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329) Continuation: Oriani’s effect in Phase 2

Ludwik Kowalski; 6/14/2007
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043


1) Get ready for more experiments:
This is my electronic logbook for data reporting, and for related comments. It is the continuation of my electronic logbook from the unit #327.

2) Below is a message that I just posted on a private list for CMNS researchers. It describes a plan to continue replications of Oriani’s experiments. Hopefully, some progress is going to be made to learn about two topics; (a) what is the time dependence of residual activity is seeded O-rings sent to me by Oriani, and (b) are clusters of tracks due to electrolysis or are they due to what Richard calls residual activity.

Richard is going to send me two seeded O-rings, each between two large CR-39 detectors. As soon as detectors arrive (next Tuesday, probably ~24 hours after they were applied to seeded chips) I will remove the chips, and start the experiment #5, with a fresh detector. At the same time two fresh detectors will be applied to the O-ring #2, for the duration of the electrolysis (4 days). During the electrolysis the O-ring #2 will be kept between two fresh detectors. After the electrolysis all seven CR-39 chips will be etched in the same bath for 7 hours.

Suppose I see clusters on CR-39 after the electrolysis and no clusters on CR-39 chips that were applied to the O-ring #2, at the same time. Then I would be able to say that clusters were electrolytically-induced. The other extreme would be "no significant difference between the three chips." This would mean that the electric current in the cell is not responsible for the formation tracks; I would conclude that all excess tracks are due to what Richard calls "residual activity." Information about time-dependence of residual activity (NAE?) will also become available. Does this logic make sense?

Comments, criticism and suggestions will be appreciated, as always. Details will be reported in the on-line logbook (unit #329), as they were when my first four experiments were in progress (unit #327). I am going to follow Richard protocol, as before. I consider this protocol to be preliminary because its first step consists of asking Richard for seeded O-rings. What is needed is a protocol which tells people how to produce seeded rings on demand.

3) Terminology and expectations:
Clusters of tracks on a post-electrolysis chip might be due to three kinds of processes: (a) natural background (cosmic rays and alpha-radioactve contamination), (b) residual activity discovered by Richard Oriani, and (c) electrolysis in a replication experiment (in a cell with seeded O-rings). Contribution of natural background was shown to be negligible in numerous experiments conducted by Oriani (see Table 1 in unit #327). Are alpha-like particles emitted during the electrolysis due to residual activity or are they due to a different process? Assuming that two different processes are involved, I am going to write

N(tot)-N(backg) = N(res)+N(electr)

where N(res) is the number of particles, or number of clusters of particles, due to residual activity and N(electr) is their number due to electrolysis. On the left side N(tot) represents the total number particles recorded during an experiment while N(electtr) represents the number of particles due to the electric current only. My experiment #5 is expected to provide information about the N(res) and N(electr). Three distinct outcomes are possible:

(a) N(tot) is not significantly different from N(backg).
(b) N(electr) is negligible in comparison with N(res)
(c) N(electr) is not negligible comparison with N(res)

Note that (a) would exclude anything unusual while (b) or (c) would confirm that at least one CMNS process was taking place during my replication experiment. The outcome (c) would be a clear indication that two CMNS processes were contributing to emission of unexpected alpha-like projectiles.

What does the term “seeded O-ring” refers to? Oriani was studying emission of alpha-like particles, during the electrolysis, for many years. Then he discovered that such particles are also emitted from the O-rings removed from a cell, after electrolysis. That emission was named “residual activity.” Why is an O-ring exhibiting residual activity is said to be “seeded”? Because it can be used to replicate Oriani’s results in another laboratory, as recently demonstrated. Note that the word “seed” is used to describe an unknown prerequisite for a replication success. In that sense “seed” is not necessarily the same thing as “residual activity,” or vice versa. A large number of reproducible-on-demand experiments would have to be performed before things become clear. Inventing names is not sufficient.

4) Replying to Scott Little; 6/17/07:
In a private message Scott Little wrote: “In my search for the sensitivity of CR-39 to radon, I saw several mentions of the problem of radon progeny (decay products) sticking to the CR-39 surface and influencing the track count. It is mentioned in this
paper: www.cityu.edu.hk/ap/nru/pub_j20.pdf . This raises the following question: Is it possible that active o-rings are o-rings that are contaminated with radon progeny? Here is my reply; the CC was sent to R. Oriani and J. Fisher.

“It is true that residual activity, that appears when a virgin O-ring is used in Richard;s cell, is likely to be the central issue raised by referees. Richard's task will be to convince them that what he named “residual activity” is a new CMNS process. They will probably ask “how do you know that it is not an alpa contamination activity?” Here is what I plan to do to address this question, in the next week or two.

a) The two seeded O-rings will probably arrive on Tuesday, each between two CR-39 detectors. Let me name these detectors D1, D2, D3 and D4. I will remove them from the O-rings after 36 hours of exposure (most of it during the delivery).

b) At that time I will start the electrolysis experiment, with a fresh chip, using one seeded O-ring. This will give me the detector D5, after 4 days of electrolysis. Hopefully, D5 will show several clusters, as in my first experiment .

c) During the electrolysis I will study residual activity of the second seeded O-ring. That O-ring will be kept between two fresh chips for two days, and then with two other fresh chips for the next two days. This will give me chips D6, D7, D8 and D9.

d) After four days I will start the second electrolysis experiment, also lasting four days. This will give me the D10 chip, after eight days. Hopefully clusters will again be seen in D10.

e) I will continue studying residual activity during the second electrolysis experiment (applying two fresh chips to the second seeded O-ring every two days). This will give me chips D11, D12, D13 and D14.

f) All chips will be etched at the same time, and in the same bath, after eight days. Will the rate of excessive track formation (tr/cm^2 per day) remain the same or will it be decreasing exponentially with time? To rule out a possibility that Rn-222 is responsible one must show that experimental data are not consistent with the 3.8 days half-life.

g) Unless nothing but the background is observed after the second electrolysis, I plan to continue. Details will depend on results. For example, another 4 days of electrolysis with D15 and two additional data points on residual activity, with D16, D17, D18 and D19, during the same time. The goal will be to learn about the time dependence of residual activity, using the O-ring #2, and to collect data on clusters during consecutive electrolysis experiments. What else should I do, or how should the plan be modified, to maximize the amount of useful information? P.S. Scott, you asked about Rn-222 atoms sticking to CR-39. That could produce a star with four nearly overlapping tracks (from Rn-222, Po-218, Po-214 and Po-210). But large clusters of separated tracks cannot be explained in that way, unless sticking atoms are clustered, for example, on electrically charged islands. ”

5) The seeded O-rings will arrive today (6/19/07):
a) I will be studying two things at the same time: residual activity (outside the electrolytic cell) and electrically induced activity (in the electrolytic cell). There will be many chips and I must be able to correlate relative positions of chips with respect to O-rings. A system to accomplish this has been invented. This is particularly important in studying of residual activity (because some parts of O-rings might be more active than others.

b)Another important thing is to minimize contributions of radon. This should not be a problem on 27th floor, unless cement walls contain uranium. According to a 2005 Korean paper -- “Construction of an environmental radon monitoring system using CR-39 nuclear track detectors;” by Gil Hoon Ahn and Jai-Ki Lee -- a CR-39 chip exposed to air gains 4 tr/cm^2 each day, when the radon concentration is 1 pCi/L. At a typical 3 pCi/L concentration, the excess would be 60 tr/cm^2, after five days. In my experiment, the accumulation of tracks (both in air and in the electrolytic cell) will be near the open window, in a ventilated room, at the 27th floor. This is the best I can do to minimize the exposure to radon. I will measure the preexisting background in the newly purchased CR-39. Suppose it is 2 tr/cm^2. Suppose the control chip, exposed to air for five days, shows 10 tr/cm^2. That would tell me that the mean radon concentration is close to 0.4 pCi/L. I expect it to be lower than this. But that remains to be seen.

c) After removing a blue plastic, protecting a chip, I will discharge it in jar with salty distilled water. Then the chip will be rinsed in pure water and used in an experiment. And then what? Ideally, a chip should be etched as soon as possible, to prevent accumulation of post-experiment tracks. On the other hand, one may prefer to wait and etch all chips together. What is better? I think that etching as soon as possible is more important. That is what I am going to do.

6) Tuesday, 6/19/07 13:00
The experiment #5 was started. One hour later experiment #6 started. I am performing two experiments at the same time. To avoid confusion, measuring time dependence of residual activity, in the seeded O-ring, will be experiment #5. It is performed outside the electrolytic cell. Looking for clusters of tracks, in the PACA detector below the cell will be experiment #6.

The seeded O-ring #2, received today, had been in contact with two large CR-39 chips for 24 hours. I removed these D1 and D2 chips, and applied fresh D6 and D7 chips to it. These chips will be collecting tracks during the next two days. The seeded O-ring #1 was also in contact with two CR-39 chips, D3 and D4, for 24 hours. These chips were removed; they should give me information about the initial residual activity of the O-ring #1. That O-ring has already been mounted into electrolytic cell, above the mylar and the fresh D5 chip, to start the experiment #6. The current is 41 mA. That is where I am now. The first etching of removed chips will take place as soon as the hot plate, which I ordered today, arrives, probably on Friday. Chips ready for etching are suspended in air, near the open window.

How were the seeded O-rings created in Richard’s cell? They were created during 4 days of electrolysis, in his cell, at 40 mA. A small container with heavy water was in the tube below the CR-39. The lower side of the CR-39 (facing heavy water) was covered by the protective plastic. But a large cluster was found at that protected side of the chip, after the electrolysis. The track density on the other side (facing the mylar and the electrolyte) was only two times higher that the expected background. That is not significant to me, when the mean background and standard deviation are 16 and 9 tr/cm^2, respectively. But the large cluster is an indication that the unexpected process occurred and that the O-rings were seeded.

7) Wednesday, 6/20/07:
The hot plate was delivered today. But its temperature control thermostat is not working. I have to return it. Accumulations of tracks in two experiments are in progress. Nothing abnormal so far.

8) Thursday:, 6/21/07
At 10:00 the D6 and D7 chips were removed from the seeded O-ring #2, after 45 hours of exposure. Fresh D8 and D9 chips were applied to this O-ring at once. They will be exposed to the O-ring for 51 hours. The level of the electrolyte in the cell is still high (~1 cm above the anode). But I am adding distilled water, to replace loses, because I will be away till tomorrow evening. A chip measuring the background was unwrapped today and suspended in air, near the open window.

9) Friday, 7/29/07 (new experimental results):
The chips were etched (in 6.25 NaOH) two times for 6 hour; first without stirring and then with the stirrer. The etching temperature fluctuated between 69 and 79 C.

a) My chip D0’
was exposed to the air near my window for 51 hours: The total area of 6 cm^2 (3 cm^2 on each side) had 43+32=75 tracks . This gives the mean density of 12.5 tr/cm^2.

b) My chip D0” was exposed to air for less than 2 minutes (between peeling off the protective plastic and beginning of etching). The total area (of 2*8=16 cm^2) had 104 tracks. This gives the mean density of 6.6 tr/cm^2. But why does one side has 86 tracks while another side, of the same chip, has only 18 tracks? In any case, even 86/8 is consistent with the mean density on the D0’ chip. It is also consistent Oriani’s background (mean 15 tr/cm^2 and standard deviation of 9 tr/cm^2. Using his standard deviation, I will assume that any mean density below 33 tr/cm^2 is background. That is the threshold of significance, for my chips.

c) Oriani’s chips D1, D2 (exposed to the seeded O-ring #2 for the first 24 hours) revealed tracks whose diameters were larger than those due to my alpha particles. This was discovered after my first etching. The chips he applied to O-rings were probably pre-etched for background. Richard confirmed that he often reuses already-etched chips, expecting much stronger signals from residual effects. The first etching for my Am-241 tracks was actually the second etching for his old tracks. How else could the difference in diameters be explained? The chip D1 had 105 large tracks on the side facing the O-ring #2 and 66 on the opposite side. The chip D2 had 90 large chips on the side facing the same O-ring and 79 on the opposite side. This translates into the mean density of 19 tr/cm^2; it is consistent with the background. Smaller tracks, much less numerous, were not counted because I decided to count them after another etching. But distinguishing old tracks from new tracks became practically impossible after my second etching (two partially overlapping distributions).

g) My chip D5 was used in the electrolytic cell. As in the experiment #1 (see item #327), the electrolysis started 24 hours after the seeded O-ring was sent to me by Richard. The electric current was 41 mA and the duration of the electrolysis was 96 hours. No clusters were found on the D5 chip. The area of 9 cm^2, facing the electrolyte, had 107 tracks. The area of 9 cm^2, not facing the electrolyte, had 70 tracks. The mean track density, about 10 tr/cm^2, was not significantly different from the expected background. Absence of clusters on chips used in experiments #2, #3 and #4 was explained (see unit #327) in terms of decreasing ”potency of seeds.” But this explanation does not apply to the D5 chip; the timing of electrolysis, during which this chip was used, was not very different from that in the experiment #1. Let me add that the post-electrolysis chip D10 was also examined but no clusters were found, only randomly distributed tracks, consistent with the background. The D10 chip, like the D5 chips, was exposed to electrolysis for 4 days (at the constant current of 41 mA). Thus I no longer believe that creation of clusters is reproducible on demand, even when seeded O-rings are used.

h) My chips D6 and D7 were exposed to the seeded O-ring #2, as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Figure 1
A simple setup to study residual activity in air (without any electrolytic cell).

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


The D7 chip, supported by a plastic holder, was supporting the O-ring while the D6 was resting on that O-ring. The entire setup was about 15 cm from an open window in a ventilated room. The two vertical slots, in the plastic tube holder, were on the path of fresh air entering the room. This allows me to say that sides of the D7 and D6 chips, that were not in contact with the O-ring, were exposed to fresh air. This test started 24 hours after the seeded O-ring was sent to me by Richard. And it ended 45 hours later. The seeding operation was presumably successful; Richard observed a large cluster on the lower side of the post-electrolysis chip. His mean track density, however, “were in the range of 35 per cm^2.”

The D6 chip produced the following number of tracks: (a) The side in contact with the O-ring had 175 tracks on the surface close to 9 cm^2. This amounts to about 19 tr/cm^2. In other words, nothing significant in comparison with the background, was found. But the other side had many more tracks; I am certain that no mistake was made to identify which side was facing the O-ring. The side that was not in contact with the O-ring had 627 tracks. This translates into 70 tr/cm^2; well above the mean background. To map the distribution of tracks, the entire D6 surface was subdivided into 81 cells (9 rows and 9 columns). The area of each cell was 3.3 by 3.3 mm. The distribution of tracks was not uniform, as shown below.
...2...5...4...4...5...5...1...4   4
...5...8...9...3...3...9...4...3...3
..11...7..14...9..13..15...4...3...1
...7...5...4..12..10..33..17...3...1
...8...7...1..12...8..11...6...3...3
...7...2...2...6..11..16...8...1...4
...1...2...1...8..44..47..30...6...5
...2...2...2...1..36..41...5...2   2
...4...1...3...1...5...2...3...3...0
The chips D7, that was applied to the other side of the O-ring #2, had 149 tracks on the side that was in contact with the O-ring. This translates into about 149/8.1=18.4 tr/cm^2; it is not significantly higher than the background. The other side of the D7 chip had 355 tracks over the area of about 8.1 cm^2. This translates into the mean density of 44 tr/cm^2. Once again, it is above my threshold of significance. The distribution of tracks, this time in the form 8*8=64 cells, is shown below.
...5...4...6...3...1...5...1...0
...4...6...6..17  12   6   2   6
...5...2...4...6...6...2...5...4
...6...6...5...0...8...1...3...1
...7...2...3..20...4...3...1...2
...6...6...7...3...6...4...5...5
...8..14..30..10...6...4...7...0
...4...8...7...4...4...2...1...1
My chips D8 and D9.
These two chips were applied to the O-ring #2 during the next 48 hours (after chips D6 and D7 were removed from the O-ring). The face of the D8 chip that was facing the O-ring had 95 tracks. This translates into the mean density of 95/9=11 tr/cm^2. The other side of that chip had 159 tracks; This translates into the mean density 158/9=17 tr/cm^2. Both D8 mean densities are likely to be due to the background. The chip D9 also had nothing above the background (114 tracks on the side in contact with the O-ring and 163 on the other side).

My chips D11 and D12.
These two chips were applied to the O-ring #2 during the next 46 hours (after chips D8 and D9 were removed from the O-ring). The mean density, from four surfaces, was 9 tr/cm^2. This is not surprising, considering absence of excess tracks on the D8 and D9 chips. The only conclusion one can make is that the half-life of residual activity is not very different from three or four days. This seems to confirm that the “potency of seeds” decreases, as suspected after the failure to observe clusters in the 21-day-long experiment #2.

10) Summary:
The overall situation, however, is far from being clear. My results seem to conflict with what Marissa Little posted in her electronic logbook yesterday.

http://www.earthtech.org/PACA/logbook.html

She thinks that Po-210 is the most likely candidate for tracks they observed. The half-life of that nuclide is 138 days. My track densities, on the D8 and D9 chips, would be about the same as on the D6 and D7 chips, if Po-210, whose half-life is 138 days, were responsible. Another mystery is that my excessive tracks appeared on CR-39 surfaces that were not in contact with the O-ring. Marissa wrote: “Additionally, we have shown that there is no significant change in the activity of the o-rings using the following sequence:  run in a cell for two days, place on CR-39 for two days, repeatedly.  This sequence was run for 5 iterations.  The o-ring activity appears to be about the same for all 10 experiments.” Why did my experiments, conducted in the air, yielded the results conflicting with what was observed in electrolytic cells? Additional experiments are needed to answer such questions.

11) Appended on 7/3/07:
Chip D15 was etched and examined yesterday, after 5 days of exposure to the cathode in my PACA electrolytic cell. The third exposure stared 8 days after the seeded O-ring was received from Richard. Neither clusters nor excessive tracks were found. This was expected because first two exposures (chip D5 and and D10) also produced negative results. The number of tracks on the side facing mylar was 106 while the number of tracks on the side facing down was 186. The mean track density, 292/19=16 tr/cm^2 is in good agreement with the background.

Why is my background so high? A proportional relation between the concentration of alpha radioactivity in air and track density has been studied. If the concentration is 1 pCi/L then each day of exposure to air increases the track density by about 4 tr/cm^2. My experiment was performed in presumably radon-free air (near an open window in a ventilated room at the 27th floor). The radon concentration was probably less than 0.1 pCi/L. The exposure to air was no longer than several minutes (after the protective layer of plastic was removed and the electrolysis started). The radon in air could thus not be responsible for 16 tr/cm^2. The electrolyte I am using, the glass of my cell, and the wires from which the electrodes are made, were tested by me long time ago. Their contributions to the background, after several days of exposure, were found to be negligible. The only explanation I have is that the CR-39, received from Landauer, has higher than expected background. Perhaps airline companies randomly expose their cargo to neutrons, searching for explosives. The CR-39 chips received from Pamela, and then from Steven (to replicate SPAWAR experiments), had about ten times lower bacground.

Appended om 7/4/07)
1) The recent June 8 and June 26 entries in Marissa's logbook are probably not totally clear to everyone who read them at:

http://www.earthtech.org/PACA/logbook.html

What follows is my recent private messages to Marissa and Scott. It shows my thinking about Po-210. But first let me summarize their point of view. Scott and Marissa, please correct me, if necessary.

(2) Suspecting radon related contamination, and knowing that Rn-222 (and its daughters) can be identified by gamma rays, they sent a seeded O-ring to an expert on low-energy gamma rays detection, Dr. S. Landsberger, at the PRC laboratory. The ring was examined with a large high resolution gamma rays spectrometer. The “clean as a whistle” result indicated that gamma rays intensities were negligible in comparison with what would be consistent with the rate at which alpha particles are emitted from the O-ring. That was first interpreted as a very strong argument against the suspected Rn-related contamination. But then Marissa and Scott found out that one of the daughters, Po-210, nearly always emits alpha particles without accompanying gamma rays (actually, gamma rays of 0.80 MeV are emitted but only in 0.0012% of decays). Thus the “clean as a whistle” result cannot yet be used as an argument against a possibility of contamination. The alpha particles emitted by the O-ring, might be due to Po-210, the last radioactive element in the Rn-222 chain. That is the essence of what was posted by Marissa. I do not think that Po-210 is responsible for alpha particles from their O-ring. Here are extracts from my two private messages about this:

3) On Jun 30, 2007, at 8:26 PM, Scott Little wrote:
"The following calculations show that it is entirely possible that the activity of Richard's "hot" o-rings comes from casual contact with bench surfaces in his lab. . . . Please show me where I am wrong. I don't like this result any more than you do. But Occam's razor tells us that simple contamination with a known-to-be-present radioisotope is a more likely explanation for these tracks than nuclear reactions caused by ordinary electrolysis." Yes, the volume of a column of air whose base is 1 cm^2, and whose height is 250 cm, is 0.25 liters. Yes, if the activity of radon is 1 pCi/L then the column's activity, due to Rn-222, is 0.25 pCi. Each decay of Rn-222 actually leads to emission of three alpha particles (from Rn-222, Po-218, and Po-214) emitted shortly one after another. Then the Pb-210 is formed. The half-life of that isotope is 22 years. That brings a lot of complications.

The assumption that all single atoms of Pb-210 fall on the floor is questionable. I think that they also "fall" on other surfaces, including walls, ceiling, lungs of people, skin and cloth of people, etc. But that is not my main point. I question validity of Scott's idealization that the activity of Pb-210 is the same as that of Rn-222. I do not know what fraction of Pb-210 atoms, created in a room, actually decays into Po-210 in that room. Many things can happen to a lead atom during 22 years. Here is a hypothetical scenario. Suppose the probability that a lead atom reacts (chemically) with human hair is much higher than that it reacts with other surfaces in a room. In that case most of Pb-210 will be washed away when we take showers. The inert radon, on the other hand, does not react with other surfaces and remains in air. In that scenario the activity on Po-210, in a room, will be much lower than the activity of Rn-222. . . . My suggestion was that we focus on the half-life of residual activity, outside electrolytic cells. Is it consistent with that of Rn-222 (as my single result seems to indicate) or is it consistent with Po-210 (as described by Marissa and Scott)? If the residual activity does not change significantly during a week or two than their hypothesis (which might also be a referee's hypothesis) should be taken seriously. Speculations about what might happen to single lead atoms, created in air, will not help us in this context.

4) On Jul 1, 2007, at 12:45 AM, Scott Little wrote: At 10:44 PM 6/30/2007, Ludwik Kowalski wrote: "My suggestion was that we focus on the half-life of residual activity, outside electrolytic cells." That seems like a very good direction to investigate, Ludwik. But we are going to have to be very careful not to physically alter the surface of the o-rings during this testing. Ideally, the o-ring should be held somehow and the CR-39 pieces placed very close but not touching. That way we would ensure that casual contact with the o-ring was not removing....or adding...radioactive material. The present method of handling o-rings with our fingers and placing them directly onto the CR-39 chips does not seem sufficiently well controlled for this half-life study. Don't you agree?

And we also need to protect the CR-39 from whatever is causing ~ 100 tracks/cm^2 in our lab on all 4 day background tests. Perhaps the o-ring should be placed in a very shallow, small cup so that, when the CR-39 square was placed on top of the cup, it would almost touch the o-ring and it would also completely cover the cup so that a small, static volume of room air would be exposed to the CR-39. We need one of Richard's super-hot o-rings that produces too many tracks to count in several days. That would allow us to make rather short exposures to the CR-39 and still get a statistically significant track count.


Adding 25 tr/cm^2 each day, especially in your low-radon environment (~ 0.6 pCi/L0), is an indication of something very unusual, as you already indicated. At your concentration only about ~3 tracks/cm^2 should be added each day. Therefore, "whatever is causing ~100 tr/cm^2 in our lab on all 4 day background tests" should be taken very seriously. This "whatever" may indeed be the UNA (unexpected nuclear activity) discovered by Oriani and Fisher. . . .

Appended on 8/2/07
Richard sent me a seeded O-ring with two CR-39 applied to it. I removed the CR-39 chips after 5.5 days and applied fresh CR-39 chips to the same O-ring. The second set was removed 6.5 days later. Then all four chips were etched at the same time (6.25 NaOH, 6 hrs, ~73 C)

1) Richard's CR-39 (labeled with one scratch):
a) side that was facing the O-ring had 49 tracks on 9 cm^2; 5.4 tr/cm^2, no clusters
b) opposite side had 42 tracks on 9 cm^2; 4.7 tr/cm^2, 4.7 tr/cm^2, no clusters.

2) Richard's CR-39 (labeled with two scratches):
a) side that was facing the O-ring had 32 tracks on 9 cm^2; 3.5 tr/cm^2, no clusters.
b) opposite side had 56 tracks on 9 cm^2; 6.2 tr/cm^2, no clusters.

3) Ludwik's CR-39 (labeled with a double cross):
a) side that was facing the O-ring had 32 tracks on 9 cm^2; 3.6 tr/cm^2, no clusters.
b) opposite side had 24 tracks on 9 cm^2; 2.7 tr/cm^2, no clusters.

4) Ludwik's CR-39 (labeled with a single cross):
a) side that was facing the O-ring had 21 tracks on 9 cm^2; 2.3 tr/cm^2, no clusters.
b) opposite side had 186 tracks on 9 cm^2; 21 tr/cm^2, no clusters.

Yes, 186 tracks! Should this be taken as a sign of an unusually large background or as a sign that some kind of a nuclear process that took place during the second exposure? The average from my first 3 surfaces is (32+24+21)/9 = 2.8 tr/cm^2. This is about 8 times less than on the last surface. But I did see large background fluctuations in the past. That is why I tend to attribute 21 tr/cm^2 to the background. Why would a seeded O-ring produce particles during the second exposure (on one side of the CR-39 chip only) and not during the first exposure?

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