A RAY is a thin line or narrow beam of radiation, especially of light. A straight line extending from a point, with an arrow head on the other end denoted a ray. We have a complete race or rays around us! How many of them do you know?

COSMIC RAYS are high energy particles, originating from the outer space (Extra Solar sources within our galaxy) and enter earth’s atmosphere. Cosmic rays are made up of 90% Protons, 9% Alpha particles and 1% of electrons. These particles arrive individually and not as a beam of particles.

ALPHA RAY has 2 Protons and 2 neutrons (identical to a Helium nucleus). It has high ionizing energy but low penetrating power. It can be stopped by an ordinary paper.

BETA RAY is made up of high speed and high energy electrons or positrons. It has a high ionizing energy and is more penetrating than an Alpha ray. But it can be stopped by an Aluminum plate.

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GAMMA RAY is produced by the subatomic particle interaction or by radio active decay. It consists of high energy photons (with highest frequency and shortest wavelength among all the rays).

DELTA RAY is any recoil particle that causes “Secondary Ionization”. The name was coined by J. J .Thomson. When fast moving charged particles collide with an atom, they can knock out some of the orbiting electrons, out of the atom! When the “Knock-on-electrons” have sufficient energy to ionize more atoms on their own, they are called as Delta rays.

EPSILON RAY is a form of particle radiation composed of electrons. When Delta Rays can cause a Tertiary Radiation, an Epsilon Ray is obtained. This is again a name coined by J. J. Thomson.

NEUTRON RAY is an ionizing radiation consisting of neutrons. Neutron Ray has no charge and is more penetrating than Alpha, Beta and Gamma rays. It can damage healthy cells and tissues of a living organism.

The best form of rays known to mankind is “The Light Rays”. Rays from the Sun give us both heat and light. Three different Rays namely,
The Infra Red Rays, the visible light, and the Ultra Violet Rays are emitted by the Sun.

INFRA RED RAY (meaning the ray below-the-red) is actually a Heat Ray from the Sun. It has a wavelength larger than the visible light. It can be used as a heating source in cooking, heating food and de-icing the wings of an aircraft.

VISIBLE LIGHT RAY is a mixture of seven colours namely; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

ULTRA VIOLET RAY (meaning the ray beyond-the-violet) has shorter wavelength than the visible light. It can cause sun burns and skin cancers. Originally this was named “The Chemical Ray”. This has very high energy due its high frequency. It is very dangerous, since we do not feel the heat, the way we do when exposed to Infra red rays.

X RAY or RONTGEN RAY (named after its inventor) is a highly penetrating ray consisting on high-speed-photons. It can penetrate through a human body. X Rays are very useful in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. X Rays are also used in Radio therapy, Crystallography, Astronomy and in microscopes.

Visalakshi Ramani