- Why don’t we get cancer of the hair or the fingernails?
- How does a random group of molecules form a thinking, breathing human?
- What makes nerve gas so dangerous?
- How do medicines know where in the body to start working?
- Why can’t machines — or humans — sniff out drugs or explosives as well as dogs?
- Must all organisms age and die?
- What is the impact of follow-through in golf?
- Can medical prostheses advance further, and what are their potential risks?
- Why do our bodies make boogers?
- Is sleep necessary?
Do humans emit radiation?
Yes, we do. But don’t freak out.By Meg Murphy
All life on the planet has evolved in the presence of radioactivity, says Michael Short, a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.Human bodies contain radioactive elements like potassium. And so, yes, we emit a radiation signal, but “our bodies are equipped to deal with small amounts of radiation,” so don’t panic, he says.
So just how much radiation do people emit? “I like to put things in terms of what we call the banana-equivalent dose,” Short says. Bananas are high in potassium, he says, providing a useful measure of radiation.
“Sleeping next to someone for eight hours gives you about one and a half bananas worth of a dose,” he says. “If folks get worried, and they wonder: should I sleep alone? They should ask themselves: would you be afraid to eat two bananas? No, I didn’t think so,” says Short.
Thanks to 22-year-old Sam Ayebanate from Port Harcourt for this question.