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Two atoms of an element with a half life of ten years

  1. Feb 26, 2015 #1
    On the other hand, what if we only have two atoms of an element with a half life of ten years. Then after then years, only one atom of that original element remains. What happens next? Is the lone surviving atom immutable?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    "half life" is a statistical distribution that is applicable to large numbers of atoms. I don't think it's meaningful when you get down to a couple, but no, the remaining atom would decay eventually.

    The odds of it decaying in the first 10 years are 50%. If it doesn't decay then, the odds of its decaying in the next 10 years is 50% ... this goes on until it decays so the chances of it lasting more than a few decades are slim
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
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