Radioactivity refers to the particles which are emitted from nuclei as a result of nuclear instability. Because the nucleus experiences the intense conflict between the two strongest forces in nature, it should not be surprising that there are many nuclear isotopes which are unstable and emit some kind of radiation. The most common types of radiation are called alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, but there are several other varieties of radioactive decay.
Radioactive decay rates are normally stated in terms of their half-lives, and the half-life of a given nuclear species is related to its radiation risk. The different types of radioactivity lead to different decay paths which transmute the nuclei into other chemical elements. Examining the amounts of the decay products makes possible radioactive dating.
Radiation from nuclear sources is distributed equally in all directions, obeying the inverse square law.