Eli5 : If nothing disappear, what happens to the atoms that disintegrate when their life is done (life span of an atom)

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Eli5 : If nothing disappear, what happens to the atoms that disintegrate when their life is done (life span of an atom)

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Do you mind sharing which atoms “disintegrate when their life is done”? Not too sure I’ve ever heard of any.

Anonymous 0 Comments

>If nothing disappear, what happens to the atoms that disintegrate when their life is done (life span of an atom)

Non-radioactive particles do not have a lifespan. They do not disintegrate. They are stable.

Radioactive particles decay into other, more stable, particles and radiation with an energy equivalent to the amount of mass lost during the decay. That energy doesn’t disappear. It’s still there, in the form of a *slightly warmer* room.

Anonymous 0 Comments

So hydrogen atoms don’t decay or have a half-life if I understand correctly ?

Anonymous 0 Comments

So atoms don’t really have a “life span”

Some unstable materials have a “halflife” which is a rate at which they break down, but they just turn into other smaller materials through radioactive decay

The closest I can think of to atoms disintegrating is when matter and antimatter collide and annihilate. This usually takes place on a level smaller than atoms. Atoms are made up of protons neutrons and electrons, and then when they collide with their antimatter counterparts, anti-proton antineutron and positron (respectively), each particle is destroyed and a burst of energy is released.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Sounds like you’re talking about half life, which is a measure of how long (on average) it takes for half of a radioactive material to decay. When atoms decay, all that means is they eject parts of themselves and as a result become different atoms. Only certain bigger elements will decay, which is what makes them radioactive. So no matter or energy gets lost, it’s just redistributed.

To add on to this, atoms don’t have a set lifespan either. A radioactive atom does not “remember” how long it’s existed and then suddenly decay after a certain period. The process of decay is a random event that has a fixed chance of happening at any given point. The lower the chance, the longer it takes, on average. This is why we measure the half life of a material, instead of the full life; because we can estimate with probability how long it will take for half of the atoms to decay, and at our scale that estimate is often really accurate, but it could take eternity for every last atom to decay.