# Radioactivity is an emission of gamma particles

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
This may be a dumb question:

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.

Tyger
Something which is sent out

is said to be radiated. It comes from the Latin word for root, as does the word radical.

Guybrush Threepwood
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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Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

Originally posted by Tyger

Ah! That makes sense.

Thanks

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Dearly Missed

Originally posted by enigma
Ah! That makes sense.

Thanks

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.