I am a new user of the GQ geiger counter And learning about nuclear science and mainly use my GQ on radioactive minerals / Fiestaware and just learnt that Uranium and others go through a decay chain. The latest I read about Americium241 decay into Neptunium. Does this happen invisibly whist giving of radiation I.e the atoms changing or does it Become Neptunium at the end of its half life. Thanks for any help anyone can give a newbie here. Scott
Also, how can we stop all this spam ware entering the forum?
When an atom gives off a radiation particle it changes in that instant to another isotope. Giving off an electron (Beta particle) changes a neutron to a proton, increasing the atomic number by one and creating a new element, while giving off 2 protons and 2 neutrons (Alpha particle) reduces the atomic number by two. The atoms are changing all the time radiation is given off; the half life is just the time when half of the atoms have changed. A decaying sample will have a proportion of each element in the chain present. These proportions are used to determine the age or origin of the sample. There are more layers to the topic when digging deeper.
Thanks for your reply. I appreciate that and that information is awesome.So, in my element collection , I have a small button of the Americium out of a smoke alarm which if I understand right is actually Americium dioxide. So are the atoms being given off the Neptunium? The next isotope in the americium decay chain.
The radiation given off is an Alpha particle (Helium nucleus), and the Americium atom is now a Neptunium atom. Some of the Neptunium atoms will also give off another Alpha particle and become Protactinium. See h**p://metadata.berkeley.edu/nuclear-forensics/Decay%20Chains.html for this and other decay chains. Your sample will also give off Beta radiation, which is from other decays like Radium into Actinium.