Talk:Geiger counter

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Gamma rays[edit]

According to Knoll, the response to gamma rays comes by way of gamma-ray interactions with the sold wall of the counter. Using high-Z materials for the wall, makes the counters more suited for gamma-ray detection.

Answer- I have added in a complete section about this and made graphic, as this fundamental and important process was not explained in the original article. Knoll ref also added.Dougsim (talk) 08:50, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Should this be inserted in the text?[edit]

Back in March, 2010 this article was gutted, deleting a lot of history, product photos, etc. I thought the quality of the article suffered greatly and would like to restore most of that stuff. I didn't notice any real explanation or debate on the change. Can anyone fill me in?

  • The sensor contains a halogen quenched GM-counter tube which detects beta and gamma radiation with energies above 0.4 MeV. Each count event is accompanied by a short positive pulse (5V, 0.265 ms) on pin 1 of the BT connector. Each event is indicated visually by a flash of the LED on the sensor and accustically by a 3 kHz beep of 84.5 ms.

This sounds like the specs of a specific module or standard apparatus, not anything inherent to the GM tube; right? Unless anyone objects or can clarify (The whole article might need a little work actually), I'll remove it.

Merge proposal[edit]

Would it be OK to merge the Geiger-Mueller tube article with this Geiger counter article ? --DavidCary 03:52, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Official name[edit]

Does anyone know what the "official" name is for this? Geiger counter or Geiger-Müller counter? I want to redirect the correct way. -- postglock 14:59, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

As far as I know, Geiger counters can measure gamma rays?
In my school textbook, it is called Geiger-muller tube - QiQi
  • The proper official name should perhaps be the Geiger-Müller-Nuttall tube/counter.

My physics teacher (Mr 'Pill' Ball) at school [1] told us he used to be friends with John Mitchell Nuttall (1890-1958) who (like Rosalind Franklin for DNA later) was at first neglected and then forgotten. Nuttall worked with Geiger on the Geiger Nuttall law (1911) and claimed to be an equal joint inventor of the Geiger-Müller-Nuttall counter. It was to his ultimate disadvantage that the names were arranged alphabetically.
vendeka (talk) 14:51, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

The device described in this article is actually Geiger-Müller Tube, when connected to a counter it counts the number of particles entering the chamber of the tube. When a Geiger-Müller Tube is connected to a counter is is often called a "Geiger counter" (referring to the device as a whole). It should be made clear in the article what the difference between tube and a counter is. This article could possibly even stand merging in with the Geiger-Müller Tube
-ACB52 (talk) 00:40, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Rather than merge, which makes the whole article very technical, it is better to treat the tube separately. There is now text which makes it plain the tube is the sensing device and it gives its name to the counter. The counter as a generic instrument is therefore dealt with in this article. Those wishing to find more about the detector can do so on the tube page. The GM counter article is getting up to 1200 hits per day now, so its main utility is to allow a simple explanation of the instrument type to a wide audience.

There are now plenty of links to Townsend avalanches, etc, to cover the physics, and to other ionising radiation detectors to make the whole field clearer to the new reader. I have aso created a new category "ionising radiation detectors" which pulls together the corpus of articles on practical ionising radiation detectors items in everyday use. This is to differentiate from "particle detectors"; which are generally lab or research dept based. Dougsim (talk) 09:07, 21 September 2012 (UTC)


  • A note to the wise cdv 715 an 717 are not geiger counters they are high range ion chambers that are no where near as sensitive as a geiger counter.

Moved above from main article page – this was added as justification of the removal of the image. If you have more information about the above, I'd suggest perhaps setting up a article for ion chambers (unless this is synonym for some already existing article) and placing this information in it. Thanks. - postglock 13:39, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

This article seems to have numerous spelling errors, and the punctuation and sentence structure is sloppy. It appears to be largely written in the first and second person, "I noticed" and "You must" and so on. Also, as far as I am aware, the correct term is "Geiger-Müller Tube", not Geiger Counter.

This has been cleaned up and made factual Dougsim (talk) 09:08, 21 September 2012 (UTC)


In the UK TV series Eleventh Hour (UK TV series), broadcast 9th Feb 2006, a character remarks that some people dislike the name 'Geiger counter' because its inventor Hans_Geiger was an "arch Nazi" who doesn't deserve the constant recognition that geiger counter confers on him. (Instead they call it a 'radiation detector'.) I'm not suggesting you change the title of this entry or anything, but I wonder whether it's worth mentioning this within the text somewhere? Demos99 22:15, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes, this is true. Inside the nuclear industry we call the Geiger Counter a 'Radiation Detector' nowadays. It's not really as a result of political correctness, but because 'Radiation Detector' is a better description. Radiation detectors come in all shapes and sizes, from little pager-sized units that you clip on your lapel to things that you can drive an 18-wheel truck through. They can have alpha probes, beta probes, or (if you really want one) a remote 'Geiger-Muller' type gamma probe, but as you say 'Radiation Detector' is the generic name, and 'Geiger Counter' only really lives on in some poorly-researched science-fiction scripts. 11:33, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
To your note: Hans Geiger was NOT an "archznazi". Get your history in order and grow up.-- (talk) 15:05, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Well, i think 'radiation detector' is more like general name, there are many types of radiation detector - QiQi

The Geiger-Müller tube is referred to (in an abbreviated form even!) before it is defined. Someone should move the parenthetical text in the introduction further down into the article, and preferrably de-parenthesize it. 04:40, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I've rearranged the first section accordingly, and for additional clarity (IMHO). I think it still needs work, there's some possibly irrelevant information. 04:46, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Alpha radiation?[edit]

My textbook claims that "alpha particles cannot pass through the end window [of a Geiger counter]." What's up with that? Bayerischermann 03:54, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

This is absolutely correct- alpha particles will not penetrate the chamber, and the respective claim in the article is false. In fact, alpha particles are so heavy they can be stopped by a single sheet of paper. Eldad Abramski (talk) 11:43, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
I diasagree. End-window GM probes and pancake probes have thin mica windows. These probes will usually detect alpha particles of energy greater than 3 MeV. In this sense, the article is correct to say that GM counters can be used to detect alpha radiation. M.moulson (talk) 17:33, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Pre-1945 Geiger counters?[edit]

Growing up in an atomic-saavy family, I was told that counter built before 1945 (the first detonation of a nuclear device) were somehow more accurate. Any truth to this? Check-Six 05:06, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Pre 1945 they were made for prospecting the ore, post they were made to avoid the concentrate fallout, somewhat as a placebo effect :-/

They were not more accurate - they just had less background to contend with. Dougsim (talk) 09:10, 21 September 2012 (UTC)


This page was vandalized. I restored the article to a previous version, and found a few places where similar vandalisms (obviously from the same person) had occured on this version as well. I skimmed through it and deleted what I found, but had a limited time to proofread. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:35, 26 March 2007 (UTC).

We don't really need a description of the content. I removed it since it was offensive. I understand that editing other people's comments on a user page is not usually done. The IP address of the above commenter has not been active for years and it was pretty unpleasant stuff, quote marks or not. Kathybramley (talk) 08:14, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Pre-lude counter?[edit]

Cant find anything to verify the existence of a pre-lude counter on the internet. (talk) 23:44, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


Are the clicks heard the result of a single particle impact, or multiple particles? -- Beland (talk) 07:48, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

The clicks are the product of an electric circuitry, and can be turned off, and are not caused directly by the particle. whe clicks are switched on, you should hear a click per particle detected. Eldad Abramski (talk) 11:45, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Suggest merge[edit]

This article could have the whole contents of Geiger–Müller tube merged in; it would better explain how these instruments work. It seems logical to me to discuss the whole system under one article title instead of talking about individual parts. We should also probably mention uses of GM counters, such as prospecting and the cold war era of a Geiger counter in every bomb shelter. --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:37, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

I say do that, but maybe create a main article for radiation detectors - maybe from this or a new one. That could outline the basic science of trying to detect radiation and the different approaches, with a little compare and contrast.Kathybramley (talk) 08:35, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
The term "Geiger counter" is often used for an instrumemt capable of detecting any ionizing radiation. I think we should destinguish between this tube and radiation detectors. So there should be at least two articles: one on "Radiation detectors" (which should include the Geiger counter) and one on the "Geiger-Mueller tube". This would also help to make the article on "Radiation Detectors" more readable by keeping out lots of the technical and physical background required for the GM-tube article. -- Wosch21149 (talk) 14:19, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

See "official name" above Dougsim (talk) 09:11, 21 September 2012 (UTC)


The article states that the first "Geiger Counter" from 1908 "...was only capable of detecting alpha particles." Is there any evidence for this? I assume that a simple GM tube was rather capable of detecting gamma rays than (exclusively) alpha particles. --Wosch21149 (talk) 14:20, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

There was no Geiger tube in 1908; only the principle was discovered as a means of measuring alpha energy. It is described in the 1908 paper cited Dougsim (talk) 21:48, 6 October 2012 (UTC)

Misleading introductory picture[edit]

The picture of the "deflection needle type geiger counter" in the introduction is a Thermo Mini 900. The Thermo Mini series can use a GM tube or a scintillation detector: Since there is a significant difference between these types of instruments, I strongly suggest using a less ambiguous picture.M.moulson (talk) 17:24, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Scintillation physics link[edit]

Physics - scintillation link. This did go to the scintillation counter page - what is the reason for changing this?

It now points to a physics page which is not as relevant to the Geiger article; which itself has a general thrust of concentrating on the practical use of hand-held geiger survey instruments.

I would like to revert this. Comments please. Dougsim (talk) 08:53, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

I have now changed back to so it looks at the more relevant page Dougsim (talk) 08:55, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Invention Date[edit]

This page says the Geiger Counter was invented in 1908, yet all other sources says 1928. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:49, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

I have changed this to principle of operation, and the history later explains all. Dougsim (talk)


Great rewrite. I think it bears mentioning that the popularity of the GM counter in part stems from the relatively powerful pulses produced by the electron avalanche in a GM tube. Those 1940's and 1950's counters had almost nothing in them besides a big battery, the GM tube, perhaps a single stage tube amplifier, and a meter movement. We shuld perhaps also mention that Geiger counters are less useful in high radiation fields due to the recovery time of the tube. --Wtshymanski (talk) 13:58, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for this.

Yes some more practical history may be helpful, and the effects of dead time and fall-back due to excessive radiation should be mentioned. I will see what can be done Dougsim (talk) 07:11, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

SI Photon dose[edit]

The new section on photon dose units I would suggest is not appropriate in this article. Whilst an interesting table, it is too technical, and deals with a very small part of a specialist subject, whereas the thrust of the GM counter article to is to give a simple explanation to the casual reader on how a GM counter works. I would therefore suggest that this section is removed, as it will serve only to confuse.

I think it is actually also too technical for the GM tube article, which I have deliberately kept separate from the GM counter. The tube article is for people who want to go deeper. However SI photon units are very deep.

This is a good table which will help to de-mystify radiation dose, but suggest it should not be here. It could well go in some of the articles on dose and fluence elsewhere. Dougsim (talk) 06:35, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Having received no comments I have now removed this template. It would be very unwieldy and confusing to have all the underlying detail of radiation measurement units displayed on the GM page; that is what the other specific pages are for.

This photon unit template is still available on photon counting and counting efficiency pages so can easily be accessed by anyone who wants to go deeper; there are links from the GM page. These two pages are very sparse on information and could do with some work on them, which would be very beneficial.

I suggest the Geiger Counter page is kept as a reasonably simple and accessible introduction to the GM counter for non-specialist readers, so should not go into the detailed physics; which can be done on other pages.

Dougsim (talk) 08:06, 21 April 2013 (UTC)