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Half life

Half-life is the period of time it takes for a substance undergoing


decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to
describe a characteristic of unstable atoms (radioactive decay), but
it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.
The original term, dating to 1907, was "half-life period", which was
later shortened to "half-life" in the early 1950s.
Half-lives are very often used to describe quantities undergoing
exponential decay—for example radioactive decay—where the half-
Probabilistic nature of life is constant over the whole life of the decay, and is a
characteristic unit (a natural unit of scale) for the exponential
half-life decay equation. However, a half-life can also be defined for non-
exponential decay processes, although in these cases the half-life
A half-life often describes the decay varies throughout the decay process.
of discrete entities, such as
radioactive atoms. In that case, it
does not work to use the definition
"half-life is the time required for
exactly half of the entities to decay".
For example, if there is just one
radioactive atom with a half-life of 1
second, there will not be "half of an
atom" left after 1 second. There will
be either zero atoms left or one atom
left, depending on whether or not the
atom happens to decay.
Instead, the half-life is defined in
terms of probability. It is the time
when the expected value of the
number of entities that have
decayed is equal to half the original
number. For example, one can start
with a single radioactive atom, wait
its half-life, and measure whether or
not it decays in that period of time.
Perhaps it will and perhaps it will not.
But if this experiment is repeated
again and again, it will be seen that -
Despite knowing that radiation is harmful,
Japan is still pumping in water into the sea,
saying that it will “disappear after a while”.
This is because of half-life. A half-life often describes the decay of discrete entities, such
as radioactive atoms. For example, if there is just one radioactive atom with a half-
life of 1 second, there will be either zero atoms left or one atom left, depending on
whether or not the atom happens to decay. Thus, this also applies to the radiation-
contaminated water. As a result of half life, the number of radioactive atoms in the
water will gradually decrease after a period of time, that that’s why Japan says that
the radioactive water will “disappear after a while.”