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Units of Radioactivity

The number of decays per second, or activity, from a sample of radioactive nuclei is measured in becquerel (Bq), after Henri Becquerel. One decay per second equals one becquerel.

An older unit is the curie, named after Pierre and Marie Curie. One curie is approximately the activity of 1 gram of radium and equals (exactly) 3.7 x 1010 becquerel. The activity depends only on the number of decays per second, not on the type of decay, the energy of the decay products, or the biological effects of the radiation (see Chapter 15).

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