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Environmental Science Definitions Vocab Study Notes

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Ap environmental exam all units review sheet-> Vocab and detailed information 1. Ionizing Radiation: enough energy to dislodge or free electrons from atoms, forming ions: capable of causing cancer (gamma, X-rays, UV) 2. High Quality Energy: organized and concentrated: can perform useful work (fossil fuels and nuclear energy) 3. Low Quality Energy: disorganized, dispersed (heat in ocean or air, wind or solar) 4. First Law of Thermodynamics: energy is neither created or destroyed, but may be converted from on form to another (Law of Conservation of Energy) 5. Second Law of Thermodynamics: when energy is changed from one form to another, some useful energy is ALWAYS degraded into lower quality energy, usually heat. 6. Natural Radioactive Decay: unstable radioactive decay releasing gamma rays, alpha particles, and beta particles. (ex. Radon) 7. Half-Life: the time it takes for ½ the mass of a radioactive isotope to decay. 8. Estimate of how long a radioactive isotope must be stored until it decays to a safe level: A radioactive isotope must be stored for approximately 10 half-lives until it decays to a safe level. 9. Nuclear Fission: nuclei of isotopes split apart when struck by neutrons 10. Nuclear Fusion: two isotopes of light elements (H) forced together at high temperatures till they fuse to form a heavier nucleus (He). Process is expensive; break-even point has not yet been reached. Happens in the Sun. 11. Ore: a rock that contains a large enough concentration of a mineral ...
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