6 Radioactivity

6.1 Introduction

The stable isotopes are located in a narrow band of the nuclear chart called the β-stability line, alongside of which nuclei unstable by β+ or β emission are located. For A > 150 the emission of an α-particle is energetically favorable, and in this region one finds several α-emitters. Heavy nuclei also release energy if divided in two nearly equal parts and can, for this reason, fission spontaneously. A radioactive substance, which contains some unstable isotope, is in permanent transformation by the action of one or more of these processes. The physics of each of them will be studied later. In this chapter we are only interested in the statistical aspect of the problem: we want to find the evolution in time ...

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