc. Hardware have to be developed to do all this, and the technology from these scientific experiments often trickle down other applications. Look at all of medical technology, which practically owes everything to physics.

This impact from physics must be repeated over and over again to the public, because a significant majority of them are ignorant of it. It is why I will continue to pick out application like this and highlight it in case it is missed.


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