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Whether electron capture or positron emission occurs is difficult to predict.The choice is primarily due to kinetic factors, with the one requiring the smaller activation energy being the one more likely to occur.Cobalt-60 emits γ radiation and is used in many applications including cancer treatment: Positron emission is observed for nuclides in which the n:p ratio is low. Positron decay is the conversion of a proton into a neutron with the emission of a positron.The n:p ratio increases, and the daughter nuclide lies closer to the band of stability than did the parent nuclide.
Click here to learn about cloud chambers and to view an interesting Cloud Chamber Demonstration from the Jefferson Lab.Following the somewhat serendipitous discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel, many prominent scientists began to investigate this new, intriguing phenomenon.Among them were Marie Curie (the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in different sciences—chemistry and physics), who was the first to coin the term “radioactivity,” and Ernest Rutherford (of gold foil experiment fame), who investigated and named three of the most common types of radiation.The loss of an inner shell electron leaves a vacancy that will be filled by one of the outer electrons.As the outer electron drops into the vacancy, it will emit energy.
Electron capture occurs when one of the inner electrons in an atom is captured by the atom’s nucleus.