Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
onemind

How old are atoms??

Recommended Posts

Hi, I was just wondering if it is possible for an atom to die. eg If you had a hydrogen atom isolated somewhere on its own, say a vacuum box or something, would it stay in there with the same state forever or will it disappear?

Also, with bigger attoms, will they break down to simpler atoms over time?

Sorry if this is to basic but my knowledge of matter is limited :)

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi' date=' I was just wondering if it is possible for an atom to die. eg If you had a hydrogen atom isolated somewhere on its own, say a vacuum box or something, would it stay in there with the same state forever or will it disappear?

Also, with bigger attoms, will they break down to simpler atoms over time?

Sorry if this is to basic but my knowledge of matter is limited :)

Thanks[/quote']

 

Some atoms do break down - these are called radioactive atoms, and they change until they are no longer radioactive. Atoms bigger than lead (>82 protons) are all unstable. It is also possible for nuclei to fuse together, which is what happens in stars; this happens most often with light nuclei, like hydrogen and helium.

 

Protons, which are hydrogen nuclei, are thought to be stable, or if they are unstable, they have a really long half life - many times the age of the universe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Protons, which are hydrogen nuclei, are thought to be stable, or if they are unstable, they have a really long half life - many times the age of the universe.

 

That's an interesting way to look at it.

 

I have a question: becuase nuclear decay is governed by probability, could there be a slight (and this may be a very tiny number) chance that one could witness (under certain lab conditions) the natural decay of a H atom, if the latter part of your statement is true?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's an interesting way to look at it.

 

I have a question: becuase nuclear decay is governed by probability' date=' could there be a slight (and this may be a very tiny number) chance that one could witness (under certain lab conditions) the natural decay of a H atom, if the latter part of your statement is true?[/quote']

 

Yes. People do look for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it'd just decay to a little neutron, and the electron would just fly off?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So it'd just decay to a little neutron, and the electron would just fly off?

 

That wasn't one of the decay channels listed. A neutron is more massive than a proton, so you have a problem with conserving energy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.