For a physicist, Radioactivity is inseparable from the atom exploration and its history. For the engineer, the atom nucleus offers an inexhaustible source of energy. For the researcher, and the doctor as well, radioactivity provides remarkable diagnostic tools. But for Mr. or Mrs. Anybody radioactivity is the source of fears, some legitimate, others irrational. The purpose of this web site is to help Mr. and Mrs Anybody in discovering the true nature of radioactivity.
Radioactivity is a sensitive issue. In the public mind, it is associated to the atomic bombs and nuclear energy is associated to Chernobyl or Fukushima accidents or radioactive waste.
Ignorance breeds fears. A quasi medieval belief that radioactivity is a contagious microbe is widespread. For instance, a young woman asked us if she should shake the hand of a Japanese visitor; an inhabitant of Clermont-Ferrand, provincial town in central France, asked whether he was wise to buy a Japanese car.
Radioactivity and nuclear power often make news headlines. Information on these issues must be credible and objective. The authors of this site are researchers or teachers. They provide their knowledge while remaining independent of key players in the nuclear industry. They sought to describe objectively the existing problems, the dangers of radioactivity but also the solutions proposed by engineers and physicists to offer efficient radioprotection
Radioactivity is involved in a variety of fields sometimes unsuspected. It intervenes in everyday life, naturally or through multiple applications, especially in the medical field, often little known applications whose benefits are overshadowed by the fear inspired by nuclear weapons and civilian nuclear power.
Let us exonerate for a second radioactive atoms! A radioactive atom behaves like an ordinary one. It is neither more mobile, nor more prone to get in touch with Mr or Mrs. Anybody. What distinguishes it is the unique moment of its existence when it emits a radiation. One may have to wait years for this moment, and in some cases thousands, millions or billions of years.
Mr and Mrs. Anybody, struggling with conflicting informations, have difficulties to separate the wheat from the chaff, the legitimate concerns from irrational fears. An ambition of this web site is to explain how we can protect ourselves against the fleeting moment when an atom nucleus emits its radiation.
The web site laradioactivite.com and its english counterpart radioactivity.eu.com are supported by the french Institute of Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics (IN2P3) and scientific publisher, EDP-Sciences.