Half-Life Functions Questions & Answers

In summary, Greetings! This conversation discusses the topic of half-life functions in nuclear particle decay reactions. We learn that the function used to model large samples is N=N0e-kt, which is a decaying exponential. The physical parameters needed to use this function are the initial amount of radioactive species and the half life, which can be measured. However, the shape of the function cannot help find a solution to the cause of nuclear decay, as it is determined by gauge theories. Ultimately, it is impossible to predict when a single nucleus will decay, but we can make predictions based on averages over large samples.
  • #1
drag
Science Advisor
1,105
1
Greetings !

I'd like to ask a few questions about
half-life (not the PC game :wink:) functions:

1. Are they of the same shape for all
nuclear particle decay reactions currently
known and observed ?

2. What is the function mathematicly (and
it's relevant shape of course) ?

3. What are the physical parameters if they
are known (I guess not though) ?

4. Can the shape of the function help find
a solution to the cause of the nuclear decay
(if there is such a thing at all) ?

Thanks ! :smile:

Live long and prosper.
 
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  • #2
Originally posted by drag
1. Are they of the same shape for all
nuclear particle decay reactions currently
known and observed ?

Do you mean N=N0e-kt?

That is valid only for large samples, as it treats the number of radioactive species as continuous. But yes, that can be used to model large samples of any radioisotope.

2. What is the function mathematicly (and
it's relevant shape of course) ?

See above: Decaying exponential.

3. What are the physical parameters if they
are known (I guess not though) ?

You need to know the initial amount of radioactive species (N0). You can find the half life by measuring the amount of radioactive species at some later time.

4. Can the shape of the function help find
a solution to the cause of the nuclear decay
(if there is such a thing at all) ?

No, it cannot. For that you have to look at the gauge theories describing the appropriate reaction. For instance, α-decay is a strong interaction, and β-decay is a weak interaction.

Thanks ! :smile:

No, thank you for getting me out of the philosophy forum. I needed some air!
 
  • #3
Is it understood why an atom will decay when it does, or does it just still seem spontaneous even after someone understands quantum mechanics, standard model, etc.
 
  • #4
It is indeed impossible to predict when any single nucleus will decay. All we can do is predict averages over large samples.
 

Related to Half-Life Functions Questions & Answers

1. What is a half-life function?

A half-life function is a mathematical function that describes the rate at which a substance decays or decreases in quantity over time. It is commonly used in radioactive decay, but can also apply to other natural processes such as population growth and chemical reactions.

2. How is the half-life of a substance determined?

The half-life of a substance is determined by measuring the amount of the substance remaining after a certain amount of time has passed. The time it takes for the substance to decrease to half of its original amount is considered the half-life.

3. What is the significance of the half-life in radioactive decay?

The half-life is a crucial factor in understanding the rate of decay of a radioactive substance. It allows scientists to predict the amount of time it will take for a certain amount of the substance to decay, and to calculate the initial and remaining amounts of the substance.

4. How is the half-life function used in real-world applications?

The half-life function has many practical uses, such as determining the shelf life of a product, predicting the effectiveness of medications, and estimating the age of artifacts in archaeological and geological studies.

5. Are there any limitations to using the half-life function?

While the half-life function is a useful tool, it is not always accurate in predicting the exact decay rate of a substance. Factors such as external influences and the complexity of the decay process can impact the accuracy of the calculations.

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