We have weird stuff for sale

For example, a 1963 silver dime that was irradiated at Oak Ridge.

And why, you ask, would anyone irradiate a dime? Is it still radioactive?

According to Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the dimes were a public relations stunt designed to show visitors how neutron activation created valuable radioisotopes that are used in medicine.

Silver was chosen because, in those days,  people had silver coins in their pockets, and neutron-irradiated silve-109 changed to radioactive silver-110.

Silver-110 has the convenient property of a short half-life — 22 seconds.

Visitors had their dimes put under a Geiger counter to show that they had, indeed, become radioactive. But by the time the tour was over, the radioactivity had declined to almost undetectable levels.

Amazingly, the silver-110 had also transmuted into another element, cadmium-110.

The lab encased the radiodimes in plastic. They are not particularly rare; about 250,000 were irradiated.

These coins are purely collectors’ items. They are no longer radioactive and have no practical use.

Our dime is priced at $9.99. Since it is 90% silver, its metal content is, at today’s price, worth around $5. The other $5 or so is curiosity value.

An irradiated dime