14

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.

enter image description here

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?

20

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.

  • 2
    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
4

Reed College, an undergraduate institution in Portland, Oregon, maintains a research reactor. The FAQ says that tours can be arranged for groups; the page does not say if an individual may join.

My son attended Reed 2000-2004, and I took a tour during that time. Cherenkov Radiation was indeed visible, and interesting!

3

The Technical University of Munich operates the research reactor FRM II (official website). It is a very small reactor with only a single fuel rod (fotos, panorama), so there is not much Cherenkov radiation to see though. Furthermore, sometimes it is shutdown for maintenance. Nevertheless a visit is certainly worth it.

They offer guided tours, mostly to students of the university, and once a year there is an open day for the general public (last one was in September 2019). For schools and student groups they also arrange separate tours.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.