The Tape of Superman: Scotch Tape and X-Rays

Standard

Scotch tape emits x-rays when peeled in a vacuum.

How many x-rays? Enough to take an x-ray of a finger!
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Even under standard atmospheric conditions (STP) peeling Scotch tape emits a flash of light visible to the naked eye in a dark room.

Scotch tape is the Clark Kent of tape; it seems weak and feeble compared to any other tape, but it has hidden x-ray vision super powers. For instance, duct tape, the meat-head of the tape world, does not have this property. What exactly is going on to make this unassuming tape emit powerful and damaging radiation?
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This phenomena was confirmed just 6 years ago in 2008, and there are no conclusive answers – mostly because 3M keeps a tight lip on it’s secret adhesive formula for Scotch tape.

Soviet scientists reported discovering it in 1953, but no one seems to have believed them. To put this in perspective, the U.S. spent $20 million on remote viewing and clairvoyance research when they discovered the Soviets were doing the same. But when the Soviets said that Scotch tape may emit x-rays? The U.S. said no, freaking, way; not possible; not even worth testing.

Scientists do have a loose understanding of what is occurring. The visible light emitted when you step into a dark room and peel the tape is strikingly similar to what happens during a lightning strike:

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As the layers are peeled apart a difference in electric charge forms between the two separating pieces. Hundreds of strings of adhesive stretch then snap apart – this locks in the charge differential. A massive charge difference builds and builds until the laws of physics say it has gone too far, a single line of air molecules form an electric circuit by ionizing to transfer the charge, and ZAP lightning flashes. The view for an ant on the roll of tape would be no different than you observing an intense lightning storm.
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The mechanism for the x-ray emission in a vacuum is identical, but much more powerful for a simple reason. The strength of the charge difference that builds before the release is proportional to how easily charge can travel through a medium (air, water, metal, space, etc). The moment a charge difference is strong enough to travel the gap it does so.

This is why lightning has its odd zig-zag form – out of the hundreds of trillions of paths the charge could travel it automatically and instantaneously finds the easiest, laziest route. Think you’re lazy? The universe is lazier.

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