Scientists have learned how to turn ordinary bricks into radiation detectors

In 1972, the BBC released a Christmas horror story that stones are actually carriers of information and keep the memory of past events. And sometimes this information is so vivid that it breaks out - in the form of ghosts and other mysticism. The story and the idea itself became very popular, and after half a century, scientists from the University of North Carolina (USA) want to put it into practice when working with radioactive materials.

The technology is based on the ability of silicates like quartz or feldspar to respond to gamma radiation. They trap electrons and keep them in their crystal lattice, like in a dungeon. If you give these electrons an extra momentum, they will generate a glow that can be detected and measured. With this technology, scientists hope to record whether ordinary bricks have been exposed to radiation at some point in time.

Brick in this case has a dual purpose. First, that modern samples, that ancient ones - and this is much more important - already contain the very same silicates. That is, they are ready-made carriers of detectors, and some have already accumulated valuable radiometric information during their use. Secondly, a brick is a passive detector, it does not need energy and serves for centuries. You can build a building or several rooms of such a design that, in addition to the main tasks, they will serve as huge cameras for fixing gamma radiation for many years in a row.

Retrieving information using the new method has proven to be quite time consuming - but also productive. Scientists were able to find out at what point in time, at what distance and on which side of the brick was the radiation source, what was its power, etc. In fact, the bricks tell their own story, as soon as you start "listening" to them.