# CIE A Level Physics复习笔记23.2.1 The Random Nature of Radioactive Decay

### The Random Nature of Radioactive Decay

• Radioactive decay is defined as:

The spontaneous disintegration of a nucleus to form a more stable nucleus, resulting in the emission of an alpha, beta or gamma particle

• The random nature of radioactive decay can be demonstrated by observing the count rate of a Geiger-Muller (GM) tube
• When a GM tube is placed near a radioactive source, the counts are found to be irregular and cannot be predicted
• Each count represents a decay of an unstable nucleus
• These fluctuations in count rate on the GM tube provide evidence for the randomness of radioactive decay

The variation of count rate over time of a sample radioactive gas. The fluctuations show the randomness of radioactive decay

• Radioactive decay is both spontaneous and random
• A spontaneous process is defined as:

A process which cannot be influenced by environmental factors

• This means radioactive decay cannot be affected by environmental factors such as:
• Temperature
• Pressure
• Chemical conditions
• A random process is defined as:

A process in which the exact time of decay of a nucleus cannot be predicted

• Instead, the nucleus has a constant probability, ie. the same chance, of decaying in a given time
• Therefore, with large numbers of nuclei, it is possible to statistically predict the behaviour of the entire group

#### Exam Tip

Make sure you can define what constitutes a radioactive decay, a random process and a spontaneous decay - these are all very common exam questions!