Posted in Illumination, physics

Your kindergartener is safe

I recently read about this phenomenon in which physicists at U.C.L.A. noticed that ripping scotch tape off of surfaces creates x-rays. Enough to take an x-ray of a finger.

My first thought upon reading this was “Oh dear god! My little nephew’s fingers are going to fall off!” (He’s a big fan of multimedia art, involving LOTS of tape). But I panicked too soon: the x-rays only occur in a vacuum. So unless your kid decides to do arts and crafts in space, he’s completely safe.

However, there are electrical events that tape produces with an atmosphere around. In 1939, scientists showed that peeling tape emits light, an experiment anyone can do in a closet. I wonder how bored or stressed out the scientist who discovered that had to be, to be sitting in the closet playing with scotch tape.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.