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#1
Hey I am revising for my GCSE Physics mock but got stuck on radioactive decay. Can some please put together an easy step by step explanation that will help me understand this easier? would help a lot
0
5 years ago
#2
haha me too.. i have my exam in next week and i don't seem to get it.. i want to understand of cramming
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5 years ago
#3
alpha, helium nuclei, minus four from the mass number and minus two from the atomic number
beta, electrons, plus one to the atomic number
gamma, electromagnetic radiation, doesn't change the mass or atomic number

the half life is the time taken for half of a sample of radioactive particles to decay

that's basically what you need to know
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5 years ago
#4
Decay usually happens when an atom has an unbalance of neutrons and protons, so it'll only happen to ISOTOPES of an element

Isotopes definition - the same element with same number of protons but different number of neutrons - ultimately different mass number.

To make the element stable the element has to release either alpha, beta or gamma from its nucleus, or all.

Alpha is 2 protons and 2 neutrons (this is the same as releasing helium nucleus)
beta is fast moving/high energy electron
gamma is an electromagnetic wave

and then there's half life, which is explained above me
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5 years ago
#5
(Original post by ihatePE)
Decay usually happens when an atom has an unbalance of neutrons and protons, so it'll only happen to ISOTOPES of an element

Isotopes definition - the same element with same number of protons but different number of neutrons - ultimately different mass number.

To make the element stable the element has to release either alpha, beta or gamma from its nucleus, or all.

Alpha is 2 protons and 2 neutrons (this is the same as releasing helium nucleus)
beta is fast moving/high energy electron
gamma is an electromagnetic wave

and then there's half life, which is explained above me
wtf you mean two protons ??????
it's four
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5 years ago
#6
(Original post by defenestrated)
wtf you mean two protons ??????
it's four
nope helium nucleus has 2 protons, 2 neutrons

He^2+
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5 years ago
#7
(Original post by defenestrated)
wtf you mean two protons ??????
it's four
Isn't the number of protons AND neutrons (mass number) four? Then the atomic number (number of protons only) two?
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5 years ago
#8
(Original post by z33)
nope helium nucleus has 2 protons, 2 neutrons

He^2+
(Original post by caitlinford3)
Isn't the number of protons AND neutrons (mass number) four? Then the atomic number (number of protons only) two?
I GET IT NOW lmao ignore me
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5 years ago
#9
(Original post by defenestrated)
I GET IT NOW lmao ignore me
X'D dw

the 4 is the mass - changes the mass number
the 2 is the charge - changes the atomic number
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5 years ago
#10
if that was the only thing to be learnt in this igcse for radioactivity, i would be happy ahah
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5 years ago
#11
(Original post by Maz0110)
Hey I am revising for my GCSE Physics mock but got stuck on radioactive decay. Can some please put together an easy step by step explanation that will help me understand this easier? would help a lot
Edit: quoted wrong person - oops.

You might also want to know what gamma,beta,alpha can penetrate.

For example:

Gamma cannot go through lead (Pb) high penetration and range

Beta cannot go through aluminium. Medium penetration and range

Alpha cannot go through paper. Due to low penetration and low range.

Alpha particles are also used in smoke dectetors which might be an application question, so I'd suggest reading this page so you can undersrand how it works.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebit...opesrev3.shtml
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5 years ago
#12
You may also need to know about ionisation.

Ionisation is basically when nuclear radiation knocks off electrons from an atom, changing its charge. If this happens in an atom of DNA (or inside cells for that matter), it may result in mutations or cancer.

Ionising power increases as penetrative power decreases, so:
Alpha: Poorly penetrating, highly ionising
Beta: Medium penetration, medium ionisation
Gamma: (Very) HIghly penetrating, poorly ionising

For example, if a radioactive tracer was to be inserted into a patient, then gamma radiation would be used, as it can pass through materials very easily, with little damage to cells compared to the other types of radiation. An alpha source in the patient would probably kill them.
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5 years ago
#13
(Original post by defenestrated)
wtf you mean two protons ??????
it's four
someone needs to do revision lmao :3
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#14
Thankyou to everyone who replied! x
0
5 years ago
#15
(Original post by Calzs34)
Edit: quoted wrong person - oops.

You might also want to know what gamma,beta,alpha can penetrate.

For example:

Gamma cannot go through lead (Pb) high penetration and range

Beta cannot go through aluminium. Medium penetration and range

Alpha cannot go through paper. Due to low penetration and low range.

Alpha particles are also used in smoke dectetors which might be an application question, so I'd suggest reading this page so you can undersrand how it works.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebit...opesrev3.shtml
what do you mean by 'low range' etc?
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