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The use of isotopes in agriculture - Essay Example

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Introduction of Isotopes Matter is made up of atoms that have nuclei that contain protons and neutrons, therefore, atoms consist of tiny atomic nucleus that is positively charged, composed of protons and neutrons that are densely positively charged (Wahid, 2001)…
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The use of isotopes in agriculture
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Download file to see previous pages The variations of protons content contained in the nuclei determine the type or kind of chemical atom element. Atoms such as carbon atoms contain the same number of protons and neutrons which have 6 protons and 6 neutrons in the nuclei. The elements which contain different number of neutrons in their nuclei are called isotopes (Greenblatt and Carroll, 2009). Hence, isotopes of an element are the different arrangements of neutrons (N) numbers for the same proton. In other words, isotopes can also be referred to as variations of a particular chemical element. An isotope therefore is differentiated from others by the number of neutrons it contains in its structure (NSAC, 2009). In addition, different isotopes contained in an element can have one or the same position on the periodic table (Wahid, 2001). For example, carbon has different isotopes which can have five seven or eight neutrons. Because carbon has six protons, the difference in the number of neutrons produces different isotopes such as carbon-11, carbon-13, and carbon-14. This means that isotopes of carbon have different mass numbers 11, 13 and 14 respectively which is calculated by adding the six protons with the five, seven, and eight neutrons. Greenblatt and Carroll highlight that same element isotopes have similar chemical characteristics, but they may have other differences in many ways such as their stability and radioactivity (11). Stable and Radioactive (Unstable) Isotopes Radioactive or stable are the terms used to refer to isotopes; scientifically, isotopes are said to decay by halflife, which is the difference in time half of the material further breaks down. Radioactive or unstable isotopes are also referred to as radioisotopes or radionuclides, and they are distinct from the stable isotopes (Greenblatt and Carroll, 2009). Greenblatt and Carroll highlight that radioactive isotopes have unstable nuclei which naturally disintegrate in a process which causes them to release energy to form other nuclear particles that are detectable by radioactive equipments (11). The process which the radioactive isotopes change so as to release energy is called radioactive decay. On the other hand, stable isotopes maintain constant structure of their nucleus without changing over time while on earth (NSAC, 2009). Therefore, stable isotopes are not capable of changing into isotopes of other or same elements. Instability of some isotopes makes them exist in varied times such as a second while others can live for many years in the same state. The radioisotope decays by producing an electron called the beta decay or by producing two protons and two neutrons called the alpha decay (Greenblatt and Carroll, 2009). Stable and radioactive isotopes are distinct in their production processes. Stable isotopes are produced by concentration of an isotope of interest from its natural source and mixing it with others. During this process, there is seperation of the different individual isotopes properties (Greenblatt and Carroll, 2009). On the other hand, radioisotopes are produced using artificial processes by a process of bombarding a stable isotope in a nuclear reactor with neurons or protons or by charging the particles in the accelerator (Sahoo and Sahoo, 2006). In this process, the accelerator is used to accelerate electrically charged particles to high speeds so that they can be induced to produce high radiation energy (Greenblatt and Carroll, 2009). The difference between the accelerator and a reactor is that the accelerator produces one type of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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