Today, earth has 94 naturally occurring chemical elements..If we could break a carbon-12 atom apart and “weigh” each of its six protons, six neutrons, and six electrons, the sum of their masses would be 12.098940 AMU—which is 0.098940 AMU heavier than the carbon-12 atom itself.When separate nucleons (protons and neutrons) are brought together to form a nucleus, a tiny percentage of their mass is instantly converted to a large amount of energy.

radiometric dating quartz-48

When fission occurs, mass is lost and energy is released.

Likewise, when light nuclei merge (a process called mass is lost and energy is released.

For example, a deuterium (hydrogen-2) nucleus contains a proton and a neutron.

Its nucleus has a total binding energy of about 2.2 Me V, so the average binding energy per nucleon is about 1.1 Me V. For example, when uranium fissions, the sum of the binding energies of the fragments is greater than the binding energy of the uranium nucleus, so energy is released.

(A hydrogen atom has about the same mass as a neutron, so hydrogen quickly absorbs a fast neutron’s kinetic energy.) The heat can then boil water to produce steam that spins a turbine and generates electricity. Every chemical element has several isotopes, although most are seen only briefly in experiments.

Carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14 are different isotopes of carbon.

Atoms of the same chemical element have the same number of protons.

For example, a hydrogen atom has one proton; helium, two; lithium, three; carbon, six; oxygen, eight; iron, 26; gold, 79; and uranium, 92.

To see why A carbon-12 atom’s mass is exactly 12.000000 AMU—by definition.

In building a carbon-12 atom from 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons: Loss of Mass (m) = 12.098940 - 12.000000 = 0.098940 AMU Gain of Binding Energy (E) = 0.098940 AMU c Figure 201: Binding Energy.

To contrast and evaluate two radically different explanations for the origin of earth’s radioactivity, we will first explain some terms.