The capsule will pound anyone located within a meter of it for an hour with the equivalent of 10 X-rays.
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ByNeal Freyman

· less than 3 min read


Authorities are frantically combing the desert in Western Australia to locate a tiny but highly radioactive capsule that was lost in the vast, arid expanse.

The capsule seems to have fallen off a truck that was transporting it from a mine in the northern part of Western Australia to a suburb of Perth, the region’s largest city. And finding it won’t be simple: The route was 870 miles long and the capsule is smaller than a penny.

But what it lacks in size, the capsule makes up for in radiation. Containing the radioactive isotope cesium-137, the capsule emits the equivalent of 10 X-rays in an hour. Contact could cause burns, radiation sickness, and skin damage, and prolonged exposure could lead to cancer.

So, what’s it even used for? Mining companies deploy these capsules as sensors to calculate things like the thickness of pipes. The mining company that managed to lose this capsule, industry giant Rio Tinto, apologized and said it was launching an investigation into the perplexing circumstances of how this tiny object fell off a truck.