Half-Lives of Elements

  • Thread starter Robert Zaleski
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  • #1
Besides the radioactive elements, do the other elements on the Periodic Table of the Elements have half-lives?
 

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  • #2
LURCH
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Yes, all elements have a half-life. All atoms eventually decay. But some of the lighter elements radioactively decay so slowly that their half-life does not have much practical bearing on observational experience.
 
  • #3
Thank You, Lurch.
 
  • #4
FZ+
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Er... what about Iron? If Iron decays... what does it decay to?
 
  • #5
zoobyshoe
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Rust, I guess, Fz+.

Lurch, I have never heard this.
Are you pulling legs?
 
  • #6
LURCH
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Rust, I guess, Fz+.

Lurch, I have never heard this.
Are you pulling legs?

Not at all. Just pointing out that the stable elements are called stable because they have halflifes longer than the supposed age of the universe, trillions of years in some cases. But the law of entropy tells us that even these must eventually break down.
 
  • #7
Nim
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What is the predicted half-life of hydrogen anyways? I remember it being very huge.

Thinking about it some more. If everything has a half-life, does everything end up decaying into hydrogen and then disintegrating into subatomic particles from there?
 
  • #8
FZ+
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Proton has a half life of about 10^30 years, IIRC...
 
  • #9
Nim
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Has a proton ever been observed to decay?
 
  • #10
"Thinking about it some more. If everything has a half-life, does everything end up decaying into hydrogen and then disintegrating into subatomic particles from there?"

What were the ingredients of the 'Big Bang' soup?
 
  • #11
selfAdjoint
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I don't think anyone has ever seen a proton decay. The 10^30 years figure (now pushed up to 6*10^32, I believe) is a lower limit. They got it by observing 10^30 protons for a year and none decayed.
 
  • #12
alchemist
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simplest substance?

if what is said is true,that all elements have a half-life, then it means that they would continue to disintegrate over time and would there be a stage where they would become the simplest form of particles and therefore stop disintegrating?
 
  • #13
DrChinese
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
I don't think anyone has ever seen a proton decay. The 10^30 years figure (now pushed up to 6*10^32, I believe) is a lower limit. They got it by observing 10^30 protons for a year and none decayed.

Yup, this figure is a moving target. Proton decay may never be observed.
 
  • #14
LURCH
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Originally posted by alchemist
if what is said is true,that all elements have a half-life, then it means that they would continue to disintegrate over time and would there be a stage where they would become the simplest form of particles and therefore stop disintegrating?

As we get down to the simplest forms, wave/particle duality becomes a real issue. Theretically, entopy would not be satisfied with individual atoms or even sub-atomic particles. If the universe is indeed "open", and does not end, and if entropy does not cease for some other reason, all energy should break down and distribute until there is nothing but a uniform background radiation. This is "heat death", and would be the end of entropy.
 

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