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The decay of an unstable atomic nucleus or isotope.

Related Terms

COMET

A luminous member of the solar system composed of a head or coma, at the center of which a nucleus of many small solid particles is sometimes situated, and often with a spectacular gaseous tail extending a great distance from the head. The orbits of comets are highly elliptical and present no regularity as to their angle to the plane of the ecliptic.

NUCLEUS

The central, massive part of anything, such as an atom or comet.

SUPERSATURATION

Beyond the usual point of saturation. As an example, if saturated air is cooled, condensation takes place only if nuclei are present. If they are not present, the air continues to hold more water than required for saturation until the temperature is increased or until a nucleus is introduced.

NUCLEAR FISSION

The splitting of the atom or nucleus of the atom into subatomic particles resulting in the release of radiation and heat.

NEUTRON

A subatomic particle that has a mass almost equal to the proton but with no electronic charge, located in the nucleus of the atom.

PROTON

A subatomic particle, located in the nucleus of atoms, having a positive electronic charge and a mass of 1.

AITKEN DUST COUNTER

An instrument for determining the dust content of the atmosphere. Also known as Aitken nucleus counter.

AUTORADIOGRAPHY

A technique for detecting radioactivity in a specimen by producing an image on a photographic film or plate. Also known as radio autography.

MONITOR

1. An instrument used to measure continuously or at intervals a condition that must be kept within prescribed limits, such as radioactivity at some point in a nuclear reactor, a variable quantity in an automatic process control system, the transmissions in a communication channel or bank, or the position of an aircraft in flight. 2. To use meters or special techniques to measure such a condition. 3. A person who watches a monitor.

PLANCHET

Asmallmetalcontainerorsample holder; usually used to hold radioactive materials that are being checked for the degree of radioactivity in a proportional counter or scintillation detector.
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