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 Form 4 Physics: Radioactivity online lessons

Applications of radioactivity

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Applications of radioactivity
1. Carbon dating – through the identification of carbon-14 and carbon-12 absorbed by dead plants and animals. Scientists can be able to estimate the age of a dead organism. Since carbon is a radioactive element with a half-life of 5,600 years archeologists can be able to estimate the ages of early life through carbon dating.
2. Medicine – radiation is used in the treatment of cancer, by using a radioactive cobalt-60 to kill the malignant tissue. Radiations are used in taking x-ray photographs using cobalt-60. Radiations are used to sterilize surgical instruments in hospitals. Radioactive elements can also be used as tracers in medicine where they determine the efficiency of organisms such as kidneys and thyroid glands.
3. Biology and agriculture – radioactive sources are used to generate different species of plants with new characteristics that can withstand diseases and drought. Insects are sterilized through radiation to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Potatoes exposed to radiation can be stored for a long time without perishing.
4. Industry – thickness of metal sheets is measured accurately using radiation
from radioactive sources. Recently the manufacture of industrial diamonds is undertaken through transmutation.
5. Energy source – in N. America, Europe and Russia nuclear reactors are used to generate electricity. The amount of fuel used is quite small hence an economical way of generating electricity energy as compared to H.E.P generation.


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