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Cherenkov Radiation (in my layman's understanding) is a blue light that appears when particles with an electric charge go through a medium faster than the speed of light in that medium.

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I regularly listen to an Australian science podcast called Dr Karl with TripleJ FM.. Dr Karl has mentioned more than a couple of times that he went to see this effect at a lab in Australia, but has never made it clear whether he did this because he's in the science world, or as a regular Joe tourist.

I did a quick search but can't find anything online. Anyone know if there are tours, preferably in North America or Oceania, where you can see this?

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The main campus of Penn State University has an educational nuclear reactor facility, the Breazeale reactor, that offers tours to the public. As part of the tour, they take you through the reactor room where you can see the Cerenkov radiation from the uranium. The reactor itself is submerged under something like 15 feet of water, which is ample protection from the damaging radiation, but still allows you to get a good view of the shiny blueness :-)

Their tour program is mostly geared toward larger groups, like science classes, but I don't believe you have to be affiliated with a class or educational institution to get in. If you want to just go by yourself, it certainly couldn't hurt to contact someone at the facility and ask what the opportunities are. All the contact information you need should be on their website, which I've linked above.


P.S. Your layman's understanding of the nature of Cerenkov radiation sounds quite correct.

  • I just called them and they said individuals or small groups are fine. It's possible they may tag you along to a larger group, but they seemed very accommodating. – imagineerThis Nov 20 '18 at 15:58

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