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Unformatted text preview: Alpha-Particle Detection Introduction: The purpose of this lab was simply to introduce us to alpha radiation and penetration. Background: An alpha particle is made up of two protons and two neutrons. It is identical to the nucleus of Helium. For many years, alpha radiation was seen as a bit of a mystery because of the high amount of energy required to escape the very strong potential of the nucleus. However, it was discovered that this phenomenon was possible through quantum tunneling. This idea is analogous to that of a little guy thats trying to make it up a big hill but he just doesnt have enough energy, so he finds a tunnel through the hill instead. The radioactive source that we used in this lab was Polonium 210. Because of their large mass and charge, alpha particles can only penetrate a few centimeters in air. This radiation is not usually harmful to humans because it is absorbed by the outer most layer of the skin. However, when the source is inhaled or ingested, alpha radiation can cause severe radiation poisoning. In fact, Polonium was used to poison former Russian Federal Security Service officer, Alexander Litvinenko. Security Service officer, Alexander Litvinenko....
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