When we gaze in awe at the snow-capped peaks of the mighty Rocky Mountains, radioactivity does not usually spring to mind. Yet it is natural radioactivity that is responsible for the formation of the Rocky Mountains, the Alps, the Himalayas, and all mountain chains. Radioactive elements are found in all the rocks of which our earth is composed and have been present since the earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Radiation is a form of energy that can travel through space in the form of a wave or as fast moving particles. You have lived all of your life surrounded by many forms of radiation and probably never knew it.

Most of the radiation you are exposed to on a daily basis is “electromagnetic radiation”; that is, electrical and magnetic energy that propagates through space.  Electromagnetic radiation can have a wide range of energy (or frequency), called the “electromagnetic spectrum”. Magnetic fields from electric appliances and radio waves from radio stations and cell phone towers are man-made electromagnetic radiation.

Visible light, ultra violet light, infrared light, heat, radio waves, x-rays, and gamma rays are all natural sources of electromagnetic radiation.

electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic Spectrum.