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Nature

Radioactivity and the Drake Equation

What is the mechanism for radioactivity? Which forces come into play? Weak? Strong? Electomagnetic? Is radioactivity caused by structures absorbing an un-naturally large amount of energy and hence they are likely to shed that energy in photons or other particles that zing off and cause damage? Let’s look at the definition.

Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay or radioactivity) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by radiation. There are three common types : alpha decay (α-decay), beta decay (β-decay), and gamma decay (γ-decay), all of which involve emitting one or more structures. ,

Alpha decay is governed by the interplay between the electromagnetic and strong force, occurs when the nucleus ejects an alpha particle (helium nucleus).

Beta decay is due to the weak force. Beta decay occurs in two ways; I) beta-minus decay, when the nucleus emits an electron and an antineutrino in a process that changes a neutron to a proton. II) beta-plus decay, when the nucleus emits a positron and a neutrino in a process that changes a proton to a neutron, also known as positron emission.

Gamma decay is governed by the electromagnetic force, a radioactive nucleus first decays by the emission of an alpha or beta particle. The child nucleus that results is usually left in an excited state and it can decay to a lower energy state by emitting a gamma ray photon.

Wikipedia – paraphrased

This topic presents quite an existential conundrum. What is the technology trajectory for radiation transmitters vs. projected outcomes? I suppose this is yet another factor for the Drake equation and the Fermi paradox.

If radiation transmitters could be directed, then they could present a threat not unlike a gun, yet less detectable and perhaps equally or even more damaging at a broader scale and distance. This is quite concerning. Radiation, depending on its type, may pass through windows, walls, structure, and even earth as we see with the neutrino experiments. It seems to be a matter of focus, distance, intensity, type, duration, and reactivity. A variety of damage could be inflicted, one presumes. This, of course, is nothing new when considering the ideas of sci-fi, but the question is how realistic are such weapons?

More specifically, what is the risk that knowledge of the unit potential point charge reality of the universe leads to self-destruction of intelligent life on Earth, prior to the seeding of the galaxy with intelligent life that can perpetuate?

J Mark Morris : Boston : Massachusetts

By J Mark Morris

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