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Radioactive Decay

Cycle 5, Science, #13
by

Aaron Hernandez

on 22 April 2010

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Transcript of Radioactive Decay

Radio R RadioaRadioactive decay Radio Nuclear Physics-
Radioactive Decay Aaron Hernandez Radioactive decay refers to the loss
of atomic particles in unstable nuclei. In most cases, this loss of particles causes the atom to change identity; it transforms into another element. We can only measure radioactive decay because its stimulus is significantly inexplicable(at least for this presentation). Since radioactive decay occurs sponaneously, the speed at which an atom decays cannot be measured. Instead, the rate at which atoms decay is measure by Half-life is the amount of time
it takes for half of a given amount of an element to decay. If I have 200,000 atoms of Aaronium that have a half-life of 30 seconds, then in 30 seconds, I will have only 100,000 atoms of Aaronium. After 60 seconds, there will only be 50,000. This implies that the amount of atoms left will never reach 0. half-life #1. Alpha Decay There are 3 types of radioactive decay: During alpha decay, an atom loses a packet of mass called an alpha particle. Alpha particles consist of 2 protons and 2 nuetrons, or a helium nucleus; thus, the identity of the atom changes. Because of the loss of protons, the two electrons that are now superfluous will stray off. #2. Beta Decay Like alpha decay, beta decay changes the identity of an atom. However, the mass of the atom does not change. In beta decay, a neutron splits into an electron and a proton. Free neutrons naturally decay this way (with a half-life of approximately 10 minutes), but are usually stable within the nucleus. #3. Gamma Decay Gamma decay changes neither the mass nor identity of an atom. Other types of radioactive decay sometimes excite the nucleus of an atom. Then, it might give off energy and go to a lower energy state. This works similarly to an electron jumping between electron shells. The energy emitted is called a gamma ray, the shortest wavelength of radiation. Decay Chains Several unstable atoms will decay as members of a
decay chain. The decay chain ends when the last member decays into a stable element. For example, Aaronium decays into Johnium, which then decays into Anjalinium. Anjalinium is stable, so the decay chain ends there (most decay chains are longer). Uranium-238 is part of a decay chain that has many members, one of which being radon(222). This chain ends on a stable isotope of lead. <http://lhs2.lps.org/staff/sputnam/chem_notes/UnitII_Radioactivity.htm>
Sceince Matters, Robert Hazen & James Trefil Sources THANK YOU
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