Background on Radioactivity

  • Joseph Magill


In the fifth century B. C., Empedocles of Acragas proposed that there are four elements in the universe — air, earth, water and fire. This remains valid today if the four elements are interpreted as gases (air), solids (earth), liquids (water) and energy (fire). Around the same time, Democritos of Abdera suggested that all matter consists of eternal moving and indestructible “atoms” (from the Greek word atomos meaning indivisible) differing only in size, shape and mass. In the 17th century, Dalton hypothesised that chemical compounds are simple combinations of these elements.


Nuclear Reaction Mass Number Alpha Particle Spontaneous Fission Beta Particle 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Magill
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Transuranium ElementsEuropean Commission, Joint Research CentreKarlsruheGermany

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