Finding Radium Inside a Pig (Jan, 1936)

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Finding Radium Inside a Pig

RADIUM, used in hospital work inside tiny “needles,” may easily be mislaid; and a thousand dollars’ worth is almost invisible to the eye. Recently a tube disappeared from a hospital at Sioux Falls, S. D., and, though only 3/4″ x 1/16″, represented $3,000 value. A couple of scientists promptly improvised a radium finder from a glass flash and a strip of gold leaf and went over to the dumping ground. Strong indications of radioactivity —the leaf of gold in the homemade electroscope collapsing—were found whenever a certain pig was approached. So the pig was converted into sausage material, and in its stomach was found the little radium capsule— to the surprise of the pig’s proprietor.

The principle of the electroscope is that when it is charged, the same electrical polarity—whether positive or negative—is on the insulated metal rod through the stopper of sulphur, or other high insulator, and on the gold leaf attached to the rod. The gold leaf is repelled, and stands out at a high angle, until the electroscope is discharged. But if ultra-violet light, or radium rays, fall on the flask, the air inside it becomes ionized (electrified) and conductive; the charge immediately leaks off the rod and the leaf falls.

7 comments
  1. Rick Auricchio says: February 16, 20089:12 am

    As Homer Simpson would say, “Ooh….bacon!”

  2. Alan J. Richer says: February 16, 20081:20 pm

    Dunno – the whole thing just seems damn unfair to me. First they lose it, the pig finds it while minding his own piggy business, and HE gets turned into pork products because of their screwup.

    Not at all fair, I tell you. Pork chop? Certainly, and a bit of applesauce, too…

  3. Stannous says: February 16, 20089:36 pm

    Mmmmm, Iradiated Bacon!

  4. Blurgle says: February 16, 20089:45 pm

    “The pig met the fate of other regions embodying deposits of valuable minerals.”

    What the heck does that even mean?

  5. Justin says: February 16, 200810:00 pm

    Blurgle:
    The “regions” probably alluded to plots of land. In the same way you’d dig a mine in a hillside for minerals, they dug into this pig for radium. (Well, not exactly, but I didn’t write it….)

    And although I realize sausage was always going to be the pig’s fate, I’m surpised they rushed that point instead of waiting a few days for the radium to exit the pig naturally…

  6. Woof says: May 30, 20099:18 pm

    Was this the 1st microwaved pig?

  7. Toronto says: May 30, 200910:26 pm

    The idea of glow-in-the-dark bacon fascinates me. You could have breakfast without turning on any lights!

    Justin – ever see a pig’s output? They’re not especially careful where and when they let it fly, either, so they’d have to track it down all over again.

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