Physics 2000 Science Trek Isotopes & Radioactivity

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This terminology goes back to the early days of research in radioactivity, which was first discovered in 1896 by Henri Becquerel.
Becquerel and others observed three clearly different types of radiation, but no one knew exactly what any of them were, so they were simply named alpha (a), beta (b), and gamma (g), for the first three letters of the Greek alphabet. It was only later that the radiation was shown to consist of familiar things: helium nuclei, electrons, and high-energy electromagnetic waves.


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