college chemistry

Discuss in detail, one way in which atomic nuclear decay takes place. What is the significance of atomic nuclear decay? Analyze the societal implications of using this process.

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asked by jane
  1. Good Lord.

    This cannot be college chemistry...is reads like an online course substuting for college thinking. Societal implication? Transmutation (look that term up) of elements has been going on since the beginning of time (yes, that is 13 billion years ago). And your instructor asked you for societal implications of that? Lord help us all.

    What is the societal implications of time?

    You can look up nuclear decay and choose one method. But societal implications is something more than my pea brain can dwell on.

  2. Atomic nuclear decay is fission (the breaking in two) of the nuclei of certain elements. It can be made to occur in atomic bombs and electric power plants. It also occurs in a few naturally occurring elements such as uranium, radium and thorium. Nuclear can be used for medical imaging and the treatment of cancer, or as a source of power. The stockpiling and threatened use of nuclear weapons by certain countries has had profound historical implications.

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    posted by drwls
  3. The greatest significant of nuclear decay is that it proves quantum mechanics, specifically the idea of quantum tunneling. The energy barriers that keep an atomic nucleus together are very high. Ordinarily, it would be essentially impossible for a charged particle in the nucleus to ever get over these walls at room temperature. However, quantum mechanics tells us sometimes particles can "tunnel" through walls over which they cannot climb, and it happens unpredictably, at random intervals, with some average probability in a given time.

    That's what happens in nuclear decay. A particle -- for example an alpha particle -- tunnels out of the nucleus. Once it's out, it flies away because of the strong electrostatic repulsion. So the fact that nuclear decay even exists is strong proof of one of the two most significant and strange theories of physics ever devised.

    The social implications of using this process are the same as the social implications of using any natural phenomenon. You can use it wisely (to cure cancer) or stupidly (to kill people), or not at all.

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