What is the difference between Alpha, Beta and gamma radiation?
There’s lots of differences, way too many to list. If you’re in high school chemistry then you probably only need to know that alpha gives off alpha particles which have the configuration of Helium-4, Beta gives off beta particles which have the configuration of an electrons, and Gamma rays are just high energy photons. Paper can block alpha particles, wood can block beta particles but gamma rays are incredible difficult to block. You’d need something like a block of lead to stop a gamma ray and even then, it might still pass through the block of lead without being stopped.
Alpha and beta are both particles. Alpha particles are helium nuclei. Because of their mass and charge, they don’t penetrate very far through matter, and dump all their energy over a very short path length. Because of this, they dump a lot of energy over that short length, causing a lot of ionization and doing a lot of damage. Beta particles are electrons. They have half the charge of alpha particles, and are much less massive. They deposit energy more slowly, and so their range through matter is greater. Also, the energy they deposit is more spread out, so ionization events caused by the particles are more spread out, and any damage they cause is also more spread out. Because alpha and beta particles lose energy to matter as they move through it, they eventually run out of energy and come to a stop. So they have a limited range beyond which you’re guaranteed to have no particles penetrating. Gamma rays are photons. They are defined as photons emitted by the nuclei of atoms, and are us