Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The gift of light

Hello, and a Happy New Year to everybody. If you've stumbled across this from iLounge, then welcome, make youself at home and help yourself to nibbles.

Naturally, Christmas is a great time to receive and give gadgets. In my case, I did mostly the giving - namely an iPod nano to my fiancé. I'm not about to plunge into a review of the nano; there is a great review on iLounge if you're interested. Suffice to say, it's as great as everyone says. Yes, the gloss finish exterior will get marked as time goes by. My philosophy is not to get too paranoid about this - my G1 iPod rates pretty highly on the scuff-o-meter but guess what? It still plays music just fine.

For today however, I'm going to write about a cool little gadget that some may have seen before - the tritium keyring.

"Triti-what?", you cry. It's basically a clear perspex keyring with a phosphorous coated vial of tritium. The low-level radiation (yes, radiation), reacts with the phosphor an causes it to give out light - albeit very faintly. The coolest aspect of this process - the tritium has a half life of 12 years.

Don't get me wrong - this is a low level, fairly useless light source, good for only seeing where you left your keys in the dark. But it has a life span of 10 years! Not only does it sound like something from Star Trek, it has almost the same lifespan as Lt Cmdr Data! Ok maybe not, but certainly longer than any of Kirk's Enterprises! Truly, science fiction - in your pocket.

I have kind of cheated with the photo in that I used a long exposure time in a relatively dark room to try and make the glow show. Well, it worked, but the real thing isn't nearly as bright.

Here is a link to a retail page if you're interested. Also, there seems be some restriction on where these can be obtained - US availability is limited as far as I'm aware, but there is always eBay!

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