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Zach Huntley

Page history last edited by zahu 10 years, 9 months ago


Practical uses of isotopes




What is an Isotope?


     Isotopes are atoms that are different but are in the same element. They all differ in number of neutrons and their mass number but have the same atomic number. The protons in the isotope are the same. If you want to find the number of neutrons in an isotope you just have to find the atomic number and subtract it from the mass number. For example:


     The isotope, Carbon-12 has a mass number of 12 and the atomic number of Carbon is 6. So all you have to do is subtract 12 by 6. Therefore Carbon-12 has 6 neutrons.



     This is a picture of J.J. Thomson's photographic plate and in the bottom right corner

is impact marks of two isotopes of neon.




Practical Uses of Isotopes





   Radioisotopes can be used in agricultural studies. If you wanted to study the process of how a plant uses a certain element you could inject the plant with a radioisotope that is the same as the original chemical. This isotope can be easily tracked by a Gieger counter. As they track the isotope they can see the plant utilizes the chemical. This works because radioisotopes are identical to the isotopes of the same element.








     Isotopes are also used medically, they are used in the same way as finding how plants use certain elements. If doctors wish to study a certain disease they can use radioisotopes that give off energy that can be detected by certain equipment. This allows doctors to get a more complete look into the damaged tissue or other problems. The energy given off by radioisotopes can actually destroy diseased cells and if applied to cancer cells the good tissue survives and the cell dies. These isotopes are in small amounts and can be applied directly to the diseased area. This is called Radiation Therapy according to Mr. Briggs.








This is a photo of a full body scan and the black dot on the neck is a sign of thyroid cancer.

They put Iodine-123 and that is what makes the cancer tissue show up. This is called a TSH scan.






     Isotopes are also used in the food category. This is called food irradiation and it helps kill bacteria, insects, and fungi that can cause the food to spoil or can harm humans. It also helps food stay more fresh in warehouses and even in your own house. Not all bacteria is destroyed however and some survive. Food irradiation does not make food radio active and is perfectly safe. The food still retains its nutrients and is as healthy as it was before the process. This process is called Ionizing Radiation which uses a confined beam of energy onto the item. This process changes the basic genetic information in a way that the item actually stops doing something like ripening or sprouting.



Table 1. Potential food irradiation uses
Type of food Effect of Irradiation
Meat, poultry Destroys pathogenic fish organisms, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Trichinae
Perishable foods Delays spoilage; retards mold growth; reduces number of microorganisms
Grain, fruit Controls insect vegetables, infestation dehydrated fruit, spices and seasonings
Onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, ginger Inhibits sprouting
Bananas, mangos,papayas, guavas, other non-citrus fruits Delays ripening avocados, natural juices.
Grain, fruit Reduces rehydration time

 chart of types of food that are irradiated and their effects.










































Comments (4)

zavi said

at 10:53 am on Dec 16, 2009

nice page, center the pictures

zavi said

at 11:10 am on Dec 16, 2009

make a better webpage

zavi said

at 11:50 am on Dec 17, 2009

Next time you make a page, make it not stupid

Bill Briggs said

at 12:13 pm on Dec 17, 2009

Wow, zavi is getting increasingly abusive!
Page looks good and has a good variety of types of uses. Typo: In the food section, I think "generic" should be "genetic".

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