Unstable nuclei and radioactive decay.docx - Unstable...

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Unstable nuclei and radioactive decayRadioactivity – Chemicalreactions involve only an atom’s electrons– the nucleus remains unchanged.The number ofprotonsin the nucleus determines the identity of an atom.Thus, because there are no changes in the nuclei during a chemical reaction, theidentities of the atoms donotchange.There are however reactions in which one element changes into an atom of anotherelement.These reactions change an atom’s nucleus; these are callednuclear reactions.In the late 1890’s scientist noticed that some substances spontaneously emittedradiation in a process they calledradioactivity.The rays and particles emitted by the radioactive material were calledradiation.Scientists soon learned radioactive atoms undergo significant changes that can altertheir identities.Or, by emitting radiation, atoms of one element can change into atoms of anotherelement.

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