Radioactivity - we've all heard about it, we think we understand it, but do we really? The more I think about it, the entire nature of what we call radioactivity  먹튀 is highly mysterious, in fact it makes little sense - but then again it's a quantum phenomena, so perhaps that shouldn't be surprising!



Let me start out with two rules of thumb. The first rule of thumb is that unstable configurations tend to become more stable over time. A common example is a pencil balanced on its tip (the pointy lead bit). Said pencil is unstable and it will fall over thus achieving a more stable state.


My second rule of thumb is that the exact moment this happens (the transition from unstable to stable) tends to be unpredictable. In the case of the balancing pencil, it may start to teeter in the first 1/100th of a second, or maybe last 1/10th of a second, maybe even a second, or 10 seconds, or even longer if everything is just right. Another example is that I toss used kitty litter and bird seed husks on the garden foliage (serving as mulch and ultimately fertilizer). Some of my tossing into the foliage results in some bits landing on the leaves. I don't worry about that, for I realize this is an unstable situation. Sooner or later, beyond my ability to predict, impacting rain drops, or a gust of wind, or a bug, will dislodge those bits, and ultimately they will reach the ground and stability.


Why radioactivity at all? Overall, there is, in general, a balance between the strong nuclear force trying to hold everything in an atomic nucleus (neutrons and protons) together, and the electrostatic positive charges of those protons trying to push things apart. However, things can reach a state where an imbalance happens. Then things eventually go 'poof' as the strong nuclear force is no longer adequate to keep everything together as one big happy nucleus family.


I don't dispute that radioactivity exists, or that radioactive decay is an observed physical process and follows a defined mathematical progression. It happens - but why?


Mystery Number One is why does something that we term radioactive (say a lump of something I'll call Substance X) break down or decay when it does? I mean, here we have an atom of Substance X, it is unstable, it will decay eventually into something that's not radioactive and hence something that is stable. But, this unstable Substance X atom exists for perhaps only microseconds before decaying, but it could last in an unstable state for a year, a decade, hundreds, thousands, millions, or even billions of years, and then all of a sudden go 'poof' and decay, giving off alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays in the process. What caused that specific moment to be the 'poof' moment? What was different at that exact moment from all those moments that preceded it? There must be causality - physical science is founded on the principal of cause and effect. Perhaps there is something in the unstable atom's nucleus trying to escape but lacking the energy to do so, but perhaps finally succeeding via quantum tunneling, or maybe the atom is by chance impacted by an unknown form of matter ('dark matter' perhaps?) causing the breakup or decay.


Is there anything you could do that would affect 'poof' moments? If so, then perhaps we have a handle on the cause for the 'poof'. Take a lump of Substance X (presumably trying to manipulate just one atom of Substance X is going to be technologically too challenging), and measure the rate of 'poof' moments. Say it's one 'poof' per minute. Now try to alter that rate. You can take that lump of Substance X and shake it, bake it, boil it, freeze it, hammer it, pulverize it, blow it up with TNT, put it in the dark or shine lights on it, soak it in acid or otherwise chemically react with it, place it in an intense magnetic field or whirl it around in a centrifuge, shoot it into outer space and you will not alter those 'poof' moments one jot. So, what causes these totally unpredictable 'poof' moments? It's surely not an everyday, common, physical or chemical process.


Mystery Number Two is that radioactive decay marches to the tune of a mathematical equation, known as a half-life equation (the half-life being unique to each and every radioactive substance). It happens. Again, why?


Radioactive decay is measured in half-lives; the time it takes ½ of the unstable radioactivity present to decay to a stable state. So you start with say 1000 radioactive atoms. One unit of time later, you have 500 radioactive atoms. One unit of time later you have 250 radioactive atoms left (and 750 stable ones). One more unit of time sees you down to 125 radioactive atoms. (It gets interesting next unit - will 62 or 63 atoms go 'poof'?) Somehow it's almost as if the atoms somehow have clocks and know when to, or not to, decay. Say just before one unit of time has elapsed and 500 atoms have gone 'poof', will one atom somehow think to itself, "hold on, I have to wait now for the  먹튀 next unit of time before I can do my 'poof' thing otherwise I'll upset the precise mathematical half-life apple cart!" I mean it's almost as if an unstable (radioactive) atomic nucleus knows when it's their turn to decay when they are with a crowd of their peers.


I would have thought that if you have your 1000 radioactive Substance X atoms and since they (the atoms) aren't mathematicians and can't calculate then you'd expect their decay - their 'poof' - they would not follow a precise mathematical formula. I mean, say the first 500 atoms decay in one unit of time. Doesn't it make sense therefore for the second 500 atoms to decay in the next unit of time? Or, if things are truly random and unpredictable, no cause and effect, then 10 atoms might go 'poof' in one unit of time, then perhaps another 50 in the second unit, another 7 in the third unit, then lots of 'poof's, say 103 worth in the fourth unit of time; maybe just one in the fifth unit of time, etc. No, there's something strange going on here. Either that or maybe you have to assume intelligent, communicating, all-knowing unstable nuclei. Imagine this conversation as an explanation. Jane: "Hi Clive". Clive: "Hi Jane". Jane: "Look Clive, one of us must go 'poof' now in order to keep this half-life relationship in sync". Clive: That's okay Jane, I'll go 'poof' - see ya". Jane: "Thanks a bunch!" Of course the above conversation is hardly one that anyone could take seriously!


Say you have a bucket filled with 1000 ping pong balls and you pull them out one at a time. Clearly you're not going to end up with anything resembling the half-life mathematics of radioactive decay. More likely as not, it will be a straight forward equation - one ping pong ball decays (is removed from the bucket) every unit of time, and 1000 units of time later, the bucket will be empty (assuming you don't get tired, in which case it might be slightly more than 1000 time units)!


Anyway, back to our half-life decay of our 1000 atoms of Substance X. At zero time units, we have 1000 radioactive atoms. After one time unit, it's 500 radioactive atoms; after two time units it's 250 radioactive atoms; after three time units it's 125 radioactive atoms; after four time units we have left 62 or 63 radioactive atoms; after five time units it's either 31 or 32 radioactive atoms; after six time units we have only 15 or 16 unstable atoms left; after seven time units we're down to 7 or 8 radioactive atoms; after eight time units it's a lonely 3 or 4 radioactive atoms; after nine time units it's only 1 or 2 left; after ten time units it's none or one; and after eleven time units, we have 1000 stable atoms and no unstable atoms of our former Substance X. So, in this case, it's a maximum of eleven time units to 100% stability. It's predictable given the mathematics that if ½ of a radioactive substance decays in a certain unit of time, ½ of what's left will ditto decay in the next time unit, and so on.


There is an analogy given to illustrate this half-life relationship. Imagine 1000 humans in a (rather large) room. Each human is given a standard coin. At the word "flip", each human flips their coin. If it's heads, they leave the room; if it's tails they stay. Obviously, after one flip half the humans leave. Then someone says "flip" again, and history repeats. Heads you leave; tails you stay. Of course after round two, 750 humans have left the room (decayed). After "flip" round three, 875 humans have left, and so on.