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Isotopes, What are they?

By Joshua Tompsett

What are isotopes?

Isotopes are elements which have the same amount of Protons, but has a different amount of Neutrons. This changes the mass of the element. You can calculate the amount of neutrons by subtracting the amount of protons by the mass and you will get the amount of neutrons. With some examples like Carbon, it has carbon 12, the regular form, as well as Carbon 13 and 14.

All elements have isotopes but there are some isotopes that are different to the rest. These isotopes are called radioisotopes, these isotopes are radioactive, which means they have a nucleus that is unstable and eventually it will start to decay and emits rays and particles as well as an large amount of energy. These radioisotopes can be traced with a Geiger Counter which detects radiation.

How they are useful:

While radioisotopes are extremely dangerous they also are very useful. Some uses that these things have is in a pipe they can use a few radioisotopes and a Geiger counter and if there are any leaks then the Geiger counter will detect them. Another useful thing they can do is see how old a corpse is because when you live and eat you will intake some carbon 14 but when you die you no longer intake the isotope so they can tell how old a corpse is by seeing how decayed the isotopes are, this is called Carbon dating. They can also be used to sterile medical items because radiation kills bacteria.


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