Radioactive phones

In one of my physics classes our teacher went off on one of his tangents (trust me, it’s a usual thing) and told us a story of telephones made by BT which used radioactive tritium to make the buttons glow in the dark. Unfortunately for them the radiation was too dangerous and loads of phones were recalled and stored in an old aircraft hanger somewhere. Because of this they didn’t realise the radiation would increase keeping them together and now the area is quarantined for health and safety reasons.

Is this true? I trust my teacher because he so boring it’s not in him to be so creative.

Also he told a story of nuclear mines buried in Berlin after WW2. Any truth?

First of all, he ought to be spending the time teaching you physics, not telling stories! And you, as the customer paying for your education, ought to demand that.

But about this story – it seems unlikely to me. Not just because of the urban-legend type vagueness of it, but because it doesn’t make economic sense. Tritium is much costlier to make than the common phosporus-based glow-in-the-dark paints. Why would BT use the more expensive substance instead of the cheaper one? Finally, why would you use glow-in-the-dark paint on a telephone, when it is already connected to an electrical system? Just put a little teeny light in there to light up the dial – that’s what Bell Telephone System did with the princess model phones here in America.

On the phones, he was probably telling tall tales. Tritium radiation (20Kev beta) doesn’t penetrate the capsule the gas is contained within.

Tritium-gas capsules are commonly used for permanent glows. Remember that wristwatch Seiko Luminox which was a big deal years ago? But then tritium capsules are probably too expensive to use in phones (twelve capsules per phone!)

Maybe he was talking about radium?

Luminox is a seperate company, not part of Seiko. I don’t hink their watches use Tritium, from their site

I can tell you that this technology works. Any time, no matter how dark, I can read my watch and tell time down to the second. I love my Nay SEALS watch.

Back in the 50’s my dad installed a electrical switch plate in our house that did give off some type of radiation, as it made a gieger counter go crazy.

Heh. What is a “self-powered micro gas light?” It’s marketing spin, so they don’t have to use the word “radioactive.”

Search google on luminox +tritium

Hey, don’t those work the same way those “traser” keychains you can get at theregister? I always wanted to buy some, but they’re only allowed to sell them in the UK for some reason. :frowning:

Yes, sort of.

Nuclear mines did exist, at one time.

And the UK discussed leaving atomic weapons behind on timers or other detonation techniques, but said nix on it. Too dicey.

They’re made in the same way by the same company. Not sure about Canada, but they’re not licensed for import to the US because it’s considered a “frivolous” use of radioactive material. Apparently use in a watch isn’t.

Aw nutbunnies. Coming from an institution that allowed uranium in false teeth for years, I think that’s a bit judgemental. :dubious:

Possibly a reference to Blue Peacock.

Does nobody remeber the old Post Office “Trimphone” from the 60’s and 70’s?

These used a tritium light source in the dial.

BT collected these into batches for disposal see