12
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do all elements above $\require{mhchem}\ce{Fe}$ not decay to $\ce{Fe}$?

OK, so $\ce{Fe}$ is the most 'stable element'. As such, why do all elements above it not decay into $\ce{Fe}$? In all cases, would it not lead to an increase in binding energy and therefore energy ...
2
votes
1answer
219 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
373 views

Why are alpha particles such a prominent form of radiation and not other types of nucleon arrangement?

It is said in many textbooks that alpha decay involves emitting alpha particles, which are very stable. Indeed, the binding energy (~28.3 MeV) is higher than for $Z$-neighboring stable isotopes. But ...
2
votes
1answer
223 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 ...