Why is some light dangerous

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Why is lights like gamma rays and X-rays dangerous while visible light and radio waves isn’t?

In: Physics

7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They pack lots of energy that can hurt our cells and make us sicky wicky. Regular light isn’t so powerful and won’t make us sicky wicky.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s not really light that’s dangerous, it’s radiation. Some radiation does not really interact with us (radio waves, some visible light) while some radiation is mildly damaging (x rays, ultraviolent light–which is what causes sunburns!) and some radiation is moderately to extremely damaging (the sort that comes from things like uranium and radiation sources used in industrial applications or medical devices.) How dangerous any kind of radiation is depends on intensity, length of exposure, and type of radiation.

Radiation is a form of energy that can be considered as either rays or particles. It’s dangerous because we are made up of bits that the radiation can affect. When exposed to some kinds of radiation, both our DNA and our cellular structure can be damaged by the emitted rays/particles that make up measurable radiation, which can cause health issues ranging from “sunburn” to “catastrophic organ failure.”

Anonymous 0 Comments

Think of a low, rumbling sound at high volume versus a piercing, screeching one. Gamma waves, xrays, etc. have a higher frequency just like the high pitched sound. This means they interact more with the molecules of your DNA, breaking them apart and causing damage to cells that result in them potentially replicating incorrectly, causing cancer and/or organ failure.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The main reason is that, the shorter the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation, the more energy each photon (light particle) carries. When we get into ultraviolet and shorter wavelengths, the photons carry enough energy to break bond holding molecules together. This is bad for us since we depend on complex molecules having the proper structure. This kind of damage to DNA can result in mutations that pose a cancer risk.

Anonymous 0 Comments

All light has energy in it, the photons are made up of energy. Their energy is in their frequency. Photons deliver their energy to atoms when they hit them.

Regular light has energy in it, you can feel the sun warming up your skin and the ground. The problem is that certain frequencies of light penetrate past your skin.

Ultraviolet can penetrate into your skin a little bit and deliver its energy (heat) to the layers of cells underneath, and that’s what sunburn is.

X-rays can easily penetrate into skin and muscles and organs, and is blocked by bones. So the heat (energy) from X-rays can reach and burn your internal organs.

Gamma rays can penetrate into you even if you’re hiding behind cement or metals (depending on thickness), so they’re even more dangerous.

Radio frequencies do go through us, but the power levels that we use for antennas are very low, and in general the frequency of the photons doesn’t interact with our atoms all that much. The frequency does interact with metal atoms, moving their electrons around, which is why radio is used for communications / with antennas. Cause we can use very low power radio waves to cause electrical signals in the wires and electronics to function.

Anonymous 0 Comments

All of it is electromagnetic radiation. However, Gamma/X-rays are high energy radiation that have enough power to break up DNA chains (the instructions that your cells use to make all the building blocks they need to work).

Kind of the difference between being poked and being punched.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The energy that light has changes how it interacts with matter. Photons in the visible part of the spectrum have enough energy to energize electrons into a higher “orbit” around the nucleus of its atom. After a short time, the electron will lose its energy and drop back down, spitting out a new photon (with lower energy).

A little bit above the visible part of the spectrum, photons have so much energy that they don’t just move the electron into a higher “orbit”, the electron will fly off entirely. This *ionizes* the atom, unbalancing the charges since normally there is an equal number of protons and electrons.

Atoms bond to each other by sharing or stealing electrons. If an atom gets ionized, it really messes up that sharing and can break up the molecule. The ionized atom doesn’t like being ionized so it’ll grab onto some other electron, which can rip that atom out of its molecule and break it. If one of the molecules that gets damaged is your DNA, it’ll probably kill the cell. Or worse, the cell doesn’t die and the gene that got damaged is the one that prevents the cell from becoming cancerous.