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TerjiD t1_j4q996f wrote

This is a really interesting explanation. Made me smarter.

I gotta ask though - is "decay" the correct term, when an element goes up in protons?

Only curious, just trying to get smarter.


PlutoniumChemist t1_j4qdvq8 wrote

There are multiple types of radioactive decay, some make the atomic number go up, some make the atomic number go down, but it's correct to refer to them all as radioactive decay.


cited t1_j4qfpjm wrote

Remember it also goes down a neutron when it does it. Everything wants to get to the happy line on the chart of the nuclides.


biggyofmt t1_j4qn9ek wrote

This type of decay is known as Beta minus decay. A beta minus particle (aka an electron) and a photon are emitted from the nucleus. This has the effect of raising the atomic number by one, as a neutron was converted to a proton. It is still decay because particles were emitted from the nucleus


Wiz_Kalita t1_j4s134f wrote

It's decay because the atom is going from a higher energy state to a lower energy state. It's very much like rolling down a hill except instead of picking up speed it converts potential energy into radiation.