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Biophysics For Dummies by Ken Vos

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Chapter 18

Fighting the Big C –– But Not All Radiation Is Bad

In This Chapter

arrow Taking a closer look at radiation

arrow Seeing the effects of radiation on the body

Radiation is a word that incites fear in people, but many people don’t understand why and how it can be dangerous to living organisms. As a budding biophysicist, you need to be able to explain to people when they should be concerned about the radiation and when the radiation level is safe.

This chapter focuses on quantifying radiation and exploring the harmful effects of radiation on biological systems. Here I examine organisms being exposed to and absorbing radiation, as well as the effect upon the organism and quantifying the health effects of the radiation.

Investigating Radiation within Biological Systems

The primary types of radiation that interact with biological systems are electromagnetic radiation, alpha particles, and beta particles. The alpha and beta particles are produced during the radioactive decay of unstable nuclides (radionuclides). Here I introduce the activity of these radionuclides.

The radionuclides change to new nuclides in an attempt to become stable. The majority of them decay by emitting alpha and beta particles. The radiation activity from a radionuclide is a measure of the rate that alpha and ...

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