Radiation and Radioactivity


Radiation and Radioactivity

Since the invention of radio, radiation has been a hot topic. Radiation is small particles that move at a high enough rate to cause ionization, or change molecules. Though the sun’s radiation has been theorized in art for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until 1895 when Wilhelm Roentgen theorized radiation. Later in 1896 Henri Becquerel theorized nuclear radiation, and later his student Marie Curie famously measured and officially discovered radiation in 1915. 

Although radiation poisoning famously has little or nothing to do with radio waves, radio, light, heat, sound, and many forms of energy can be radiation. There are four main types of radiation: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and X-Rays, and Neurons. Alpha and Beta Particles come from naturally occurring materials such as Uranium and Strontium. Gamma Rays and X-Rays are waves that can penetrate materials to a point (several inches of a thick material like lead or concrete will generally stop them). These generally come from the sun or are used for medical purposes. Neutrons are high-speed nuclear particles that can penetrate materials. These are the only type of radiation that can make other materials radioactive. While this may sound overwhelming, these are pretty much only found inside of nuclear reactors since there is a process to create them. 

Chernobyl is one of the most famous nuclear disasters to happen to date. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster to date, involving nearly 500,000 people and over $70 Billion USD in 2021 money. The event happened in 1986 and left an entire city deserted, houses still stand to this day, completely intact and polluted with nuclear radiation. The Elephant’s Foot is the name given to a massive pile of melted metals and nuclear material left at the bottom of the reactor, which resemble an elephant's foot. At the time of discovery, The Elephant’s Foot gives half a lethal dose of radiation within five minutes of being near it. 

The Hanford site was created as part of the Manhattan Project in 1943 and was the first full-scale plutonium reactor in the world. The project created the plutonium used for the Trinity Site, and for the Fat Man, the first atomic bomb used in war. The project expanded to nine reactors and five processing sites which produced plutonium for thousands of U.S. nuclear weapons. While the project was successful, it released large amounts of radioactive materials into the Columbia River in Washington State where it’s located. After it was shut down it left behind over 53 million gallons of radioactive waste and in 2011 the remaining liquid was removed and left behind only solid nuclear waste. 

Trinity was his name. Well, it was the name of the first nuclear bomb tested in history. On July 16, 1945, at 5:29 a.m. the world's first nuclear bomb was dropped in the New Mexico Desert where it was famously successful. The explosion was equivalent to about 92 kilotons of TNT. It was felt over 100 miles away and the mushroom cloud was seven and a half miles tall. The furthest nuclear fallout was 30 miles away from the test site where nearly 90 cows were burnt by radioactive clouds and later purchased by the military for testing. Famously Kodak discovered the Manhattan project very early on when their film was covered in spotting and fogging which an employee believed was from nuclear radiation. A leak into the river where part of the process to make the boxes for the film was responsible and the employee was famously kept quiet for four years. 

Radiation has come a long way and is most likely on its way out of our lives after many of the damages seen by some experiments that have created problems that are unsolvable. The creation of nuclear waste lasts thousands of years and isn’t something mass-produced for civilian use. On the other hand, with more demands for newer technology, we are almost asking for more radiation because more energy that it takes to power our gadgets, the more it radiated onto us. Regardless, there is no connection between what we are using and health problems, and with the regulations today we can properly study newer technologies to prevent any unseen damages for the near and far future. 





Keywords: radiation therapy, radiation side effects, radiation sickness, radiation effects