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Some heavy elements have unstable atomic nuclei that occasionally change their chemical identity by releasing particles or energy.

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Radiation from X-Rays

Radiation from X-Rays

Recall radiation is energy emitted in the form of electromagnatic waves.

Credit: Old Moonraker
Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/X-ray_by_Wilhelm_R%C3%B6ntgen_of_Albert_von_K%C3%B6lliker%27s_hand_-_18960123-02.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

X-ray of a hand with a ring on it [Figure1]

X-ray machines was invented in 1895 by German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen.  Nowadays x-rays are used in a variety of places from dental offices to security checkpoints at airports.  X-rays are very helpful, as they allow doctors and dentists to view the bones and teeth of their patients.  The only problem is that x-rays emit electromagnetic radiation.  Our bodies are constantly bombarded with radiation from the ground and the sun so a little bit of radiation is alright, but too much can have devastating effects.  When x-rays are over used your body is exposed to an eexcessive amount of radiation which can mutate the cells in your body.  This can cause cancer which is the uncontrallable growth of cells.  The chances of these side effects actually happening are very slim becuase doctors carefully monitor how much radiation their patients are exposed to, and x-rays typically don't emit enough radiation to have lasting effects.

Creative Applications

1. Are x-rays worth the risk?

2. What is a pro and a con of x-rays?

3. What are alternatives to x-rays?

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