Conceptual Physics (12th Edition)

Published by Addison-Wesley
ISBN 10: 0321909100
ISBN 13: 978-0-32190-910-7

Chapter 33 - Think and Explain: 49

Answer

Alpha radiation produces the greatest change, in both mass number and atomic number.

Work Step by Step

The mass number decreases by 4 for alpha emission, because alpha particles have 4 nucleons. The mass number stays the same for beta emission, because beta particles have negligible mass. The mass number stays the same for gamma emission, because gamma rays are massless. The atomic number decreases by 2 for alpha emission, because alpha particles carry a charge of +2e. The atomic number increases by 1 for beta emission, because beta particles carry a charge of -1e. The atomic number does not change for gamma emission, because gamma rays are uncharged. Alpha radiation produces the greatest change in mass number and in atomic number.
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