Radioactive decay dating
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.At Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, nuclear power plants released radioactive substances into the atmosphere during nuclear accidents.
Now you could say, OK, what's the probability of any given molecule reacting in one second? But we're used to dealing with things on the macro level, on dealing with, you know, huge amounts of atoms. So I have a description, and we're going to hopefully get an intuition of what half-life means. And how does this half know that it must stay as carbon? So if you go back after a half-life, half of the atoms will now be nitrogen. Then all of a sudden you can use the law of large numbers and say, OK, on average, if each of those atoms must have had a 50% chance, and if I have gazillions of them, half of them will have turned into nitrogen. How much time, you know, x is decaying the whole time, how much time has passed? Unlike the other natural isotopes of carbon, carbon-14 is unstable. One of its neutrons turns into a proton and spits out an electron.Now, with seven protons instead of six, it's turned into nitrogen. And scientists know exactly how long it will take for half of any amount of carbon-14 to decay away.SAL: In the last video we saw all sorts of different types of isotopes of atoms experiencing radioactive decay and turning into other atoms or releasing different types of particles. But the question is, when does an atom or nucleus decide to decay? So it could either be beta decay, which would release electrons from the neutrons and turn them into protons. And normally when we have any small amount of any element, we really have huge amounts of atoms of that element. That's 6.02 times 10 to the 23rd carbon-12 atoms. This is more than we can, than my head can really grasp around how large of a number this is.