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Using Radiation In our Lives

Runway lights in the Alaskan outback, heart pacemakers, smoke detectors, crops improvement, criminal investigation, inspecting welds, exploring for gas and oil, coating non-stick frying pan, and measuring the amount of soda in a can – all use radiation and radioactive elements to make our lives easier and more productive.

For example:



FIRE SAFETY IS NO ACCIDENT—thanks to the smoke detector.

Fire Safety Tip

Experts say the simple act of installing smoke detectors on each floor of your home can go a long way toward saving your family from a fire. Smoke detectors, first patented in 1902, have saved countless lives. Today, the ionization smoke detector is the most commonly used. This type of smoke detector is one of the many applications of research done by nuclear scientists and engineers. The ionization smoke detector uses a tiny bit of radioactive americium-241, a source of alpha radiation. An air-filled space between two electrodes creates a chamber that permits a small, constant current to flow between the electrodes. If smoke or heat enters the chamber, the electric current between the electrodes is interrupted and the alarm is triggered. This smoke alarm is less expensive than other designs and improves the original smoke alarm by measuring more than the heat of a fire. It can detect particles of smoke too small to be visible.


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