Nuclear Equations
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Key Questions

Nuclear equations represent the reactants and products in radioactive decay, nuclear fission, or nuclear fusion.
Instead of chemical equations where it shows the different number of elements is conserved in a reaction, in a nuclear reaction the atomic mass and proton number are conserved.
In these examples the sum of the masses (top) and the sum of the proton numbers (bottom) are the same on both sides:
#""_3^6Li+""_1^2H>2""_2^4alpha# As you can see the elements haven't been conserved, but the mass number and proton number have
#6+2=2*4# , and#3+1=2*2# Another example:
#""_6^(14)C>""_7^(14)N+""_(1)^0beta# Again, in this equation, the elements haven't been conserved, by the mass number and proton number have
#14=14+0# , and#6=71# 
Answer:
You balance nuclear equations by making the sum of the superscripts and the sum of the subscripts the same on each side of the equation.
Explanation:
The symbol for a nucleus is
#""_Z^A"X"# .The number at the upper left is the mass number,
#A# . It identifies the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus.The number at the lower left is the atomic number,
#Z# . It identifies the element#"X"# . Thus, the symbol for uranium238 is#""_92^238"U"# .We use special symbols for Î± and Î² particles and for protons and neutrons:
#Î± = ""_2^4"He"# ;#Î² =color(white)(l)_text(1)^0"e"# ; proton =#""_1^1"H"# ; neutron =#""_0^1"n"# In a balanced nuclear equation, the sums of the superscripts and the sums of the subscripts must be equal on each side of the equation.
EXAMPLE
Write an equation for the decay of calcium45 to scandium45.
Solution
Complete the unbalanced equation.
#""_20^45"Ca" â†’ _21^45"Sc"# + ?The missing particle must have
#Z# = 20  21 = 1 and#A# = 45  45 = 0.The missing particle is
#color(white)(l)_text(1)^0"e"# (a Î² particle or electron), so the equation is#""_20^45"Ca" â†’ _21^45"Sc" + color(white)(l) _text(1)^0"e"# Here's a useful video on balancing nuclear equations.

First some definitions:
A. Isotopes  atoms with the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons (same element, different isotopic mass).
Carbon can exist the isotopes carbon12, carbon13, and carbon14. They both have 6 protons (or else they wouldn't be carbon), but a different number of neutrons.
C12 has 6 protons and 6 neutrons
C13 has 6 protons and 7 neutrons
C14 has 6 protons and 8 neutronsB. Radioactive nucleus  a nucleus that spontaneously changes and emits (releases) energy. This occurs spontaneously: by itself and with no outside energy required. Many isotopes do it naturally.
All nuclei with more than 84 protons (Polonium and up) are radioactive. As well as those with with more neutrons than protons Carbon14 is radioactiveBalancing: The sum of the isotopic masses (top numbers) are equal on both sides of the equation.
The sum of the atomic numbers (the bottom numbers) also are equal on both sides of the equation.
Questions
Videos on topic View all (4)
Nuclear Chemistry

1Nuclear Chemistry

2Isotope Notation

3Isotope Stability

4Alpha Decay

5Beta Decay

6Positron Decay

7Electron Capture

8Nuclear Equations

9Nuclear HalfLife

10Nuclear HalfLife Calculations

11Nuclear Transmutation

12Fission and Fusion

13Applications of Nuclear Chemistry

14Biological Effects of Radiation