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Homework Help: Penetrating power of a beta particle

  1. Sep 13, 2008 #1
    Hello! I've been quite puzzled by this question and its solution.

    Explain why beta-particles penetrate through matter more easily compared with alpha-particles having the same KE?

    The answer given goes: The mass of beta-particles are much smaller than those of alpha-particles, hence the fractional loss of kinetic energy per collision for beta-particles are smaller and therefore beta-particles are more penetrating.

    Why is the fractional loss of KE per collision positively dependent on the masses? Is there a mathematical way to reason this out?

    Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2008 #2


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    Welcome to PF!

    Hello eftalia! Welcome to PF! :smile:

    Hint: write out the equations for conservation of momentum, and conservation of energy, of a mass m at speed v hitting a stationary mass M head-on, and see how the final speed depends on m. :smile:
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