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Question Video: Identifying a Use of Radioactivity That Does Not Require Increasing the Temperatures of Materials Science

Which of the following is a use of nuclear radiation that does not require increasing the temperatures of materials? [A] Generating electricity [B] Producing mutations in cells [C] Heating objects while manufacturing them

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Video Transcript

Which of the following is a use of nuclear radiation that does not require increasing the temperatures of materials? (A) Generating electricity, (B) producing mutations in cells, (C) heating objects while manufacturing them.

Let’s first recall that nuclear radiation consists of particles and electromagnetic waves that are emitted from an unstable atomic nucleus when it decays. Nuclear radiation has many applications from medical imaging, to farming, to electricity generation and manufacturing. All these applications of nuclear radiation depend on the fact that nuclear radiation transfers energy to objects that it comes into contact with. This energy can sometimes go towards increasing the thermal energy of the objects.

In a nuclear power plant, increasing the thermal energy of water makes the water boil, and the resulting steam is used to produce electricity. In some industrial applications, the thermal energy of objects is increased as a part of the process of manufacturing these objects. In both these cases, the objects that nuclear radiation comes into contact with increase in temperature. This means that both option (A) and option (C) are uses of nuclear radiation that do require increasing the temperature of materials.

Option (B), producing mutations, does not require increasing the temperature of the DNA of a cell. The particles and waves that nuclear radiation consists of damage the DNA in a cell by ways that do not require the DNA to increase in temperature. In fact, increasing the temperature of a cell will probably not lead to mutation occurring.

So, the correct answer is option (B). There’s no temperature increase of materials required for producing mutations in cells.

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