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Author Topic: Question about radio-active iodine....  (Read 4347 times)

Offline CluelessAboutScience

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« on: 12/06/2009 04:37:51 »
I'm not a scientist.  I'm a writer.  And, please don't laugh, but I've been working on a story line and I had a dream last night that gave me a little piece of an idea and I've been researching it all day.  So, I've only got parts of the puzzle for my idea and I'm hoping a science person can help me flesh it out. 

The story is a psychological thriller playing a little off the idea from the 1940s movie "gaslight".  In this case, a woman's husband is "gaslighting" her, but not literally with gas lights.  Instead, he's a doctor and he's laced one of her cigarettes with radio-active iodine.  He has some sort of electronic device that he uses when he's around her to manipulate the activity level of the radio-active iodine which, in turn causes her to feel either tired and worn out if the radio-activity is elevated (since her thyroid isn't working right) or to "recover" and "feel better" by lowering the radio-activity level. 

My question is this:  What type of electronic device (small, ideally pocket-sized,  or,if necessary, briefcase or backpack sized) could manipulate the activity of radio-active iodine in this way???

I came up with the idea after having this dream that people were walking around a woman causing her to "suffocate".  I've been researching all day what, in the real world, could really make a scenario like this happen.  I started with the biological symptoms which eventually took me to thyroid disease where, in turn, I read about radio-active iodine and my imagination just ran from there.

Also, assuming my story line takes me to this woman "triumphing", once she starts to get a clue about what's going on but is somehow still not sure who exactly is doing this to her, is there some device she could use to find out who has the device that is manipulating the radio-activity?  Obviously potassium-iodide would fix her problem, at least that's what I've read.  But, surely she'll want to know who her attacker is, right?

Anyway, thanks for any help you can offer.


 

Offline JnA

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #1 on: 12/06/2009 09:20:08 »
she won't have much of a thyroid left after a short time.
 

Offline CluelessAboutScience

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #2 on: 12/06/2009 16:13:10 »
Um.  It's FICTION.  We're stretching the bounds of reality here just a bit. So, thanks for the input.  Maybe I need to consider that he gives her periodic doses of potassium iodide while alternating that with the tainted cigarettes.  In any case, again, it's fiction.  Anyone willing to work with me?  Again, what types of electronic devices cold manipulate the radio-activity levels?  What type of device could detect the existence of a device manipulating radio-activity levels????
 

Offline JnA

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #3 on: 12/06/2009 16:52:29 »
Um.  It's FICTION. 


then why all the research? you are either going to have your audience suspend disbelief completely or you are going to make it as close to realistic as possible. You can't just pick an choose as you go.
Radioactive iodine is what is used to destroy thyroid tissue left over after a thyroidectomy. Anyone who knows that (and it's not uncommon knowledge) will pick it up immediately. Don't yell at me.. I didn't make the rules

I am, however, a published writer and am currently being treated for thyroid cancer.

you want a device.. if it's fiction,  then create one. Call it a geigermonitor and have it work by sending microwaves to its target.
 

Offline CluelessAboutScience

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #4 on: 12/06/2009 21:30:10 »
Quote
Don't yell at me..

Well, you are right about that.  I did yell with the "all caps".  And, for that I do apologize.  It was my intent to emphasize, which would have been far better served with italics instead of all caps.  My Faux Pas, and again, I apologize.

Quote
then why all the research? you are either going to have your audience suspend disbelief completely or you are going to make it as close to realistic as possible. You can't just pick an choose as you go.

In looking over this statement I've entertained many possibilities for why we'd have a disagreement over this including simple linguistic and/or cognitive differences or misunderstandings. However, suffice it to say there's plenty of successful literature out there that does indeed walk a fine line between reality and fantasy, deftly blending both.  Point blank, there is no need to go either "black or white", here.  If these are rules you live by as a writer, fine.  But please don't try to force them off on me.  I'm really not here to entertain those arguments, anyway.  So, I won't from here-on-out.

Quote
Radioactive iodine is what is used to destroy thyroid tissue left over after a thyroidectomy. Anyone who knows that (and it's not uncommon knowledge) will pick it up immediately.

What someone picks up on "immediately" while reading a piece of literature depends on many things including how the story is weaved.  So, once again we disagree.

Quote
you want a device.. if it's fiction,  then create one. Call it a geigermonitor and have it work by sending microwaves to its target.

As far as whether I choose a fictional device or not, the bottom line here is it's my story.  I choose the blend of fiction/reality being used here, including that pertaining to the device.  Assuming the "microwave" part of your answer is "realistic science" and not "purely a fictional idea" in the sense that microwaves could affect radio-active iodine, thanks.  I'll work on following that possible lead.

I'm sorry you're going through a hard time with the thyroid stuff and I'm sorry if my post touched a nerve where that's concerned but honestly, my own faux pas notwithstanding, your responses seem a bit on the hostile, or at least cranky, side.  Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of this post and the "topic summary" below doesn't give me your posting status.  But, if I remember correctly, you post here quite a bit.  Obviously I'm brand new here and If the social dynamics of this board prefers not support me getting simple answers to a rather straight-forward questions then I guess that's just the way it is.  I'll move on and see what I can dig up with the clues I've gathered already.  But, before I do that, I'll try one last time.  Does anybody here have a straight-forward answer to these two questions:

(1) What type of electronic device (small, ideally pocket-sized, or, if necessary, briefcase or backpack-sized) could manipulate the activity level and/or strength of radio-active iodine?

(2) What kind of device could detect a device that is in the process of manipulating the activity and/or strength of radio-active iodine?

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
 

Offline CluelessAboutScience

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #5 on: 13/06/2009 04:26:53 »
Well, I got my answers from another board - a computer science board, of all things.  Apparently there's a chemistry/physics major there.  It took all of about 8 paragraphs for someone to explain to me, with a "science for dummies" approach, why my scenario won't work and, of all things, to give me a plausible alternative. 

Thanks anyway.
 

Offline Shadec

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #6 on: 18/06/2009 08:42:20 »
I am, however, a published writer and am currently being treated for thyroid cancer.
wow thats coincidental... im sorry to hear that

perhaps that he doesn't alter the radioactivity, more hat he monitors it - lead box with a geiger counter essentially...
and as soon as it gets to the level he wants, then he uses it.

I assume by "radioactive iodine" you mean 131I (Iodine-131, the most common isotope of iodine, the one most used in related medical settings), it undergoes 'BETA' (β) and 'GAMMA' (γ) decay, into 131Xe (a stable isotope of Xenon, a noble gas, they're on the far right column of the periodic table) and an electron. it has a half life of approximately 8 days. you could also use the other 'common' isotope of Iodine, 129I, but it has a halflife of almost a billion times that of 131I .

131I accumulates in the thyroid and damages the tissues there. high exposure can cause thyroidic cancer. its recommended that around a two metre radius should be kept clear around the person, as high levels of radiation can be dangerous to others, so maybe he could try to avoid her? an extra plot point...

131I is produced (only around 3%) by the fission of 235U (Uranium-235, this is whats used in nuclear missiles and reactors). this is why there was such controversy over nuclear testing and Chernobyl, as Iodine is an important micronutrient, and so huge amounts of people and children took up 131I, its effects are severe and can still be seen today

you mentioned potassium iodide (KI), im pretty sure this would stop the person from absorbing the 131I, so make sure you remember this when writing (unless it is the radioactive iodine that is used (thats how its used in the treatment of thyroid cancer etc), because if a person is given normal iodine, they wont absorb the radioactive one - this is what they did around Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)

NB: the beta and gamma aren't normally in caps, just to emphasise their importance :P
i hope this helped!
« Last Edit: 07/09/2009 07:53:38 by Shadec »
 

Offline JnA

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #7 on: 18/06/2009 10:07:15 »
and I broke my own rule about not personalising.. oh well.. I'm only human.. apparently
 

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Question about radio-active iodine....
« Reply #7 on: 18/06/2009 10:07:15 »

 

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