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Tale of the tape

Humble desk adhesive is a tiny particle accelerator

9:50am, October 8, 2010

Forget fancy particle accelerators — a cheaper tool for emitting X-rays is right there in the office supply cabinet. Pulling back Scotch tape emits X-rays, the same high-energy light emanating from airport security scanners and the interiors of galaxy clusters, and scientists now have a better understanding of why.

Physicists were dumbfounded two years ago when UCLA researchers produced quick flashes of X-ray light by peeling Scotch tape in a vacuum. Scientists have known since the dawn of 3M Scotch tape in the 1930s that pulling the adhesive emits blue light. But to discover that X-rays also fly out was perplexing because X-rays are a hundred thousa

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