Nuclear Science Merit
Boy Scouts of America
The Pennsylvania State University,
American Nuclear Society Student Section
The Radiation Science
at Penn State
Graphic by Vaughn Whisker
& Breazeale Nuclear Reactor
Basic Safety Rules
No food, drinks or gum outside of designated areas
No cell phones or pagers
If you need to leave the group for any reason first ask
an ANS member to escort you.
Each group will have at least one member assigned to
wear a dosimeter.
A dosimeter is a small device to measure radiation exposure.
If you read the dosimeter now it will read zero. At the end of
the day it should also read zero because we are not going to
take you anywhere we expect there to be significant radiation
Let’s Get Started
As Low As Reasonably Achievable
This is the principle by which the nuclear
industry operates. The goal is to minimize the
radiation exposure of workers.
(alpha ray, alpha radiation) An electrically
charged particle made of two protons and two
neutrons. These are thrown off by many
radioactive materials, including uranium and
radium. An alpha particle is identical to the
nucleus of a helium atom.
The smallest piece of an element. They are
made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons
and the number of protons determines the kind.
The ionizing radiation always present in nature
from cosmic rays or from radioactive materials
in the air, water, food, ground, building
materials, and some consumer products.
(beta ray, beta radiation) An electrically
charged particle thrown off by many
radioactive materials. If is a free moving
electron and possesses the smallest negative
charge found in nature. Beta particles come out
of radioactive atoms at high speeds.
Radioactive material deposited or dispersed in
materials or places where it is not wanted.
A measure of the rate at which radioactive
material throws off particles or radiation. It is
named in honor of the French chemists, Marie
and Pierre Curie. One curie is equal to the
activity in one gram of radium.
The SI (metric) unit of radioactivity in a
material. One Bq measures one disintegration
(gamma radiation) A form of ionizing radiation
energy (the same as X-rays) given off when
the nucleus of some radioactive materials
The amount of time it takes for one half of a
group of radioactive atoms to decay.
A process by which atoms lose one or more electrons and are
left with a positive electrical charge. Some atoms gain an
electron and are negatively charged.
Radiation hitting clouds (or groups) of atoms changes some of
them into ions, some positive and some negative.
A sub-nuclear, fundamental particle of matter
that makes up protons and neutrons.
Atoms of the same chemical element having
the same number of protons (the same atomic
number) but with a different number of
neutrons (different atomic weights). Some
isotopes are radioactive (radioisotopes) and
some are not (stable).
A basic atomic particle, having no electrical
charge, found in the nucleus of atoms. It has an
atomic weight of one.
Energy released when the nucleus of an atom
splits (fission), joins with another nucleus
(fusion), or disintegrates (radiation). Nuclear
energy is the most exact terms to describe the
energy produced in a nuclear reactor.
A device in which a nuclear fission chain
reaction takes place.
An electric device for speeding up electrically
charged particles such as electrons and
protons. These are then used for smashing into
atoms at high speeds. This allows scientists to
study the particles and forces that make up
A unit of measure of how much radiation
energy something absorbs when exposed to a
The SI (metric) equivalent of a rad. One gray
is equal to 100 rads.
The energetic particles or rays thrown out by
radioactive elements or produced by X-ray
machines. The best term for atomic radiation is
ionizing radiation, because sound waves, light
waves, and radio waves are also kinds of
The throwing out of charged particles or
gamma rays from the nucleus of the atom.
Some elements are naturally radioactive, while
others can be made radioactive by squeezing
extra neutrons into the nucleus.
A heavy radioactive gas given off by rocks
containing radium (or thorium). Rn-222 is the
A unit describing the intensity of radiation, the
type of radiation, and the effect on the body.
The SI equivalent of the rem. One sievert is
equal to 100 rem.
Radiation produced inside a
vacuum tube when highspeed electrons hit a metal
target. When these rays pass
through an object, they give
a shadow picture of the
denser portions. They must
be used carefully because of
their ability to ionize atoms
in the body.