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GCSE Physics
Radioactive materials
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Radioactive materials
Energy Crisis and introduction to radioactivity
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Slide 3

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Radioactivity Questions 1-6
Q1. Why is electricity such an important secondary source?
- Because without it, we would not be able to use any electrically powered objects
Q2. How does the demand for electricity vary daily, monthly and annually?
- It varies because of how much people use in a day, month or year. E.g. some people may take 5 minutes
cooking a ready meal, or another person make take 50 minutes making their own dinner. All of this time, an
electrically powered oven (or microwave) would be in use.
Nuclear power uses radioactive materials
Q3. What does radioactive mean?
- Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of energy from unstable atoms.
Q4. What is background radiation and where does it come from?
- Background radiation is constantly present and is emitted from a variety of natural and artificial sources.
It is a low level of radiation that is floating in the air around us.
Q5. What can radiation do to cells?
- Too much radiation can cause cells to become cancerous.
Q6. Is there ever such thing as a safe dose?
- There is. However what people may agree to be a `safe dose' can vary quite a lot depending on their
information towards the subject.
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Radioactive Materials
Radioactive materials ­ how can we use them?
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Slide 5

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Radioactivity Questions 7-11
Q7. What types of radiation do radioactive materials give out?
- Alpha, Beta and Gamma
Q8. How are they different?
- Alpha is the most dangerous of the three; however it is also the biggest particle, which means
it can be stopped by a thin piece of paper.
- Beta is less dangerous than alpha; however it is smaller so it takes a thin piece of aluminium
to stop it.
- Gamma is the least dangerous of the three; however it travels in waves; therefore it can pass
through most objects and can only be stopped by a thick piece of lead.
Q9. Which part of an atom emits radiation?
- The nucleolus is the part of the atom that emits radiation.
Q10. How can we use radioactive materials in hospitals?
- Radioactive materials can be very useful in hospitals. For example, X-rays and radiotherapy
both use radiation for these treatments.
Q11. Where else are radioactive materials used and how?
- Radioactive materials can also be used to create electricity in a nuclear power plant and can
also be used to sterilise food to increase it's shelf-life. It is done by gamma rays which kill off
harmful bacteria and micro-organisms. Like wise, hospitals can do this to sterilise surgical
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Slide 6

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Radioactive materials
What is nuclear power and should we use it in the future?
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