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Time Dilation's Effect on Radioactive Decay

  1. Jun 18, 2011 #1
    Does time dilation effect radioactive decay?

    For example, if I speed a radioactive atom up to near light speeds, will its decay slow?

    If so, could this be used to study atoms with a very short decay time?
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  3. Jun 18, 2011 #2

    Doc Al

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    It affects all physical processes.

  4. Jun 18, 2011 #3
    Does temperature effect time dilation? Since a "hot" atom will be moving more then a "cold" atom, with the speed difference change the decay of the atom?
  5. Jun 18, 2011 #4


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    A classic example of the original question is cosmic-ray muons, which would be unlikely to reach the earth's surface except for time dilation. An accelerator version: http://www.lightandmatter.com/html_books/genrel/ch02/ch02.html [Broken] , Example 6: Large time dilation

    Yes. The effect is extremely small at ordinary temperatures, but for example it's big enough to make the Mossbauer effect impossible to observe in gases:

    http://www.lightandmatter.com/html_books/genrel/ch01/ch01.html#Section1.5 [Broken] , 1.5.6 The Pound-Rebka experiment

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Jun 18, 2011 #5
    Thanks. That clears a lot up.

    Everywhere else I have looked states that temperature does not effect radioactive decay.
  7. Jun 18, 2011 #6


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    The effect is extremely small, so that statement is an excellent approximation.
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