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Nuclear Simulation- Beta Decay ?

  1. Jan 14, 2007 #1
    Nuclear Simulation- Beta Decay ??

    I'm a high school sophomore, I'm having trouble finding a suitable trigger for beta decay in my nuclear simulation (for fun) :confused: :cry: :confused: . I have the strong force and electromagnetic forces all set but I've run into the problem of atoms with higher (too high to be stable) neutron:proton ratios being more stable. To solve that I added a probablility that a single neutron would decay. If a neutron did decay, the neutron would turn into a proton and an electron would be shot off (that in turn could be swallowed by a proton turning that proton into a neutron). This hasn't been working very well, and I was wondering if there is a more reliable (or correct) way to control the beta decay. I was thinking that maybe certain types of collisions or some type of weak force interaction might cause it, but I'm not sure. I've also had a hard time finding good reference material. Most webpages just go over the basics of what beta decay is, and don't give me the details I need to put beta decay into proportion with my other forces. Any suggestions or help would be great. :tongue2: edit: I forgot to mention that I'd like to avoid "cheats"- premade charts or data and the such. I'd also prefer to stay with classical physics type stuff. I can understand corks, but some of that more weird physics stuff is probably beyond my grasp.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2007
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  3. Jan 14, 2007 #2


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    What does one mean by 'control beta decay.' Each radionuclide has associated with it a unique half-life or decay constant (the latter inversely proportional to the first) which is related to the probability that approximately one-half of a population of that nuclide with decay during that time period (half-life).

    Have you considered this site regarding neutron decay

    It is impossible to predict with certainty that an given nucleus will decay. One can certainly excite that nucleus, but it still might not decay, although it could be transformed.

    Also, I am not sure what one did with the neutron decay in the nucleus, but the free neutron half-life does no apply.
  4. Jan 14, 2007 #3
    By "control," I meant a somewhat correct way to determine when beta-decay should occur. I've also used hyperphysics before.. great website.
  5. Jan 15, 2007 #4
    Well.. what exactly makes a nucleus with too high a neutron:proton ratio unstable?
  6. Jan 15, 2007 #5


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    That's a very good question, and I'm not sure there is an adequate answer. I'll have to dig through some old texts.

    However, I would expect that with increasing neutrons in the nucleus, there is a greater probability that one will undergo beta decay - i.e. a d-quark becomes and u-quark.

    At some point, heavy nuclei (beyond Bi-209) have a probability of alpha (He-4) decay, with some transuranics capable of spontaneous fission. That has to with apparent oscillations within the nucleus.
  7. Jan 18, 2007 #6
    Well, you could try using some kind of code in step time increments and the average lifetime to determine the probability that as of that time step, the atom should have decayed, then use a random number generator to check to see if that probability has occured, but I imagine that would be a lot more trouble than it's worth.
  8. Jan 26, 2007 #7
    Ha.. that's what I've ended up using. It'll be more likely to beta decay the more neutrons there are. I even managed to have the electrons be particles and calculate whether it gets trapped in the nucleus. I'm pretty much ironing out some details though.. I'm not sure my sim is very accurate, but I can see some vague patterns.

    Edit: Could you give me some background on the weirder parts of nuclear physics? I understand some of the more basic stuff like the Pauli Exclusion Principle and Coulombs Law, but I'm sort of clueless about the more complex and stranger theories. I've heard that maybe waves or quatum mechanics or other odd stuff may play a role (??). Maybe there's a good resource (that explains that not in detail, but terms that I can at least understand) that you could direct me to? Thanks
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2007
  9. Jan 26, 2007 #8


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    Last edited: Jan 26, 2007
  10. Jan 27, 2007 #9
    Very interesting paper. Of course, I don't understand all of it, but I'm beginning to get a vague idea of how it works.
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