THMG249 – Radiation’s Mid-Life Crisis

We delve a little into Radiation and some of the real-life uses. Add in a little perspective and science and we have an episode about radiation half-lives. Take a listen!

Show Notes:

5:45 Radiation Half Life

  • Half life refers to the amount of time it takes for half of the atoms to decay
  • Half life of a radioactive isotope is not linear (it’s a curve)
  • There is an equation for figuring out half life

9:00 Half Life Equations

10:41 How Do We Actually Use Half Life Equations?

  • Carbon Dating (Carbon 14)
  • Very small isotope of carbon dioxide contains C14
  • Plants use carbon during photosynthesis
  • C14 is incorporated into the plant and then it is eaten by other animals and C14 becomes part of the structure of all living things
  • Carbon has a half life of 5,730 years
  • Can only determine age of things that were once “alive” with C14

14:00 Catalyzing Nuclear Reactions (1930s)

  • Bombardment of isotopes hits the nucleus
  • Nuclear fission can create new elements by releasing tons of energy
  • Energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed
  • Mass gets turned into energy. Very little mass is needed to generate a tremendous amount of energy
  • 19 kiloton nuclear device all that energy comes from .9grams of matter being converted into energy
  • 1 neutron is used and 3 are produced (domino effect)
  • This concept is utilized in a nuclear reactor

27:00 Fusion vs Fission

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