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Spontaneous atomic disintegration.

  1. Aug 26, 2009 #1
    Is spontaneous atomic disintegration possible under current knowledge? I mean hypothetically if we could isolate one hydrogen atom in a container how long it would be hydrogen atom?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2009 #2
    Hi there,

    Just a question to your question. What do you call spontaneous disintegration of an atom???
  4. Aug 26, 2009 #3
    I would call that disintegration of conglomerate of various subatomic particles that would happen spontaneously over time.
  5. Aug 26, 2009 #4
    I believe that in the case hydrogen, it would stay as it is for very long. The atom does not stay in its original form because of the surrounding.

    That is being isolated from any type of radiation, of course. Otherwise, the radiation (beta, alpha, gamma) can influence the state of the subatomic particles.

  6. Aug 26, 2009 #5
    Hydrogen (meaning proton plus electron) has a lifetime exceeding 6.6 x 1033 years. This is the experimental lower limit. The hydrogen nucleus could capture a thermal neutron and become a deuteron, but the proton won't disintegrate. See
  7. Aug 30, 2009 #6


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    Since the OP specified an isolated hydrogen atom, we wouldn't consider neutron capture in this case.

    There is currently no experimental evidence that the proton or electron would ever decay. As Bob S pointed out, we have a lower limit on the lifetime of these particles and it is well in excess of the current age of the universe.
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