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Radioactive Decay

Radioactive Decay is the naturally occurring process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by emitting radiation. This phenomenon results in the transformation of the original, or parent, nucleus into a different nucleus, often called the daughter nucleus, along with the emission of particles such as alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. The rate at which radioactive decay occurs is specific to each radioactive isotope and is described by its half-life, which is the time taken for half of the radioactive atoms in a sample to decay.

Radioactive decay is a fundamental concept in nuclear physics and has significant implications in various fields, including medicine, energy production, and environmental science. For instance, it is the underlying principle behind radiocarbon dating, a method used to determine the age of archaeological artifacts and geological formations. In medicine, radioactive isotopes are used in diagnostics and treatment, such as in PET scans and cancer radiotherapy.

The process of radioactive decay is essential in understanding both the stability of elements and the natural sources of radiation in our environment. By monitoring and managing radioactive decay, we can harness its benefits while minimizing its risks, contributing to a safer and more scientifically informed world.