Electromagnetic Radiation vs Nuclear Radiation
Electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation are two concepts discussed under physics. These concepts are widely used in fields such as optics, radio technology, communication, energy production, and various other fields. It is vital to have a proper understanding in electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation in order to excel in such fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation are, their definitions, their applications, similarities between electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation, and finally the difference between electromagnetic radiation and nuclear radiation.
Electromagnetic radiation, or more commonly known as EM radiation, was first proposed by James Clerk Maxwell. This was later confirmed by Heinrich Hertz who successfully produced the first EM wave. Maxwell derived the waveform for electric and magnetic waves and successfully predicted the speed of these waves. Since this wave velocity was equal to the experimental value of speed of light, Maxwell also proposed that light was, in fact, a form of EM waves. Electromagnetic waves have both an electric field and a magnetic field oscillating perpendicular to each other and perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation. All electromagnetic waves have the same velocity in vacuum. The frequency of the electromagnetic wave decided the energy stored in it. Later it was shown using quantum mechanics that these waves are, in fact, packets of waves. The energy of this packet depends on the frequency of the wave. This opened the field of wave – particle duality of matter. Now it can be seen that electromagnetic radiation can be considered as waves and particles. An object, which is placed in any temperature above the absolute zero, will emit EM waves of every wavelength. The energy at which the maximum number of photons is emitted depends on the temperature of the body.
A nuclear reaction is a reaction that involves the nuclei of the atoms. There are several types of nuclear reactions. A nuclear fusion is a reaction where two or more lighter nuclei combine to create a heavy nucleus. A nuclear fission is a reaction where a heavy nucleus is broken into two or more small nuclei. Nuclear decay is the emission of small particles from a heavy, unstable nucleus. Nuclear reactions not necessarily satisfy the conservation of mass or conservation of energy but rather conservation of mass –energy is satisfied. Nuclear radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted in such reactions. Most of this energy is emitted in the X-ray and gamma ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
What is the difference between Electromagnetic and Nuclear Radiation?
• Nuclear radiation is emitted only in nuclear reactions but electromagnetic radiation can be emitted in any situation.
• Nuclear radiation is the electromagnetic radiation that occurs in nuclear reactions. Nuclear radiation is usually highly penetrating so can be very hazardous, but only high-energy electromagnetic radiation is hazardous.
• Nuclear radiation mainly consists of gamma rays and other high-energy electromagnetic rays as well as small particles such as electrons and neutrinos. Electromagnetic radiation only consists of photons.