06: Radioactivity

What is radioactivity?

The spontaneous release of a particle and/or energy by an atom as it decays to a more stable state.

Radioactivity was discovered in 1897 by Henri Becquerel, who found that some metals could cause exposure of photographic film. It is the physical principle behind nuclear power, nuclear weapons and some types of radiotherapeutic treatments. It is usually portrayed negatively due to problems with storage of waste, the potential for carcinogenesis, and the potential for nuclear weapons to destroy the planet.