Radioactive dating using uranium

An element will undergo decay if: The concept of radioactive decay was first discovered in 1896 by Henri Becquerel as he was working the element uranium compounds.

In his first experiment, he placed the uranium on top of photographic film wrapped in dark paper and placed the crystals in the sunlight.

After placing the uranium in an enclosed spot with no sunlight at all, Becquerel expected that the paper would be clear and free of dark spots.

Much to his surprise, the paper was darkened as if it had been exposed to the sun.

Here's a chart explaining the basics of radioactive decay.

(Only a handful of nuclides with atomic numbers less than 83 emit an -particle.) The product of -decay is easy to predict if we assume that both mass and charge are conserved in nuclear reactions.

­You've probably heard people talk about radiation both in fiction and in real life.

For example, when the Enterprise approaches a star on "Star Trek," a member of the crew might warn about an increase in radiation levels.

And in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, a nuclear crisis raised fears about radiation and questions about the safety of nuclear power.

­Nuclear radiation can be both extremely beneficial and extremely dangerous. X-ray machines, some types of sterilization equipment and nuclear power plants all use nuclear radiation -- but so do nuclear weapons.

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