Radioactive decay half-life of polonium

In summary, the half-life of polonium can be calculated by dividing the number of days (420) by the number of times the activity was reduced by half (4), resulting in a half-life of 105 days. The concept of half-life is based on repeatedly halving the initial value, with each halving resulting in a new value that is half of the previous one. Therefore, the half-life of polonium is 105 days.
  • #1
pat666
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Homework Statement



c) In 420 days, the activity of a sample of polonium, Po, fell to one-eighth of its initial value. i) Calculate the half-life of polonium.

Homework Equations





The Attempt at a Solution


if the activity fell by 1/8 then it went through 4 half liefs (1/2*4=1/8) so the half life is simply 420/4=105days. The wording confuses me though because of the use of "activity" so I think what I've done might be wrong?
Thanks
 
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  • #2
Half life is the time for the activity to half.
How many times do you have to cut something in half to get 1/8 of the original?
 
  • #3
isnt it 4 like i said? (1/8*4=1/2)
Thanks
 
  • #4
1 * 1/2 = 1/2
1/2 * 1/2 = 1/4
1/2 * 1/2 * 1/2 = 1/8
 
  • #5
oops, I don't know what I was thinking. so t1/2 would be 140days?
 
  • #6
correct
 
  • #7
sweet, thanks
 

Related to Radioactive decay half-life of polonium

What is the half-life of polonium?

The half-life of polonium is approximately 138 days. This means that after 138 days, half of the initial amount of polonium will have decayed into other elements.

How does polonium decay?

Polonium decays through alpha decay, where an alpha particle (two protons and two neutrons) is emitted from the nucleus. This process continues until the element reaches a stable isotope.

Is polonium a radioactive element?

Yes, polonium is a highly radioactive element. It is a naturally occurring element and has 33 known isotopes, all of which are radioactive.

What are the main uses of polonium?

Polonium has limited commercial uses due to its highly radioactive nature. It has been used in thermoelectric power sources for space probes, as a source of neutrons in research, and in certain medical treatments.

How is the half-life of polonium measured?

The half-life of polonium is measured through experimental methods. Scientists can measure the decrease in the number of radioactive atoms over time using specialized equipment, such as a Geiger counter, and calculate the half-life based on this data.

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