Radioactive decay

Radioactive decay - There are three common types of...

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Radioactive decay Many nuclei are radioactive. This means they are unstable, and will eventually decay by emitting a particle, transforming the nucleus into another nucleus, or into a lower energy state. A chain of decays takes place until a stable nucleus is reached. During radioactive decay, principles of conservation apply. Some of these we've looked at already, but the last is a new one: conservation of energy conservation of momentum (linear and angular) conservation of charge conservation of nucleon number Conservation of nucleon number means that the total number of nucleons (neutrons + protons) must be the same before and after a decay.
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Unformatted text preview: There are three common types of radioactive decay, alpha, beta, and gamma. The difference between them is the particle emitted by the nucleus during the decay process. Alpha decay In alpha decay, the nucleus emits an alpha particle; an alpha particle is essentially a helium nucleus, so it's a group of two protons and two neutrons. A helium nucleus is very stable. An example of an alpha decay involves uranium-238: The process of transforming one element to another is known as transmutation. Alpha particles do not travel far in air before being absorbed; this makes them very safe for use in smoke detectors, a common household item....
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course PHY PHY2053 taught by Professor Davidjudd during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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