What is radiation ? What are the diffrences between the 3 types ?


What is radiation ? What are the diffrences between the 3 types ?

In: Physics

“Radiation” can refer to any sort of travelling – for lack of better synonym – energy, including sound, particle, light, and gravity.

The three you’re likely thinking of is alpha, beta, and gamma:

Alpha is helium ions ejected from larger atomic nuclei at high velocity, which can knock around the molecules or whatever they hit very powerfully but can be stopped easily.

Beta is electrons ejected due to nuclear decay (as opposed to electrons ejected due to all sorts of other reasons) which can knock away other electrons from the molecules they hit and are slightly harder to stop.

Gamma is high energy x-rays/photons/light created by nuclear decay (as opposed to x-rays created by electrons) which are very hard to stop and can knock away electrons when you do so.

Apart from alpha, beta, and gamma radiation you can also encounter neutron radiation. Which means a stream of energetic neutrons that can both damage molecules, AND have a potential to transmute atoms into their radioactive isotope that will, sooner or later, decay and relase another dose of radiation of some kind. They can also cause some materials to become brittle by damaging some of atoms ( neutron activation leading to decay, leaving either an open space or another atom in its place, with different qualities) in the crystalline structure (thus, creating weakspots) – this is called neutron embrittlement.

For the sake of clarity, there are more than 3 types of radiation. The ones you’re thinking of are the ones which typically occur naturally. Here are some forms of ionizing radiation that have been used for therapeutic purposes:

* Helium nuclei (“alpha radiation”)

* Electrons (“beta radiation”)

* Photons (“gamma rays” / “x-rays” / “annihilation photons” / “bremsstrahlung”)

* Protons

* Neutrons

* Heavy nuclei (carbon nuclei, neon nuclei, iron nuclei, etc)

* Pions