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Summarizing Nuclear Radioactivity

Nuclear Radioactivity Summary

  • Some nuclei are radioactive—they spontaneously decay destroying some part of their mass and emitting energetic rays, a process called nuclear radioactivity.
  • Nuclear radiation, like x rays, is ionizing radiation, because energy sufficient to ionize matter is emitted in each decay.
  • The range (or distance traveled in a material) of ionizing radiation is directly related to the charge of the emitted particle and its energy, with greater-charge and lower-energy particles having the shortest ranges.
  • Radiation detectors are based directly or indirectly upon the ionization created by radiation, as are the effects of radiation on living and inert materials.

Glossary

alpha rays

one of the types of rays emitted from the nucleus of an atom

beta rays

one of the types of rays emitted from the nucleus of an atom

gamma rays

one of the types of rays emitted from the nucleus of an atom

ionizing radiation

radiation (whether nuclear in origin or not) that produces ionization whether nuclear in origin or not

nuclear radiation

rays that originate in the nuclei of atoms, the first examples of which were discovered by Becquerel

radioactivity

the emission of rays from the nuclei of atoms

radioactive

a substance or object that emits nuclear radiation

range of radiation

the distance that the radiation can travel through a material

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