Predicting which atoms radiate first in radioavtive materials

  1. I wonder if there is any theoretical knowledge how to predict which atoms will decay first in given radioactive substance? I was asking about this in school and teacher said it is not possible to predict this...i doubt this proccess is random...
  2. jcsd
  3. mathman

    mathman 6,750
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Your teacher is right. Quantum theory underlies what happens, so there is no way of knowing in advance which atom will decay next.
  4. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    This is as random as random random can be.
  5. Yeah, but nothing in nature is random...there must be some laws behind that...they are just waiting to be discovered. It wonders me no one tried predicting this in theory.
  6. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Actually a lot of things in nature are random. Sure, one day we may find there is some hidden, deeper structure responsible for non-randomness af the randomness that we see, but so far there is no reason to assume such thing exists. We have about 100 years of tests confirming randomness of the quantum world.

    And you are not the first one to think this can't be true. This is an old discussion, google "God does not play dice".
  7. I know, but if you can describe it with mathematics and have all parameters you can predict it...maybe just parameters are so "weird". Kinda like it was with motion of planets until they simplified it...
    Anyway thanks for replying
  8. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Ah, the quest for hidden parameters. We've been there, we tried it, we failed.
  9. Maybe someday...I must say I don't have much knowledge of physics, just in last grade of highschool, although I am taking final exams in physics. Highscool physics is just not interessing as it may be...
  10. you have the same prejudice as Einstein: "God does not play dice"

    maybe it would be useful for you to study the birth of Quantum physics?
  11. I said maybe...maybe not.
  12. How exactly have we failed?
    How can scientists disprove hidden parameters?
  13. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    We failed to find them. Doesn't mean they don't exist, I have stated it earlier - but so far there is no reason to believe they do exist.
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