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Problem: Which radioisotope has the fastest rate of decay?(1) 14C(2) 37Ca(3) 53Fe(4) 42K

FREE Expert Solution

Recall that Isotopes represent atoms of an element that contain the same atomic number (same number of protons), but different mass numbers (different number of neutrons) and can be written as



In terms of stability of isotopes, we use the neutrons to protons (n/p) ratio:

  • Isotopes with neutrons to protons (n/p) ratio close to 1 are considered stable
    • For atoms with lower atomic numbers 
      • n = p  (n/p)  ≈ 1
  • Isotopes with neutrons to protons (n/p) ratio greater than 1 are considered unstable
    • will undergo radioactive decay 
    • For atoms with higher atomic numbers 
    • n > p (n/p) > 1


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Problem Details

Which radioisotope has the fastest rate of decay?
(1) 14C
(2) 37Ca
(3) 53Fe
(4) 42K

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