Radioactivity was discovered by Henri Becquerel in 1896, while using naturally fluorescent minerals for the study of x-rays.
INTRODUCTION TO RADIOACTIVITY
Radioactivity is the particle that emit from the nucleus as the result of nuclear instability.
THE PROCESS OF RADIOACTIVITY
In the process of radioactivity, electromagnetic radiation or particles are emitted from the nucleus of an atom. The most common forms of radiation that get emitted are classified into alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Nuclear radiation occurs in a variety of forms, including the spontaneous fission of a massive nucleus or emission of protons and neutrons.
Radioactivity which is produced in a substance by bombarding high speed particle like protons and neutrons is known as induced radioactivity or artificial radioactivity.
In the unstable atomic nuclei, radioactive decay occurs. The unstable atomic nuclei don’t have the required binding energy that is needed to hold the nucleus together owing to an excess of protons or either neutrons. It comes in three varieties, – alpha, beta and gamma.
Radioactive decay is an extremely random process. With time, radioactivity decreases. There can be no predictions made regarding the unstable nucleus and when it would decay. However, with increase in the number of unstable nuclei, decay can be predicted.
Radioactive decay changes one nucleus into another if the product nucleus holds greater nuclear binding energy over the initially decaying nucleus. The difference in the binding energy of both, determine which of the decay is energetically possible and which isn’t. The excess of the binding energy appears as the kinetic energy or also the mass energy of the decayed products.
Radioactive decay rates are stated in the terms of their half-lives. The half-life of the given nuclear species contributes to its radiation risk. Different decay paths occur as a result of different types of radioactivity and that transmutes the nucleus into other chemical elements. Radioactive dating is possible by examining the amount of decay that a product makes.
Nuclear radiation is stated as the energy particle or the rays that come out from a radioactive element during the process of decay. Nuclear decay process has to obey the conservation law which states that the amount of decayed products must be equal to the amount of the nucleus before decay.
Radiation from the nuclear sources gets distributed in all the directions equally. This obeys the inverse square law.