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a uranium-238 nucleus may stay in one piece for billions of years, but later it decays into an a particle of mass 6.64 x 10^-27 and a thorium-234 nucleus of mass 3.88 x 10^-25. The decay process itself is extremely fast (about 10^-20 s).

Suppose the uranium nucleus was at rest just before the decay. If the a particle is emitted at a speed of 1.4 x 10^7 m/s, what would be the recoil speed of the thorium nucleus?

Please help. I don't know where to begin.

  • physics - ,

    Use the law of conservation of mometum. the total momentum of the two particles before the ejection was zero...

    0=mass234*Vth+ massalpha*Valpha

    solve for Valpha

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