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University Physics Volume 3

Conceptual Questions

University Physics Volume 3Conceptual Questions

Conceptual Questions

10.1 Properties of Nuclei


Define and make clear distinctions between the terms neutron, nucleon, nucleus, and nuclide.


What are isotopes? Why do isotopes of the same atom share the same chemical properties?

10.2 Nuclear Binding Energy


Explain why a bound system should have less mass than its components. Why is this not observed traditionally, say, for a building made of bricks?


Why is the number of neutrons greater than the number of protons in stable nuclei that have an A greater than about 40? Why is this effect more pronounced for the heaviest nuclei?


To obtain the most precise value of the binding energy per nucleon, it is important to take into account forces between nucleons at the surface of the nucleus. Will surface effects increase or decrease estimates of BEN?

10.3 Radioactive Decay


How is the initial activity rate of a radioactive substance related to its half-life?


For the carbon dating described in this chapter, what important assumption is made about the time variation in the intensity of cosmic rays?

10.4 Nuclear Reactions


What is the key difference and the key similarity between beta (ββ) decay and alpha decay?


What is the difference between γγ rays and characteristic X-rays and visible light?


What characteristics of radioactivity show it to be nuclear in origin and not atomic?


Consider Figure 10.12. If the magnetic field is replaced by an electric field pointed in toward the page, in which directions will the αα-, β+β+-, and γγ rays bend?


Why is Earth’s core molten?

10.5 Fission


Should an atomic bomb really be called nuclear bomb?


Why does a chain reaction occur during a fission reaction?


In what way is an atomic nucleus like a liquid drop?

10.6 Nuclear Fusion


Explain the difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.


Why does the fusion of light nuclei into heavier nuclei release energy?

10.7 Medical Applications and Biological Effects of Nuclear Radiation


Why is a PET scan more accurate than a SPECT scan?


Isotopes that emit αα radiation are relatively safe outside the body and exceptionally hazardous inside. Explain why.


Ionizing radiation can impair the ability of a cell to repair DNA. What are the three ways the cell can respond?

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