# Radioactive decay: How can you tell which is the daughter & parent?

• erinec
In summary, the conversation discusses the identification of the parent nuclide and daughter nuclide in a material containing both Gallium-64 and Zinc-64. Due to the reversible nature of radioactive decay, it is assumed that the higher mass nucleus, in this case Ga-64, is the parent nuclide. However, the exact decay mechanism (beta plus or beta minus) is not specified, leading to a philosophical discussion about the nature of radioactive decay and the possibility of reversing it.
erinec

## Homework Statement

Analysis of the material shows that it contains both Gallium-64 (atomic mass = 63.936838u) and Zinc-64 (atomic mass = 63.929147u). Which nuclide is the parent nuclide and which is the daughter nuclide?

N/A

## The Attempt at a Solution

The answer is supposed to be Ga-64.
How can we tell it is Ga-64 if we are not given if it is beta plus or beta minus?

Is it because we are supposed to assume that the decay will spontaneously happen? So that it will release the energy and go from a higher mass to a lower mass?

But we don't know if someone bombarded energy to it or not...

I was just wondering how you would look at this kind of problem.

Thanks for your help.

All reactions are reversible. So sure if you bombard it with energy, yes, you can convert Zi-64 to Ga-64. But what's wrong with you original opinion that the high mass nucleus is the parent of the lower mass nucleus? Regardless of the decay mechanism. Beside if Ga->Zi you know it must be beta+, right?

My question is.. So how do we know that Ga is the parent, if we are not informed of the fact that the reaction is not beta minus or plus?

You are just having a philosophical quibble, right? In nature, radioactive decay products are usually lost to the environment and there is no way to go back uphill energywise unless you put them into a particle accelerator or supernova. I think that's what the question is asking.

I see. Thank you very much.

## 1. What is radioactive decay?

Radioactive decay is the process by which unstable atoms lose energy and transform into more stable atoms. This process involves the emission of particles or electromagnetic radiation from the nucleus of an atom.

## 2. How can you determine which is the daughter and parent atom in a radioactive decay?

The daughter atom is the resulting atom after the parent atom undergoes radioactive decay. The parent atom is the original unstable atom that undergoes the decay. The daughter atom will have a different atomic number and mass number compared to the parent atom.

## 3. What is the difference between alpha, beta, and gamma decay?

Alpha decay is the emission of an alpha particle (two protons and two neutrons) from the nucleus of an atom. Beta decay is the emission of a beta particle (an electron or positron) from the nucleus. Gamma decay is the emission of a gamma ray (high energy electromagnetic radiation) from an excited nucleus.

## 4. Can radioactive decay be predicted?

Yes, the rate of radioactive decay can be predicted and is described by the half-life of an isotope. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the original amount of a radioactive isotope to decay into its daughter isotope.

## 5. How is radioactive decay used in scientific research and applications?

Radioactive decay is used in a variety of scientific studies, such as dating fossils and rocks, studying the structure and function of atoms, and creating nuclear energy. It is also used in medical applications, such as radiation therapy for cancer treatment and medical imaging techniques like PET scans.

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