Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

The course is intended to provide a broad understanding of a wide range of aspects covering the topic of ionizing radiation. These aspects range from physics, chemistry and biology to epidemiology, risk assessment, and public policy. Topics include: radioactive decay; interactions of the different types of radiation with matter; methods of radiation detection; biological effects of radiation exposure; environmental radiation sources on earth and in space. Several of the more controversial aspects of radiation applications will be discussed.

Required Text

Buy at Amazon Turner, J. E. Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection. 2nd ed. New York, NY: J. Wiley, 1995. ISBN: 9780471595816.

Grading Policy

There will be about 8 problem sets over the course of the semester. Some of the problem sets will include both conventional problems as well as assignments to find papers in the scientific literature on a specific topic and write an abstract describing the paper. There will be two exams and a final exam. All students are required to write a term paper on a topic related to the subjects covered in this course. A list of possible topics will be provided, but students are free to choose their own topic.

The grading scheme for the class is as follows:

Homework 20%
Term Paper 15%
Midterm 1 20%
Midterm 2 20%
Final Exam 25%


1 Course Introduction/Radiation History/Fundamentals of the Atom  
2 Binding Energy and Nuclear Instability  

Binding Energy (cont.)

Alpha Decay

4 Beta Decay Problem set 1 due
5 Gamma Decay  
6 Activity and Exponential Decay Problem set 2 due
7 Radiological Dating  
8 Radiation Interactions: Heavy Charged Particles Problem set 3 due
9 Exam 1  
10 Radiation Interactions: Light Charged Particles Term paper topic due
11 Radiation Interactions: Photons  
12 Radiation Interactions: Neutrons, Neutron Sources Problem set 4 due
13 Radiation Detection/Absorbed Dose  
14 Absorbed Dose/Radiation Units Problem set 5 due
15 Charged Particle Tracks/Radiation Chemistry  
16 Biological Effects/Cell Survival Curves Problem set 6 due
17 Exam 2  
18 Reactor Tour  
19 Background Radiation/Radon  
20 The Radiation Environment in Space Term paper abstract due

Radiation Effects in Materials

Guest Lecture: Prof. Ballinger

22 Biological Effects/Radiation Therapy  
23 Medical Imaging: PET/SPECT/X Rays  
24 "Radiation Controversies": Class Discussion Problem set 7 due
25 Radiation Therapy: Protons  
26 Radiological Terrorism Term paper due