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SECTION A: Forces and motions

Speed = distance/ time
Instantaneous speed is the speed of an object from one instant to the other as the
accelerator or brake is used. Displacement is the distance travelled in a particular
direction from a specific point.
Velocity is the rate of motion per unit time. It is how fast the object is travelling with
a direction.
Velocity = displacement/time taken
Acceleration is the rate at which objects change their velocities.
Acceleration = (final velocity initial velocity)/ time taken
Forces are vector quantities. There is friction, weight of object; reaction force by the
Earth and the force of object i.e. push. There are many forces such as air resistance,
up thrust, magnetic, electrostatic and nucleus. If you apply a force to an elastic
band it changes shape. It will stretch if put under tension and would shorten if
Springs change shape when a force is applied to them and return back to original as
soon as the force has been removed. Hookes law states that the extension of spring
is directly proportional to the force applied. The elastic limit is when the spring
starts to stretch more for each successive increase in the load force. Once it has
passed this limit the spring has changed shape permanently and will not return to
its original length.
The acceleration of an object is affected by both its mass and the force applied to it.
Force = mass x acceleration
The stopping time is the sum of thinking distance and braking distance. Reaction
time could be affected by the age of the driver, if the driver is tired, if the driver is
under alcohol or drugs. It could also be due to poor eyesight. Breaking distance
could be affected by the mass of the vehicle, the speed the vehicle is going on, road
conditions and conditions of the tyres. The bigger the mass of the car the longer the
braking distance.
Weight = mass x gravitational pull.
Objects falling experience two forces; weight force by gravity and the opposing drag

Stages of air resistance and acceleration; air resistance is very small but starts to
increase. The air resistance increases. They are the same terminal velocity and
therefore have a balanced amount of acceleration and resistance. The large air
resistance starts to decelerate. Air resistance decreases until they are the same as
weight and therefore reach another terminal velocity. On the ground, the weight is
equal to the upward force.
Momentum is a measure of how difficult it is to stop something that is moving. It is
a vector quantity.
Momentum = mass x velocity. It is measure in kgm/s.
Force = change in momentum/ time taken
Momentum will remain constant as long as there is no interference and the system
is isolated.
Momentum before = momentum after
M1V1 + M2V2 = M3V3
Impulse is the change in momentum
Force x time = change in momentum
If you increase the time, you decrease the force on the object. Cars are designed
with various safety features that increase the time over which he cars momentum
changes in an accident. These include seat belts, crumple zones and air bags.
Crumple zones collapse during a collision and increase the time during which the
car is decelerating. Seatbelts stop the passenger from hitting the front of the car. Air
bags are triggered by devices called accelerometers that detect the rapid
deceleration that occurs during a collision.
Newtons first law; things dont speed up, slow down or change direction unless you
push or pull them.
Newtons second law; the bigger the force acting on an object, the faster the object
will speed up. Objects with greater mass require bigger forces than those with
smaller mass to make them speed up at the same rate.
Newtons third law; for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The turning around a fixed point is called a pivot or fulcrum. A large force is needed
if pushing at a small distance from the pivot. A small force is needed if pushing at a
large distance from the pivot.
Moment = force x distance. It is measured in Nm.

90 degrees and a perpendicular is the force that will have the best effect on the
Sum of anticlockwise = sum of clockwise
Counter balance is the thing needed to balance out a long part of a pivot. The
centre of gravity is if you support the object at this point there is no turning
moment. It is also called the centre of mass. In a symmetrical card the centre of
gravity will be located where the axes meet. A stable object is one that is difficult to
push over.
The Earth is one of the 8 planets that orbit the sun. The orbits of planets are
elliptical with the sun close to the centre.

The further the planet is away from the sun, the longer it takes for the planet to
orbit the sun once. The closer the planet is from the sun, the hotter the surface
temperature of the planet.
The strength of gravity on a planet or moon is called its gravitational field strength.
Planets are held in orbit by the gravitational pull of the sun.
Moons are natural objects that orbit a planet. Moons are non-luminous objects. We
see them because they reflect light from the sun.
Comets orbit the sun. They are approx. 1-30 km in diameter and are made of dust
and ice. Their orbits are very elongated. As a comet get closer to the sun, the
gravitational forces acting upon it increase and it speeds up. As the opposite end of
its orbit, the gravitational forces are much smaller and the comet therefore travels
much slower.
Asteroids are minor planets or rocks that orbit the sun. They vary in size
Satellites are held in orbit by gravitational forces. Moons are examples of natural
satellites. Manufactured satellites are artificial satellites.
Gravitational force depends on the masses of the two objects and the distance
between the masses.
The greater the masses of the two objects the stronger the attractive forces
between them
The greater the distance between the masses the weaker the forces become.
Orbital speed = 2xPixradius/ time

Geostationary is the orbital period of a communication satellite which is 24 hours so

that it remains above the same part of the Earths surface. It cant be interrupted or

SECTION B: Electricity
Ring circuits consist of; the live wire which provides the path along which the
electrical energy from the power station travels. It has an alternating current
between negative and positive. The neutral wire completes the circuit. The Earth
wire usually has no current flowing through it. It is there to protect you if an
appliance develops a fault.
The outer part of a plug is called a casing and is made out of plastic. Plastic is a
good insulator. Connections to the circuits are made out of three brass pins as brass
is an excellent conductor of electricity.
Many plugs contain a fuse. The fuse is usually in the form of a cylinder or cartridge
which contains as a thin piece of metal that has a low melting point. If the current
gets too high, then the metal melts, the circuit breaks and the current stops flowing.
A fuse size should slightly be bigger than the current that flows through it. Modern
safety devices are in the form of trip switches or circuit breakers as they dont have
to be replaced but only have to be reset.
If too large a current flows in a circuit a switch opens which makes the circuit
incomplete. Once the fault has been connected the switch is reset and not needed
to be replaced. It can be reset by using a reset button.
The earth wire used to be connected to the metal casing so if any fault occurs, the
earth wire takes all the electricity and sends it into the ground. However now they
remove the metal casing with a plastic casing. It is also called double insulation.

When the switch is connected to the neutral wire then the electricity can still flow
through the appliance and the user could still get shocked. However while it is
connected to the live wire then the person cannot get shocked.
Power = current x voltage. Power is measured in watts, current is measured in amps
and voltage is measured in volts.
Energy = power x time. Energy is measured in joules, power is measured watts and
time is measured in seconds.
Alternating current is when current flows in two ways, whereas direct current is only
in one way.

+1 positive
0 neutral
-1 negative

Relative mass

Where it is found
In the nucleus
In the nucleus
Out of the

Atoms normally have an equal amount of protons compared to the amount of

electrons, but if it is not it is either a positive or negative ion. If an uncharged plastic
rod is rubbed with an uncharged cloth, it is possible for them to become charged by
friction. The rod becomes positive and the cloth becomes negative. The rubbing
action doesnt create or produce a charge but instead separates the charges as it
transfers the electrons from one of the objects to the other
If the charges are the same, they repel. If the charges are opposite, they attract.
When a charged object meets an uncharged object, the positive or negative charges
are attracted to the opposite charge and repel charges that are the same
The gold leaf electroscope; the electroscope is uncharged. The rod is positively
charged. The electrons are attracted to the rod and move upwards. The bottom now
has more protons than electrons. The protons on the bottom and in the gold leaf
repel and the gold moves further. When you put your finger on it, electrons from the
electroscope go to the ground, making the electroscope have a balance of electrons
and protons at the bottom. When you put the positively charged rod again, the
electrons move upwards and there is less repulsion so the gold goes downwards.
Earthing is when electrons are released down to Earth.
Electrostatic paint spraying; as the droplets emerge from the spray gun, they are
charged. As the droplets all carry the same charge they repel and spread out
forming a fine spray. The metal bicycle frame has a wire attached to an electrical
supply giving the frame the opposite charge. The paint droplets are therefore
attracted to the surface of the frame. There is the added benefit that paint is

attracted into places, such as tight corners, that might otherwise not receive such
as good coating.
Many modern printers use inkjets to direct a fine jet of ink drops onto paper. Each
spot of ink is given a charge so that as it falls between a pair of deflecting plates,
electrostatic forces direct it to the correct position. The charges on the plates
change hundreds of times each second so that each drop falls in a different position,
forming pictures and words on the paper as required.
Photocopiers; the drum is charges with a positive charge; Image of object to be
copied is formed here. Charge stays only where image is dark. Toner drops on to
drum and sticks to charged areas. Surplus toner is removed. Paper is pressed
against toner image to give image on paper. Paper is heated to melt toner image.
This forms permanent image on paper.
Electrostatic precipitators; as the smoke initially rises in the chimney, it passes
through a mesh of wires that are highly charged. As they pass through the mesh,
the ash and dust particles become negatively charges. Higher up the chimney these
charged particles are attracted by and stick to large, metal earthed plates.
Problems with static electricity; as aircrafts fly through the air, they can become
charged with static electricity and the huge difference in potential causes the
charges to escape to the earth during refueling which can easily cause an explosion.
This can be solved earthing the plane as soon as it lands. Televisions screens and
monitors become charged with static electricity as they are used. These charges
attract light uncharged particles such as dust. Our clothing, under certain
circumstances, becomes charged with static electricity. When we remove the
clothes there is the possibility of receiving a small electric shock as the charges
escape to Earth.
Conductors allow electrons to flow easily through them. Whereas, insulators dont
allow electrons to flow easily. Conductors could be metals and insulators could be
We measure the size of the current flowing in a circuit using an ammeter. The size
of an electric current indicates the rate at which charge flows. We measure electric
charge in units called coulombs. We measure electric current in units called amps.
Charge = current x time
They transfer energy to the charges. The amount of energy given to the charges by
cell of batteries is measure in volts. The voltage across each component tells us
how much energy it is converting. We measure voltage by a voltmeter.
The current in a series circuit is the same all the way round however the voltage
isnt. The voltage in a parallel circuit is the same all the way round however the
current isnt. The resistance is a measure of how difficult a component is to get

past. The component with a higher resistance will have a higher voltage. The
component with a higher resistance will have a lower current.


components in a circuit offer some resistance to the flow of charge. Some allow
charges to pass through very easily losing very little of their energy i.e. connecting
wires. They have low resistance. The flow of current through some components is
not so easy and a significant amount of energy is used to move the charges through
them. This energy is converted into other forms, usually heat. Components like this
one have a high resistance.
We measure the resistance of a component by comparing the size of the current
that flows through that component and the voltage applied across its ends.
Resistance = voltage / current

Fixed resistors are included in circuits to control the sizes of the currents and
voltages. The resistor is used so that the correct voltage is applied across the bulb
and the correct flows through it. The bulb might blow.
Variable resistors are used to control the size of current flowing through the
appliance. If the resistance is decreased then a large current flows and if the
resistance increases then a lower current flows.
A thermistor is a resistor whose resistance changes quite dramatically with
temperature. It is made from silicon. At room temperature the number of free
electrons is small and so the resistance of a thermistor is large. If however it is
warmed the number of free electrons increases and its resistance decreases. They
are used in fire alarms.
In dark conditions light-dependent resistors contain few free electrons and so have a
high resistance. If however light is shone onto an LDR more electrons are freed and
the resistance decreases. LDRs are used in automatic lighting controls and burglar
Diodes are very special resistors that behave like one-way valves. When current
flows through them in one direction it can do, as quite easily as the diode has low
resistance. But if current tries to flow in the opposite direction the diode has high
resistance. Light emitting diodes are diodes that glow when a current is flowing
through them.
Ohms law shows that current which flows through a conductor is directly
proportional to the potential difference across its ends provided its temperature
stays the same.
Filament bulbs have a quite low resistance but as the filament gets hotter, the
resistance increases. A diode must have a small amount of voltage to be passed for
it to be able to conduct.

Waves are a way
energy or
from one place to

of transferring

When a wave moves through a substance, it causes the particles from its resting
point to its maximum movement. This measurement is called the amplitude.

Wavelength is the distance between similar points from one to the other. Trough to
trough or crest to crest.
The number of waves produced each second by a source, or the number passing a
particular point each second is called the frequency. It is measured in hertz.
Frequency = 1/time. Frequency is measured in hertz, time is measured in seconds.
Time = 1/ frequency
Wave speed = frequency x wavelength
The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength and the lower the frequency,
the longer the wavelength. The angle if incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.
When waves strike a concave barrier they are reflected backwards and converge.
When waves strike a convex barrier they are reflected and diverged. Radio
telescopes are made to have a concave shape so that the signal they receive is
made to converge onto a detector.
A transverse wave is a wave that vibrates or oscillates at right angles to the
direction in which the energy us moving, an example is light. A longitudinal wave is
a wave which its vibrations or oscillations are along the direction in which the
energy or where is moving. If a barrier with a larger gap compared to the
wavelength is put in front of the waves, most waves continue on in the same
direction. If the barrier has approximately the same width as the wavelength then
the waves will diffract and spread out into other directions.
The angle of incidence = angle of reflection
When waves strike a concave barrier, they become curved and are made to
converge. When waves strike a convex barrier, they are made to diverge and spread
If a barrier with a large gap is placed in the path of the waves, the majority of the
waves passing through the gap continue through in a straight line. There are
regions to the left and right of the gap where there are no waves. It the size of the
gap is adjusted so that it is equal to the wavelength of the wave, the waves spread
out from the direction. This is called diffraction. Diffraction also happens when
waves pass a single edge.
The electromagnetic spectrum is a continuous spectrum of waves. The shorter their
wavelength; the higher their frequency and vice versa. Their properties include;
they all transfer energy, they are all transverse waves, they all travel at the speed
of light in a vacuum and they can all be reflected, refracted and diffracted.
As you go down, the frequency increases and the wavelength decrease. Radio
waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x rays and gamma rays. Radio

waves are emitted by a transmitter. As they cross an aerial, they are detected and
the information they carry can be received. Uses include radios and TVs.
Special electric circuits produce microwaves which are guided into rotating
reflectors that send the microwaves in all directions. The microwaves are reflected
in all directions until they hit the food, where they are absorbed so the food gets
hotter. They are used for communications as they pass through the Earths
atmosphere easily and are used to carry signals to orbiting satellites. . The hotter an
object is the more energy it will emit as infra-red. Special waves can be used to
create images especially in the absence of visible light. They could be used to track
criminals. They are used in remotes and can only work over short distances.
Visible light is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human
eye. It is used for reading compact discs, communications and looking inside the
body of patients. They include colors such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
purple and indigo.
UV light causes tan, but overexposure will lead to sunburn and skin cancer and
blindness. These can be protected by skin cream or protective goggles. It is used in
fluorescent tubes are UV tanning lamps.
X-rays pass easily through soft body tissue but it cant pass through bones. As a
result it can be used to check peoples bones. Exposure to too much X-ray can
cause cancer. They have to stand behind lead screens or to wear protective
clothing. Gamma rays are high penetrating waves which cause damage to living
cells such as mutations that lead to cancer at very small doses, however at large
does it can be strong enough to kill cancer cells completely.
To send a message using a digital signal, the information is converted into a
sequence of numbers called a binary code. These numbers are then converted into
a series of electrical pulses sent down the telephone lines.
A signal that is converted into electrical voltages or currents that vary continuously
is called an analogue, whereas a signal that is converted into binary code is called a
digital signal. Digital signals are easy to regenerate whilst analogue signals arent
and can be easily distorted.
Objects that emit their own light are called luminous. When the emitted light enters
our eyes we can see the object. Most objects are non-luminous and dont emit light.
We see these non-luminous objects because of the light they reflect. Light waves
are transverse waves which can be reflected, refracted or diffracted. When a ray of
light strikes a plane mirror, it is reflected so that the angle of incidence is equal to
the angle of reflection.
Mirrors are often used to change the direction of a ray of light. It is used in

Properties of an image in a plane mirror; the image is as far behind as the object in
front, the image is the same size as the object, the image is virtual as light doesnt
pass through it and the image is laterally inverted so left is right and right is left.
When a ray of light travels from air into glass or water it slows down as it crosses
the boundary between the mediums causing the ray to change direction. This is
called refraction. Refractive index is a ration between the angle of incidence and the
angle of refraction.
Refractive index = sine angle of incidence/ sine angle of refraction
When a ray of light passes from an optically denser medium into an optically less
dense medium into an optically less dense medium then the majority of the light is
refracted away from the normal but there is some which is reflected form the
When you shine a ray of light through a semi-circle then there is a very strong
refracted ray, as you increase the angle of incidence so does the angle of refraction
until the critical angle.
If the angle of incidence is further increases then the ray has undergone total
internal reflection.
Critical angle = 1/refractive index
The multiple faint images around the main central image they are due to several
partial internal reflections at the non-silvered glass surface of the mirror.
In the prismatic periscope the light hits the first prism at a 45 degrees angle again
to reach the persons eye. This causes total internal reflection. It moves parallel to
the ray of light when it enters.
In reflectors the light enters the prism and undergoes total internal reflection twice.
It emerges from the prism back in the direction it came in.
Optical fibers; as the optical fibers are very narrow, light entering the inner core
always strikes the boundary of the two glasses at an angle that is greater than the
critical angle. The fibre therefore acts as a path that the light follows.
The endoscope is used by doctors to see the inside of a body. For example the key
hole surgery when small holes are made for the optical fibers.
Modern telecommunications systems use optical fibers rather than copper wires to
transmit messages. Electrical signals from a telephone are converted into light
energy by tiny lasers, which send pulses of light into the ends of the optical fibers. A
light-sensitive detector at the other end changes the pulses back into electrical
signals, which then flow into a telephone receiver.

When white light passes through a prism, it emerges as a band of colors called a
spectrum. The spectrum is formed because white light is a mixture of colors and
each color travels through the prism at a slightly different speed so each color is
refracted at a different angle. Since the prism has a different refractive index for
each color, each color emerges at different speeds and different angles.
As the speaker cone moves to the right, it pushed air molecules closer together,
creating compression. These particles then push against neighboring particles so
the compression appears to be moving. Behind the compression there is an area
where all of the particles spread out. This is called rarefaction. When this is
repeated many times, a longitudinal wave is formed.
When the waves hit the ear, they strike the ear drum and make it vibrate. These
vibrations are changed into electrical signals, which are detected by the brain.
Sound waves can travel through; solids: this is why we can hear people in different
rooms. Liquids: this is why underwater animals can communicate. Gases: this is why
humans can talk to each other.
Sound waves cant travel through a vacuum because there are no particles for the
vibrations to be carried. The speed of sound depends on the temperature and
pressure of the medium. You can measure the speed of sound by using echoes. You
stand is a significant distance from a wall and then multiply the distance by 2 and
divide it by the time.
You can measure the speed of sound by using a resonance tube filled with water
until3/4 of the wavelength. A sound of a known frequency would be made by a
tuning fork. The resonance will be heard when the length of the air in the tube is
equal to a quarter of the wavelength.
Speed of sound = frequency x wavelength
Set the signal generator to give a frequency of 1 kHz. Start the microphones
together and keep moving until they are parallel to each other and one wave
behind. Measure the distance between and multiply by the frequency on the
oscilloscope to get the speed of sound.
When a sound wave strikes a surface it will be reflected. It is called an echo. They
are used by ships.
Sounds can be diffracted. If the wavelength of a sound is approximately the same
length of the width of the doorway, then these waves spread out as they pass
through the door. If they dont then they are called sound shadows.
Increasing the amplitude increases the amount of energy given to the waves which
increases their loudness. It makes the waves look longer. The denser the particles
then the particles are louder.

Increasing the pitch increases the frequency of the waves. It makes the waves look
closer together. From each compression to the other is the wavelength and time.
You can find the frequency of sound by using a CRO. If you find the time period then
divide by 1.
Ultra sounds are sounds that vibrate so quickly, humans cant hear them. High
Infra sounds are sounds that vibrate so slowly, humans cant hear them. Low

SECTION D: Energy Transfers

For energy to be useful, we need to be able to transfer from one place to another
and to be able to convert it into whatever form we require.
When you eat, you intake chemical energy. It is then burnt to generate thermal
energy and to keep us warm. Our muscles convert the chemical energy into kinetic
energy. The movement energy could be used to make us speak.
Examples of energy; light, heat, sound, kinetic, electric, chemical, gravitational,
elastic and nuclear. The last 4 are all potential energy.
For energy to be useful, we need to be able to transfer it from one place to another.
However there is always energy lost. It is called wasted energy. Examples include
when the heater in a home converts electrical energy into heat energy, some of the
heat from the water is transferred from the water and onto the tank. Another
example is in a car, lots of the energy is converted into heat, sound and energy to
overcome the friction outside the car.
An example of energy conversions is when a cyclist eats food. The chemical energy
is converted into movement energy. The movement energy makes the wheels on
the bike to start moving. The movement of the wheel makes a generator convert
the kinetic energy into electrical energy which turns on the lamp.
Energy is not created nor destroyed; it is just converted into different types.
Physicists believe that the amount of energy in the universe is constant.
Energy transfer diagrams show the energy input, the energy conversion process
and the energy output.

Sankey diagrams are a simpler and clearer way of showing what the input energy is
converted into. The width of each arrow is proportional to the amount of energy
Efficiency of a system is how much of the input energy is converted into energy that
you want.
Useful energy output/ total energy output x 100
Efficiency is a ratio and doesnt have a measurement.
There is a temperature called absolute zero. Any matter that is above this
temperature has some thermal energy. Thermal energy travels from a high
concentration to a low concentration.
Thermal conduction is the transfer of heat through a substance without the
substance itself moving. Metals are good thermal conductors. Wood and plastic are
good thermal insulators.
Conduction occurs when a conductor gets hot; the particles inside of if gain more
kinetic energy. The energetic particles transfer some of their energy to adjacent
particles near them. The heat energy travels from hot areas to cooler areas. In
metals, it is much quicker due to the fact that metals have free electrons which
allow the heat to move freely through the structure of the metal. Gases and liquids
are bad conductors because their particles are far apart meaning that it is harder for
the energy to be transferred.
Convection is the transfer of heat through fluids by the upward movement of
warmer, less dense regions of fluid.
When you heat up a fluid, its particles start
to vibrate more and more around faster, since they are vibrating and moving faster,
they move apart and it expands, making it less dense so it rises. This is repeated to
make convection current. A lava lamp works by convection. Two liquids that dont
mix are used. One is clear the other is colored. Once the one at the bottom heats
up, it also expands causing it to get less dense and to rise.
Thermal radiation is the transfer of energy by infra-red waves. Infrared waves can
travel through vacuums and that is how the sun gives us energy. Infra-red waves
can be reflected and absorbed. They are absorbed by dull or black colors and
reflected by shiny or white colors.
When we heat or cool our homes, we use resources that release carbon dioxide. The
carbon dioxide contributes to global warming. This is why we need as much energy
efficiency as possible. The key to energy efficiency is insulation.
How a heater heats up a whole room; the wall heater heats up the nearby air. As the
air warms up, its density decreases. The less dense air rises. Cooler, denser air

moves into its place. A Convection current is set up. The heater eventually heats up
the whole room.
Temperature is the sum of kinetic energy of all the particles in an object.
Since conduction is the main way heat can escape by, we have to know where
conduction occurs. Conduction occurs in the walls, windows and the roof.
Ways to reduce heat loss in a house; loft insulation which is to put an insulating
material in between the walls. Cavity wall insulation which is to put an insulating
material in between the walls. Floor insulation which is the use of carpets, curtains
and more. Double glazing which is two pores of glass with air. Also draught proofing
which involves using plastic strips or foam around the edges of doors and windows
to seal any gaps when the door or window is closed. This reduces heat loss by
Reflective foil is also used to reduce the radiation lost. Thermostats and computer
control systems for central heating can further reduce the heating needs of a house.
They do this by switching off the heater when a certain temperature is reached. A
large portion of body heat is lost from the head, which makes the hat equivalent of
loft insulation.
Wind can cause rapid heat loss from the body due to forced convection. It may also
cause perspiration to evaporate. When people lose too much heat, they become
hypothermic. This is why when people are rescued; they are covered with a thin
reflective blanket. The interior reflective reflects heat back to their bodies. This is
also done with marathon runners.
Birds keep warm by fluffing their feathers, birds and penguins buddle together for
warmth. Small animals curl into balls to minimize the surface area of their bodies.
Energy is the ability to do work.
Work done = force applied x distance it has been applied through
1J of work is done when a force of 1N is applied through a distance of 1m in the
direction of the force.
The energy that the weight has gained is called gravitational potential energy.
Change in GPE = mass of object x gravitational field strength x distance raised
against gravity
Joules = kilograms x g x meters
When something is above ground, it is said to have 100% GPE and 0% KE. As soon
as it starts to fall, the GPE decreases and the KE increases .At half way to the
ground, the GPE is 50% and the KE is 50%. At a quarter to the ground, the GPE is

25% and the KE is 75%. Right before the object hits the ground, it has 0% GPE and
100% KE. This is all done with the assumption that friction isnt taken into
Kinetic energy of a moving object is calculated using the formula:
KE = 1/2MV^2
KE = kinetic energy, M = mass, c = speed squared
Work done lifting object = gain in GPE = gain in KE of the object just before hitting
the ground
Power = work done/ time taken
Power is the measure of how fast energy is transferred or transformed.
The growth of the world population means more people need warmth and food. One
of the main energy resources available on our planet is its supply of fossil fuels.
Examples include coal, oil and natural gas. They have been formed in the ground
from dead vegetation or tiny creatures by a process that has taken millions of years.
Once we have used them, it will take millions of years for new reserves of these
fuels to be formed. They are therefore examples of non-renewable energy
A non-renewable energy resource is one that effectively cant be replaces once it
has been used.
Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a
greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases trap the Suns heat in the Earths atmosphere
and cause the average temperature of the atmosphere to rise. This effect is called
global warming and causes changes in the worlds and melting of the polar ice caps.
Most coal and oil contain some sulfur. When they are burnt, they release sulfur
dioxide. Sulfur dioxide is then released into the atmosphere. It then combines with
water to form acid rain. It is possible to remove the sulfur from these fuels but his
costs lots of money. On the other hand, international agreements are forcing
companies who emit large quantities of sulfur dioxide to clean up their waste gases.
Nuclear reactors use uranium to produce energy. For the nuclear reactor process, a
particular form or isotope of uranium is needed. Although a reactor only needs a
small amount of uranium is needed, uranium is in limited supply. The uranium in the
Earth was formed before the solar system was formed, so once it has been used
there will be no further supplies. It is therefore categorized as being non-renewable.
Power generated from nuclear processes has the advantage of being clean. It is
considered clean as it doesnt produce any greenhouse or polluting gases. The cost
of generating electricity is low but the power stations are very expensive to build.

The disadvantages of nuclear power are the risk of accidents and the problem of
disposal of radioactive materials once the power station has finished with.
Electricity is not an energy resource because it has been generated using other
sources of energy.
Most electricity used in the world is generated in power stations like the ones shown
in 18.5
How electricity is generated:
1. Heat from nuclear fuel or from burning fossil fuels is used to heat water. This
produces high-pressure steam that makes the blades of a turbine spin.
2. The turbine is used to turn the generator.
3. The generator generates electricity.

energy in
the form
H eat
M ovem ent
of fossil
energy is
energy of
Coal, gas,
oil and
steam .
fuel. Used to




A renewable energy source is one that will not run out. Wood is an example of a
renewable source of energy. As wood is cut down, new fast-growing trees are
planted to replace those cut down.
Name of energy
Hydroelectric power

The water isnt used
and therefore can be
reused over and over
The power can be
created 24/7 without
the water running out.
It is a very clean
source of energy as no
greenhouse gases are

They are very
expensive to build and
must be built to high
The creation of dams
can create floods and
natural environments
will be destroyed.
Placing a damn in front
of a river can cause
neighboring countries
to lack access of water.

Tidal energy

Wave energy

Wind power

It can last for a long

Maintenance is cheap
It is ecofriendly as it
doesnt create
greenhouse gases.

They are renewable

because they will
never run out and
waves will always hit
the shore.
They are easily
predictable and can
show you how much
energy will be
It is ecofriendly as it
doesnt release any
greenhouse gases.
Wind is free and
therefore renewable
Once it is built, no
greenhouses or
pollutants are made
Remote areas can use
it as a source of energy

Solar power

Geothermal energy

Sunlight is free so it is
It doesnt create any
It can be used in
remote areas to
generate energy

It is ecofriendly as it
doesnt release any
greenhouse gases
They are not weather
They are renewable

Cost of construction is
very high
High waves can
damage the plant
Very limited to
locations of
They can only be built
near cities and very
abundant areas so the
energy can be used
and not wasted.
For the energy to be
collected, large load
machines are needed
which could disturb the
habitat of the fish.
They are much less
efficient during rough
The strength of wind
isnt constant and the
amount of energy is
therefore also not
They are supposedly
They are supposedly
Solar energy can only
be harnessed during
sunny daytimes
Solar panels are
extremely expensive
Large areas of land are
needed to capture as
much sunlight as
Only few sites have the
potential of geothermal
Total energy generated
is too small
It is very dangerous

sources of energy

because there is the

risk of a volcano

How this work is in the text book pages 153-158

SECTION E: Solids, liquids and gases

Solids are often very dense; they have a high mass for a certain volume. Liquids are
often less dense than solids, and gases have very low densities.
Density = mass/volume
The volume of an irregular object can be determined by using a displacement can
and a measuring cylinder. It is easier to cut things with a sharp knife than a blunt
one, because with a sharp knife all the force is concentrated into a much smaller
area. Pressure is defined as the force per unit area.
Pressure = force/ area
Some applications require a low pressure, such as tractors and camels feet as they
are supposed to move over mud and sand and are not supposed to sink.
Gases also exert pressure around them. The pressure exerted by the atmosphere
on your body is about 100,000 Pa. An experiment to prove this is by using two large
bowls. You place the two together and pump the air out. The bowls couldnt be
pulled apart, even when the horses tried. This is because when air is inside the
spheres, the pressure is the same inside and outside. If the air is sucked out,
pressure is only acting from the outside. The hemisphere cant be pulled apart until
air is let back into them.
Pressure difference (Pa) = height (m) x density (kg/m3) x g (N/kg)

Brownian motion proves that particles in a liquid or a gas have continuous

movement. Particles of a liquid or gas are moving around continually and bump into
each other and into tiny particles such as pollen grains.
Pressure = 1/volume. Here the pressure is inversely proportionally to volume.
Boyles is law; P1V1 = P2V2 this needs a fixed temperature and mass
Gases can be compressed because the particles are very spread out. When a gas is
squashed into a smaller container it presses on the walls of the container with a
greater pressure. If the gas is kept at the same temperature, the average of the
particles stays the same. If the same number of particles is squeezed into a smaller
volume, they will hit the container walls more often. Each particle exerts a tiny force
on the wall with which it collides. More collisions means a greater average force on
the wall and therefore a greater pressure.
As you cool a gas, the pressure decreases. The pressure cant become less than
zero. This suggests that there is a temperature below which it is not possible to cool
the gas further. This temperature is called absolute zero.
The Kelvin temperature scale starts from absolute zero. The Kelvin temperature of a
gas is proportional to the average kinetic energy of its molecule.
Temperature in K = temperature in C + 273
Temperature in C = temperature in K 273
P1/T1 = P2/T2 the mass and the volume must be constant.
The number of gas particles and the space, or volume, they occupy remain
constant. When we heat the gas the particles continue to move randomly, but with
a higher average speed. This means that their collisions with the walls of the

container are harder and happen more often. This results in the average pressure
exerted by the particles increasing.
When we cool a gas the kinetic energy of its particles decreases. The lower the
temperature of a gas the less kinetic energy its particles have- they move more
slowly. At absolute zero the particles have no thermal or movement energy, so they
cannot exert pressure.

SECTION F: Magnetism and electromagnetism

Magnets are able to attract objects made from magnetic materials such as iron,
steel, nickel and cobalt. Magnets cant attract objects made from other materials
such as plastic, wood, paper or rubber. These are non-magnetic materials. The
strongest parts of a magnet are called its poles. There is a north pole and a south
If two similar poles are placed near to each other they repel. If two dissimilar poles
are placed near each other they attract. Permanent magnets are made from
magnetically hard materials such as steel. Iron is a magnetically soft material and
would not be suitable for a permanent magnet. Magnetically soft materials lose
their magnetism easily and therefore useful as temporary magnets.
Around every magnet there is a volume of space where magnetism can be
detected. This volume of space is called magnetic field. If two magnets are placed
near each other, their magnetic fields affect each other.

You can see the shape of the magnetic field around a magnet by using iron fillings
or a plotting compass. Put the magnet beneath a piece of paper and add sprinkle
iron fillings on top. For the compasses, they will all be facing the South Pole.
These magnetic lines of force: show the shape of the magnetic field, the direction of
the magnetic field and the strength of the magnetic field as the closer the field
lines, the stronger the magnetic field.
When a current flows through a wire a magnetic field is created around the wire.
This is called electromagnetism. The field around the wire is quite weak and circular
in shape. The direction of the magnetic field depends upon the direction of the
current and can be found using the right-hand grip rule.
The strength of the magnetic field around a current-carrying wire can be increased
by increasing the current in the wire or wrapping the wire into a coil or solenoid.
The shape of the magnetic field around a solenoid is the same as that around a bar
magnet. The positions of the poles can be determined using the right-hand grip
The strength of the field around a solenoid can be increased by: increasing the
current flowing throw through the solenoid, increasing the number of turns on the
solenoid and wrapping the solenoid around a magnetically soft core such as iron.
This combination is called an electromagnet.
When the bell is pressed the circuit is complete and current flows. The soft iron core
of the electromagnet becomes magnetized and attracts the iron armature. When

the iron armature moves, the hammer strikes the bell and at the same time a gap is
created at the contact screw. The circuit is incomplete and current stops flowing.
The electromagnet is now turned off so the springs armature returns to its original
position. The circuit is complete and the whole process begins again.
Circuit breakers use electromagnets to cut off the current if it becomes larger than a
certain value. If the current is too high the electromagnet becomes strong enough
to pull the iron catch out of position so that the contacts open and the circuit
breaks. Once the problem in the circuit has been corrected the catch is repositioned
by pressing the reset button.
When large currents flow in a circuit there is always danger of the user receiving a
severe electric shock. Even turning the circuit on/off is hazardous. To get around
those problems we use relay switched.
When the switch is closed, small current flows around the circuit on the left. As the
current passes through the coil the soft iron core becomes magnetized and attracts
the iron armature. Because the armature is pivoted at x, its lower end Y pushed the
contacts of the second circuit together. The circuit is complete and current flows
without the user coming into contact with the potentially more dangerous circuit. If
the switch is opened, the electromagnet is turned off and the iron armature moves
back to its original position and the contacts spring apart, turning both circuits off.
A charged particle moving through a magnetic field experiences a force, as long as
its motion is not parallel to the field. As an electric current is a flow of electrons, we
can see this effect when a wire carrying the current is put into a magnetic field.
If the wire is placed between the poles of a magnet, the two
fields overlap. In certain places, the fields are in the same
direction and so reinforce each other to produce an even
larger magnetic field. In other places, the fields are in
opposite directions therefore producing a weaker field.
The wire experiences a force, pushing it form the
stronger part of the field to the weaker part. This is called the
motor effect. We can predict the direction of the motion
using Flemings left-hand rule.
There is AC current supplied to the speaker. The
magnets then create a magnetic field in the coil. The wire
then disturbs the magnetic field in the permanent magnet
is placed perpendicular to the magnetic field. This then
produces a force due to the alternating current FLHR. This
constant change in current causes the force applied on the
wire to constantly change and therefore create
vibrations. This causes longitudinal waves.

of the wire by

as it

A voltage is produced when a magnet moves in a coil of wire. This process is called
electromagnetic induction.
It is not practical to generate large amounts of electricity by passing a magnet in
and out of a coil of wire. Instead, generators induce a current by spinning a coil of
wire inside a magnetic field, or by spinning a magnet inside a coil of wire. As this
happens, a potential difference is produced between the ends of the coil, which
causes a current to flow.
One simple example of a generator is the bicycle dynamo. The dynamo has a wheel
that touches the back tyre. As the bicycle moves, the wheel turns a magnet inside a
coil. This induces enough electricity to run the bicycle's lights.
A bicycle dynamo. The wheel of the dynamo rubs against the bicycle tyre to turn a
magnet sited within a coil of wire. This generates electricity to power the bicycle's
The faster the bicycle moves, the greater the induced voltage - and the brighter the
When a wire is moved in the magnetic field of a generator, the movement,
magnetic field and current are all at right angles to each other. If the wire is moved
in the opposite direction, the induced current also moves in the opposite direction.
Right hand with thumb, forefinger and second finger at 90 degrees with arrows.
Thumb shows direction of movement. Forefinger represents field. Second finger
shows current from positive to negative.
Fleming's right hand rule
In a generator, one side of a coil moves up during one half turn and then down
during the next half turn.
This means that as a coil is rotated in a magnetic field, the induced current reverses
direction every half turn. This is called alternating current (AC).
It is different from the direct current (DC) produced by a battery - which is always in
the same direction.
Current flows in external circuit. Brushes continuous contact between external
circuit, slip rings. Slip rings connected to coil. Current induced in rotating coil. The
coil rotated in magnetic field.

Coil motion in an AC generator

Normally in a generator, the coil is fixed and mounted outside the magnet, and it is
the magnet which moves.
The size of the induced voltage can be increased by:

rotating the coil or magnet faster

using a magnet with a stronger magnetic field
having more turns of wire in the coil
having an iron core inside the coil

Mains electricity is an AC supply. The voltage it supplies to our homes is about 230 V
Transformers are used to increase or decrease the voltage of alternating currents.
A transformer consists of two coils of wire wound on a metal core.

An alternating voltage is applied to one coil (the primary coil). This causes a changing
(alternating) magnetic field to be set up in the core. The other coil (the secondary coil) is in
this changing magnetic field and so it has an alternating voltage induced in it.
The size of the secondary voltage depends on the number of turns on both the primary
and the secondary coils, and on the size of the AC voltage applied across the primary coil.
The relationship linking the number of turns on each coil to the voltages is:

Vs is the voltage induced in the secondary coil in volts

Vp is the voltage applied to the primary coil in volts

Ns is the number of turns on the secondary coil
Np is the number of turns on the primary coil

A transformer is an electrical device that changes the voltage of an alternating

current (AC) supply, such as the mains electrical supply.
A transformer changes a high-voltage supply into a low-voltage one, or vice versa:
a transformer that increases the voltage is called a step-up transformer
a transformer that decreases the voltage is called a step-down transformer
The National Grid

Electricity is transferred from power stations to consumers through the wires and cables of
the National Grid.
When a current flows through a wire some energy is lost as heat. The higher the current,
the more heat is lost. To reduce these losses, the National Grid transmits electricity at
a low current. This needs a high voltage.
Power stations produce electricity at 25,000 V. Electricity is sent through the National Grid
cables at 400,000 V, 275,000 V and 132,000 V.
Step-up transformers are used at power stations to produce the very high voltages needed
to transmit electricity through the National Grid power lines. These high voltages are too
dangerous to use in the home, so step-down transformers are used locally to reduce the
voltage to safe levels. The voltage of household electricity is about 230 V.
The ratio between the voltages in the coils of a transformer is the same as the ratio of the
number of turns in the coils.
This relationship can be shown by the following equation:

This can also be written as:

Step-up transformers have more turns on the secondary coil than they do on the primary
Step-down transformers have fewer turns on the secondary coil than they do on the
primary coil.
Electrical power is calculated by multiplying voltage (in volts) by current (in amps).
If a transformer is 100% efficient, then the input power will equal the output power. This
can be shown in the following equations:
Input power = output power
Input (primary) voltage input (primary) current = output (secondary) voltage output
(secondary) current
VP is input (primary) voltage
Ip is input (primary) current
Vs is output (secondary) voltage
Is is output (secondary) current

SECTION G: Radioactivity and particles

Atoms are made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. The electron is a very light particle
with very little mass. It has a negative charge. Electrons orbit the nucleus of the atom. The
nucleus is very small compared to the size of the atom itself.

The nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons, protons and neutrons have almost
exactly the same mass. Protons carry positive electric charge but neutrons; they are
electrically neutral or uncharged.

Protons and neutrons are also called nucleons because they are found in the
nucleus of the atom.
Atomic particle

Particle mass

Relative charge
-1 negative
+1 positive
0 neutral

The nucleus of an atom is surrounded by electrons. The electrons are moving

rapidly around the nucleus in a cloud or shell. An atom is electrically neutral. This is
because the number of positive charges carried by the protons in its nucleus is
balanced by the number of negative charges on the electrons in the electrons in the
electron around the nucleus.
The chemical behavior and properties of a particular element depend upon how the
atoms combine with other atoms. This is determined by the number of electrons in
the atom. The atomic number of an element of an element tells us how many
protons each of its atoms contains. For example, carbon has 6 protons in its nucleus
- the atomic number of carbon is therefore 6. The atomic number is sometimes
called the proton number. The atomic number is given the symbol Z.
The total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom determines its
atomic mass. We refer to the mass of an atom by its mass number of nucleon
number; this number is the total number of protons and neutrons in the atom. The
mass number of an element is given the symbol A.
Each particular type of atom will have its own atomic number, which identifies the
Mass number, A = number of neutrons + number of protons = number of nucleons
Number of neutrons = number of nucleons number of protons = A- Z
The number of protons in an atom identifies the element. The chemical behavior of
an element depends on the number of electrons it has which is the same as the
number of protons in the nucleus. The number of neutrons in the nucleus can vary
slightly. Atoms of an element with different numbers of neutrons are called isotopes
of the element. The number of neutrons in in a nucleus affects the mass of the
atom. Different isotopes of an element will all have the same atomic number, but
different mass numbers.
Isotopes of an element have different physical properties from other isotopes of the
same element. The differences are the mass and the stability of the nucleus.
The protons are held in the nucleus by the nuclear force. This force is strong enough
to hold the nucleus together against the electric force repelling the protons away

from each other, the presence of neutrons in the nucleus affects the balance
between these forces. Too many or too few neutrons will make the nucleus unstable.
An unstable nucleus will eventually decay. When the nucleus of an atom decays it
gives out energy and may also give out alpha or beta particles.
When unstable nuclei decay they give out ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation
causes atoms to gain or lose electric charge, forming ions. Unstable nuclei decay at
random. This means that it is not possible to predict which unstable nucleus in a
piece of radioactive material will decay, or when decay will happen.
There are three basic types of ionizing radiation: they are alpha, beta and gamma
Alpha radiation consists of fast-moving particles that are thrown out of an unstable
nucleus when it decays this is called an alpha particle. Alpha particles are helium
nuclei- helium atoms without their orbiting electrons. Alpha particles have a
relatively large mass. They are made up of four nucleons and so have a mass
number of 4. They are also charged because of the two protons that they carry. The
relative charge of an alpha particle is +2. Alpha particles have a short range. The
range of ionizing radiation is the distance it can travel through matter. Alpha
particles can only travel a few centimeters in air and cant penetrate more than a
few millimeters of paper. They have a range because they interact with atoms along
their paths, causing ions to form. This means that they rapidly give up the energy
that they had when they were ejected from the unstable nucleus.
Beta particles are very fast-moving electrons that are ejected by a decaying
nucleus. The nucleus of an atom contains protons and neutrons. The stability of a
nucleus depends on the proportion of protons and neutrons it contains. The result of
radioactive decay is to change the balance of protons and neutrons in the nucleus
to make it more stable. Beta decay involves a neutron in the nucleus splitting into a
proton and an electron. The proton remains in the nucleus and the electron is
ejected at high speed as a beta particle. Beta particles are very light. The relative
charge of a beta particle is -1. Beta particles are smaller and carry less charge; this
means that beta particles have a greater range than alpha particles. Beta particles
can travel long distances through air pass through paper easily and are only
absorbed by denser materials like aluminum. A millimeter or two of aluminum foil
will stop all the beta particles.
Gamma rays are electromagnetic waves with very short they are
waves, they have no mass and no charge. They are weakly ionizing and interact
only occasionally with atoms in their paths. They are extremely penetrating and
pass through all but the very densest materials with ease. It takes several
centimeters thickness of lead, or a meter of concrete to stop gamma radiation.
Gamma radiation is emitted in packets of energy called photons.


Ionizing power

Alpha a
Beta b
Gamma y



Range in air
5-8 cm
500-1000 cm

sopped by
Thin aluminum
Thick lead

An unstable nucleus will decay by emitting radiation. If the decay process involves
the nucleus injecting either an alpha or a beta particle, the atomic number will
change. This means that alpha or beta decay causes the original element to
transform into a different element.
An example of alpha decay:

The radioactive isotope uranium-238 decays to the element Thorium by the

emission of an alpha particle. The alpha particle is sometimes represented by the
Greek letter a. thorium also decays by emitting alpha particles.
The general form of the alpha decay
equation is:

In the alpha decay, element Y is transformed into element W by the emission of an

alpha particle. Element W is two places before element Y in the periodic table. The
alpha particle is a helium nucleus. This means that it has 4 nucleons and 2 of the
nucleons are protons. So the mass number is less by 4 and the atomic number is
less by 2.
Beta decay:
The radioactive isotope of carbon, carbon-14,
decays to form the stable isotope of the gas
nitrogen, by emitting a beta particle. The beta particle is formed when a neutron
splits to form a proton and an electron.
In beta decay, element X is transformed into element Y by the emission of a beta
particle. Element y is the next element in the periodic table after element X. The

beta particle, an electron, has practically no mass so the mass number, A, is the
same in X and Y. As the beta particle has a charge of -1, the atomic number of the
new element is increased to Z+1.
Gamma decay:
Gamma radiation is high-energy electromagnetic radiation; after an unstable
nucleus has emitted an alpha or beta particle it sometimes has surplus energy. It
emits this energy as gamma radiation. Gamma rays are pure energy, so they do not
have any mass or charge. When a nucleus emits a gamma ray there is no change to
either the atomic number or the mass number of the nucleus.
The Becquerel is a measure of how many unstable nuclei are disintegrating per
second- one Becquerel means a rate of one disintegrating per second.
Photographic film is still used to detect radioactivity. Scientists that use radioactive
material wear a strip of photographic film in a badge. If the film becomes foggy, it
means that the scientist has been exposed to a certain amount of radiation. These
badges have to be regularly checked.
The Geiger-Muller tube is a tube used to measure the level of radiation. It is a glass
tube with an electrically conducting coating on the inside surface. The tube has a
thin window made of mica. The tube is contains a special mixture of gases at very
low pressure. In the middle of the tube, electrically insulated from the conducting
coating, there is an electrode. This electrode is connected, via a high value resistor,
to a high-voltage supply, typically 300-500 V.
When ionizing radiation enters the tube it causes the low pressure gas inside to
form ions. The ions allow a pulse of current to flow from the electrode to the
conducting layer. This is detected by an electronic circuit.
The GM tube is usually linked up to a counting
circuit. This keeps a count of how many ionizing
particles have entered the GM tube.
Sometimes GM tubes are connected to rate
meters. These measure the number of ionizing
events per second, and so give a measure of the

radioactivity in

Background radiation is low-level ionizing radiation that is produced all the time.
This background has a number of sources. Some of these are natural and some are
Some radiation we receive comes from rocks in the Earths crust. When the Earth
was formed, it contained many radioactive isotopes. Some of the decay products of
these long-lived radioactive materials are also radioactive, so there are radioactive
isotopes with much shorter half-lives still present in the Earths crust.

One form of uranium is a radioactive element that decays very slowly. Two of tis
decay products are gases. These are the radioactive gases radon and thoron.
Radon-222 is a highly radioactive gas produced by the decay of radium-226. Thoron
or radium-220 is an isotope of radium formed by the decay of a radioactive isotope
of thorium.
As these decay products are gases, they seep out of radioactive rocks.
Violent nuclear reactions in stars and exploding stars called supernovae produce
very energetic particles and cosmic rays that continuously bombard the Earth.
Lower energy cosmic rays are given out by the sun.
The atoms that make up our bodies contain radioactive atoms that were created
millions of years ago when the solar system was created. We also breathe in tiny
amounts of the radioactive isotope of carbon-14.
We use artificial materials for many purposes. Generating electricity in nuclear
power stations has been responsible for the leaking of radioactive material into the
environment. Radioactive tracers are used in industry and medicine. Radioactive
materials are also used to treat certain forms of cancer. However the majority of
radiation is natural- the amount produced from medical and civil use in industry is
very small indeed.
Radioactive decay is a random process. It is impossible to tell which nuclei will
disintegrate at any particular time.
The radioactive decay graph is an exponential decay as it is decreasing
The half-life of a radioactive sample is the average time taken for half the original
mass of the sample to decay. The half-life is different for different radioactive
After one half-life period, the amount of the original unstable element is halved.
After a second period of time, the amount have halved again.
To measure the half-life of a radioactive material we must measure the activity of
the sample at regular times. This is done using a Geiger-Muller tube linked to a rate
meter. Before taking measurements, we must subtract the background radiation
from the measurements. We then measure the rate of decay of the sample at
regular time intervals. The rate of decay is shown by the count rate on the rate
meter. Isotopes with short-lives are suited to medical use. This is because the
activity of a source will rapidly become very small as the isotope decays quickly.
Radioactive isotopes are used as tracers to help doctors identify diseased organs. A
radioactive tracer is a chemical compound that emits gamma radiation. The tracer
is taken in orally or injected. Its passage around the body can then be traced using

gamma ray camera. A short half-live is important as this means that the activity of
the tracer decreases to a very low level in a few days. An example of this is iodine123 which is absorbed by the thyroid gland.
Other isotopes are used to image specific parts of the body. For example the
technetium-99 is used in medical imaging. It is used to help identify medical
problems that affect many parts of the body.
Radiation from isotopes can have various effects of the cells that make up or bodies.
Low doses of radiation may have no lasting effect. Higher doses may cause the
normal function of cells to be changed. This can lead to abnormal growth and
cancer. Very high doses will kill living cells.
Cancer can be treated by surgery that involves cutting out cancerous cells. Another
way of treating cancer is to kill the cancer cells inside the body. This is done with
chemicals containing radioactive isotopes. Unfortunately, both the cancerous and
the living cells die. To reduce the damage to healthy tissue, chemicals are used to
directly target the location of the cancer in the body. They may emit either alpha or
beta radiation. Both types of radiation have a short range in the body so they only
affect a small volume of tissue close to the target. The radioisotope iodine-131 is
used in the treatment of various diseases of the thyroid gland. It has a half-life of
about eight days and decays by beta particle emission.
Ionizing radiation can kill living cells. It is therefore used to kill micro-organisms on
surgical instrument and other medical equipment. The technique is called
irradiation. The items to be sterilized are placed closely to strongly ionizing radiation
source. The items can be packaged in airtight bags to ensure that they cant be recontaminated before use. The radiation will penetrate the packaging and destroy
the contamination without damaging the item.
Some food products are treated in a similar way to make sure that they are free
from any bacteria that will cause the food to rot or will cause food poisoning. The
irradiation of food is highly concerning to the public and therefore not used as often.
Irradiation will not destroy any poisons that bacteria may have already produced in
the food before it is treated. Irradiation doesnt destroy vitamins in the food.
Gamma radiography: A source of gamma radiation is placed on one side of the
object to be scanned and a gamma camera is placed on the other. Gamma rays are
more penetrative than X-rays. They can be used to check imperfections in welded
joints and for flaws in metal castings. Gamma ray sources can be small and dont
require a power source or large cumbersome equipment.
Gauging: the coal absorbs a large amount of the radiation so the reading on the
lower detector will be small. As the upper part of the hopper is empty the upper
detector will have a high reading. This method of gauging has several advantages
over other methods. There is no contact with the material being gauged. Also, coal

dust might cause false readings with an optical gauging system. Coal dust is much
less dense than coal so the gamma ray system still works properly. Another
example of gauging uses a similar process to monitor the thickness of plastic
sheeting and film. The thicker the sheet, the greater the amount of radiation it
absorbs. By monitoring the amount of radiation, the thickness of the sheeting can
be closely controlled during manufacture.
Tracing and measuring the flow of liquids and gases: radioisotopes are used to track
the flow of fluids in industrial processes. Very tiny amounts of radiation can easily
be detected. Complex piping systems, like heat exchangers in power stations, can
be monitored for leaks. Radioactive tracers are even used to measure the rate of
dispersal of sewage.
Radiocarbon dating is used to find the age of organic matter such as trees and
Radiocarbon dating measures the level of an isotope called carbon-14. This is made
in the atmosphere. Cosmic rays from space are continually raining down upon the
Earth. These have a lot of energy. When they strike atoms of gas in the upper layers
of the atmosphere, the nuclei of the atoms break apart. The parts fly off at high
speed. If they strike over other atoms they can cause nuclear transformations to
take place. These transformations turn the elements in the air into different
isotopes. One such collision involves a fast-moving neutron striking an atom of
nitrogen. The nuclear equation for this process is:
14,7N + 1,0n -> 14,6 C + 1,1p
1, 0 n represents a neutron. 1,1p represents a proton.
The result of the collision of a neutron with a nitrogen atom is a nuclear
transformation. The nitrogen atom is transformed into an atom of the radioactive
isotope of carbon, carbon-14. Carbon-14 also reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere
to form carbon dioxide which is then absorbed by plants in the process of
photosynthesis. The animals then eat the plant and it is now in a food chain. These
carbon-14 atoms will decay, but in living plants and animals, they are continuously
replaced by new ones.
When a living organism dies, the replacement process stops. As time passes, the
radioactive carbon decays and the proportion of radioactive carbon in the remains
of the plant or animal, compared with the stable carbon isotope, decreases.
There are limitations to the method of radiocarbon dating. It assumes the level of
cosmic radiation reaching the Earth is constant, which is not necessarily an accurate
assumption. Fortunately, the technique has been calibrated to take the variations of
cosmic ray activity into account. This is done by testing samples of a known age,
kike material from the mummies of Egyptian Pharaohs. The radiocarbon method is

not used to date samples older than 50,000-60,000 years because, after 10 halflives the amount of carbon-14 remaining in samples is too small to measure
In organic, non-living matter doesnt absorb carbon-14, so different techniques must
be used for finding out the age of rocks and minerals. When a radioactive
substance decays it transforms into a different isotope, sometimes of the same
element, sometimes a different element. The original radioisotope is called the
parent nuclide and the product is called the daughter nuclide. Many of the products
of decay, the daughter isotopes, are also unstable and these too decay. This means
that as the parent isotope decays its breeds a whole family of elements in what i
called a decay series. The end of the decay series is a stable isotope.
The table shows some radioactive parent isotopes with the stable daughters formed
at the end of their particular decay series.
Radioactive parent isotope

Stable daughter element


Half-life (years)
1.25 billion
14 billion
704 billion
4.47 billion

Ionizing radiation can damage molecules that make up the cells of living tissue.
Cells offer this kind of damage all the time for many different reasons. Fortunately,
cells can repair or replace themselves given time so, usually, no permanent damage
However, if cells suffer repeated damage because of ionizing radiation,
the cell may be killed. Alternatively the cell may start to behave in an unexpected
way because it has been damaged. This is called cell mutation.
Alpha particles have the greatest ionizing effect, but they have little penetrating
power. This means that an alpha source presents little risk, as alpha particles dont
penetrate the skin. Alpha radiation is much more dangerous when they are in the
body. This is because the radiation will be very close to many different types of cells
and they may be damages if the exposure is prolonged. Alpha emitters can be
breathed in or taken in through eating food.
Beta and gamma radiation do provide a serious health risk when outside the body.
Both can penetrate skin and flesh and can cause cell damage by ionization. Gamma
radiation is most penetrating. The damaged caused by gamma rays will depend on
how much of their energy is absorbed by ionizing atoms along their path. Beta and
gamma emitters that are absorbed by the body present less risk than alpha
emitters, because of their lower ionizing power.

In all cases, the longer the period of exposure to radiation the greater the risk of
serious cell damage. Workers in the nuclear industry wear badges to indicate their
level of exposure. Some are strips of photographic film that become increasingly
foggy as the radiation exposure increases. Another type of badge uses a property
called thermoluminescence. Thermoluminescence means that the exposed material
will give out light when it is warmed. The radiation releases energy to make heat so
the thermoluminescencent badges give out more light when exposed to higher
levels of radiation.
Precautions that must be followed to safely handle radioactive materials:
The samples are stored in lead containers to block even the most penetrating form
of radiation, gamma rays. The containers are clearly labeled and must be stored in
a locked metal cabinet. The samples are handled using tongs and are kept as far
from the body as possible. In nuclear industry and research laboratories, much
larger amounts of radioactive material are used. These have to be handled with
great care. Very energetic sources will be handled remotely by operators who are
shielded by lead, concrete and thick glass viewing panels.
The major problem with nuclear materials is long-term storage. Some materials
have extremely long half-lives so they remain active for thousands and sometimes
tens of thousands of years. Nuclear waste must be stored in sealed containers that
must be capable of containing the radioactivity for enormously long periods of time.
Dalton thought that the atom is a solid sphere.
J.J. Thompson thought that atoms were positively charged spheres with negatively
charged electrons embedded into them.
Ernest Rutherford fired alpha particles at very thin gold foil. Alpha particles are
positively charged particles given
off by some

The zinc sulphide screen gives out tiny sparks of light, called scintillations, when hit
by an alpha particle. They were able to see where the alpha particles are hitting by
noting where the sparks occurred on the screen.
Most of the alpha particles passed straight through the gold foil as if it wasnt there
at all ,A. Once in a while an alpha particle was knocked off course, B. A very small
proportion actually seemed to bounce off the gold foil, C.
As most of the alpha particles passed straight through the gold foil, most of each
gold atom must be empty space. Since atoms have mass, it couldnt have just been
empty space. The rare event of a rebound meant that an alpha particle had run into
something massive. Rutherford realized that the mass must be concentrated in a
very tiny volume at the centre of the atom, which he called the nucleus. The
deflections and rebounds were because the positive charges on the alpha particles
were repelled by positive charges in the nuclei. The deflections and rebounds were
because the positive charges in the nuclei. The amount of deflection depends on a
number of factors:

The speed of the alpha particle the alpha particle is deflected less if it is
travelling faster
The nuclear charge if the nucleus is strongly positive, then the alpha
particle will be more strongly repelled away.
How close the alpha particle gets to the positively charged nucleus.

evidence for
nucleus but it
estimation of the size of the nucleus.

experiment gave us
the existence of the
also gave us an

Uranium-235 is used as fuel in a nuclear reactor. It is used because it nuclei can be

split up by a neutron. The process of splitting an atom is called fission. Uranium-235
is called a fissile material because it goes through the splitting process easily.
1. A slow neutron is absorbed by a uranium-235 nucleus
2. The resulting nucleus of uranium-236 is unstable
3. The uranium-236 splits apart forming two lighter nuclei, three neutrons and
gamma radiation

The fragments of this decay are two daughter nuclei of barium-144 and krypton-89.
The decay also produces gamma radiation and three more neutrons. The equation
for this decay is:

The fission reaction produces a huge amount of energy. This is because some of the
mass of the original uranium-236 nuclei is converted to energy. Most of the energy
is carried away as the kinetic energy of the two lighter nuclei. Some is emitted as
gamma radiation. The three neutrons produced by fission may hit other nuclei of
uranium-235 and therefore causing the process to repeat. If one neutron from each
fission causes on nearby uranium-235 to split, then the fission reaction will keep

This is called a chain reaction. If this reaction is allowed to take place in an

uncontrolled way, the result is a nuclear explosion. This involves the sudden release
of enormous amounts of heat energy and radiation. In a nuclear reactor the process
is controlled so that heat energy is released over a long period of time. The heat
produced in the core or heart of the reactor is used heat water. The steam produced
then drives turbines to turn generators.

reactor core
contains fuel rods of enriched uranium. Enriched uranium is uranium-238 with a
higher proportion of uranium-235 than is found in natural reserves of uranium.
The job of the moderator is to absorb some of the kinetic energy of the neutrons to
slow them down. This is because slow neutrons are more easily absorbed by
uranium-235. The slowing of neutrons therefore starts the fission process.
In the nuclear reactor there are also control rods, made of boron or cadmium. These
absorb the neutrons and take them out of the fission process completely.
The waste products present a serious damage for long-term storage. They are
usually stored in contains that are buried under ground. The rocks must be
impermeable to water and the geology of the site and must be stable. They
shouldnt be placed in areas such as earthquake zones and volcanic activity.
Plutonium can be used in the production of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear power stations do not produce carbon dioxide or acidic gases as fossil fuel
power stations do. This means that nuclear power doesnt contribute to global
warming or acid rain. Only small amounts of uranium are needed for a chain
reaction and the supply of nuclear fuel will last many hundreds of years, unlike fossil