Equation for the Decay Process of Strontium-90

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The decay process of Strontium-90 can be expressed accurately with the help of a very particular equation. Learn about an equation for the decay process of Strontium-90 with help from a research scientist and one of the world's leading experts on star formation in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

Hello, my name is Harold Yorke, I am a research scientist in Pasadena, California and I'll be talking about the decay equation for strontium-90. Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium. Normally strontium is not dangerous, it's chemically similar to calcium and so strontium would easily be absorbed by your body and, and put into bones. However, strontium-90 is radioactive and that makes it especially dangerous because it is absorbed in your body and it has a half life of 28.8 years meaning that, that radioactivity will decrease by half in almost 29 years so it stays in your body for a long time and it can cause cancer. So strontium-90 which has the symbol Sr decays into yttrium-90 plus an energetic electron and a neutrino. Yttrium-90 is itself radioactive and it decays into zirconium-90 plus an electron also very, very energetic. It's these energetic electrons that can do damage to tissue and to genetic material. Now the number of decays per second in any sample of strontium-90 is proportional to the amount of strontium-90 you have so if N is the amount you have then this is the decay rate 7.6 times 10 to the minus 10 decays per second and if we we're to make a graph of how the amount of strontium-90 decreases we would see this, it's called an exponential curve and it decreases to the value of 1/2 of your original sample in 28.8 years. So this is the decay equation for strontium-90, thank you so much for watching.


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