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Asked Nov 26, 2019
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Long and strong Conclusion about radioactivity

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Expert Answer

Step 1

Radioactive decay involves the spontaneous transformation of one element into another. The only way that this can happen is by changing the number of protons in the nucleus (an element is defined by its number of protons). There are a number of ways that this can happen and when it does, the atom is forever changed. There is no going back -- the process is irreversible.

Step 2

(1) There are three primary types of radiation :

(1) Alpha - these are fast moving helium atoms. They have high energy, typically in the MeV range, but due to their large mass, they are stopped by just a few inches of air, or a piece of paper.

(2) Beta - these are fast moving electrons. They typically have energies in the range of a few hundred keV to several MeV. Since electrons are might lighter than helium atoms, they are able to penetrate further, through several feet of air, or several millimeters of plastic or less of very light metals.

(3) Gamma - these are photons, just like light, except of much higher energy, typically from several keV to several MeV. X-Rays and gamma rays are really the same thing, the difference is how they were produced. Depending on their energy, they can be stopped by a thin piece of aluminum foil, or they can penetrate several inches of lead.

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