Radioactivity dating to materials draya dating
Until the 1920s, many manufacturers of laxatives and toothpaste proudly laced their products with radioactive thorium, and radioactive substances were only banned in consumer products in the US in 1938.
Today we have a much more comprehensive understanding of what radioactivity is, how it can be dangerous, and how we can use it.
Radiation can damage the body’s internal chemistry, breaking up chemical bonds in our tissue, killing cells, and damaging DNA, which may lead to cancer.
Many minerals in the Earth emit a slow and steady trickle of radiation, the air we breathe contains radioactive gases, and even foods and our bodies contain a small percentage of radioactive atoms like potassium-40 and carbon-14.For this profound and exciting work, Becquerel and the Curies received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903.Physicists Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy delved deeper and found that tiny amounts of matter contain huge reserves of energy.This decay releases nuclear radiation in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma radiation.An alpha particle carries off two protons and two neutrons, and since an element is defined by its number of protons, the parent atom becomes a whole new element when an alpha particle is emitted.
The effects of radioactivity have been felt on an even grander scale with the meltdown of nuclear power plants throughout history.