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Science Ch. 10

TermDefinition
radioactive decay the disintegration of an unstable atomic nucleus into one or more different nuclides, accompanied by the emission of radiation, the nuclear capture or ejection of electrons, or fission
nuclear radiation the particles that are released from the nucleus during radioactive decay, such as neutrons, electrons, and photons
alpha particle a positively charged particle that consists of two protons and two neutrons and that is emitted from a nucleus during radioactive decay; it is identical to the nucleus of a helium atom and has a charge of +2
beta particle an electron or positron that is emitted from a nucleus during radioactive decay
gamma ray the high-energy photon emitted by a nucleus during fission and radioactive decay
half-life the time required for half of a sample of a radioactive isotope to break down by radioactive decay to form a daughter isotope
fission (in physics) the process by which a nucleus splits into two or more fragments and releases neutrons and energy
nuclear chain reaction a continuous series of nuclear fission reactions
critical mass the minimum mass of a fissionable isotope that provides the number of neutrons needed to sustain a chain reaction
fusion the process in which light nuclei combine at extremely high temperatures, forming heavier nuclei and releasing energy
background radiation the nuclear radiation that arises naturally from cosmic rays and from radioactive isotopes in the soil and air
rem the quantity of ionizing radiation that does as much damage to human tissue as 1 roentgen of high-voltage X rays does
radioactive tracer a radioactive material that is added to a substance so that its distribution can be detected later
Created by: Parker Skedel