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  • Radioactivity comes from the unstable nuclei of atoms.
  • Stability in the nuclei occurs by releasing radiation.
  • Radioactivity is a measure of radiation over time (counts per second/minute)
  • Radioactivity is measured on a geiger counter
  • To measure radioactivity effectively you take away the average background radiation from your reading.
  • Radon gas is the main contributor to background radiation.
  • It naturally occurs in the ground.
  • 1/2 of radioactivity is caused by radon gas.

-There are three types of radiation
-These differ in size speed and how easily they can penetrate matter.
IONIZATION is where atoms gain or lose electrons turning them into charged particles called ions.

Alpha particles

  • The largest form of radiation. It consists of 2 neutrons and 2 protons.
  • The amount of protons gives of a large positive charge so it is the most ionizing.
  • It is also the slowest form of radiation at 10% of the speed of light.

    Beta particles

  • Smaller than an alpha particle.
  • Faster at half of the speed of light.
  • 10x less ionizing
  • Negatively charged

    Gamma Waves

  • A high frequency electromagnetic wave
  • Speed of light
  • No electric charge so least ionizing
  • Penetration is easy
  • Nuclei are unstable if there are too many or two little…


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