Decay Rate Comparison - Maple Help

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Decay Rate Comparison

Main Concept

The decay rate of a radioactive substance is characterized by its half-life (τ1/2), a quantity that represents the time taken for a given amount of material to decay into half of its initial value. The amount of radioactive substance N left in a sample at time t is given by

Nt=Nt=0 2t/τ1/2,


which means that radioactive substances with big half-life are spent slower than those with small half-life.


The following graph shows a comparison of decay rates of some of the frequently encountered radioactive substances:



synthesized, used as a body tracer in positron emission tomography


product of nuclear weapons and reactors, great health hazard


synthesized, used as a body tracer for gamma cameras


present in nuclear waste, used in smoke detectors


biggest source of radiation exposure, second most frequent cause of lung cancer


highly radioactive, formerly used in luminescent paint, spas, and health products


synthesized, used in radiation cancer treatment


present in organic materials, used in archeology to date organic remains


used in first nuclear weapons, highly toxic to humans


synthesized, fissile, used in nuclear reactors and weapons


synthesized, used in radiodiagnosis to detect vitamin B12 deficiency


by-product of uranium enrichment, not fissile


synthesized, used for radiodiagnosis and sterilization


fissile, used to sustain chain reactions in nuclear power plants and weapons, enrichment methods increase its concentration


present in nuclear fallout and waste, used in bone cancer therapy


most common uranium in nature, not fissile but fissionable by neutron absorption


Select up to three radioactive isotopes, enter the quantity of the radioactive sample, and compare their decay rates.

Select the reference isotope   


Select the second isotope  


Select the third isotope   


Specify the amount of radioactive substance


Select time scale





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