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Space Radiation and Humans

21 Oct 2009, 19:25 UTC
Space Radiation and Humans
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As I continue my series on space radiation, the next topic that I want to address is how radiation harms space travelers. I’ve already alluded to this in earlier posts in the series, but I wanted to mention it again.
In an earlier installment, I said that radiation is a process where energy travels from one body to another in essentially straight lines. Since particles (and even light) can be deflected, that is not entirely correct, but it is close enough for our purposes. The radiation when absorbed can heat things, cause electrical currents, or if enough energy is absorbed by an individual atom, ionize that atom (remove an electron). Ions (charged atoms) behave different chemically than neutral atoms. So, ionizing radiation has potential to do more harm than non-ionizing radiation. In the human body, there are vast numbers of atoms and molecules. Most of the atoms are, in fact, part of molecules. It is the chemistry of how these molecules interact with one another, forming new molecules, releasing molecular energy, absorbing energy, etc, that is the basis of life. Modern biology is not just memorization of species classifications or anatomical terms. Rather, modern biologists are deep into organic chemistry ...

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