Radioactivity. Radioactive dating and half-life

Would you like to know more about radioactivity and the principles on which it is based?

The online radioactivity simulations will help you to understand the basic principles of radioactivity and will show you how to illustrate some of its most important associated concepts such as radioactive dating and half-life.

Radioactivity is the phenomenon by which some chemical elements, called radioisotopes, spontaneously emit radiation. This radiation can be in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays or a combination of these types of radiation.

Radioactivity occurs due to the nuclear instability of certain atoms. The nuclei of these atoms are unstable and tend to decay, releasing energy in the form of radiation. This radiation can have ionizing effects, which means that it can release electrons from the atoms and molecules with which it interacts.

Radioisotopes are used in a variety of applications, such as in nuclear medicine for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, in industry for the inspection of materials, and in nuclear power generation.

Radioactivity can be dangerous to living beings if excessive exposure occurs or if radioactive materials are released into the environment in an uncontrolled manner. Prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation can have detrimental health effects, such as cell damage, genetic mutations and increased risk of developing cancer. Therefore, precautions must be taken and safety limits established to minimize exposure to radioactivity and protect people and the environment.

In the event of a nuclear or radiological incident, it is important to follow the directions of the authorities and evacuate or take protective measures as necessary. Regulatory agencies and nuclear safety programs are responsible for monitoring and regulating the use of radioactive materials to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

Radiation detection

Radiation shielding

Half-Life I

In radioactivity, the half-life is the time interval required for half of the atomic nuclei in a radioactive sample to decay. If the half-life passes again, half of the remaining mass will remain (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, …) The mass gets smaller and smaller, but there is always a little bit left.
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Half-Life II

Radioactive dating

This simulation explains the concept of half-life, including the random nature of half-life, in terms of single particles and larger samples. It describes decay processes, including how elements change and emit energy and/or particles. Explains how radiometric dating works and why different elements are used for dating different objects. Also identifies that 1/2 life is the average time for a radioactive substance to decay.


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