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Geiger Counters


Testing an iPad and iPod for Radiation

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After seeing this video: I decided to test my iPad and iPod, and see if I could detect above background radiation.

First I took background radiation readings with the GM-45 Geiger Counter GM-45 Geiger Counter Radiation Detector
I then placed the iPad overtop the GM-45, and took additional readings: GM-45 Geiger Counter Radiation Detector with iPad

You can see the step change in the radiation readings (in CPM, Counts Per Minute, when the iPad was placed over the GM-45: iPad Radiation Readings
While the readings are above background levels, they are not significantly higher. Several years ago I ran a test with some salt substitute (potassium chloride, vs normal salt which is sodium chloride) which you can buy at the supermarket. The readings seems rather comparable.

I ran a similar test with a current generation iPod:

GM-45 Geiger Counter Radiation Detector with iPod

and got similar results: iPod Radiation Readings

So what is the source of the radiation? One likely candidate is potassium in the glass. I recall that this is an issue with Photomultiplier Tubes (PMTs) used in radiation detection sensors, and sometimes special glass with low potassium levels is used to reduce this problem.

To sumamrize: the slightly higher radiation readings are possibly due to potassium in the glass, and are not significantly above background levels, and are in-line with other common items, such as salt substitute.

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Return to Black Cat Systems' Science Page
Chris Smolinski
Modified September 14, 2011