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A Note on Radioactive Materials and their Measurements

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Chapter Summary

Elements are placed in the periodic table of elements according to atomic number or proton number often referred to as Z. Their atomic weights are also usually indicated and can be fractional if the element in nature contains more than one isotope. Isotopes of an element all have the same atomic number, Z, but have different numbers of neutrons. Some of these isotopes, even in naturally occurring elements, may be radioactive, and are usually given the atomic weight of the longest known isotope. Radioactive decay occurs when an unstable atom loses energy by emitting particles and gamma radiation or by spontaneously fissioning. The activity of a radioactive sample is simply the rate of radioactive decay, expressed as the number of decays per unit time.

Keywords: gamma radiation; isotopes; periodic table; radioactive decay

10.1163/9789004279988_029
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