I think that 14C can be handled safely and easily. It
emits low energy beta particles, which will not threaten
the workings of the probe, as they can penetrate only a
few centimeters of air, and virtually are unable to
penetrate metal or plastic. Low activities can be used
(less than a microcurie) with a high level of sensitivity
There are many other ways to measure the same thing: the
mineralization of organic compounds. Check out the
literature on microbial ecology. We do that kind of
thing all of the time.
bgangle at wam.umd.edu writes:
>Martin Weiss wrote:
>>>> For a museum laboratory exercise is there an easy test for living
>> organisms? For example, if given a sample of soil what test can I have
>> visitors perform to determine if there is anything living in it? This
>> would be a possible modeling of a probe to Mars for example to look for
>> living organisms.
>>>> Must be SAFE, easy to interpret ie color reaction, and not take more
>> than several steps.
>Whatever you choose, it is unlikely to model searches for life on Mars
>since the tests that have been done on Mars used radioactively labelled
>materials. This probably doesn't fit your definition of safe and easy.