Radiation is the world’s own superhero

Oliphant Science Awards 2020 - Chengcheng Zheng and Professor Murray Whitelaw

Chengcheng Zheng of Wilderness School receives the Faculty of Sciences Prize from the University of Adelaide's Professor Murray Whitelaw.

An article about how radiation is the ‘world’s own superhero’ has won the Faculty of Sciences Prize at the South Australian Science Teachers Association (SASTA) Oliphant Science Awards.

The science writing project by Chengcheng Zheng of Wilderness School has been recognised as the 'most outstanding entry highlighting the benefits of scientific research to the community’.

Like science-fiction characters with x-ray vision or healing superpowers, Chengcheng explains in her paper how radiation protects us from harm, looks out for our enemies and powers the world.

“Radiation plays a vital role in saving lives. Imaging can be used to diagnose or track the progression of a disease,” Chengcheng says.

Chengcheng explains how scanning technology is currently used in airports and country borders, and how it also be used by law enforcement and emergency services personnel to identify hiding suspects, potential hazards and people trapped in wreckage or rubble.

“It could also have a role in smart homes, being used to track movement and activity to control lighting, heating, and other environmental features.”

Chengcheng also highlights that not only does radiation protect and save lives - through nuclear energy it gives humanity power and energy to run on.
“Through the use of ever-developing radiation technology - superheroes - helping mankind in all sorts of ways, are made,” Chengcheng says.

“Whether it is the Superman style x-ray vision, Wolverine like healing powers, or the ability to fuel the world, powering on development - radiation, although often thought as a component of a flashy ‘superhero’ machine used to ‘save the day’ - is actually the key principle as to why humanity is able to achieve such superpowers.”

“Radiation is like humanities own personal superhero, allowing us to develop machines that possess abilities to help the good and fight the evil in the world; doing the great classical superheroes proud.”

The Awards provide students with an opportunity to extend their scientific literacy, by showing interest in and understanding of the world around them, engaging in discussions about science, and being able to make informed choices about the environment and their own health and wellbeing. The Faculty of Sciences is a proud sponsor of the awards.

Chengcheng’s full science writing project is available online.

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