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What Are The Applications Of Radioactive Isotopes?

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Radioactive isotopes (or radioisotopes) are produced by irradiating substances with neutrons in a nuclear reactor or by bombarding with high energy particles from accelerators. Radioisotopes are being increasingly used in scientific research, medicine, agriculture, and in industry.

Gamma rays from radioactive cobalt-60 are used for cancer therapy. Large amounts of radioactive taken into the body are used to combat cancer of the thyroid gland.

Radioisotopes are used to study the process of digestion. Food, containing a small amount of radioisotopes, is fed to a patient and then traced through the body with the Geiger-Muller counter.

Using tracer technique the fertilizer consumption of plants can be measured. A small amount of radioisotopes is mixed with fertilizers before application. As the plants starts growing, their intake of fertilizer can be measured with the help of GM counter. This helps the farmer to use the proper amount of fertilizer.

In industrial context, the tracer technique can be applied to study the wear of automobile engines.

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