Solar Radiation and Nuclear Waste

  1. I am looking for detailed information to understand the actual differences between solar radiation from the Sun and radiation from High Level Nuclear waste.

    What are te similarities?
    What are the differences?

    What tools and methods can be used to measure the strength of each?

    I what to learn more about the fundementals, but need some crib notes to get started in the right direction.

    Any suggestion?
  2. jcsd
  3. mathman

    mathman 6,432
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    For starters: Solar radiation covers the entire e-m spectrum, peaking around visible. Nuclear waste radiation consists of charged particles, which are easy to shield against, and gamma rays, which are very high energy (higher than x-rays) photons, which are difficult to shield against and are the most dangerous.
  4. Haelfix

    Haelfix 1,728
    Science Advisor

    It depends what type of waste you are talking about. They all have different decay paths.

    But yea in general the sun outputs mostly photon radiation whereas the latter (or naturally occuring radiaocative sources) cany radiate charged particles (alpha/beta etc).

    We of course are shielded from much of the suns radiation by our atmosphere. Ozone interacts with many of the photons that are incoming.
  5. Thank you for your response. This forum was a great resource to find in disucssing these questions I have!

    So is it the photons particals that provide the fuel/energy that generate electricity from solar panels?

    I am to understand that spent fuel from power plants fuel do not generate photons?
    But rather charged particles (alpha & beta)?
  6. malawi_glenn

    malawi_glenn 4,727
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Yes, solar EM is the energy for Solar panels, Solar panels convert that into Electricity.

    Nulcear waste have both beta alpha an gamma (photons), but the photons from nuclear waste have in general much higher energies that the ones that comes from the Sun, so they are much harder to shield and causes great damage in our boides.

    Also the EM-radiation from the sun are (almost) continous, and the photons from Nuclear waste have more discrete energy distribution.
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