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1. Spontaneous emission of radiation, either directly from unstable atomic nuclei or as a consequence of a nuclear reaction. 2.

The radiation, including alpha particles, nucleons, electrons, and gamma rays, emitted by a radioactive substance.

What is Radioactivity?
Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of energy from unstable atoms. Atoms are found in all natural matter. There are stable atoms, which remain the same forever, and unstable atoms, which break down or 'decay' into new atoms. These unstable atoms are said to be 'radioactive', because they emit radioactivity from the nucleus as they decay. Radioactive elements, such as uranium, thorium and potassium break down (decay) fairly readily to form lighter atoms. The energy that is released in the process is made up of small, fast moving particles and high energy waves. These particles and waves are, of course, invisible. (The level of radioactivity of an element varies according to how stable its atoms are). !ther elements with naturally occurring radioactive forms, (isotopes) are carbon, bismuth, radon, and strontium. Radioactivity is a random process that happens naturally as the isotopes in particular elements decay. The isotopes continue to break down over time. The length of time that is taken for half of the nuclei in an element to decay is called its 'half life'. A half life can be very short (milliseconds to hours) or very long (hundreds of thousands of years). Radiation also arises from nuclear fission. "ission can be spontaneous but is usually initiated in a nuclear reactor. "ission is a radioactive process# it releases energy as the heavy nucleus is split into two. Radioisotopes are commonly used in medicine, and are produced as a by product of nuclear energy. UNITS: electromagnetic unit, emu - any of various systems of units for measuring electricity and magnetism millicurie - a unit of radioactivity equal to one thousandth of a curie Ci, curie - a unit of radioactivity equal to the amount of a radioactive isotope that decays at the rate of 37,000,000,000 disintegrations per second y, gray - the S! unit of energy absorbed from ioni"ing radiation# equal to the absorption of one $oule of radiation energy by one %ilogram of matter# one gray equals &00 rad ', roentgen - a unit of radiation e(posure# the dose of ioni"ing radiation that )ill produce & electrostatic unit of electricity in & cc of dry air rutherford - a unit strength of a radioactive source equal to one million disintegrations per second

'*+ - ,'oentgen *quivalent +an- the dosage of ioni"ing radiation that )ill cause the same amount of in$ury to human tissue as & roentgen of .-rays rad - a unit of absorbed ioni"ing radiation equal to &00 ergs per gram of irradiated material The original unit for measuring the amount of radioactivity was the curie ($i)%first defined to correspond to one gram of radium &&' and more recently defined as( 1 curie = 3.7x1010 radioactive decays per second )e*actly+. ,n the ,nternational -ystem of .nits (-,) the curie has been replaced by the bec/uerel (0/), where 1 becquerel = 1 radioactive decay per second = 2.703x10-11 Ci.