A List of Some Uses of Radioactive Isotopes in Biology & Medicine

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Radioactive isotopes are used in a variety of ways in biology and medicine, like in x-rays. Get a list of some uses of radioactive isotopes in biology and medicine with help from an experienced educator in this free video clip.

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Hi, I'm Robin Higgins. And this is a list of some uses for radioactive isotopes in biology and medicine. Alright so, there's tones of uses for radioactive isotopes in biology and medicine. Let's start with the use as a tracing device. So, let's say that we want to take an x-ray of a specific portion of the body. Except, lets say that maybe unlike something like teeth, if we take any x-ray, we're not going to see anything. We're just going to see much. Well, what you can do is insert a tracer and that'll allow the x-ray to show up. So, let's say you have some, a heart condition and you want to be able to tell what areas of the heart are pumping effectively and which areas are clogged. Well, you can actually insert a chemical which will be a tracer and so it's radioactive isotopes that won't hurt you. And then, they get into your heart, you blood stream and then, you can take an x-ray. And then, it's kind of like breadcrumbs, like Hansel and Gretel for an x-ray. And so, you can see that like every single radioactive isotope will act like a breadcrumb, breadcrumb. If you light them all up, then you'll be able to see the path that the blood in your heart is taking. So, this is a huge, huge device for a radioactive isotopes is as tracers. And the other that's pretty common in medicine that we think about is or cancer and it's just called radiation therapy. So, if you have certain types of radiation or at certain concentration, it will be harmful. And radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells. And the goal and the hope id that it will kill the cancer cells before it kills the normal cells. So that you'll be able, you'll get sick. But when you recover, your healthy cells will be o.k. and the all the cancer cells will be gone. This is another big use of radiation in medicine. And then, in biology or going into a little bit off into a specific type of biology, in archaeology, you can actually use isotopes to use carbon dating. And so, this is a really interesting technique because there's a certain isotope of carbon that degrades after a very, very, very long amount of time. So, if you take a sample in the Earth and you test how much this radioactive carbon there is, you can find a percentage of that. And then, based on its half life, you can do math and figure out when that soil or when that rock come from. And so, this is how we figure it out, you know, how old so many different layers of the Earth are. And it works very well, it's very precise and it's all because of radioactive isotopes. So there's tons more, but these are three of my favorites. I think they are really cool applications. I'm Robin Higgins. And this is how do you use radioactive isotopes in biology and medicine.

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