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Radiation

What is radiation?

Radiation is energy that travels as particles or waves and can be naturally occurring or man-made. It is all around us in various forms ranging from radio waves to x-rays to cosmic radiation.

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We gain benefits from this energy and we classify these energies into two main types:

  1. Non-ionizing radiation has enough energy to excite atoms (making them move more rapidly). Examples of non-ionizing sources include microwave ovens, radio transmissions, cell phones, and visible light.
  2. Ionizing radiation has enough energy to remove electrons from atoms (ionization). Examples of ionizing sources are X-rays, nuclear power plants, and smoke detectors.

There are three main kinds of ionizing radiation:

 

 

 

Additional reading

How Radiation Isn’t Killing You : Discovery News (Oct 2013)

Daily ultraviolet radiation doses from sunlight vary by latitude and season. Credit: NOAA

Daily ultraviolet radiation doses from sunlight vary by latitude and season. Credit: NOAA

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