2
$\begingroup$

Which decay chain of a radioactive isotope has the most 'steps' before reaching a stable isotope, i.e. decays into the most other isotopes before becoming stable?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ for clarity, not about the time taken to decay. $\endgroup$ – stanley dodds Feb 12 '15 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Who gave here a minus? And why? $\endgroup$ – Sofia Feb 12 '15 at 17:39
3
$\begingroup$

In a sense, this question is unanswerable. (Still a good question!) } Consider the natural decay chain of $_{92}U^{238}$. This isotope goes through 14 steps, along various routes, to decay to $_{82}Pb^{206}$. This $4n+2$ series is the longest naturally occurring one. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decay_chain

However, someone could immediately claim that they have some $_{94}Pu^{242}$ which decays almost at once by $\alpha$-emission to $_{92}U^{238}$. The someone jumps up with some $_{96}Cm^{246}$, and so on, and so on.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Just made a small Python that builds a graph from a "decay.txt" file I found somewhere. Longest path in it is:

Sg263->Rf259->Lr259->No259->Md259->Es255->Bk251->Cf251->Cm247->Pu243->Am243->Np239->Pu239->U235->Th231->Pa231->Ac227->Fr223->At219->Rn219->Po215->Pb211->Bi211->Tl207->Pb207

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.