This resource provides a simplified visual simulations of common nuclear decay processes, including alpha, beta minus, and positron (beta plus) decay. Gamma radiation is clearly associated with decay processes as an energy byproduct of decay, and neutrino and anti-neutrino particles are shown as associated with beta decay processes. The concept of half-life is briefly discussed.
The process of radioactive decay involves the transmutation of the nucleus from one element to another when the radioactive nucleus ejects a charged particle. The students should be able to characterize the decay process as alpha decay, which involves ejection of a helium nucleus, beta decay, which involves ejection of an electron, or positron decay, which involves the ejection of a positive electron known as a positron. Advanced students should understand that neutrino emission is associated with beta decay processes. Students will also see that gamma radiation is not a unique form of radiation, but is associated with the nuclear decay processes defined above.
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