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The distinctive blue glow seen in the primary coolant water of nuclear reactors is called Cherenkov Radiation.  What makes Cherenkov Radiation so much more interesting than mundane ordinary radiation is that it is the result of charged particles (alpha and beta radiation from the reactor) traveling faster than the speed of light within that medium (the water).  These hyperluminal particles cause the water molecules to polarize when they fall quickly back to their ground state.  This change in energy state produces photons we perceive as that distinctive blue glow.  In many ways, it is like the sonic boom of light.



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