The property of some materials by which individual atoms decay, emitting energy or particles often transforming into different elements in the process.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

3
votes
5answers
12k views

Iodine-131 half-life and reality

Iodine is a chemical element with symbol I and atomic number 53. There is currently a lot of discussions regarding radioactivity in Japan, and iodine-131. Iodine-131 has a half-life of 9 days. Does ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Alpha Beta Gamma Biological Impact

Assume that alpha & beta particles and gamma photons each reach skin at the same energy. It's known that they penetrate most deeply in order by gamma, beta and alpha. How would they compare in ...
3
votes
2answers
264 views

What is average life in radioactivity and what is its significance?

By definition, average life of radioactive sample is the amount of time required for it to get decayed to 36.8% of its original amount. But what is the significance of 36.8% and why has that value ...
3
votes
2answers
170 views

How clean will first generation fusion reactors be compared to fission reactors?

Googling the topic seems to indicate that fusion reactors will produce less waste and less toxic radioactivity, but this fact never seems to be mentioned during the current debate over nuclear power. ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Effect of temperature on radioactivity?

I'm researching the effect of temperature on uranium radioactivity, however I can't find any solid empirical evidence to prove the notion that temperature does not affect radioactivity. Can anyone ...
3
votes
1answer
219 views

How was Be-8's Half-Life of 7E-17 Second Determined?

Radionuclides occur with half-lives in a vast range of over 37 magnitudes as listed in this site. In question 7584, Lubos Motl explained how Gyr half-lives were determined. This method doesn't appear ...
3
votes
1answer
239 views

Can stable nuclei theoretically fission through quantum tunneling?

As I understand it, an unstable nucleus is going to randomly fission because the forces binding it together are momentarily weaker than the electrostatic repulsion of the protons. Given that some ...
3
votes
3answers
289 views

Can one see radioactive substances with an X-ray detector?

I was wondering the other day an X-ray detector (like the ones used at airports) can detect gamma-rays lets say from a sample of uranium. I know its all electro-magnetic waves but I'm really unsure ...
3
votes
1answer
235 views

The vacuum as trigger

Do the apperance in the atomic nucleus of virtual matter-antimatter particle pairs play a role in the random nature of radioactive decay?
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Would being underwater help survive a nuclear bomb?

If I jump in my pool, on the river near my house knowing that a nuclear bomb, or atomic or H-Bomb exploded around 10 km from my house, would I survive? The way I see it is that water will protect me ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Decay of Cobalt-60 isotope

How does the Gamma decay of Cobalt-60 occur? Motivation: A research team led by D. Habs made contributions to our understanding of the gamma decay of Ca-40 and Zr-90: ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

How to calculate gamma radiation shielding?

A device emits 0.2 μSv/h of gamma rays. How thick does an aluminum sheet need to be to completely stop radiation from coming out ? What equation is to be used to calculate this ?
2
votes
2answers
777 views

Why is radioactive decay dependent on amount of substance available?

Radioactive decay is an attribute of unstable nucleus. When we represent it in equation, we don't involve any macroscopic attribute of substance. But still, rate of radioactive decay is proportional ...
2
votes
4answers
98 views

What does the exponential decay constant depend on?

We know the law of radioactivity: $$N=N_0e^{-\lambda t}$$ where $\lambda$ is the exponential decay constant. My question is: This constant depends of what?
2
votes
4answers
116 views

Can nuclear transmutation be observed in real time?

Ignoring the quantum zeno effect (if possible?), can we observe in real-time the transformation of one element to another? I'm talking about an amount visible to the naked eye where one could see ...
2
votes
5answers
464 views

Thorium radioactivty vs Uranium radioactivty nuclear power

May i please open this question by asking that if you intended to answer this please could you provide links based on your answer. I have read ( and posted one ) on thorium and a lot of the answers ...
2
votes
2answers
115 views

Harmlessness of a pure alpha decay particle

From my high school physics class I remember that there are some particles which exhibit pure alpha decay (i.e. alpha decay to there stable isotope), like Po-210, Po-211 and Bi-209. What I also know ...
2
votes
3answers
126 views

Radioactive decay - What mechanism decides when an unstable nucleus decays?

My first question on Stackexchange (if it is formatted wrong or something please tell me so I know in future) - here it is: Given an unstable nucleus (exactly which nucleus is not particularly ...
2
votes
1answer
836 views

Is radioactive decay spontaneous or random?

When the count rate of a radioactive isotope is measured, the readings fluctuate. Do the fluctuations demonstrate the random nature of the decay or the spontaneous nature? (This question was asked in ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Artificial planetary magnetic field

I wonder how difficult it is to create an artificial planetary magnetic field with generators? What power they would need? The question is inspired by thinking about possible colonization of ...
2
votes
1answer
300 views

Radioactive decay / binding energies

If my understanding is correct, the binding energy determines a nucleus' stability and the greater the binding energy, the more stable the nucleus (e.g iron-56). The mass of the sum of nucleons that ...
2
votes
1answer
155 views

Radioactivity and quantum superpositions

In the Schrödinger's cat experiment 'there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small that perhaps in the course of the hour, one of the atoms decays'. The rest of the experiment magnifies this ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

XP Decay mode of radioactive nucleus

The decay mode of Carbon-8 is listed as 'XP' in this table. None of the references I looked at listed XP as a decay mode. What is it>
2
votes
1answer
49 views

What does a supernova look like at its peak luminosity?

I know that in some types of supernovae, the cause of the increased luminosity is the radioactive decay of certain elements ejected during the explosion, so a question came to my mind. If the ejected ...
2
votes
1answer
39 views

Radioactive half lifes

What is the typical half life of material released from nuclear fission? This is a question I received for yr 12 physics and I can't find a proper answer telling me what the material released is and ...
2
votes
1answer
253 views

Is sub critical plutonium “safe” to handle?

Apparently, in Los Alamos scientists handled sub critical masses of plutonium (for example the demon core) with little or no protection. Richard Feynman and others mentioned that plutonium spheres ...
2
votes
1answer
92 views

Program for radiation and toxic hazards

I worked in my masters thesis with $^{87}Rb$ and $^{40}K$, really small beta emitters. But there are so many other things around in the lab, that I want to keep track on all the things I might get in ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

Earth's beginnings and early years, Re radioactive decay or not

It is said that the Earth and solar system are 4.6 billion years old. Presumably this date is achieved from radioactive decay. If this is the case, since most of the radioactive elements would have, ...
2
votes
1answer
94 views

Creation of Nuclear Isomers

As I understand it, if a nucleus is excited with energy exceeding its ground state, it releases energy via gamma radiation. An example would be technitium 99m, a medical tracer with a 6 hour half life ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Work of Marie Curie?

I've been reading about the work of Marie Curie recently after a friend filled me in on what she did (never having had much of an idea previously) and it's all very interesting. What I can't ...
2
votes
1answer
119 views

experimental setup to measure Center-Of-Momenta of products from spontaneous radiactive decay

This question is an attempt to complement this other question about fluctuations in radiactive decay. This question is completely experimental though: in general, suppose i have certain sample of a ...
2
votes
2answers
550 views

Iodine isotope question

Quick question for the nuclear engineers/physicists out there Where does I-134 come from? I cant find it in any of the charts of standard decay products of Uranium fission, but there is tons of the ...
2
votes
2answers
59 views

What is the distribution of energy between the alpha, beta and gamma particles emitted in nuclear fallout per one RAD?

I have been trying to find a relation to be able to convert from RAD to REM. What I found is that I need to know the "quality factor" as some sources call it, which is the effect of different ionizing ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

Decay/Counts/Number of Nuclei

I'm writing up a lab report and have a question about the following formula $$N = N_0e^{-\lambda t}$$ $N$ indicates the number of nuclei left after a time $t$ and $N_0$ indicates how much there was ...
2
votes
1answer
109 views

Conversion of energy to mass with radioactive decay

Consider the following problem: The nuclei of Am-241 decay by the emission of $\alpha$-particles with a kinetic speed of $8.8 \cdot 10^{-19} J$. In a certain source of Am-241 there are $ 4.0 \cdot ...
2
votes
2answers
66 views

Rutherford alpha scattering?

From Rutherfords alpha scattering, where alpha where fired at a thin peace of metal foil, he concluded that the nuclie was positivly charged. He made this conclution from the fact that alpha particles ...
2
votes
1answer
107 views

Probability density of detection of collinearly emitted photons in two detectors

Update: As proposed by @dmckee, I added equation numbers and improved the display of some equations. The answer by @Trimok inspired me to look at coordinate systems which are not specific to the ...
2
votes
0answers
98 views

Besides transmutation, is there any way to “speed up” the decay rate of radioactive material?

I'm well aware of transmutation as a way to effectively make radioactive material decay faster, however that isn't really what I mean. Doing a quick Google search I found references to several ...
1
vote
3answers
71 views

Can radioactive energies become electromagnetic

I am trying to learn about radioactive energies and wonder if, because these also seem to come under the topic of radiation, can these energies become electromagnetic. I'm pretty much a beginner, so ...
1
vote
2answers
409 views

Nuclear decay rate affected by sun and quantum randomness

If nuclear decay rate were affected by sun, then emission probabilities would be subject to sun state and its influence, so quantum randomness would depend on it, Would it still be truly random? One ...
1
vote
2answers
270 views

Was the early Earth radioactive?

I've been reading of the (surprising) fact we are uncertain on whether there is nuclear fission in the center of the Earth or not (yet we know so much detail on structures at the other end of the ...
1
vote
2answers
81 views

Radioactive decay law and the exponential model, is it always valid?

The law of radioactive decay reads $$ N(t)=N_0e^{-\lambda t}$$ Is it valid when there is less than 1 nucleus or particle to decay? Obviously, it is nonsense to consider that we have 1/2 of nucleus ...
1
vote
3answers
288 views

Any real life demonstrations of radioactive decay? [duplicate]

I'm skeptical about a lot of things in physics, but I have a great interest in it and I'm studying it in college next year. However I am very skeptical about some things. I find that for physics, it ...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

Cobalt 60 beta decay

In the beta decay of an atom of Co60, the radiation you would expect is one or two gamma rays, plus an electron plus an electron neutrino (and in the nucleus Ni60+, if I understand it well). However, ...
1
vote
3answers
168 views

Is it possible to produce gamma radiaton using radio emitter?

As in the title, I'm wondering is it possible. I think it is possible, because we have powerful enough radiotechniques and gamma radiation are just EM waves, not particles. However I think is ...
1
vote
1answer
21 views

Identification of massless, chargeless $x$ in a nuclear reaction

On Friday, we had our Physics test. We (the tenth grade students) have the basic introduction to Radioactivity and a few nuclear reactions in our syllabus. In the test, the following question was ...
1
vote
2answers
330 views

Alpha Decay or Fission

In a quiz contest, I came across the following question: What is the term used to describe the splitting of a heavy nucleus into two lighter nuclei? Two options provided were: a) Alpha Decay b) ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

Use of fission products for electricity generation

Why can't we use fissions products for electricity production ? As far has I know fissions products from current nuclear power plants create enough 'waste' heat to boil water; and temperature ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

Why does Se-82 undergo double beta decay?

Looking at the decay chain, I saw it undergoes double beta decay. How is it feasible for something to undergo a simultaneous double decay?
1
vote
2answers
209 views

Relativistic Mass including exponential decay

So from what I gather, relativistic mass = $m_0\gamma$ where $\gamma$ is the lorentz factor. So if i have a mass that is .5 at rest then it is safe to say that the relativistic mass will be 1 if it ...