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Radiations and Radioactivity - Facts and Discoveries

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Last updated date: 04th Mar 2024
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Overview of Radioactivity

Have you ever heard of the news that thousands of Japanese people were affected for generations by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings? And how do their babies and generations carry genetic defects to date? This all was because of the radiation and radioactivity from the various nuclear reactions.


Nowadays, radioactivity is a phenomenon that is used in the treatment of diseases. But it is also identified that this radioactivity has harmful effects on our health. In this article, we will learn about everything related to radioactivity and will also look at facts about radioactivity. So let’s start learning.


Radioactivity


Radioactivity 


What is Radioactivity? 

Radioactivity is a phenomenon that can be found in various elements and different types of matter. As we all know that every kind of matter around us is made up of constituent elements and those elements have atoms in them. Generally, items are stable, which means they do not change randomly with time. On the other hand, atoms that are radioactive in nature are continuously changing with time. These atoms lose their energy out of them naturally. They release energy and various smaller particles out of them in the form of radiation. 


Why is Radiation of Radioactive Elements Harmful?


What is Radiation


What is Radiation 


Radiations coming out of any radioactive element are very harmful to us humans and all living creatures. Exposure to a high level of radiation can have different effects on our body depending on the dose received. Below are listed some harmful effects of these radiations coming out of radioactive elements on our body.

  1. Radiations can cause hair loss, hurt and brain problems and damage to nerve cells, small blood vessels, etc. 

  2. Exposure to a high level of radiation can cause mutations in our DNA or genetic information causing genetic diseases that can be transmitted from one generation to another. 

  3. Radiations can also cause reproductive problems like infertility or deformities in newly born.


Interesting Facts About Radioactivity

Now as we know that losing something out of the atom to attain stability is called radioactivity. Below are listed some interesting facts about radioactivity.

  1. Radioactive elements change every time they lose their energy or any particle out of them. These elements tend to give particles and radiation out of them until they acquire a stable form. This process of losing out particles from an atom is called decay. 

  2. The time in which any element attains stable configuration through decaying can vary from a millisecond to millions of years. The measure of the rate of time that is required to get stable is called half life; it is also referred to as the time that is required for one-half of a group of atoms to decay into a stable form of an atom.

  3. The phenomenon of radioactivity was not known until the late 1800s. In the year 1895, Wilhelm Roentgen discovered a type of radiation and named them X-rays. Various scientists started to work on X-rays to see if there are any other kinds of radiation also. 

  4. During this time span scientists like Henry Becquerel and Pierre and Marie Curie intensely studied the phenomenon and discovered other forms of radiation also. Along with radiation they also are credited with the discovery of two major radioactive elements. Later, all three scientists were awarded with a Nobel prize.


Great Scientist Marie Curie


Great Scientist Marie Curie


  1. In the year 1899, a scientist named Rutherford experimented with an element called uranium and described three unique types of rays, namely the alpha beta and gamma rays.


Fun Facts About Radioactivity

Below are listed some fun facts about radioactivity:

  • Radiation has been employed by scientists in a variety of advantageous ways despite its drawbacks. X-rays, healthcare, radiometric dating, energy production, and the destruction of pathogens are a few of these.

  • Radon gas, which is extremely toxic to people, can be constructed when uranium in the ground deteriorates. It is believed to be the second most standard reason for lung cancer.

  • Carbon dating uses the half-life of carbon-14 to estimate the age of fossils.

  • The heaviest element that has at most petite one stable isotope is bismuth. Beyond bismuth, all elements are radioactive.


Summary 

To conclude all the learnings from this article we can say that radioactivity is a very useful phenomenon but it has various harmful effects also if not used carefully it can cause various health hazards related to it. In this article, we saw why radiation from radioactive elements can be harmful to us and also looked at the scientist who discovered radioactivity and how they change the world that we live in. 

FAQs on Radiations and Radioactivity - Facts and Discoveries

1. Can radioactivity be used in everyday life?

No, radioactivity is a harmful phenomenon and if used regularly can be lethal. The scientist Marie Curie and her family died of exposure to radiation on a regular basis. Yet it is used in medical procedures like X-ray. 

2. How can I protect myself from radiation?

If someone lives in an area that is affected by radiation leak they are advised to stay at home as much as possible as the walls can act as a shield.

3. Is radioactivity synonymous with decay?

Both the phenomena of radioactivity and decay are related; there cannot be radioactivity if an atom does not decay.