Why is the study of radioactivity labeled nuclear chemistry?

1 Answer
Mar 11, 2016


Radioactivity is a result of changes in the nucleus of an atom.


Nuclear chemistry is the study of the atomic structure of elements. It includes isotopes – many of which are radioactive – and transmutation, which is the build-up of heavier elements by the energetic fusion of two nuclei (fusion). Both radioactive processes and fusion can release large amounts of energy according to Einstein's famous equation.

#E_r = sqrt((m_0c^2)^2 + (pc)^2)#

Here the #(pc)^2# term represents the square of the Euclidean norm (total vector length) of the various momentum vectors in the system, which reduces to the square of the simple momentum magnitude, if only a single particle is considered.

This equation reduces to #E = mc^2# when the momentum term is zero. For photons where #m_0 = 0#, the equation reduces to #E_r = pc#.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass%E2%80%93energy_equivalence for more details and references.