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Alpha, beta, and gamma radiation are the most common types of nuclear decay. Alpha radiation is a type of nuclear fission that produces an alpha particle as a product. An alpha particle consists of 2 protons and 2 neutrons and is often depicted by the symbol He-4 (helium has two protons). Beta radiation produces beta particles, usually high speed electrons. Specifically, a neutron is converted to a proton, a beta particle, and an antineutrino. Gamma radiation is not particle based like the other two. It is electromagnetic radiation (energy waves) that is produced from nuclear fission. It is extremely high in energy and therefore very dangerous and destructive to human tissue. While alpha and beta radiation are lower energy and relatively easily contained, gamma radiation requires heavy lead shielding for protection.
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