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Avoid the Hustle

Astronomy

Category: Essay Writing

Your homework grade depends not only upon your getting the correct answer but also grammar, spelling and punctuation, particularly in questions that require explanations. Numerical answers to questions do not need to be written in complete sentences and you should show your work where ever it is appropriate. Partial credit may be given for showing your work even if your result is incorrect. You will also be graded on the use of significant figures, proper units of measure and proper scientific notation. You may work with others in determining the answers to the questions, but what you write should be in your own words — any homework assignments that look too similar to that of other students will receive no credit. Unless otherwise noted, all questions are worth 1 point.
1. (9 points total) Radioactive Decay. People often wonder how scientists are able to determine things such as the ages of rocks or the Earth. This is most frequently done by taking advantage of a neat process i n nature called radioactive decay. When a radioactive substance breaks down it does so in a very systematic manner, and we can measure the rate of these break downs (or decays) to determine how old an object is— basically the amount of radioactive stuff left over can tell us how old the substance is. The rate of break down is often referred to as the half-life. For example, Beryllium 10 (10Be) breaks down into Boron 10 (10B) with a half-life of 1.36 million years. This means that if you start out with a solid block of 10Be in 1.36 million years, half of the block will still be 10Be and the other half will be 10B. After each increment of the
half-life, 1/2 of remaining radioactive material (10Be) will become the decay product, in this case
10B.
a How much of a block that was originally all 10Bewi I I still be 10Be and how much will be 10B after a total of 4.08 million years?
b. (2 points) If you come across a block that is 1/32 1°Beand 31/32 1013, can you unambiguously determine its age? If so, what is the age? If not, why not?
Now what are you supposed to do if you come across a block that has 72% 1°Be and 28% 10B, or a block that is 0.23 million years old – how do you deal with these quantities to determine ages or amounts of material?