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Is it possible to produce the inverse of a decay?

  1. Mar 12, 2015 #1
    Is it possible to produce the inverse of a natural radioactive decay? If yes, what would happen? Release energy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 12, 2015 #2


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    Since the decay releases energy, if you put energy into the system, say in a nova or supernova, you can call that an inverse decay, or more correctly nucleosynthesis.
  4. Mar 12, 2015 #3
    Yes. Every decay is reversible.

    A "reverse decay" would be a collision of two particles resulting in creation of one particle, whose rest mass is bigger than the initial two particles' masses.

    For example, direct a sufficiently energetic electron beam into hydrogen and you can create a few neutrons...
  5. Mar 12, 2015 #4


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    That would still emit a neutrino.

    Exactly reversing a decay (1 to many particles) is tricky - you have to collide multiple particles with exactly* the right energy to get this 1 particle out and nothing else.

    *within the natural uncertainty of the energy of this particle which increases with shorter lifetime, so it is much easier with short-living particles like the Z boson.
  6. Mar 12, 2015 #5
    I didn't want to be cruel and ask him to create an apparatus which emits beams of W bosons :)
  7. Mar 12, 2015 #6
    Yes, though I would not call that inverse decay. Fusion might be a more appropriate term and their would be release of energy.If you look at the nuclear binding energy curve, you'll see that low Z elements are most likely to undergo fusion, where as heavier elements are likely to undergo decay.
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