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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), but not enough to ionize them (altering them physically). Examples of non-ionizing radiation include microwaves, radio waves and visible light.
  2. Ionizing radiation has enough energy to remove electrons from atoms (ionization) and can be damaging to the DNA within living cells. Examples of ionizing radiation are X-rays, gamma rays and alpha & beta particles.

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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