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Unformatted text preview: Dr. Timon McPhearsons Seminar Weekly Assignment Questions Quantum Mechanics I 1. Dont mess with Polonium, nor with the KGB Alexander Litvinenko was a lieutenant-colonel in the Federal Security Service (FSS) of the Russian Federation and later a Russian dissident and writer. After working for the KGB and its successor, Litvinenko publicly accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of a Russian billionaire. He was arrested, then released and later fled to the UK, where he was granted political asylum and citizenship. Litvinenko tried to publish a book in Russia in which he described Vladimir Putin's rise to power as a coup d'tat, organized by the FSS. On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later, becoming a rare victim of lethal polonium-210 ( 210 Po) radiation poisoning under highly suspicious circumstances, which led to public accusations that the Russian government was behind his death. Polonium is an element. Its isotope with mass 210 ( 210 Po) was discovered by Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie (shown at right) in 1898 and was later named after Marie's native land of Poland. By weight, polonium is around 5 million times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. The main hazard is its intense radioactivity as an alpha emitter. In other words, polonium emits alpha particles which damage organic tissue easily if polonium is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed, although they do not penetrate the skin and hence are not hazardous if the polonium is outside the body....
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- Spring '08