Modern Physics

Radioactivity

Radioactivity is known to a large part of the world’s population because of the two accidents that took place in the 1980s.

On April 26, 1986, the explosion of one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, launched ” a cloud of elements that exhibit radioactivity. On September 13, 1987, in the city of Goiânia, the violation of a capsule containing cesium 137 left hundreds of people contaminated and irradiated by this radioactive element.

The discovery of radioactivity began in 1896 with the French physicist Antonie Henri Becquerel, after verifying the emission of radiation by an ore called double potassium and uranyl sulfate [(K2(UO2)(SO4)] and this radiation coming from the cesium atom had been erroneously called x-rays.

The couple Pierre and Mary Curie became interested in the fact discovered by Becquerel and soon found that all uranium salts emitted radiation, which until then was called x-rays. In 1898, the couple discovered two new elements that had similar characteristics to uranium salt: radium and polonium.

In the year 1899 it was clarified that the radiation emitted by the element used by Becquerel and the Curie couple were not actually x-rays and gamma rays, alpha particles and beta particles.

We soon see that radioactivity is a phenomenon presented by radioactive elements; these, in turn, have excess energy at the nuclear level and are unstable. Unstable elements, in the search for stability, end up emitting the excess energy they contain in the form of gamma rays, alpha particles and beta particles.

Radioactivity is presented by both natural and artificial radioactive elements. Natural radioactive elements are found in nature and synthetic ones area

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