MacGyver Alert: Create an X-Ray With a Roll of Tape

Those of you without the time or money to use an x-ray machine, say if you wish to examine your skull after your latest experiment as a human wrecking ball, now have another option: good old-fashioned Scotch tape.

Researchers at UCLA have discovered that as adhesive tape is peeled, it emits x-rays. The only catch: it has to be done in a vacuum — and not the Hoover kind. In a vacuum chamber, there’s no interference from the air to stop the x-rays from forming “microscopic lightning.”

It’s been known since the 1930s that tape emits visible light rays when peeled (try it in a closet), but rumors of it producing x-rays had been dismissed until now — so much so that it’s still not known exactly why it occurs. What is known is that the energy generated in the UCLA study was strong enough to produce an x-ray photo of a finger. It’s hardly practical right now, but the discovery could lead to advances in medical treatment, energy creation and safety inspection. And it could help wrap a lot of presents.