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radioactivity

Introduction

radioactivity, spontaneous disintegration or decay of the nucleus of an atom by emission of particles, usually accompanied by electromagnetic radiation . The energy produced by radioactivity has important military and industrial applications. However, the rays emitted by radioactive substances can cause radiation sickness , and such substances must therefore be handled with extreme care (see radioactive waste ).

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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