Radiation can be used to date wine


Indeed - I learned this from a rather silly episode of Leverage. Nice to know they got their facts right. Also kinda weird and a bit scary to think about the all-encompassing effects nuclear technology has had on our world.

If you ask the average person how many nuclear weapons have been detonated throughout history, they’ll probably add up Trinity, Fat Man and Little Boy, Castle Bravo, the Tsar Bomba, and toss in a vague amount to cover other, less well known tests carried out, and end up guessing a couple dozen or so.

Between 1945 and 1998, exactly -2,053- nuclear weapons were detonated.

Thankfully, most of them occured underground in desert wastelands, but the sheer number of tests in a mere half century is truly staggering.

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So it’s not quite that your wine is dangerously radioactive, but rather that it contains trace amounts of radioactive isotopes. But then, so do bananas. What’s amazing is that these tiny amounts of radioactivity as well as rare-earth elements can be used to help pinpoint both when and where the liquid in a bottle was made.

Yeah, no the “every bottle of wine has trace amounts of radioactive fallout” is still the amazing bit.


Is there already some nut out there who claims he or she can sense the
subtle flavor of the radioactivity? It wouldn’t surprise me.


Heh heh heh. “Full bodied with ripe berry and subtle tannins, finishing with a note of Bikini Atoll”.


IIRC, NASA are - or were- very interested in the metal from the German fleet scuttled at Sacpa Flow exactly because the high-grade steel used for armour in them all went through the blast furnaces before the first atmospheric nuclear tests. Blast furnaces use a LOT of air, and so tend to concentrate radioactive isotopes in the steel being formed. For most purposes that doesn’t matter a whit, but for certain highly sensitive detectors having a radioactive source resident in the sensor is a bit of a problem …


New Scientist recently had an interesting article about the various things that could be dated thanks to the known curve of radioactive isotopes originating from atomic bombs over time in the latter half of the 20th century. Apparently it’s been used to carbon date recent human remains as well as to differentiate the replacement rate of various tissues in the body which helped prove, for example, that the brain does produce new cells. Not for much longer, however, as test bans caused a decline in the bomb-based carbon isotopes, so in a few years there won’t be a detectable difference.

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All liquor is required to be radioactive via regulation… It is required to have a certain carbon-14 content to show that it is from a natural source (modern natural source).


Alternatively, you could just, yknow, read the label.

If you can’t taste the valency of the south side atoms you’re just pretending.


Pre-WWII battleship steel is highly coveted in the low-background radiation detection field.

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First of all, wine from dates sound awful in the first place. I don’t think radiating it will help. Then, who dates wine anyway? It’s not as if it would make a good life long companion if it works out.

(OK, I had to get those off my chest. I have been carrying them around since this post showed up.)

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First, LOL.

Ah, but it does help:
Wine Aging

If you expose a bottle of wine to radiation (about 500 rads) for an hour, it can greatly improve its maturity. In a simple experiment, blind-tasted sommeliers could not believe that the two glasses of wine - one before irradiation and one after - were exactly the same. In fact, they valued the irradiated wine at almost five times the market price of the original bottle.
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