Radioactivity and its implications for environment and society (Fall 2017)


This course on radioactivity covers the nature and origin of radioactive elements and decay processes in our environment. This includes both naturally occuring radiogenic and cosmogenic radioactivity as well as the increase in anthropogenic radioactive sources. The course presents the implications of radiation for biological systems and our environment as well as the use of radiation for an increasing number of human activities and its broader societal impact.

Professor Michael Wiescher
Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame
Office; 181 Nieuwland Science Hall
Office Hours: Tu/Th 2:00-3:00pm, but feel free to stop by my office at any time

T.A.: John Wilkinson
Office: NSH 284
Office Hours: M/W 12:45-2:00pm. Wed. 5:30-6:30pm review session in NSH 184

Course Syllabus




  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Syllabus and Logistics
  3. Discovery of Radioactivity and its Applications
  4. Radioactive Decay and Nuclear Reactions
  5. The Nature and Laws of Radioactivity
  6. Detectors and Instrumentation
  7. Dosimetry and Exposure Limits
  8. Biological Effects of Radiation
  9. The Origin of Radioactivity
  10. The Radioactive Universe
  11. The Radioactive Earth
  12. Geological Implications and Consequences
  13. Radioactivity in the Atmosphere
  14. The Human Radioactivity Cycle
  15. The Origin of Life
  16. Radioactivity in Agriculture
  17. Radioactivity in Buildings
  18. Radioactivity Lin Natural Resources
  19. Radioactivity and Renewable Energies
  20. Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy
  21. Radioactivity and Long Term Storage
  22. Radioactivity in Chernobyl and Fukushima
  23. Radioactivity in Medicine
  24. Radioactivity in Industry
  25. Radioactivity in Art Analysis
  26. Radioactivity and Homeland Security
  27. Radioactivity and War
  28. Radioactivity and Fear