What is the difference between radioactive decay and radiometric dating

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­Nuclear radiation can be both extremely beneficial and extremely dangerous. X-ray machines, some types of sterilization equipment and nuclear power plants all use nuclear radiation -- but so do nuclear weapons.Nuclear materials (that is, s­ubstances that emit nuclear radiation) are fairly common and have found their way into our normal vocabularies in many different ways. In this article, we will look at nuclear radiation so that you can understand exactly what it is and how it affects your life on a daily basis.At Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, nuclear power plants released radioactive substances into the atmosphere during nuclear accidents.And in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, a nuclear crisis raised fears about radiation and questions about the safety of nuclear power.For example, when the Enterprise approaches a star on "Star Trek," a member of the crew might warn about an increase in radiation levels.In Tom Clancy's book "The Hunt for Red October," a Russian submarine has a nuclear reactor accident with radiation leakage that forces the crew to abandon ship.Scientists gain an understanding of the Earth's history by studying its composition.Geological processes have helped to create many iconic features on Earth.

Mountains have been built and eroded, continents and oceans have moved great distances, and the Earth has fluctuated from being extremely cold and almost completely covered with ice to being very warm and ice-free.

Such isotopes are called radioactive isotopes or radioisotopes.

When a radioactive isotope decays, it forms a different atom with a different number of protons.

When the number of protons in the nucleus equals the number of electrons, the atom is electrically neutral; otherwise it is an ion and has a net positive or negative charge.

An atom is classified according to its number of protons and neutrons: the number of protons determines the chemical element and the number of neutrons determines the isotope of that element.

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