Radioactivity is an emission of gamma particles

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enigma

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This may be a dumb question:

What is it about radioactivity that caused them to name it "radioactive"?

All I was taught was that radioactivity is an emission of gamma particles, beta particles, or alpha particles. I don't remember anything about radio wavelength photons.
 
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Something which is sent out

is said to be radiated. It comes from the Latin word for root, as does the word radical.
 
The word "radioactive" first appeared in Marie Curie's report about the discovery of polonium. I can't find this report on the net, maybe you'll be more lucky. I guess it comes from radiation...
http://www.pa.msu.edu/~brock/d0_homepage/physics-posted/period_surprises.html [Broken]
 
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enigma

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Re: Something which is sent out

Originally posted by Tyger
is said to be radiated.
Ah! That makes sense.

"Radiate" not "Radio"

Thanks
 

selfAdjoint

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Re: Re: Something which is sent out

Originally posted by enigma
Ah! That makes sense.

"Radiate" not "Radio"

Thanks
Of course "radio" comes from radiate too. The station radiates its electromagnetic signal, and your radio receiver picks it up.

One of the forms of radioactive radiation is electromagnetic like radio waves and light (but much shorter in wave length). This is gamma radiation. Other forms of radioactivity are

Alpha particles (helium nuclei)
Beta particles (electrons)
Neutrons

The alpha, beta, and gamma names were thought up by Ernest Rutherford, a great experimantal physicist of the early 20th century. He worked at a time when they couldn't tell what the different kinbds of radiation were.
 
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It all comes from the Latin word 'radical' as in to radiate. That's also how the element radium got its name.
 

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