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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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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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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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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$\beta^+$ 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Can we say there are 2 EM radiation types?

EM radiation seems to come from two different sources: According to the Maxwell, by acceleration of electrons According to the Bohr, by jumping of electrons between energy levels? Are these two, ...
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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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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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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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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 did recombination look like?

I recently remembered that someone worked out what the big bang sounded like and that got me thinking... About 377,000 years after the Big Bang, electrons became bound to nuclei to form neutral ...
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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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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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How does radiation shielding using absorbing materials work?

I understand that, for example, a thick enough sheet of lead can absorb gamma radiation, but I want to understand what actually happens at the molecular/atomic/subatomic level. Also, can the same ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 do $\beta$ particles not get attracted to the nucleus?

I currently have a very limited knowledge of how radiation works etc, but while sat in class the other day, one question occurred to me that even my teacher could not answer. We have been learning ...
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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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What common materials can effectively block infrared radiation?

I have a plastic container and want to make sure that infrared radiation (specifically, in the 750-850 nanometer range) cannot pass through it. Would wrapping it in aluminum foil do the trick? If not, ...
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How did Lyman discover his series?

How did Lyman discover his series in hydrogen atom? How did he know that the final energy level is the first level and not the second or the third or etc.? Or how did the other scientists know which ...
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Do photons make the universe expand?

I have a problem understanding the ideas behind a basic assumption of cosmology. The Friedmann equations follow from Newtonian mechanics and conservation of Energy-momentum $(E_{kin}+E_{pot}=E_{tot})$ ...
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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 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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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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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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Why is an opaque body opaque?

When does a body qualify to be called an opaque body? Is it anybody which cannot let visible light through it or is there any other definition? And when and how does a body allow radiations through ...
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Why is the spectrum of the $\beta$-decay continuous?

the spectrum of the Gamma and Alpha decays are both discrete, i.e. the $\alpha$-particles and the $\gamma$-rays take on only discrete values when emitted from a decaying nucleus. Why is it then, that ...
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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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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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How can blackbody radition be explained by quantization?

I don't understand why quantization makes a peak on the blackbody radiation curve (so there is no UV catastrophe) and the relationship between that peak and quantization concept. When the blackbody ...