Radioactive Isotope: Alpha, Beta Particles & Nuclear Radiation

In summary, a radioactive isotope is an atom with an unstable nucleus that emits radiation, such as alpha or beta particles, through nuclear decay. Alpha particles are made up of two protons and two neutrons and have a low penetrating power, while beta particles are high-energy electrons and have a higher penetrating power. Nuclear radiation is the energy released from the nucleus during radioactive decay. Radioactive isotopes have many practical uses, including in medical imaging, carbon dating, and industrial processes.
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Hi, just learning about alpha and beta particles in class this week. What does it mean that the nucleus is unstable in a radioactive isotope? Is this a condition that must be present for nuclear radiation?
 
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A radioactive isotope (by definition) is one that is unstable. This almost always involves alpha or beta (+ or -) particle output. There is a rare reaction, electron capture, where no particle is emitted.
 

What is a radioactive isotope?

A radioactive isotope is an atom with an unstable nucleus that emits radiation in the form of alpha or beta particles, or through nuclear decay.

What are alpha particles?

Alpha particles are made up of two protons and two neutrons and are positively charged. They have a low penetrating power and can be stopped by a sheet of paper.

What are beta particles?

Beta particles are high-energy electrons that are emitted from the nucleus of a radioactive atom. They have a higher penetrating power than alpha particles and can be stopped by a sheet of aluminum.

What is nuclear radiation?

Nuclear radiation is the energy that is released from the nucleus of an atom during radioactive decay. It can take the form of alpha or beta particles, or gamma rays.

How are radioactive isotopes used?

Radioactive isotopes have many practical applications, including use in medical imaging, carbon dating, and cancer treatment. They can also be used in industrial processes, such as gauging the thickness of materials.

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