I’ve been searching and can’t quite find the explanation I’m looking for. I’ve read that radioactivity comes from an atom containing too many neutrons, and so the neutrons will end up breaking off of the atom and go flying in some direction until it collides with something. Which leads me to my first part:
* What happens when this neutron collides with something?
* If we’re talking a person, I’m assuming it damages/destroys the cell it hits, does it bounce and keep destroying more? What if a person was exposed to insanely high radiation of this sort. Do they melt into a pile of goop as their cells are broken down?
I’ve read that the number after an element is supposed to represent the amount of neutrons. So Uranium-238 would have more neutrons than Uranium-235. But isn’t the protons/neutron/electron the entire makeup of the atom?
* How can the amount of neutrons differ and they still be considered the same element?
From what I understand, radioactive decay is what happens to a radioactive element naturally as it’s neutrons fire off.
* What happens to the element? Does it just eventually disappear or “evaporate”? What exactly happens to these atoms once the neutrons have all fired off?
* If the radioactive substance is a metal such as iridium, does it become super brittle once fully decayed? Crumble into dust?
I have absolutely no education or experience in this field, but it fascinates the hell out of me.