A little while ago I got to tour a small research reactor here at UCI. I was blown away by two things:
1) Nuclear products can actually give off this weird blue glow! This effect is known as Cherenkov Radiation. Simply put, it is similar to a sonic boom, except instead of the speed of sound being broken, the speed of light in a medium (in this case water) is being broken by some charged particle (generally fast moving electrons, or Beta particles).
2) I could safely stand right above the reactor as it is undergoing it’s maximum fission. This may be a little misleading. There is actually 25 feet of water between myself and the reactor — more than enough to protect me from the radiation.
Science is so cool, right?!