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What would cause a proton to turn into a neutron?
"Why" is always the most difficult question -)
We might get a better answer for "how", "where" and "when" -
HOW "the proton captures an electron"
WHERE is in unstable atomic nuclei (usually in isotopes of relatively low atomic number?)
WHEN well, each species of unstable atomic nuclei has its own characteristic half-life - we don't know when any particular nuceli will decay (ie, in this case, 'decay' = one of the protons will capture an electron to produce an neutron), but statistically, we know by which time half of the nuclei in a sample will decay.
as for the WHY.... you're talking about hard-core nuclear physics here....
....what makes some nuclei "unstable", what sets their half-life, and how it is that a proton "captures" an electron and forms a neutron (poor little electron! -O ) I really haven't a clue,
although I'm sure some nuclear physicist would wave their hands in a subtle manner and tell you about the "strong nuclear force" and "guage bosons" and other such voodoo.
As all chemists know, like most of physics, such things are just made up in order to secure vast research grants -)
If a proton captures an electron would the spin not have to be +/- 1?
Maybe they had a "two for the price of one" deal on? wink
However I typed "electron capture" into Google and got a whole page of useful looking stuff come up.....
My guess is, if spin has to be conserved, then some other particle gets spat out as well. Probably one which is very hard to detect, meaning physicists need huge research grants to build enormous machines to look for them. And when they don't find them, they'll laugh in the face of this empirical refutation of their theory and ask for an ever BIGGER grant to build a absolutely huuuuuuuuuuuuge machine instead.
I get the feeling you dont like physicists too much. :D
Remember, it's not the size of your grant that counts it's what you do with it. :lol:
I think they should give them "dark" grants which only interact extremely weakly with normal bank accounts.
Ok. I seem to be getting somewhere now; it seems a proton can become a neutron by either capturing an electron from the K-shell or by positron emission.
My problem now is a neutron has more mass than a proton so how does the proton gain the extra mass?
Well it gains the mass of the electron it captured!
(Or loses the anti-mass of the positron ;-)
Also remember that E=mc^2
I don't think the mass of the electron / positron is large enough to account for the difference between the proton and neutron. :?
I blame the quarks, personally.... roll
Poor little quarks don't take it out on them, just because that nasty electron/positron made them go from uud to udd. :cry:
Your probably right though :) Thanks!
WebElements: the periodic table on the WWW [http://www.webelements.com/]