## Nuclear reactions

[color=green][i]Hi,

Could somebody please help me to predict the product for the following nuclear reactions? Thanks![/i][/color]

[color=red][size=18][b]Curium-240 decays by alpha emission

Zinc-71 decays by beta emission

Nickel-58 is bombarded with a proton; an alpha particle is emitted in the transmission process.[/b][/size][/color]

[color=green][i]Thank you so much!

Sara the Swede :o)[/i][/color]

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Well, the first thing that you should do is look into what alpha and beta particles are. An alpha particle is simply a Helium nucleus. (Two protons and two neutrons). A beta particle is an energetic electron emitted from the nucleus, in the simplest of terms. It is generally written with a -1 subscript and a 0 superscript. This means that when a beta particle is emitted, the mass of the atom does not change, but its number of protons increases by one. So if K-40 decayed by beta particle emission, it would turn into Ca-40. The balanced nuclear equation would be:

K40/19 -> b0/-1 + Ca40/20. (Sorry that I couldn't write that any neater. I haven't figured out how to properly write the letter beta, as well as sub/superscript).

So with this knowledge, it should be easy to figure out your questions.

1). Curium-240 decays by alpha emission.

So right there, it's telling you what the mass is of the atom that is decaying, and how it is decaying. So what you'll need with you is a periodic table to figure out the atomic number of Curium. Once you discover that it's 96, you'll just write down the left side of the nuclear equation as Cu240/96. Now on the right side of the equation, you already know that part of it is the alpha particle which is written as He4/2. So all you need to do is subtract the 4/2 super/subscript from the 240/96 super/subscript and you'll see that the Curium-240 decays into Plutonium-236.

With question two, it's a similar equation, you just replace the alpha particle with the beta particle. Now with this information, you should easily be able to answer these questions. :D

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