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CHEM102: General Chemistry II

Unit 5: Nuclear Chemistry   How do we know that dinosaurs are really millions of years old, or that a particular area or object is radioactive and therefore dangerous to human beings?  Why is radioactivity dangerous?  What is radioactivity, exactly?  This unit will answer these questions by focusing on the chemistry of the nucleus, and explaining how the nucleus’ inherent instability has led us to know about radioactive dating, Geiger counters, and even atomic fission.

  • Reading: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Alpha Decay Link: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Alpha Decay (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read this section beginning with the title Alpha Decayto gain a general understanding of how nuclei can decay by releasing alpha particles.    
     
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5.1 Radioactivity   5.1.1 Half-life   - Reading: Aus-e-Tute’s notes on Half-life Link: Aus-e-Tute’s notes on Half-life (HTML)
 
Instructions: “Half –life” refers to the time it takes for molecules to decay.  Please read this section to gain a general understanding of how to calculate half life in exponential decay reactions.

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5.1.2 Radioactive Dating   - Reading: Aus-e-Tute’s notes on Radioactive Dating Link: Aus-e-Tute’s notes on Radioactive Dating (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this section beginning with the title Uses of Radioisotopes: Carbon-14 Dating to gain a general understanding of how nuclear decay of elements can be used to date substances.  This method of dating is used to date fossils and other carbon-based substances.    

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5.2 Radioactive Decay   5.2.1 Alpha Decay   - Reading: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Alpha Decay Link: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Alpha Decay (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this section beginning with the title Alpha Decayto gain a general understanding of how nuclei can decay by releasing alpha particles.    
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2.2 Beta Decay   - Reading: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Beta Decay Link: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Beta Decay (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this section beginning with the title Beta Decayto gain a general understanding of how nuclei can decay by releasing beta particles.    
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.2.3 Gamma Decay   - Reading: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Gamma Decay Link: Michigan State University: Gerd Kortemeyer’s notes on Gamma Decay (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this section beginning with the title Gamma Decayto gain a general understanding of how nuclei can decay by releasing gamma particles.    
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

5.3 Nuclear Stability and Binding Energy   Note: Binding energy is summed by Albert Einstein’s famous equation “E = mc2.”  The idea that energy and mass could be interchangeable led to the invention of the atomic bomb, the most feared weapon in the history of man.

  • Reading: Miami Dade College – Kendall Campus: Nuclear Stability and Binding Energy Link: Miami Dade College – Kendall Campus: Nuclear Stability and Binding Energy (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read this section to gain a general understanding of the important nuclear chemistry concepts of nuclear stability and binding energy.  This section provides several examples to illustrate those important concepts.    

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5.4 Mass Defect   - Reading: Purdue University: Professor William R. Robinson and Dr. John J. Nash’s “Nuclear Binding Energy” Link:  Purdue University: Professor William R. Robinson and Dr. John J. Nash’s “Nuclear Binding Energy”  (HTML)

 Instructions:  Please read the entire page and follow through the
examples to learn how to calculate the mass defect and the energy
associated with it.  This material should take approximately 0.5
hours to complete.  

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5.5 Nuclear Fusion and Fission   - Reading: Miami Dade College – Kendall Campus: Nuclear Fusion and Fission Link: Miami Dade College – Kendall Campus: Nuclear Fusion and Fission (HTML and Quicktime)

 Instructions: Please read this section beginning with the title
*Nuclear Fission and Fusion*to gain a general understanding of the
main nuclear reactions.  This section provides interactive images to
illustrate the nuclear reactions.      

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