In theory, could any element become unstable?

  • B
  • Thread starter Trooper149
  • Start date
  • #1
14
3
Problem Statement: NA
Relevant Equations: NA

So just smashing through some info on particles and I have come across the term "decay" which seems to be used quite ambiguously.

Decay is the process where a nucleus expells radiation as a means to redress the imbalance of forces occurring within, as I understand it. Quite a few sources say "that decay is caused by the nucleus". This seems flawed, because if we were to treat the nucleus as a closed system, and there is an imbalance of energy between the outside and inside of the nucleus in the form of the 4 forces, then theoretically this imbalance can be caused by any injection of energy into the nucleus of the particle?

With this said, could you make any particle unstable?

Also would this make all isotopes unstable?

Appreciate any info.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Nugatory
Mentor
12,963
5,657
Anything will break if we hit it hard enough with a big enough hammer, so in that sense everything is unstable. But because that’s an unhelpful way of defining stability, we instead consider a system to be unstable only if there’s a way for it to break apart without adding energy.

Thus, we consider a boulder at the foot of a mountain to be a stable configuration, but the same boulder on top of the mountain to be an unstable configuration: at any moment the boulder might roll downhill, releasing energy as it goes.

You are asking whether we should consider the situation with the boulder at the bottom just as unstable because we could add external energy by using a bulldozer to push the rock back uphill again.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes Astronuc and Drakkith

Related Threads on In theory, could any element become unstable?

Replies
99
Views
30K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
8K
Replies
2
Views
694
Replies
33
Views
46K
Replies
10
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
9K
Top