By MICHAEL JOHN UGLO
WELCOME all to this topic of radiations.
You may be excited to find out what it may compose. Well, one could imagine a medium in which a message may be transmitted just like a power cable or a hotspot like a wireless communication point or even a satellite’s radar radius linkages. It can be likened to a bridge or a router of distributed computer network systems like a metropolitan area network.
If any substance or a body is stationary or moving, or even you are encountering an opposing body, then you are emitting and simultaneously encountering radiations. These are streams of particles that emanate or radiate from a stationary or moving body. When you are travelling or more generally your existence is an example of a body emitting radiations as examplified in a black body. As we discuss further, you will notice that a black body, as commonly referred to in physics and thermodynamics, is a perfect radiating body that changes colour from black to red to bluish-white depending on the energy content of the radiations as demonstrated by the distant stars in the universe.
According to Wikipedia, the common types of radiations known are electromagnetic radiations, particle radiations, sound or acoustic radiations, and gravitational radiations. Let’s take the most common radiations from an electromagnetic radiation. Now, matter, as we said, emits radiations and these take a whole picture of an electromagnetic spectrum. Take the bigger picture of the electromagnetic spectrum of sunlight. You have the radiations associated with their respective frequencies at which they emit their energy in radiations. They range from the very high energy short wavelength gamma rays to the very long wavelength minute energy microwaves encompassing radio waves and infrareds.
To bring the above statement to test, you will feel hungry after several hours if you have not had any food. That presupposes you have emitted radiations in the wave form of infra-radiations. That particular radiation is most specifically heat because the cells in your body respired to use the food in your body as stored fat to keep you alive. They have literally respired or burned the stored food to give you the energy and provide the required heat balance at 36 to 37 degree Celsius or in that precinct of temperature in your body to keep you alive and well. Now, in this instance you have to eat a balanced diet in order to upkeep your body.
Radiations are emitted by very tiny subatomic particles of matter in the universe. These sub-particles constitute atoms. The sub-particles are namely protons, electrons and neutrons. Other particles result from secondary cosmic rays in the atmosphere and these include muons, mesons, pions, positrons and the most commonly known photon from the visible light of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The proton as an alpha particle is a helium nucleus. It has a two proton and two neutron particles that emit a weak alpha radiation. It can penetrate a piece of paper. The next is the beta radiation which is emitted by an electron and can pass through aluminium. It is a beta particle when a neutron decays to a proton leaving an antimatter with that positron emission. This radiation has a penetration power higher than the alpha particle. The third particle is the gamma radiation which can
penetrate living tissues. It can penetrate a very large atom like lead. This is the most dangerous radiation available because it can displace electrons from their valence or energy shells. Once the electrons are displaced then the atom is made positive with the missing electron and so the atom is said to be ionised. It effectively becomes a positive ion. This is particularly dangerous in living cells and tissues with organs because they can induce cancer when those malignant cells could replicate uncontrollably.
Radiations in the low energy high wavelengths demarcations are finding uses in the modern communication systems.
Such radiations are radio waves and infra radiations. The alternating currents that produce those radiations can be tuned in circuits to produce any particular wave of radiation according to specification as required. Even alternating currents whilst travelling can emit radio waves.
For any form of communication with variable forms as pictures, videos, voices and texts as variable intensities of those radiations, notice is to be taken of the wave lengths of a particle’s energy level to be a very critical factor to decide the communication discourse.
Uses in the radiations known as radiometric dating with radioisotopes of elements together with radio-carbon dating are two most common applications of the radiations from radioactive isotopes. The presence of the amounts of radioactive elements in rocks and artificial structures can correctly tell the date of those events. The amount of the presence of the radioactive carbon-14 element can also correctly tell the time in which an event took place.
Geiger Muller counters are used as devices to trap the alpha particle counts in nature to also predict the timing of the existence of any particular event. Radioactive substances of alpha particles are used to trace the presence of affected parts of the body to treat when ingested in medical examination and antidote.
Also, electromagnetic waves with milder energies are used to excite the chemical bonds to treat cancerous cells as a way forward in medicine. This can presuppose that, although energy of a magnitude less than ten electron volt (10eV) are not seen to be carcinogenic, the idea of the excitation of chemical bonds to break up molecules prone even the weaker longer wave radiations in microwaves including radio waves and infra-radiation to be cancer inducing.
The above stance is clarified embracing the fact that, milder energy waves are used for the quantum half spin of the electrons as well as the electron orbitals. Care and provision has to be made in the substrates for any activity involving such as the oxidation and reduction reactions, mutations and synergies for much needed chemical reactions to uphold the body’s homeostasis for survival.
Radiations in technology
The use of radiation in the microwave region is the absorption by the water molecules. This particular range of the microwave is used to heat up water in any living tissue like the vegetables and protein cooked in microwave ovens.
On that line, radiations can be absorbed and stopped from penetrating any further with a thickness of a particular medium. For an example, primary and very strong devastating cosmic rays that come from inter and extra galactic sources are filtered by the earth’s atmosphere of a good thickness of about 32Km away from the earth’s surface. Particularly, the triatomic oxygen gas the ozone does that. This keeps the earth safe and sound from those very harmful rays of nuclear fusion reactions of the multitude of the billion stars from the universe. Further to this, the solar wind of the solar corona wave that sweeps and reaches the earth’s atmosphere that contains high energy alpha nucleus is likewise filtered with the thick atmospheric gaseous cushion buffer.
Emerging technologies and
measurements in radiations
There is a very huge potential in radiation technologies particularly in medicine such as in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer. Here, the malignant cells are simply rendered harmless with an elevated energy wave and this is another innovation area that technology can contribute to saving countless lives from this killer disease called cancer in PNG. When speaking of applications of radiations in modern technology, particularly in medicine, there is the intrinsic quality that the technology frontier needs to untangle to tap into this inherent immense potential.
The above clause refers specifically to looking for answers to save PNG peoples’ lives. The idea that stands out is measurement.
When and how with the mathematical quantifications can all these be possible? This is the area to turn to like any other technology breakthrough ideas, isn’t it? Now when radiations emanate from a source, they emit at a distance that is in an inverse relation to the square root of the distance it travels with reference to its energy emissions.
This speaks of the mathematically geometric character every radiating particle has with respect to the distance they radiate. Their energy level
is constant in a vacuum and decreases with the increasing distance they travel. Thus, the need to re-energise with heat can be by way of measurements with the above geometric character. This brings us to the topic of Measurement for next week.
My prayer for PNG today is: “Glory and praise to our, God who alone gives light to our days. Many are the blessings He bears, to those who trust in His ways”
- Michael Uglo is the author of the science textbook Author “Science in PNG, Pacific, Asia & Caribbean” and a lecturer in Avionics, Auto- Piloting and Aircraft Engineering. Please send comments to: [email protected]