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Gamma rays

Explores the most energetic electromagnetic waves and how they interact with matter.

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The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

Credit: Salvador S?inz
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feriabarriojurocareus002.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

You probably recognize the superhero atop this amusement park ride. It’s The Incredible Hulk. If you’ve read The Hulk comics or seen the movies then you probably know how he became so incredible. Gamma rays are the reason.

The Back Story

  • Gamma rays are electromagnetic waves with incredibly high energy. In fact, they are the most energetic of all electromagnetic waves. They also have the shortest wavelengths and highest frequencies.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/5161800891/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Gamma rays are frequently seen in space as the result of exploding supernovas [Figure2]

  • Could a man actually be changed to a super-strong hulk by gamma ray exposure? Not a chance. More likely, the rays would kill if not totally destroy him.
  • You can learn more about gamma rays and what produces them by watching this short video:


What Do You Think?

Read about The Hulk and gamma rays at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Define the electromagnetic spectrum.
  2. What are gamma rays? How do gamma ray photons differ from visible light photons?
  3. What produces gamma rays in the universe? What produces gamma rays on Earth?
  4. In The Hulk stories, how do gamma rays supposedly transform Bruce Banner into The Hulk?
  5. How do gamma rays actually affect matter? How would a big dose of gamma rays really affect Bruce Banner?
  6. Do gamma rays appear green? Why or why not?
  7. How can gamma rays be used?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Salvador S?inz; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feriabarriojurocareus002.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/5161800891/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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