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radioactive substances, isotopes, half-life, isolation, example

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The decay of some substances, such as uranium-238 and thorium-232, appears to continue indefinitely without detectable diminution of the decay rate per unit mass of the isotope (specific-decay rate). Other radioactive substances show a marked decrease in specific-decay rate with time. Among these is the isotope thorium-234 (originally called uranium X), which, after isolation from uranium, decays to half its original radioactive intensity within 25 days. Each individual radioactive substance has a characteristic decay period or half-life; because their half-lives are so long that decay is not appreciable within the observation period, the diminution of the specific-decay rate of some isotopes is not observable under present methods. Thorium-232, for example, has a half-life of 14 billion years.

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radioactive substances, isotopes, half-life, isolation, example, time, days, years

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