MadSci Network: Physics

Re: How does one determine the half life of uranium-238 from scratch?

Date: Mon Jan 7 16:02:21 2002
Posted By: William Lorenzen, Staff, Radiation Safety, Children's Hospital
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1010016790.Ph

This is done experimentally.  There is not magic equation you can plug 
information into and produce a resulting halflife.

The methods are typically observations made through a scientific study of 
some sort that followed the decay of a nuclide over time.  It could also 
involve the use of mass spectographic analysis of the element(s) in 
question and/or their progeny.

if you look up a nuclides half-life you will find several usually listed 
for each nuclide as different investigations have yielded slightly 
different values.

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