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A particle of plutonium 239 revealed by autoradiography. The black star in the middle of the picture shows tracks made by alpha rays emitted from a particle of plutonium 239 in the lung tissue of an ape. The alpha rays do not travel very far but once inside the body they can penetrate more than 10,000 cells within their range. This set of alpha tracks (magnified 500 times) occured over a 48 hr period. The plutonium 239 particle that emitted them has a half life of 24,400 years. [Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Berkeley California, September 20, 1982.]
This illustration is taken from Robert Del Tredici's book Working in the Fields of the Bomb - published in 1987. It shows a plutonium particle emitting ionising radiation. The tracks are about 35 microns (5 cell diameters) but this is a two dimensional view of a 3D tissue event, which in fact occurs continuously in biological space. Like a land mine that never stops exploding, it is perpetually damaging and destroying cells.