Electromagnetic Waves

Radiation

Radiation refers to the energy or particles from a source which travels through space or other mediums. For instance, light, heat, microwaves and wireless communications, all these are its forms. So, through this article, we will be able to help you understand this in detail. So, let us find out what it means, its types, applications and more.

radiation

Introduction to Radiation

As you know by now, it is the energy or particles originating from a source which travels through space or other mediums. Now, we will look at what all it includes, it is particle, gravitational, acoustic and electromagnetic radiation.

When we talk about particle radiation, we refer to alpha radiation (α), beta radiation (β), and neutron radiation. Further, gravitational radiation is one which takes the form of gravitational waves or ripples in the curvature of space-time.

After that, we have acoustic radiation which includes ultrasound, sound, and seismic waves. Finally, there is electromagnetic radiation like radio waves, visible light, x-rays, and gamma radiation (γ).

Types of Radiation

We often categorize it in two types that depend on the energy of the radiated particles. The first is ionizing radiation. It carries more than 10 eV, which is enough to ionize atoms and molecules and break chemical bonds.

After that, we have non-ionizing Radiation which comprises of alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma particles. While ionizing one comprises of a microwave, infrared and radio waves.

Nuclear Radiation

It is an energy which released via elementary particles of the atomic nucleus which is caused by the procedure of nuclear decay. As per the International Atomic Energy Agency, this can have consequences on our nature, human life and facility drastically. Nonetheless, it can also be both advantageous or damaging depending upon its use.

Types of Nuclear Radiation

There are around three kinds of nuclear radiation which radioactive atoms emit. They are alpha, beta and gamma radiation. We will look into these three in detail:

Alpha Radiation

This is a heavy and very short-range particle. Essentially, it is an ejected helium nucleus. Moreover, it is also another name for the alpha particles emitted in the kind of radioactive decay known as alpha decay. Alpha particles are helium-4 (4He) nuclei.

Beta Radiation

We classify them in two categories, they are Beta-minus (β−) and Beta-plus (β+). The Beta-minus one comprises of an energetic electron. It is less penetrating than gamma radiation but more than alpha. Whereas, the Beta-plus is the emission of positrons, which are the antimatter form of electrons.

Gamma Radiation

This comprises of photons with a wavelength less than 3×10−11meters. The emission is a nuclear process which takes place to rid an unstable nucleus of excess energy after most nuclear reactions.

X-Ray Radiation

This is a type of electromagnetic radiation. The x-rays are powerful waves of electromagnetic energy. Most X-rays have a wavelength which ranges from 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 100 eV to 100 keV.

Applications

There are many applications of it in different areas ranging from medicine, communication and science. In the field of medicine, radioactive substances come in use for diagnosis, treatment and research. For instance, X-rays pass through the muscles and other soft tissues but dense materials stop them.

Thus, X-rays allows doctors to find out the broken bones and locate any cancers which may be present in the body. Moreover, doctors also find particular diseases when they inject a radioactive substance and monitor the radiation given off as the substance moves through the body.

Doctors also use it for cancer treatment as it forms ions in the cells of the tissues. It kills cells or changes genes to prevent the growth of the cells. Its other forms like radio waves, microwaves and light waves are known as non-ionizing.

Communication

All the modern communications systems make use of forms of electromagnetic radiation. The variations in the intensity of it represent the changes in the sound, pictures, or other information which is transmitted.

For instance, we can send a human voice as a radio wave or microwave by making the wave vary to corresponding variations in the voice. Similarly, musicians also experiment with gamma rays sonification to create sound and music.

Science

It also has many uses in science like researches make use of radioactive atoms for determining the age of materials which were once a part of a living organism. They estimate the age of these materials when they measure the amount of radioactive carbon they comprise of in a process we refer to as radiocarbon dating.

Likewise, we can use other radioactive elements to determine the age of rocks and other geological features. We call this radiometric dating. Further, environmental scientists make use of radioactive atoms, which we know as tracer atoms, to recognize the pathways which the pollutants take through the environment.

Damage to Health and Environment

There can also be potential damage to our health and environment by certain kinds of radiation. Ionizing radiation in some situations may damage living organisms which can result in cancer or genetic damage.

Further, in particular conditions, it can also damage living organisms by giving burns. In fact, IARC of WHO declared radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

FAQ 

Question 1: How do we classify Beta radiation?

Answer 1: We classify them in two categories, they are Beta-minus (β−) and Beta-plus (β+).

Question 2: How does X-ray help doctors?

Answer 2: X-rays allows doctors to find out the broken bones and locate any cancers which may be present in the body. Moreover, doctors also find particular diseases when they inject a radioactive substance and monitor the radiation given off as the substance moves through the body.

Question 3: What is  Alpha radiation?

Answer 3: It is a heavy and very short-range particle. Essentially, it is an ejected helium nucleus. Moreover, it is also another name for the alpha particles emitted in the kind of radioactive decay known as alpha decay. Alpha particles are helium-4 (4He) nuclei.

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