– what is atomic half-?



Half-life (title is wrong)

In: Physics

Do you mean half-life? Because if so, an atomic half-life is the time it takes for half of a sample of a radioactive element to decay. This time is the same, regardless of the size of your sample due to the randomness of radioactive decay.

When a process has a % chance of happening at a molecular level, rather than taking a predetermined amount of time, you can describe how fast it happens using a statistical idea called Half-Life. Half-Life is the time it takes for 50% of a thing to undergo a specific random process.

Due to how statistics works the starting amount of sample doesn’t really matter. If you flip 10 coins once each minute, the expected Half-Life (where 50% of the coins present will have gotten tails) is 1 minute. If you instead flip 1,000 coins once each minute, the expected Half-Life for hitting tails is still the same 1 minute.

Nuclear decay is usually modeled using this type of system. Once you know the Half-Life, you can calculate the entire decay process with a pretty high amount of accuracy, and even work in reverse to figure out how long decay has been ongoing in a contained sample.