|What Does it Mean to be Radioactive?|
|A substance that is radioactive has a nucleus that is unstable. In this usage, unstable means that the nucleus will spontaneously decay, or break down by releasing some of its particles and energy. Nuclei may lose only neutrons, or a combination of protons and neutrons. When a particle consisting of two protons and two neutrons are emitted at once, an alpha particle is said to have been released. Other particles can be released when the nucleus spontaneously undergoes radioactive decay.|
|Types of Radiation|
|Principally, there are three types of radiation emitted during radioactive decay. Alpha and beta radiation are both particles. Gamma radiation is energy, and is in fact a type of electromagnetic radiation. The aforementioned alpha particle is made of two protons and two neutrons, for a mass number of four. Due to its two protons, it is often referred to as a helium nucleus. Beta particles are electrons formed from the transformation of a neutron into a proton (within the nucleus) coupled with the emission of a small portion of negatively charged mass, hence an electron. Gamma rays have no mass or charge, and since they are electromagnetic radiation, they travel at the speed of light. These types of radiation are summed up below:|
|Speed||10% of the speed of light||90% of the speed of light||at the speed of light|
|Nuclear Weapons - Video Clips|
|These videos are in the public domain, so you are free to download and
A is for Atom − Clearly produced by a pro-nuclear energy contingent, this video does give a great visual introduction to nuclear fission and the radioactivity of the elements.
Duck and Cover − 1951 video from the Federal Civil Defense Administration. Cold War filmmaking at its best.
Daisy Girl Ad − Controversial 1964 campaign ad for incumbent President Lyndon Johnson. It was only aired once and it has been interpreted by some that the ad implied challenger Barry Goldwater would lead the United States into a nuclear war.
Tale of Two Cities − Made in 1946, the commentary in this video shows an anti-Japanese bias. However, the images of the destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (note the factory windows and "shadows" in particular) provide viewers with visual evidence of the only nuclear attacks in human history.
|Applications of Radioisotopes - Websites|
|All of these links open up the websites listed in a new window.
Three Mile Island ‒ Fact sheet prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Council on the Three Mile Island incident of 1979.
|(1) Ackerman, Sandra J. A Different Kind of CSI: Crime and Stable Isotopes. American Scientist. 2013, 101, 27-28.|
|(2) Alazraki, Naomi P. and Mishkin, Fred S. Fundamentals of Nuclear Medicine, The Society of Nuclear Medicine: New York, 1984.|
|(3) Asimov, Isaac. Understanding Physics, Volume III; Dorset Press: New York, 1988.|
|(4) Benrey, Ronald M. Nuclear Experiments You Can Do...from Edison; Thomas Alva Edison Foundation: Southfield, MI, 1982.|
|(5) Cohen, Bernard L. The Heart of the Atom; Anchor Books: Garden City, NY, 1967.|
|(6) Craven, C.J. Our Atomic World; United States Atomic Energy Commission: Oak Ridge, TN, 1963.|
|(7) Dean, Joseph L. Atomic Power; Nelson Doubleday Paperback: Garden City, NY, 1967.|
|(8) Grimes, Robin W. and Nuttall, William J. Science. 2010, 329, 799-803.|
|(9) Hyde, Earl K. Synthetic Transuranium Elements; United States Atomic Energy Commission: Oak Ridge, TN, 1964.|
|(10) Kaplan, Irving. Nuclear Physics, 2nd ed.; Addison-Wesley: Reading, MA, 1964.|
|(11) Lindenfeld, Peter. Radioactive Radiations and Their Biological Effects; American Association of Physics Teachers: College Park, MD, 1985.|
|(12) Long, Michael E. Half-Life: The Lethal Legacy of America's Nuclear Waste. National Geographic, July 2002, pp 2-33.|
|(13) Miner, William N. Plutonium; United States Atomic Energy Commission: Oak Ridge, TN, 1968.|
|(14) Reed, Cameron. From Treasury Vault to the Manhattan Project. American Scientist. 2011, 99, 40-47.|
|(15) Romer, Alfred. The Restless Atom; Anchor Books: Garden City, NY, 1960.|
|(16) Wald, Matthew L. What Now for Nuclear Waste? Scientific American, August 2009, pp 46-53.|