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  • Explain nuclear radiation.
  • Explain the types of radiation—alpha emission, beta emission, and gamma emission.
  • Explain the ionization of radiation in an atom.
  • Define the range of radiation.

The discovery and study of nuclear radioactivity quickly revealed evidence of revolutionary new physics. In addition, uses for nuclear radiation also emerged quickly—for example, people such as Ernest Rutherford used it to determine the size of the nucleus and devices were painted with radon-doped paint to make them glow in the dark (see [link] ). We therefore begin our study of nuclear physics with the discovery and basic features of nuclear radioactivity.

The image shows an aircraft panel with lots of dial indicators, some levers and two wheels.
The dials of this World War II aircraft glow in the dark, because they are painted with radium-doped phosphorescent paint. It is a poignant reminder of the dual nature of radiation. Although radium paint dials are conveniently visible day and night, they emit radon, a radioactive gas that is hazardous and is not directly sensed. (credit: U.S. Air Force Photo)

Discovery of nuclear radioactivity

In 1896, the French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852–1908) accidentally found that a uranium-rich mineral called pitchblende emits invisible, penetrating rays that can darken a photographic plate enclosed in an opaque envelope. The rays therefore carry energy; but amazingly, the pitchblende emits them continuously without any energy input. This is an apparent violation of the law of conservation of energy, one that we now understand is due to the conversion of a small amount of mass into energy, as related in Einstein’s famous equation E = mc 2 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{6} } "eV"} {} . It was soon evident that Becquerel’s rays originate in the nuclei of the atoms and have other unique characteristics. The emission of these rays is called nuclear radioactivity or simply radioactivity    . The rays themselves are called nuclear radiation    . A nucleus that spontaneously destroys part of its mass to emit radiation is said to decay (a term also used to describe the emission of radiation by atoms in excited states). A substance or object that emits nuclear radiation is said to be radioactive    .

Two types of experimental evidence imply that Becquerel’s rays originate deep in the heart (or nucleus) of an atom. First, the radiation is found to be associated with certain elements, such as uranium. Radiation does not vary with chemical state—that is, uranium is radioactive whether it is in the form of an element or compound. In addition, radiation does not vary with temperature, pressure, or ionization state of the uranium atom. Since all of these factors affect electrons in an atom, the radiation cannot come from electron transitions, as atomic spectra do. The huge energy emitted during each event is the second piece of evidence that the radiation cannot be atomic. Nuclear radiation has energies of the order of 10 6 eV size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{6} } "eV"} {} per event, which is much greater than the typical atomic energies (a few eV size 12{"eV"} {} ), such as that observed in spectra and chemical reactions, and more than ten times as high as the most energetic characteristic x rays. Becquerel did not vigorously pursue his discovery for very long. In 1898, Marie Curie (1867–1934), then a graduate student married the already well-known French physicist Pierre Curie (1859–1906), began her doctoral study of Becquerel’s rays. She and her husband soon discovered two new radioactive elements, which she named polonium (after her native land) and radium (because it radiates). These two new elements filled holes in the periodic table and, further, displayed much higher levels of radioactivity per gram of material than uranium. Over a period of four years, working under poor conditions and spending their own funds, the Curies processed more than a ton of uranium ore to isolate a gram of radium salt. Radium became highly sought after, because it was about two million times as radioactive as uranium. Curie’s radium salt glowed visibly from the radiation that took its toll on them and other unaware researchers. Shortly after completing her Ph.D., both Curies and Becquerel shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics for their work on radioactivity. Pierre was killed in a horse cart accident in 1906, but Marie continued her study of radioactivity for nearly 30 more years. Awarded the 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her discovery of two new elements, she remains the only person to win Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry. Marie’s radioactive fingerprints on some pages of her notebooks can still expose film, and she suffered from radiation-induced lesions. She died of leukemia likely caused by radiation, but she was active in research almost until her death in 1934. The following year, her daughter and son-in-law, Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie, were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery of artificially induced radiation, adding to a remarkable family legacy.

Questions & Answers

what is fluid
Anthony Reply
anything that flows is Liquid.
prakash
a substance that has no specific shape
Saleemulhaq
How submarines floats one water the same time sink in water
Courage Reply
A submarine has the ability to float and sink. The ability to control buoyancy comes from the submarine'strim or ballast tanks which can be filled with either water or air, depending on whether the submarine needs to floator sink. When the submarine floats it means its trim tanks are filled with air
Arif
what is work
Ojo Reply
Force times distance
Karanja
product of force and distance...
Arif
Is physics a natural science?
Adebisi Reply
what is the difference between a jet engine and a rocket engine.
Samuel Reply
explain the relationship between momentum and force
Joseph Reply
A moment is equivalent multiplied by the length passing through the point of reaction and that is perpendicular to the force
Karanja
How to find Squirrel frontal area from it's surface area?
Pooja Reply
how do we arrange the electronic configuration of elements
Muhammed Reply
hi guys i am an elementary student
benedict Reply
hi
Dancan
hello
adolphus
are you an elementary student too?
benedict
no bro
adolphus
yes
Che
hi
Miranwa
yes
Miranwa
welcome
Miranwa
what is the four equation of motion
Miranwa
what is strain?
SAMUEL
Change in dimension per unit dimension is called strain. Ex - Change in length per unit length l/L.
ABHIJIT
strain is the ratio of extension to length..=e/l...it has no unit because both are in meters and they cancel each other
adeleke
How is it possible for one to drink a cold drink from a straw?
Karanja Reply
most possible as it is for you to drink your wine from your straw
Selina
state the law of conservation of energy
Sushma Reply
energy can neither be destroy or created,but can be change from one form to another
dare
yeah
Toheeb
it can neither be created nor destroyed
Toheeb
its so sample question dude
Muhsin
what is the difference between a principle and a law?
Mary Reply
where are from you wendy .?
ghulam
philippines
Mary
why?
Mary
you are beautiful
ghulam
are you physics student
ghulam
laws are ment to be broken
Ge
hehe ghulam where r u from?
Muhsin
yes
dare
principle are meant to be followed
dare
south Africa
dare
here Nigeria
Toheeb
principle is a rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.
Ayoka
Rules are meant to be broken while principals to be followed
Karanja
principle is a rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.
tathir
what is momentum?
prakash Reply
is the mass times velocity of an object
True
it is the product of mass and velocity of an object.
The momentum possessed by a body is generally defined as the product of its mass and velocity m×v
Usman
momentum is the product of the mass of a body of its velocity
Ugbesia
what about kg it is changing or not
vijay Reply
no mass is the quantity or amount of body so it remains constant everywhere
Ahsan
yes
Siyanbola
remains constant
taha
mass of an object is always constant. and that is universally applied.
Shii
mass of a body never changes but the weight can change due to variance of gravity at different points of the world
Saheed
what is hookes law
Joshua
mass of an object does not change
SAMUEL
Is weight a scalar quantity
esther Reply
weight is actually a force of gravity with which earth attracts us downwards so it is a vector quantity. and it has both direction and magnitude
Ahsan
ty
Denise
weight is the earth pull of the body
Ugbesia
why does weight change but not mass?
Theo
Theo, the mass of an object can change but it depends on how you define that object. First, you need to know that mass is the amount of matter an object has, and weight is mass*gravity (the "force" that attracts object A to the object B mass).
Nicolas
So if you face object A with object B, you will get a different result than facing object A with object C, so the weight of object A changes but not its mass.
Nicolas
Now, if you have an object and you take a part away from it, you are changing it mass. Lets use the human body and fat loss process as an example.
Nicolas
When you lose weight by doing exercise, you are being attracted by the same object before and after losing weight so the change of weight is related to a change of mass not a change of gravity.
Nicolas
The explanation of this is simple, we are composed of smaller particles, which are itself objects, so the loose of mass of an object actually is the separation of one object is two different ones.
Nicolas
But if you define an object because of its form and characteristics and not the amount of mass, then the object is the same but you have taken a part of it mass away.
Nicolas
Theo, weight =mass. gravity, here mass is fixed everywhere but gravity change in different places so weight change not mass.
ABHIJIT
yup weight changes and mass does not. That's why we're 1/3 our weight on the moon
clifford
weight is the product of mass × velocity w=m×v = m(v-u) but v=u+1/2at^ weight is a scalar quantity mass of an obj is the amount of particles that obj cont
Usman
mass is fixed always while weight is dynamic
Usman
Why does water wet glass but mercury does not?
Yusuf
thanks guys
Theo
Yusuf Shuaibu, for water the Adhessive force between water molecules and glass is greater than the cohessive force between it's own molecules but for Mercury the cohessive force will be greater in comparison with adhessive force. For this water wet glass but Mercury does not.
ABHIJIT
Practice Key Terms 8

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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