Your iPhone could reveal your radiation exposure after a nuclear disaster

“In the event of a nuclear attack or accident, personal electronics could be repurposed as radiation detectors,” Maria Temming reports for Science News. “A ceramic insulator found in many devices, such as cell phones and fitness trackers, gives off a glow under high heat that reveals its past nuclear radiation exposure, researchers report in the February Radiation Measurements.”

“That insight may allow experts to gauge someone’s radiation dose in a matter of hours, whereas typical blood tests can take weeks,” Temming reports. “‘Everybody panics when it comes to radiation,’ says study coauthor Robert Hayes, a nuclear engineer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Quickly estimating people’s risk of radiation-related sickness after a nuclear disaster could help triage emergency medical treatment.”

“This test is sensitive enough to judge whether someone likely needs immediate treatment for radiation poisoning… It could also indicate whether someone has an increased risk of cancer,” Temming reports. “But the machine used to measure the ceramic’s luminescent glow costs about $150,000, so people in areas affected by nuclear disasters would have to send their personal electronics to specialized facilities for testing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: I’ve been exposed to radiation after a one-off nuclear attack (no need to discuss the aftermath of a global thermonuclear war) or another Chernobyl.

Nobody will ever come anywhere near this area again during my lifetime for fear of contamination, so let me drop my iPhone into a locked, steel mailbox that no letter carrier is ever coming to empty.

This way, after a couple hours of staring at the mailbox in slack-jawed wonder at the utter depth of my stupidity for trying to snail-mail my iPhone off to the ceramic luminescent glow measurement machine operators from the middle of a nuclear disaster zone, I can be completely cut off from rest of the world while I live in abject fear of dying an excruciatingly horrible death due to radiation poisoning or a blessedly quicker one at the hands of some random wild-eyed, post-catastrophe, pustule-covered looters. I won’t even be able to play Candy Crush until my battery dies.

We’re thinking this radiation detector repurposing plan needs some additional work.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “TJ” for the heads up.]


  1. For Tim Cook to have cooked up a radiation detector shows he really is cooking with radioactive gas when it comes to creating a pipeline with the power of a zillion atomic bombs.

    It also shows that Steve Jobs never did stoping wanting to go thermonuclear on Android!

    1. You downvoters can’t handle the truth of a nuclear accident. Your poxy smartphones are no match for the power of a nuke blast!

      Banned Citizen X and GoeB-hatin’ Iskaaa Von Dogge Snope sucks Alan Greenspin’s snoozefest comments backwards daily. Sad.

  2. How about the Radiation exposure we’re all about to get from 5G? Ever read those reports? Direct beams of radiation? Seems the lab rate held up, Let’s see how people do. The greatest mass experiment of all time about to happen. Uh, I’m sure it’s safe.

    1. FYI, there’s (nuclear) radiation, (ionizing) radiation and (non-ionizing) radiation, roughly in descending order of energy.
      The first two can cause cancer (because they can alter your DNA or just cause chemical changes), while there is no real proof of this for the latter. 5G falls in the 3rd category.

  3. Broadly: if you’ve survived a nuclear attack and you move away from that area and your phone that you had in your pocket still works you’re probably going to survive. If it doesn’t work, you’ll die of radiation poisoning in a few hours or days.

  4. Radiation safety is important to me. This technology could become very useful once the nuclear reactor that I’ve been building in my basement goes into operation. It’s just my way of going off-grid.

    1. You are actually exposed to a lot more radiation traveling cross-country in an aircraft than being near a nuclear reactor. I work on reactors. I once left a dosimeter in my pocket flying from Denver to Southern California; it registered about 10x more exposure than the week I’d spent working on the reactor at Denver.

      So as for the phones, if you fly a lot I doubt the ceramic test would do you any good.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.