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Neutron decay?

  1. May 21, 2007 #1
    can a neutron decay into a proton? i certainly didnt think so, but i am reading hawking's new little book "breifer history of time", and he states that in there while talking about the early universe. thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2007 #2
    Yes, a free neutron decays with a half life of between 10 and 12 minutes (depends on the source used, but most sources put it closer to 11 minutes) to a proton electron and antineutrino. A neutron inside a nucleus can also decay similarly, depending on whether the atom is a neutron heavy radioactive atom.
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