If there wasn’t so much PSH over radioactivity we could have atomic batteries in our electronics that last for years instead of chemical batteries that only last a few hours. Irrational fears of radioactivity have kept useful products off the market for too long. Yes, radioactive material can be dangerous, and in the past it’s been misused, mostly due to ignorance. But the benefits, like nuclear power, are too great to ignore in a time of $100+ oil.
In the last couple of decades tritium has been used for self illuminating watches and gun sights. I’ve also seen some key chains and exit signs that use tritium. The decay product of tritium is the beta particle which is pretty much the same thing that makes the picture tube in your old TV work. The nice thing about the beta particles emitted from tritium is they won’t go through skin so unless you eat it, or breathe it, tritium is safe. There are chemicals we use every day that will kill you a lot quicker than tritium if you ingest them.
In the photo below are a couple of watches with tritium inserts. The one on the left is about two years old. The one on the right is eight years old. You can see that the older one has faded a bit, but it’s still bright enough to see in the dark. Tritium has a half life of about 12 years, which is why the seven year old watch isn’t as bright as the two year old one. The two year old watch gives off enough light to read a book if you hold it close enough to the page (and you let your eyes adjust to the dark).
Below are the TFOs on my XD .40. The rear sight has two yellow dots and the front is green. It’s a little fuzzy because my camera doesn’t have manual focus.
Here are the Trijicon sights on my new XD Sub Compact. They’re green on the front and back. I like the green front sight, but I like the idea of a less bright rear sight because I think it naturally draws the focus to the front sight. I say idea, because I haven’t spent much time shooting either in low light. For some reason ranges don’t like people shooting in the dark.
The point of all this is that there is a place for products that use radioactive decay for power. It’s time to get over the fear of radioactivity and realize that properly used, radioactive materials are safe and useful.
Besides, it’s cool to have nuclear powered stuff.