X-Rays From Sticky Tape?!?!

The New York Times reports on a new study in the current edition of Nature; it seems a new source of X-rays has been discovered. Scotch tape. Yup. Unrolling sticky tape in a vacuum releases a surprising amount of energy, some of it in the form of X-rays! (Extremely cool video here.) My favorite quote: “The researchers suggest that the high charge density generated by peeling the tape could be great enough to trigger nuclear fusion.”

The characteristic defining a human 

distinctly apart from an ape
Not opposable thumbs, or intelligent thinking, 

but what we can do with Scotch tape.
Your chimp or bonobo or highland gorilla 

will typically not even care
And orangs and gibbons tear tape into ribbons 

and tangle it into their hair.
It’s humans alone who will try to discover 

what else you can do with the stuff
(As if wrapping presents or fixing a photo 

were not inspiration enough).
A professor of physics at UCLA, 

in a demo both simple and clever,
Showed X-rays emitted when tape is unrolled 

in a vacuum—the coolest thing ever.
Enough were emitted to X-ray a finger—

a medical use may be found;
Or measuring wear of composites; it seems 

that the new applications abound!
The X-rays are different for each brand of tape, 

and they didn’t find any for “duct”;
Which is just fine by me, cos if duct tape gets weapons,
humanity surely is fuct.


  1. says

    Glad you liked it! I was sitting there for 10 minutes with brain-freeze, thinking there was no way to end the story; this possibility suggested itself, and I grabbed at it like a life buoy, not much caring if it worked well, so long as it worked. Now that I have positive feedback, I owe Athena a fatted calf…

  2. says

    That is a really cool story! Science geeks can be so cute while they’re being super geeky.And I e-mailed it to my son, whose favorite toy while growing up was duct tape, and told him to make sure to read to the end :-)

  3. says

    So… fuct; is that olde English? Or is it the past tense of fact? (which is a noun, of course, and doesn’t have a tense, but then, what the fuct part of speech is it?)

  4. says

    :O I overskepticked on this one. I was concerned that maybe they were just getting EM flux from the motor, but the spectra for each of the tapes is different, and duct tape gives nothing. This is utterly amazing.PS: that rhyme was inspired, seriously. :D

  5. says

    Ist I thought might be hoax. Then re-ran it and got my head around the possible physics. It would be way cool to get spinoff inventions from it.Use of unpeeling events to generate other energies or even to create fusion power, (would beat the current mob pursuing fusion with various versions of the torus mag. field). As a sometime versifier myself, your facility with rhyme provokes a modicum of serious envy. Mindlesley xxx

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