Adhesive Tape

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As you begin to wrap gifts this holiday season, you will be peeling plenty of tape. You may also be exposing yourself to a lot of x-rays, as scientists recently demonstrated in an article in Nature.

The video of their experiments is well worth watching. It’s a bit long, but it never becomes uninteresting. It’s especially spooky when they use the x-rays from adhesive tape peeling to take x-rays of their fingers. The crackling Geiger counter isn’t too reassuring, either.

The scientists aren’t peeling the tape at excessive speeds. In fact, a harried gift-wrapper probably moves tape more rapidly, generating even more x-rays.

The microscopic view of tape adhesion is startling.

Fortunately, to get the full effect, the tape has to be peeled in a vacuum. This fact alone likely mitigates the real-world effect, meaning it’s still safe to wrap your presents using good old-fashioned adhesive tape, as long as you don’t do it in a depressurized chamber (which would kill you anyhow).

That said, perhaps this portends a new way of peeking inside presents . . . using the tape itself to thwart the wrapper!

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.