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Radioactive dating elements

Jump to navigation Jump to search For particle decay in a more general context, see Particle decay. 4 and atomic number decreased by 2. The first decay radioactive dating elements to be discovered were alpha decay, beta decay, and gamma decay.

By contrast, there are radioactive decay processes that do not result in a nuclear transmutation. The energy of an excited nucleus may be emitted as a gamma ray in a process called gamma decay, or that energy may be lost when the nucleus interacts with an orbital electron causing its ejection from the atom, in a process called internal conversion. Another type of radioactive decay results in products that vary, appearing as two or more “fragments” of the original nucleus with a range of possible masses. For a summary table showing the number of stable and radioactive nuclides in each category, see radionuclide.

These 33 are known as primordial nuclides. Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by the French scientist Henri Becquerel, while working with phosphorescent materials. It soon became clear that the blackening of the plate had nothing to do with phosphorescence, as the blackening was also produced by non-phosphorescent salts of uranium and by metallic uranium. It became clear from these experiments that there was a form of invisible radiation that could pass through paper and was causing the plate to react as if exposed to light. At first, it seemed as though the new radiation was similar to the then recently discovered X-rays. The early researchers also discovered that many other chemical elements, besides uranium, have radioactive isotopes.