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Physics/Ionizing radiation


QUESTION: Is it possible for humans to emit higher levels of radiation than the background radiation?

ANSWER: What kind of radiation are you talking about?  I mean, yes, we emit thermal radiation at higher than the normal rate when we're warmer than the background.  But you mention ionizing radiation.  Humans are relatively low-radiation, but your own body has enough radioactive material to create about 5000-8000 Bq of decays, of which about 3000-5000 are from potassium 40 and about 10% of which emit a high-energy gamma ray.  So yes, we emit around 300-500 gamma rays per second, too.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Yes i'm talking about the ionizing radiation. If it's possible to emit higher levels of it than the background one?

Did my last answer not explicitly express how much you emit?  I laid it out in counts per second (Bequerels).  The simple answer is yes. The long answer is that you never bothered telling me what your background radiation is.  Aside from that, the answer was a simple yes.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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