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Atomic Relative Relative
Radiat ion particle mass charge
Atoms Proton 1 +1
- Atoms have a small nucleus surrounded by electrons in shells
- Isotopes have a different number of neutrons Neutron 1 0
- The nucleus of an unstable isotope will decay by giving out
Electron 1/1836 -1

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Background radiation
- = low level radiation from our environment
- Sources: radon gas, granite, cosmic rays, bricks in buildings
- Detected with count meter attached to Geiger-Müller tube, in counts per minute (cpm)

Radiation badge
- Contains photographic film- when developed, blackens to show amount of radiation absorbed

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Nuclear power
How nuclear fission works
- Neutrons fired at U-235 or plutonium
- Uranium nucleus absorbs neutron to become U-236 briefly
- Nucleus then splits into 2 daughter nuclei (kryptonium and barium) + gives out 3 more neutrons
+ kinetic energy + gamma radiation
- 3 neutrons hit other…

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- We can work out how long ago something died by comparing the amount of C-14 left in it to
how much would be in a similar living object
- Problems:
- Unsuitable for materials older than 50,000 years as the levels of C-14 are not
detectable above the activity…

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Effect on cells
- Low radiation dose: may have no lasting effect
- Higher radiation dose: may cause mutations to occur cancer
- Very high radiation dose: can kill living cells. Can be used to kill cancer cells
- Radiographers are protected with lead-lined suits

Models of t he atom…


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