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This very small button (ca. 5mm diameter) was borrowed for photography from a research university cyclotron facility: Possession of plutonium would unfortunately not be legal for someone like me, who has no real business having it. I'm actually only partially sure it's plutonium. A fact arguing in favor is that it's clearly dense, which plutonium is. Not so good is the fact that it's fairly shiny: Plutonium corrodes quite rapidly. But, it's ampuled under oil, and if that was done carefully it could stay shiny indefinitely. Regrettably, it's not a flame-sealed ampule, just a plastic-capped glass bottle, and plastic caps always let in oxygen eventually. Ordinarily I would simply take the sample out and test it by XRF (x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy), but the owner strictly forbid its removal from the bottle. Which makes sense since it would likely oxidize if I didn't handle it very carefully in a dry box environment, which would of course make XRF testing difficult. Now, there's nothing more frustrating than a sample you're only pretty sure is real, but in this case that's just the way it's going to have to stay.
Photographed: 15 January, 2006
Text Updated: 31 January, 2006