Of course you'll kill them first, ignore that.

I'm not talking about any waste that may get deposited, that can be washed off.

The only mechanism I can see to glow is radioactive decay of isotopes created by neutron activation. (Note that there is a question on Quora that simply dismisses this based on a lack of water--but the skin has a similar refractive index.)


says we need a beta particle of 263keV to go locally FTL.

Going down the elements by abundance in the human body:

Oxygen: O19 - I can't find the decay energy but the 26 second half life means they're not glowing for long.

Carbon: C14 - 156keV decay energy, the beta particle doesn't go FTL.

Hydrogen: H3 - 18keV decay energy, the beta particle doesn't go FTL.

Nitrogen: N16 - I can't find the decay energy but it has a half life of 7 seconds--they're not going to glow for long

Calcium: C47 is energetic enough at 1.3MeV and has a half life of the better part of a week, but it's pretty much down there in the bones far from the skin surface.

Phosphorus: P32 is likewise energetic enough at 1.7MeV and a half life of a couple of weeks, but it's pretty much down there in the bones.

Could that actually create a glow? (Perceivable to the unaided eye in complete darkness.) Or is there anything else I'm missing that could create a glow? (Or would it only show up where the calcium & phosphorus are exposed--the teeth, probably showing up where the beta particles hit the tissue of the mouth?)

  • $\begingroup$ put em underwater and Cherenkov radiation can produce a glow. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 27, 2022 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ @John But what isotope?? $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2022 at 3:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ anything that emits beta particles or positrons. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 27, 2022 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ Radium glows a little but you can add phosphorus to make it brighter no need to resort to WMD. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Mar 27, 2022 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ @John Not everything--note that I specifically rejected tritium and C-14 as not being energetic enough for Cherenkov radiation. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2022 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


The obvious answer, nuke them until they melt. The glow will last until they cools down, but then any solution would have a strictly limited duration. Consider trinitite.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't really think there would be a "them" at that point to glow. Besides, you can't melt flesh, can you? Wouldn't it oxidize instead? $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2022 at 19:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .