What is radiation (ionizing)? Just about radiation.

What is radiation? Or ionizing radiation.

And so, before you start talking about where you will encounter radiation, you need to understand what it is. In general, it is more accurate to say ionizing radiation, but what does Google tell Us that refers Us to Wikipedia?

What is radiation? Or ionizing radiation.

A clever explanation of the term – radiation

Radiation is a stream of photons and other elementary particles or atomic nuclei that can ionize matter. Ionization is an endothermic process of the formation of ions from neutral atoms or molecules. Ion (from other-Greek. νν “going”) – an atom or a molecule that has an electric charge.

If an ion has a positive charge, it is called a cation, and if it is negative, it is called an anion. Oh, yes, the endothermic process is a process accompanied by the absorption of heat. It sounds complicated, incomprehensible, I’ll explain it now.

A simple explanation of the term – radiation.

As can be understood from a clever explanation – radiation (or ionizing radiation) is a stream of particles that interact quite actively with matter, and can create ions in it, an ion is a charged atom or molecule.

Roughly speaking, we have gas, for example, the same air. Flying through it, radiation particles collide and fall into air molecules and atoms. Initially, the air is neutral.

About radiation picture No. 1
An example of air ionization by a stream of electrons (radiation). Picture No. 1

But if the radiation consisted of a stream of electrons having a negative charge, then the molecules and atoms of the air will receive a negative charge together with the electrons that got into them.

About radiation picture No. 2
The air interacted with radiation (electrons) and was partially ionized. Picture No. 2

This is how the ionization of air occurred. By the way, a particle of radiation can not only be absorbed, but also knock out an electron or another particle from a molecule or atom of air, and this will also be ionization. And below you will see pictures showing how the particles of matter are ionized directly.

About radiation picture No. 3
In the picture (example) an air atom, it has a positively charged nucleus (green) and negatively charged electrons flying around (brown), in general, the atom is neutral (positive and negative charges compensate for each other). But another electron is flying towards it.
About radiation picture No. 4
In this picture, an atom of matter has captured an electron flying into it (now two brown electrons are flying around the green nucleus) and has become negatively charged. Now there is only one positive charge and two negative charges. The atom is negatively charged (ionized).

Now that we have figured out why radiation is ionizing radiation (because it ionizes matter), let’s talk about radiation itself.

What kind of radiation is there? Types of radiation.

Radiation or ionizing radiation is of three types, Alpha, Beta and Gamma and Neutron, this separation is depending on the particles that make up the type of radiation.

Alpha particles.

this is the core of Helium-4 (a positively charged particle formed by two protons and neutrons) -for us, in this article it is important that this is the largest and heaviest particle of all types of radiation, which means that it interacts most with matter, which is bad, but at the same time it has the least penetrating ability.

The penetrating power is how far a particle can pass in a substance.

In general, in the future I will compare ionizing radiation (radiation) with bullets that hit a ballistic gel or a piece of wood. An alpha particle is a bullet that will cause damage to the outer part of the target, but it will not go far into it. From this, its properties in Soviet security textbooks often say that you can protect yourself from alpha radiation with a sheet of paper.

In fact, the protection must be calculated for each case, but this is quite suitable for comparison. Such particles are formed during the alpha decay of radioactive nuclei (it is important to understand that if you are not at some collider, then in 90% of cases, an alpha particle is a particle that flew out of some substance during its decay, or at high altitudes, where they are formed under the influence of cosmic rays or are a component of them).

About radiation picture No. 5
An example of the formation of an alpha particle. The particle flies out of the Radium substance, while the initial substance turns into another-Polonium (in this example, polonium is an isotope of radium).

Beta particles.

these are electrons and positrons, formed during the beta decay of nuclei, in most cases it is again the product of the decay of radioactive substances, as well as the product of cosmic radiation.

These are already lighter particles and they will penetrate deeper than Alpha radiation, in Soviet schools they were told that dense fabric, like old tight jeans or a rubberized raincoat, would be enough to protect against them.

Wikipedia says that in most cases, plexiglass with a thickness of 1-2 cm will help.

About radiation picture No. 6
An example of the formation of a beta particle

Gamma radiation and X-Ray.

the most common type that you can meet with a lot of places is a type of electromagnetic radiation (a stream of photons or gamma quanta), along with it I would like to highlight X-ray radiation – the same electromagnetic waves and the same photon stream but with a slightly different energy.

These types of radiation have a high penetrating ability, specialized protection is required from it (lead is usually used).

Gamma radiation is formed during the decay of radioactive substances, and gamma radiation can also occur during the formation of Alpha and Beta particles, and is also a product of cosmic radiation. X-ray radiation can be found in many fields, industry, medicine, science, in everyday life, it is generated by various specialized installations.

About radiation picture No. 7
An example of the appearance of gamma radiation (emitted from a substance).
About radiation picture No. 8
An example of the appearance of X-ray radiation (emitted from an X-ray machine).

Neutron radiation.

quite specific radiation, as the name implies, it consists of a stream of neutrons, extremely fast particles with high penetrating power, arise in specialized installations or from certain types of substances, the feature of protection against this type of radiation is the need for multi-layer protection (lead alone will not be enough), but thank God neutron radiation is very rare.

About radiation picture No. 8
The moment of departure of the neutron from the substance


I hope you liked this article, if you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact me using the comments or by e-mail it is listed on this page: https://radiation-info.com/2021/08/15/about-me/

In the next article, I plan to tell you about the sources of radiation and how it is dangerous.

I almost forgot, I found a cool picture illustrating the penetrating ability of different types of radiation. As I understand it, the author depicted an alpha particle that is stopped by a thin layer of matter, a beta particle that is stopped by some dense substance, gamma radiation that partially passes through a thick and dense layer of matter and partially stops neutron radiation in it that passes through the atoms of matter.

About radiation picture No. 9
An illustrative example of how different types of radioactive radiation (ionizing radiation) pass or do not pass the substance.

Remember, in this article I try to explain the concept of radiation-in simple words, somewhere deliberately simplifying or bypassing difficult moments. If you want complete and accurate information, you can refer to the article from Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation Or use other scientific resources.

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