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Exposing the Truth about Radiation

Lecture no. 13 from the course: Understanding the Misconceptions of Science

Exposing the Truth about Radiation

Taught by Professor Don Lincoln | 33 min | Categories: The Great Courses Plus Online Science Course

Radiation is one of the most misunderstood of all scientific phenomena. Get the scientific truths about this subject by investigating the four types of ionizing radiation, including alpha radiation, beta radiation, gamma radiation, and neutron radiation. Then consider how much radiation you encounter every day—and how much of it you can ignore.


July 3, 2019
Well done! I have worked at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory and Hanford plutonium production site the past 22 years, and have seen how badly the genersl public misunderstands the hazards of radioactive materials. One of the biggest errors is believing that the longer the half-life of an element, the greater the rafioactivity. Because various isotopes of plutonium have half-lives of a thousand to ten thousand years, many people think that makes them thousands of times more radioactive, when it has such low radiation in small quantities that the original hockey pucks of plutonium thst Hanford's reactors produced were transported in briefcases by men traveling by train to Los Alamos where the Trinity and Nagasaki bombs were built. Also, plutonium is not soluble in water, so even when it has been buried in shallow dirt pits, the plutonium has not moved into groundwater, and EPA has determined there is more health risk from incidental solvents buried with the plutonium. The public needs to know the correct information to support the public policy decisions that need to be made. The stupidest fear is if the people in Nevada who oppose burying used uranium reactor fuel in stainless steel casks in dry rock a half mile underground that is 90 miles from any human habitation, nect door to a hundred underground atomic bomb explosion sites that are totally exposed to the elements that have not produced any hazards in 60 years.