# How Does Carbon 14 Decay so well

#### topsquark

Forum Staff
If you think QM has an sensible explanation , I'm all ears ....

It's a little analogous to flipping a coin .... It could be wrongly said this is a random event . 50% will be heads 50% tails , any one flip will be 50/50 ... but that is only because we don't know all the causal factors , every time the thumb will flip with different force , sometimes the coin will spin 67 times , some times 91 times , too many unknowns we don't know ... but if we knew them we could predict when a head would come up and the illusion that flipping was a random event would disappear ...

A probing question is to ask what has caused a particular atom to just pop ...
I haven't personally looked at any articles about this but I do know that this question has been studied extensively, if not exhaustively. The EPR paradox gives a good idea about the results. There does not seem to be any "machinery" backing QM that would give us a way to determine just which atom is going to decay next.

-Dan

#### Woody

$$\displaystyle H_2 O_2$$ is not as stable as $$\displaystyle H_2 O$$ and both will decay given the correct stimulus
This is where the Chemistry analogy fails, QM suggests that there need be no external stimulus.

I think that (some of) the QM models start to seem less weird if we avoid using the "billiard ball" image when thinking about the subatomic constituents.
Rather I think of a roiling group of mutually orbiting energy vortices.

Note that I am not saying that this description matches what the subatomic particles are,
just that I feel it provides a better image to use when thinking about them, rather than as static balls
.
It reminds us that it is not as simple as our mental image might subconsciously lead us to believe.

Thinking of the nucleus as this dynamic thing, with constantly warring internal forces trying to hold it together verses others trying to blow it apart,
gives us a much easier image for something that "spontaneously" falls apart.
We can also with this image (perhaps) more readily accept that certain combinations of energy whorls will be inherently less stable than others.

topsquark

#### neila9876

I don't think the kind of "random" in decay is the same kind of "random" in QM.
My suggestion is to use high energy rays to slam a piece of C14 and see if the half life shortened.

#### neila9876

"... Go buy a bottle of peroxide and see how long it stays peroxide."
@dragon:
How long?
This semi-tramp just found a bottle of beer in the supermarket and the validity is less than ten years...

#### Attachments

• 91.2 KB Views: 1

#### neila9876

"It's a little analogous to flipping a coin .... It could be wrongly said this is a random event . 50% will be heads 50% tails , any one flip will be 50/50 ... but that is only because we don't know all the causal factors , every time the thumb will flip with different force , sometimes the coin will spin 67 times , some times 91 times , too many unknowns we don't know ... but if we knew them we could predict when a head would come up and the illusion that flipping was a random event would disappear ... "
This semi-tramp always say that oz93666 is a first rated technician, he always can catch something substantial and physical.
But I don't think his analogy is vivid enough. Just do it as below:
...the coin spinning, when you see the head, just one thumb push it down on the desk...then you see the head...

#### Attachments

• 169 KB Views: 1

#### oz93666

Everyone who studies QM initially has this doubt. It's par for the course. Unfortunately, it's difficult to explain. Therefore, I'll defer to a statement on Wikipedia explaining it for me:

"In classical physics, experiments of chance, such as coin-tossing and dice-throwing, are deterministic, in the sense that, perfect knowledge of the initial conditions would render outcomes perfectly predictable. The ‘randomness’ stems from ignorance of physical information in the initial toss or throw. In diametrical contrast, in the case of quantum physics, the theorems of Kochen and Specker,[4] the inequalities of John Bell,[5] and experimental evidence of Alain Aspect,[6][7] all indicate that quantum randomness does not stem from any such physical information."

Source: Quantum indeterminacy - Wikipedia
Ha ... that's interesting that Wikipedia should use the same example I did , and appears to counter my position .... I'm not convinced .... As you may know I'm extremely skeptical of anything that cannot be explained in terms a schoolboy can understand...

topsquark

#### neila9876

I make another vivid analogy below.
Assume a group of pigs in a farm. Someone might eats more than others and grows up faster than others and reaches to the critical weight first, and then be ended up first...then the next one...

#### Woody

The basis of much QM thinking is that it is inherently random and unpredictable, except in a probabilistic way.
And this is the primary idea applied behind radioactive decay.

Having said that, if one imagines a dynamic nucleus model, one could suggest a "butterfly" effect,
where a number of tiny and subtle influences combine (over time) to produce the final storm, which rips the nucleus apart.
(this is not the accepted view of nuclear decay).

Radioactive decay can be influenced, by bombarding with neutrons, e.g. in a nuclear bomb...

topsquark

#### benit13

Ha ... that's interesting that Wikipedia should use the same example I did , and appears to counter my position .... I'm not convinced .... As you may know I'm extremely skeptical of anything that cannot be explained in terms a schoolboy can understand...
There's nothing wrong with being skeptical and it is good to hold those that make claims to account, but I think it's unreasonable to expect everything to be easily explainable and unreasonable to doubt the works of others just because the findings are difficult to express to the layman. Quantum mechanics is notoriously difficult work, amongst many others.

All I can do is point you in the right direction so you can make the same journey into QM that many others have wandered, should you wish to walk that road, an explain what I can with my limited resources.

topsquark

#### benit13

This semi-tramp just found a bottle of beer in the supermarket and the validity is less than ten years...
Lol!