# The lifetime of an unstable nucleus

• wdlang
In summary, protons and neutrons interact with each other through the strong force, which is incredibly strong. However, there are unstable nuclei with lifetimes in the millions of years, which seems strange because the time scale of strong interactions is much smaller. This is because the decay of unstable nuclei is primarily caused by the weak interaction, rather than the strong interaction. This is evident in beta decays, which are always weak, and in alpha decays, which involve tunneling through a potential barrier. Gamma decays can also have longer lifetimes if they do not have a significant dipole moment, as the electromagnetic interaction is weaker than the strong interaction.
wdlang
protons and neutrons interact with each other with the strong force, which is very strong

however, there are many unstable nucleus which have a lifetime in the order of millions of years

this is quite strange

the time scale of strong interaction is many many orders smaller than that of the lifetime

how is this possible?

you are confusing weak decay with strong interactions.

andrien said:
you are confusing weak decay with strong interactions.

what is the force responsible for the decay of Ur?

weak interaction or strong interaction?

By what reaction it decay.that is the answer.

Beta decays are always weak (quark numbers are not conserved).
Alpha decays have a different issue: Those alpha particles do not have enough energy to escape in a classical way - they have to tunnel through a potential barrier, and the tunneling probability can be very small.
Gamma decays can be long-living, if they do not have a (significant) dipole moment, and require the emission of multiple photons at the same time. And, of course, the electromagnetic interaction is weaker than the strong interaction.

## 1. What is an unstable nucleus?

An unstable nucleus is a type of atomic nucleus that is not able to maintain its structure and undergoes radioactive decay, releasing particles and energy in the process.

## 2. How long does an unstable nucleus last?

The lifetime of an unstable nucleus varies greatly depending on the specific isotope. Some may last for fractions of a second, while others may have a half-life of millions of years.

## 3. What is half-life?

Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the atoms in a sample of an unstable nucleus to decay into more stable forms. It is a measure of the stability of a nucleus.

## 4. How is the lifetime of an unstable nucleus measured?

Scientists use a variety of techniques to measure the lifetime of an unstable nucleus, including counting the number of decays over a certain period of time and studying the decay products.

## 5. Can the lifetime of an unstable nucleus be altered?

No, the lifetime of an unstable nucleus is a fundamental property of the isotope and cannot be changed or altered by any external factors.

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