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I have learned that uranium atom can be split in two different ways in a fission reaction. In one case it produces two neutron while in the other it produces three. \begin{align} ^1n + {}^{235}\mathrm{U} & \longrightarrow {}^{94}\mathrm{Sr} + {}^{140}\mathrm{Xe} + 2 \, {}^1n \\ ^1n + {}^{235}\mathrm{U} & \longrightarrow {}^{92}\mathrm{Kr} + {}^{141}\mathrm{Ba} + 3 \,{}^1n \end{align} Is there any factors or parameters that determine the way in which uranium will get fissioned? Or this is just a totally random process?

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  • $\begingroup$ The decay of radioactive particles is completely random in nature. So random that it is used in Hardware Random Number Generators to give truly unpredictable results. $\endgroup$ – Sam Jul 2 '20 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ There are many more than just those 2 - see physics.stackexchange.com/questions/205620/… for a plot of yields. As @EmilioPisanty notes, the distribution does change a bit depending on the neutron energy, particularly between thermal neutrons and 14MeV neutrons. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Jul 2 '20 at 13:52
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No, there is no way to determine the outcome of the process. You can play with the energy of the incoming neutron (and potentially with its angular momentum), but for fixed collision parameters there will be given probabilities ('cross-sections') for each process to happen, but after that it's a probabilistic process.

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