Ionising Radiation
Quantum and Nuclear

Temperature and the activity of a radioactive source?

Teaching Guidance for 14-16 Supporting Physics Teaching

Effect of temperature and pressure on radioactive sources

Wrong Track: If you heat up a radioactive source, such as radium, it will become more active and give out radiation at a greater rate. It's just the same as with heating up chemicals in chemical reactions.

Right Lines: Changing the temperature of a radioactive source has no effect on the activity of the source.

Radioactivity is different from chemical change

Thinking about the teaching

The fundamental point to stress here is that external conditions, such as temperature and pressure, have no effect on the activity of a radioactive source. The spontaneous emission of radiation involves changes within the nucleus of each atom of the source. This is a different process from that involved in chemical changes where increasing the temperature results in increased motion of atoms, more frequent collisions and a consequent increased rate of reaction.

Ionising Radiation
is used in analyses relating to Radioactive dating
can be analysed using the quantity Half-Life Decay Constant Activity
features in Medical Physics

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