# Nuclear Physics and Radioactivity

Student Learning Objectives
Lessons / Lecture Notes
Important Equations
Example Problems
Applets and Animations

Student Learning Objectives

• To understand the basic nuclear structure.
• To understand the forces that hold the nucleus together and under what circumstances it might break apart.
• To understand the concept of nuclear binding energy and calculate the binding energy for different nuclei.
• To distinguish between the different types of radioactive decays and compute the daughter nuclei for these decays.
• To use the concept of half life to determine the age of a radioactive sample.

Lessons / Lecture Notes

PY106 Notes from Boston University (algebra-based):

Introductory physics notes from University of Winnipeg (algebra-based):

HyperPhysics (calculus-based)

Important Equations

Example Problems

Problem 1
(a) For each of the four radioactive decays listed below, write the decay reaction and identify the daughter in the form.

α decay of

β- decay of :

β+ decay of :

γ decay of :

(b) The number of radioactive nuclei present at the start of an experiment is 4.60 × 1015. The number present twenty days later is 8.14 × 1014. What is the half-life (in days) of the nuclei? (Solutions)

Problem 2
What is the average binding energy per nucleon (in MeV/nucleon) of the nucleus? Use the following masses in atomic mass units (Solutions):

mass of O-16 atom = 15.9949146 u

mp = 1.0072765 u

mn = 1.0086649 u

me = 0.0005486 u

Applets and Animations

 Alpha Decay Watch alpha particles escape from a Polonium nucleus, causing radioactive alpha decay. See how random decay times relate to the half life. (Previously part of the Nuclear Physics simulation - now there are separate Alpha Decay and Nuclear Fission sims.) Beta Decay Watch beta decay occur for a collection of nuclei or for an individual nucleus. Nuclear Decay The decay of 500 atoms of the fictional element Balonium. Uses a proper Monte Carlo engine to simulate real decays Nuclear Fission Start a chain reaction, or introduce non-radioactive isotopes to prevent one. Control energy production in a nuclear reactor! (Previously part of the Nuclear Physics simulation - now there are separate Alpha Decay and Nuclear Fission sims.) Radioactive Dating Game Learn about different types of radiometric dating, such as carbon dating. Understand how decay and half life work to enable radiometric dating to work. Play a game that tests your ability to match the percentage of the dating element that remains to the age of the object.