John Escobar and colleagues at UCLA have shown that the simple act of peeling an ordinary sticky tape in vacuum generates enough X-ray to take an image!
"At some point we were a little bit scared," says Juan Escobar, a member of the research team. But he and his co-workers soon realized that the X-rays were only emitted when the kit was used in a vacuum. "We don't want to scare people from using Scotch tape in everyday life," Escobar adds.
This kind of energy release — known as triboluminescence and seen in the form of light — occurs whenever a solid (often a crystal) is crushed, rubbed or scratched. It is a long-known, if somewhat mysterious, phenomenon, seen by Francis Bacon in 1605. He noticed that scratching a lump of sugar caused it to give off light.
The leading explanation posits that when a crystal is crushed or split, the process separates opposite charges. When these charges are neutralized, they release a burst of energy in the form of light.
As long ago as 1953, a team of scientists based in Russia suggested that peeling sticky tape produced X-rays. But "we were very sceptical about the old results," says Escobar. His team decided to look into the phenomenon anyway, and found that X-rays were indeed given off, in high-energy pulses.
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/081022/full/news.2008.1185.html | Gallery at Wired - via Boing Boing, Thanks Dave Bullock!
Photo: Carlos G. Camara, Juan V. Escobar, Jonathan R. Hird and Seth J. Putterman
Buy yourself a big bag of wintergreen Lifesavers (NOT the sugar-free ones! They don't seem to work!), shut yourself into the darkest room in your house with a mirror, block out as much light as possible, take a few minutes to let your eyes adjust to the darkness, then bite down on that minty confection while holding up the mirror.
Make sure you have the mirror facing the right way, of course...
You should see a very noticeable greenish-blue spark. Something about the menthol in the wintergreen oil used as flavoring enhances the triboluminescent properties of the candy.
*runs off to buy more wintergreen Lifesavers...*