DMPQ: What is radioactivity? List down the application of radioactivity

Radioactivity is a physical process. As the name implies it is the act of emitting radiation spontaneously. In simple terms if atomic nucleus is unstable and want to loose some energy, it will release energy in the form of radiations. There are several types of particles or waves that may shoot out of a radioactive nucleus. Alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and neutrons are the most common form of ionizing radiation.

 

Application of radioactivity:

  • Health:
  1. Found extensive use in diagnosis and therapy eg. Phosphorous-32 is used to identify the cancerous cell. As cancer cell absorb more phosphorous, Iodine 131 is employ to determine cardiac output, plasma volume and fat metabolism and particularly to measure the activity of thyroid gland.
  2. To treat cancer cells: cobalt-60 and cesium-137 administered selectively to malignant tumours and so minimize damage to adjacenthealthy tissue.
  • Energy

Nuclear reactors work on the principle of radioactivity. The energy released is utilised for energy generation. Nuclear fission and nuclear fusion are two examples of radioactivity.

  • Strategic purpose

Radioactivity is used to develop the weapon of mass destructions. Hydrogen bomb eg.

  • Food processing:

Used to preserve certain kind of foods by killing microorganism that cause spoilage.

  • Earth sciences:

Used in minerology, used for dating technique , carbon-14 technique

  • Environment

Radioactive tracer are used in smoke detector. To identify even a minute change in the concentration. Study of complex processes. For eg how plant generate energy. Thousands of plant metabolic studies have been conducted on amino acids and compounds of sulphur, phosphorous and nitrogen.