Trivia

Hard

The Interior Of Nuclear Reactor Cores Glow What Color?

Yellow
Green
Blue
Red
Cherenkov radiation glowing in the core of the Advanced Test Reactor.
Argonne National Laboratory/Flickr

Answer: Blue

Pop culture depictions of glowing green radioactive materials like the “ooze” in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the green glow of radiation at Homer’s nuclear reactor job in The Simpsons have done a remarkable job of cementing the idea in peoples’ heads that radiation is green, green, and more green.

So you might be very surprised to find out that the interior of a nuclear reactor doesn’t glow green at all, but an incredibly serene blue color that belies the danger found therein. The blue glow found in water-submerged nuclear reactor cores is called “Cherenkov radiation”, named after Soviet researcher Pavel Cherenkov, and is a form of electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle passes through a dielectric medium at a speed greater than the phase velocity of light in that medium. In layman’s terms, the glow results from electrons freed during the nuclear reaction zipping along at very high speeds through the water.

Why blue instead of another color on the visible spectrum? Cherenkov radiation is very high frequency and the majority of it isn’t even visible to the human eye (but is in the ultraviolet range just outside the edge of the visible spectrum). The blue we see is the very lowest end of the frequency emitted by the reaction and, just over the frequency line, so to speak, from ultraviolet, and we see it as very bright blue.

Trivia

Hard

The Lowest Level Programming Language Is?

Trivia

Hard

Which Pop Artist’s Stage Name Is The Result Of An Auto Correct Typo?

Trivia

Hard

The Experience Of Transitioning Between Wakefulness And Sleep Is Called?

Trivia

Hard

Which Of These Pine Tree Species Require Forest Fires To Propagate?

Trivia

Hard

The Real World Hospital That Inspired Fictional Arkham Asylum Was Located In?

Trivia

Hard

The Most Popular Official State Fruit In The U.S. Is?

Trivia

Hard

Coffee Breaks First Appeared At A Company Located In?

Trivia

Hard

Which Animals Form The Largest Colonies?

Trivia

Hard

In Addition To Smoke Bombs, Batarangs, And Grappling Hooks, Batman’s Utility Belt Also Contains?

Trivia

Hard

The Venus Fly Trap Is Found Natively Only In Which Region Of The World?