“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.]