|MadSci Network: Physics|
To begin, most radioactive material does lose weight as it decays. When radioactive material decays, it does so through a loss of energy, particles, or a combination of energy and particles. In addition, many of the particles emitted from the radioactive material will have significant energies as they leave the atom. With heavier elements such as uranium and plutonium, they decay by the combined loss of various particles and energy - and not just energy alone. The simple statement of E = mc2 does work; however, you also will need to know all the various combinations of energy and mass that are lost to make the numbers turn out correct. I wish I could provide a "simple" but detailed answer; however, it is not that easy. There are binding energies, decay energies, particle emissions, the energies of the emitted particles, etc that need to be added into the equation to account for all the energy and mass lost during radioactive decay. These two books were helpful to me in my early year studies of nuclear engineering and might be of use in fine tuning your mathematical calculations: 1. Arthur Foster and Robert Wright, Jr; "Basic Nuclear Engineering, Third Edition;" Allyn & Bacon Inc. 2. James Turner; "Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection;" Pergamon Press Some internet sites that may be of help are: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/radiationionizing http://chemed.chem.purdue.edu/genchem/topicreview/bp/ch23/modes.php http://dbhs.wvusd.k12.ca.us/webdocs/Radioactivity/Radioactivity.html Good luck in finding all the information you need to balance out your equations and get the expected answers.
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