Radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. The particles or waves radiate (i.e., travel outward in all directions) from a source.

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Why can Hiroshima be inhabited when Chernobyl cannot?

There was an atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima, but today there are residents in Hiroshima. However, in Chernobyl, where there was a nuclear reactor meltdown, there are no residents living today (or ...
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Is it possible to avoid the radiation that caused the American flag turned into white on the Moon? [closed]

While lunar images have proven that the American flags planted during the Apollo missions are still standing on the moon, lunar scientists have now said that they probably no longer hold the iconic ...
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Decay of massless particles

We don't normally consider the possibility that massless particles could undergo radioactive decay. There are elementary arguments that make it sound implausible. (A bunch of the following is ...
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$\beta^+$ decay

We've been discussing radioactive decay at school, and I grasped everything except for $\beta +$ decay. When I googled radioactive decay, I immediately found out they dumbed down radioactive decay for ...
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883 views

Is there any thing other than time that “triggers” a radioactive atom to decay?

Say you have a vial of tritium and monitor their atomic decay with a geiger counter. How does an atom "know" when it's time to decay? It seems odd that all the tritium atoms are identical except with ...
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Why are alpha particles such a prominent form of radiation and not other types of nucleon arrangement?

It is said in many textbooks that alpha decay involves emitting alpha particles, which are very stable. Indeed, the binding energy (~28.3 MeV) is higher than for $Z$-neighboring stable isotopes. But ...
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Laptops in space

I was reading an article regarding the Shuttle's GPCs and how they stack up against commercially-made hardware on http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/flyout/flyfeature_shuttlecomputers.html and ...
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264 views

The problem of self-force on point charges

Allow me to preface this by stating that I am a high school student interested in physics and self-studying using a variety of resources, both on- and off-line, primarily GSU's HyperPhysics website, ...
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Why some nuclei with “magic” numbers of neutrons have a half-life less than their neighbor isotopes?

It's easy to find the "magic" numbers of neutrons on the diagrams of alpha-decay energy: 82, 126, 152, 162. Such "magic" nuclei should be more stable than their neighbors. But why some nuclei ...
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Why are alpha particles made of 2 protons and neutrons?

When experiencing alpha decay, atoms shed alpha particles made of 2 protons and 2 neutrons. Why can't we have other types of particles made of more or less protons?
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546 views

Can two spaceships go fast enough to pass straight through each other?

Probability of interaction between two particles tends to wane with increasing energy. Technically, the cross section of most interactions falls off with increasing velocity. $$\sigma(v) \propto ...
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What exactly is the difference between radiation and convection?

Okay, so everywhere I've read, I hear the main difference is the requirement of a medium. But for example, if you take the case of heat 'radiating' from a red-hot iron, isn't that actually convection ...
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Is it Possible to Determine Radiation Levels Using Satelites?

Given recent events in Japan, this got me wondering. Is it possible to determine radiation levels reliably not having Geiger counters near the possible radiation contaminated zone? According to ...
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Would wearing clothing that is black on the inside and white on the outside keep you cooler?

The Straight Dope ran an explanation of why nomads often wear black clothing - it absorbs heat better from the body. On the other hand, white clothing reflects sunlight better. Is it possible to get ...
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200 views

What is the condition for accelerating charge to radiate?

I was always taught that any accelerating charge produces radiation, but I don't think this condition is sufficient condition. For instance, any free charge on Earth is accelerated due to Earth ...
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828 views

What temperature can you attain with a solar furnace?

A solar furnace is a device that concentrates the sun's light on a small point to heat it up to high temperature. One can imagine that in the limit of being completely surrounded by mirrors, your ...
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“Dear radioactive ladies and gentlemen” - Letter by Wolfgang Pauli

In 1930, Wolfgang Pauli wrote a letter to Lise Meitner for a convention in Tübingen, considering the problem of beta decay. Does anybody know, where to find the original letter online ?
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Why are we not affected by the radiation of the radioactive decay going inside the Earth?

I was reading the question Why has Earth's core not become solid?, and one of the answers says that The core is heated by radioactive decays of Uranium-238, Uranium-235, Thorium-232, and ...
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295 views

Why were the fathers of quantum mechanics so sure radioactive decay was indeterministic?

The classic example of an indeterministic system is a radioactive isotope, e.g. the one that kills Schrödinger's cat. I get there are arguments against hidden variables in quantum mechanics, but how ...
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Can you speed up radioactive decay of plutonium?

We all know the issue of deep geological repositories for fuel rods. Is there a currently feasible way to speed up the rod's decay to render them harmless in less than 10 years?
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Sunflowers and radioactivity

I read yesterday that sunflowers were used and to cleanup radioactivity at Chernobyl and the Atomic Bomb sites in Japan and may be used as part of a campaign to clean up the Fukushima area. But my ...
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Tunneling of alpha particles

Consider this explanation of the alpha decay: It says The Coulomb barrier faced by an alpha particle with this energy is about 26 MeV, so by classical physics it cannot escape at all. ...
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467 views

Why aren't betavoltaics and alphavoltaics batteries widely used?

Betavoltaic batteries are devices which creates electricity from beta radiation of a radioactive material. Alphavoltaics operate similarly, using alpha radiation. The concept was invented roughly 50 ...
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113 views

How Does Lead Block Radiation

How is it that lead can block radiation, and things are lead lined. In the Indiana Jones 4 movie he climbs inside a lead-lined fridge and he somehow survives the blast and radiation?
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322 views

Does neutron radiation form clouds?

I've heard a couple of scary stories from experienced accellerator physiscists about something called neutron clouds. Apparently, if you have an experiment like a fixed-target experiment that produces ...
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Why doesn't orbital electron fall into the nucleus of Rb85, but falls into the nucleus of Rb83?

Rb83 is unstable and decays to Kr-83. Mode of the decay is electron capture. Rb85 is stable. The nuclei Rb83 and Rb85 have the same charge. Rb85 is heavier than Rb85, but gravitation is too weak to ...
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What exactly is the composition of radiation in interplanetary space?

The articles I found on radiation in the solar system mostly dealt with solar wind, I wonder about other types. Is there a breakdown that tells me, withhin an order of magnitude, at least what ...
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why can't you use your cellphone on an airplane? [closed]

why airplanes are banned with use of cellphones? What were the impacts while we answer an call or make an call ,what was the physical reason behind the ban of using cellphone inside airplanes ? I ...
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Cosmic ray hazards

The Pierre Auger Observatory site mentions the detection of a 3E20 eV (48 J) cosmic ray whose energy, well above the GZK cutoff, was based on an analysis of its atmospheric shower. This was equivalent ...
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183 views

Why don't we use beta radiation for making electricity?

Why don't we use beta radiation to make our electricity? Since it is an electron being released/made, it would make sense to try and capture it. But, we obviously don't so. What am I missing in my ...
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How do electrons jump orbitals?

My question isn't how they receive the energy to jump, but why. When someone views an element's emission spectrum, we see a line spectrum which proves that they don't exist outside of their orbitals ...
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What other shielding material than lead is effective against gamma rays?

As the question in the title states I am wondering what material can be effectively used to shield gamma rays apart from lead? I believe concrete is often used, but it is nowhere near as effective as ...
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Would matter-antimatter annihilation create a fireball or not?

There has been a long discussion between me and Anna V on if the products of the annihilation will really cause a fireball to form and we haven't settled it yet. Our point here is that gamma rays ...
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What is happening over the 15 minutes it takes a neutron to decay?

I've read that free neutrons decay into a proton, electron and neutrino with an average lifespan of about 15 minutes. Is there anything physically different about a neutron that has existed for 14 ...
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Is there a way to decrease the rate of nuclear Beta decay?

In that question and its answers it was mentioned that you could trigger radioactive decay by bombarding atoms with gamma rays of the right energy level (there may be other solutions I do not know ...
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Death by neutrinos - polonium go home

In Randall Munroe's What If? He is calculating the Lethal Neutrinos dose. If you observed a supernova from 1 AU away—and you somehow avoided being being incinerated, vaporized, and converted to ...
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Interpretation of Wigner function in optics

I work in the field of synchrotron radiation sources where radiation (often x-rays) is produced from an electron beam going through magnetic fields. The quality of the resulting x-ray beam is ...
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Do brick walls effectively protect against ionizing radiation from a nuclear explosion?

Of course it depends on the distance and the amount of radiation, so let's say its about 10,000 Rad. Now, can wall made of brick protect someone behind it from such radiation ?
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Oort Cloud Detection

The hypothetical Oort cloud is an explaination for long period comets. It presumably is made up of icy bodies orbiting up to 50,000 AU from the Sun. If so, shouldn't the Spitzer IR telescope have ...
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Jupiter radiation belt: where >MeV particles comes from?

When I read some discussion about exploration of Jupiter moons, or possibility of life there, a common argument is high dose of radiation in Jupiter's radiation belt (several orders of magnitude ...
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Why do electrons emit radiation?

I know how you can emit light with an alternating current, running back and forth, creating an electric field in addition to the magnetic field. But why does an electron emit light when it gets ...
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Is there a direct relationship between an isotope's neutron count and radioactivity?

In my textbook, it lists isotopes of Carbon: C-12, C-13, and C-14. It noted that C-14 is radioactive (C-12 and C-13 are not). Is there a direct relationship between the number of neutrons and an ...
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Radiation exposure to a child who was briefly in the presence of an adult who had received a 18FDG PET scan

I am a physician who thought she was good at math, but apparently am not as I cannot figure out this mathematical/physics question. (My background is obviously NOT nuclear medicine!) A family friend ...
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785 views

What is the required thickness of concrete needed to entomb a leaking reactors emissions?

What is the minimum thickness of an aggregate concrete membrane to prevent radioactive particles from escaping a broken reactor? I am interested in calculating the amount of concrete required to ...
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714 views

Can extra-solar gamma rays reach the Earth's surface?

Can gamma rays of high enough energy entering our planet's atmosphere reach the surface (50% probability)? Or, in other words, is there a window for extremely high-energy gamma rays like for the ...
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2 ways to generate electromagnetic wave

According to Maxwell's equations, accelerating charges emit electromagnetic radiation. According to Quantum physics, heating causes electromagnetic radiation too. These 2 radiations, are they ...
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886 views

Maximum electron momentum in $\beta^-$-decay

This should be easy, but I think I have a mind-block... For $\beta^-$-decay, what is the maximum possible momentum for the electron? The two equations I can use are conservation of energy and ...
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Without a reactor vessel breach, how does radiation build-up in containment buildings of troubled nuclear reactors?

It seems that at Three Mile Island and in Fukushima, there was a build-up of radioactive gasses, and other gasses like hydrogen in the containment buildings. Wikipedia says: The containment ...
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What is the difference between Radiation and Electromagnetic Radiation

Are the two equivalent or is Electromagnetic Radiation a subset of Radiation. I am further confused by the fact that electromagnetic radiation includes both ionizing and non ionizing types of ...
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Energy balance for beta decay of cobalt-60

I am confused by a simple fact about the $\beta^{-}$ decay of ${}^{60}{\rm Co}$ nucleus. According to Wikipedia, the most likely decay branch is to an excited state of ${}^{60}{\rm Ni}$, see the ...