Radiation 101

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Radiation is a part of our natural world, If your here to learn, Or an anti radiation nutcase.

Read this first.

Radioactive units can be confusing even if you have spent some time with them. The most important thing to remember is that there are 2 groups of units. Standard american units, and SI or System international units used by the rest of the world. Back in 1977-78 when i was in middle school we where told that the whole world was going to the metric system it has not happined yet! So this page should help.


Also the size of the units makes a difference micro m, milli m, pico p, mega , kilo and the like. frequently expotential notation is used to express very small or large numbers. The following page will help.


If your worried about exposure to radiation then use the following link to determine the your exposure level, You can see that it takes a quite a bit of radiation to cause you harm.

Threat table.

Then there are isotopes, Radioactive isotopes are all around us, We eat them every day. Bananas are loaded with potassium 40 a radioctive isotope of regular potassium it produces powerful gamma rays. Its also used as salt substitute. Isotopes have radioactive propertys and chemical propertys so your body treats it as a chemical with no regard for its radioactive propertys. the following 4 tables are read from top to bottom and the elements actually become the next lower element on the table as the radioactivly decay. This decay continues until they all become an isotope of lead or bismuth.

The uranium Series is the most common eventually uranium 238 or depleted uranium becomes radon 222 with a halflife of 3.82 days its the most common natural radioactive element after potassium.

Uranium 238

The thorium series is the next most common radioactive series thorium 232 was used for years to make lantern mantles glow brighter, it produces radon 220 or thoron gas with a halflife of 52 seconds.

Thorium 232

The actinium series is uranium 235 its a very small proportion of natural uranium, Its about 7% of all the uranium thats mined and its called enriched uranium its fairly rare and is used in nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs, The waste product is called depleted uranium. It produces radon 219 with a halflife of 3.92 seconds.

Uranium 235

Finally there is the neptunium series, though its very rare in nature its there. The majority is produced in nuclear reactors Plutonium is the most controlled substance in the world. Its decay product Americium 241 is used in smoke detectors. This series produces no radon gas.

Plutonium 241

This final list of isotopes are byproducts from nuclear reactors and nuclear bomb test. Whats in nature was released during above ground nuclear testing.

Fission Products.

Burning Coal releases more radioactive material into the environment than all the nuclear operations in the world combined including Chernobyl and all above ground nuclear testing. Literally tons of uranium, thorium, radium and radon. It also releases toxic metals like mercury and arsnic.

Oak Ridge Nuclear Labs

The U.S.G.S.

Me on the front page of the Saginaw News.

Saginaw News.

Friends Links and sites.

Now for some off site links, I have found many of these sites helpful as may you.

Dr. Paul frames site, He has a treasure trove of information about all things radioactive.

Museum Directory.

Chris has a GM series of detectors that connect to the usb port of your computer, Since they use a thin window GM tube they detect alpha, beta and gamma so you can detect radon variations in your home, The software that comes with the detector lets you plot graphs and manulipate your data. Pretty cool stuff!

Black Cat Systems!

Ron's Autunite is the hottest stuff I own. He can provide you with a showcase sample, Unmatrixed autunite, Or autunite encapsulated in a plastic disk thats very safe for students to handle.

Got Hot Rocks.

Charlies page, I learned more about scintillators and pmt's from Charlie than most can imagine.

Charlies Page.

Paul has the most complete collection of radiation detection equipment I have ever seen, He has stuff from all over the world. He also has manuals for most equipment.

Southern Radiation.

Erics site, He is into every thing and afraid of nothing, Much like myself.

Dangerous Laboratories