Nuclear Radiation There are three primary radiation types associated with radioactivity. Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of energy from the nucleus of certain elements, most notably uranium. There are three forms of energy associated with radioactivity; alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The classifications were originally made according to the penetrating power of the radiation, see figure 2 Alpha Particle Radiation were found to be the nuclei of helium atoms, two protons and two neutrons bound together. Alpha rays have a net positive charge. Alpha particles have the weak penetrating ability; a couple of inches of air or a few sheets of paper can effectively block them. While alpha particles are stopped by a piece of paper, the situation changes once alpha radiation is inside the body, then the effects are more harmful than beta or gamma radiation.
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Gamma rays have the most penetrating powers of all three radiation sources. of radiation intensity for each thickness of polyethylene and record in Table The penetrating power of alpha rays, beta rays, and gamma rays varies greatly. Alpha particles can be blocked by a few pieces of paper. Beta particles pass.
Radiations from radioactive materials can be dangerous and pose health hazards. By knowing the ability of the different types of radiation to penetrate matter allows us to gain an understanding on how best to protect ourselves. Alpha particles can be absorbed by a thin sheet of paper or by a few centimetres of air.