What Is The Radioactivity & What Is The Most... Z

What Is The Radioactivity & What Is The Most Radioactive Element?

Radioactivity is a natural process, as old as the Universe

What is radioactivity and what is the most radioactive element? Radioactivity is not the work of man, who, on the contrary, has suffered from it since its appearance on Earth, but rather a natural process, as old as the Universe; it is present in the stars, on our planet, and in our own bodies. In fact, radioactivity is the emission of energy due to the decay of the nuclei of some types of atoms and isotopes.

What is Radioactivity?

Atoms are composed of a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons. The positively charged nucleus, which perfectly balances the negative charge of the electrons, is made up of smaller particles called protons and neutrons. Protons have a positive charge, while neutrons have no charge. Although radioactivity is something very dangerous in the collective imagination, it can be used in many fields, from medicine to research and the dating of fossils or rocks.

Radioactive nuclei are unstable nuclei that decompose by emitting particles such as photons, electrons, neutrinos, protons, neutrons, or alpha particles (two protons and two neutrons united to form a helium nucleus). Some of these particles are known as ionizing particles. Ionizing particles have enough energy to knock electrons away from atoms or molecules. The degree of radioactivity depends on the fraction of unstable nuclei and the frequency with which these nuclei decay into other elements.


Effects of Radioactivity

The effects of radioactivity are related to the type and energy of the particles produced during nuclear decay. For example, neutrinos constantly pass through the Earth, while alpha particles are blocked by a simple sheet of paper. Radioactivity can cause damage to plants, animals, and human materials and tissues.

Radioactivity can also be used to generate usable energy from satellites and spacecraft that cannot harness the sun's energy due to distance, for medical imaging, for specific cancer treatments, for radiometric dating, and for law enforcement research of nature and origin of the matter.

The Discovery of Radioactivity

As mentioned before, radioactivity has always been present on Earth, since its origins. However, the study is very recent, beginning in 1896. The largest source of radiation comes from radon, which is found naturally in the air. Our planet still has a fluid core thanks to the abundance of radioactive elements. The heat produced by the radioactive elements has allowed the Earth to maintain its heat for billions of years, without the radioactive elements today the core would be cold and could not produce the magnetic field that allows our planet to have an atmosphere, water liquid life.

Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by physicists Henri Becquerel, Pierre Curie, and Marie Curie, providing clues to the laws that govern nature.

A modern technological society cannot in any way ignore the use of radioactive isotopes. Radioactivity has a wide spectrum of uses in medicine, chemistry, energy, environmental science, materials science, manufacturing, and national security.


What is The Most Radioactive Element?

Far above uranium, radium is considered the most powerful radioactive substance known to this day. The origins of this element cannot be explained except through the life story of its discoverer. Born in a Warsaw invaded by the Russians, Marie Curie studied at the Sorbonne while she lived in a loft in the Latin Quarter, fed on bread and butter, and exhausted by work. Already graduated in Physical Sciences, she married Pierre Curie, an excellent progressive scientist who had discovered the piezoelectric effect and always supported her work.

Chemistry chose one of her most innovative discoveries as the subject of her doctorate. Becquerel had observed that one of the uranium salts gave out rays that impressed a photographic plate wrapped in black paper, and this seemed very curious to her. She soon saw that the radiation was greater the higher the uranium concentration of the ore, regardless of other conditions. She called this property 'radioactivity'. She did the same with other metals and found that only thorium emitted radiation, apart from uranium.

Later, she investigated with her husband until she isolated two new radioactive elements, polonium, and radium, the latter of great power. In 1903, Marie read her doctoral thesis, Investigations Concerning Radioactive Elements, a work that earned her the Nobel Prize in Chemistry that same year. Since then, the Curies warned about the danger of exposure to radioactivity, although very soon they also saw its medical possibilities.

The most important point in her career would come in 1911, the year in which she received the second Nobel Prize for the discovery of radium. During World War I she set up a mobile X-ray unit to treat the wounded and, after the war, she obtained 50 grams of radium from the United States to investigate.

This, aside from helping her study her substances with medical application in recent years, brought negative consequences to her health, which weakened in the form of blindness due to radium. In fact, her death took place at the age of 67 due to severe pernicious anemia: her marrow, destroyed by radiation, was unable to make red blood cells.


What is Radioactive Fallout and What Can It Cause?

According to the National Cancer Institute of the United States and the Ready agency of the same country, radioactive fallout is the fall of dust and radioactive particles that is produced after the detonation of an atomic or nuclear bomb, a nuclear weapons test, or an accident in such a power plant.

These particles fall to the ground during and after the bombing or accident and can cause illness in people who are exposed to them by staying outside. Radioactive fallout is most dangerous in the first hours after the explosion, as this is when it emits the highest levels of radiation.

Possible Damage From Radioactive Fallout

The precipitation of these contaminated particles can cause various damages to people, animals, and other resources. First of all, people can inhale these falling components and it can affect their lungs.

On the other hand, the acid rain that falls on the ground can contaminate crop fields and the food that is grown in them; as well as marine fauna if it falls on the sea or drinking water found in swamps and aquifers. Likewise, some foods derived from animals, such as cow's milk, can also be affected by radiation when it is going to be milked.


Short and Long Term Effects

But the consequences of radioactive fallout are not always visible to the naked eye. Depending on the degree of penetration of radioactive fallout, it can quickly cause death if a person has been subjected to high doses of it. Conversely, some individuals are able to continue life as usual if they have been subjected to low doses of this rain.

However, in the future, they may develop some effects due to this event, according to health professionals. First, radiation exposure can "increase the risk" of cancer. Also, the release of radioactive iodine in nuclear explosions can cause cancer of the thyroid gland. To counteract this effect, there are potassium iodide treatments, but they should not be taken unless recommended by a doctor.

Finally, some of the possible consequences due to exposure to radioactive fallout are: carcinogenesis, formation of ocular cataracts, decreased fertility, chronic radiodermatitis, and genetic mutations.