What does nuclear radiation mean?

Nuclear radiation (also called ionizing radiation) is energy released in the form of high-speed charged particles or electromagnetic waves. Radiation can come from many sources, both natural and manufactured. All living things are constantly exposed to low doses of radiation from rocks, sunlight and cosmic rays. Nuclear radiation is the energy emitted by all radioactive elements when they break down into more stable atoms.

And it's happening in and around you right now. Nuclear radiation refers to the emission of particles as photons during reactions that particularly include the nucleus of an atom. Nuclear radiation is also recognized as ionizing radiation. Particles emitted by nuclear reactions can remove electrons from atoms and molecules and ionize them because they have the right energy.

Energy released in the form of electromagnetic waves or high-speed charged particles is known as nuclear radiation. Low doses of nuclear radiation are more likely to change cells by modifying DNA, while high doses tend to kill cells. Nuclear radiation consists of an electromagnetic spectrum with its energy portion, X-rays and gamma rays. Neutron radiation is also produced from nuclear reactors in power plants and nuclear-powered craft and in particle accelerators, devices used to study subatomic physics.

But before preparing it for the reactor, uranium is extracted and processed to create nuclear fuel. Nuclear radiation has powerful benefits, such as nuclear energy for generating electricity and nuclear medicine for detecting and treating diseases, as well as significant dangers. These neutrons can be absorbed by other atoms and cause nuclear reactions, such as disintegration or fission, or they can collide with other atoms, such as pool balls, and cause the emission of gamma rays. Very high doses, such as those received by workers at the scene of nuclear accidents (several thousand times higher than the level of background radiation) cause extensive damage, resulting in a series of symptoms collectively known as radiation sickness.

With a half-life of 29 years, strontium-90 binds to cesium-137 as a long-lasting source of harmful radiation after a nuclear accident. In general, there are three types of nuclear radiation, namely, α particles, β particles, and γ rays. In Tom Clancy's book The Hunt for Red October, a Russian submarine suffers an accident in a nuclear reactor with radiation leaks that forces the crew to abandon ship. An example of nuclear radiation is radioactive caesium particles that contaminated the water around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

X-ray machines, some types of sterilization equipment and nuclear power plants use nuclear radiation, but also nuclear weapons.