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Physics 060 Half-life problems

April 1, 2008

1) What happens to the half-life of a radioactive substance as it decays? 1) _______


A) It increases. B) It remains constant.
C) It decreases. D) It could do any of these.

2) If the half-life of a material is 45 years, how much will be left after 100 years? 2)
_______
A) less than 1/4 B) less than 1/2
C) more than 1/2 D) more than 1/4

3) If 4.0 1018 atoms decay with a half-life of 2.3 years, how many are remaining after
3.7 years? 3) _______
A) 1.3 1018 B) 1.7 1018 C) 2.5 1018 D) 1.1 1018

4) A radioactive sample has a half-life of 10 min. What fraction of the sample is left
after 40 min? 4) _______
A) 1/4 B) 1/16 C) 1/8 D) 1/2

5) How long would it take 4.0 1020 atoms to decay to 1.0 1019 atoms if their half-life
was 14.7 years? 5) _______
A) 29.4 years B) 58.8 years C) 147 years D) 78.2 years

Rates of nuclear decay

6. The half-life of Pa-234 is 6.75 hr. How much (what fraction) of a sample of this
isotope remains after 20.25 hr?

7. The half-life of Rn-222 is 3.823 day. What was the original mass of a sample of this
isotope if 0.0500 g remains after 7.646 day?

8. The half-life of Th-227 is 18.2 day. How many days are required for 0.75 of a given
sample to decay?

9. An object taken from a cave has a carbon-14 fraction which is 0.03125 of the amount
in a living organism. How old is the object? (half-life for C-14 is 5730 yr)
Radioactive Decay and Half-Life Practice Problems
1 1. Determine the fraction of the isotope that is remaining.
2 2. Use the remaining fraction of the isotope, to determine how many half-
lives have passed? Ie. If there is 1/8 of a sample left then: X X = 1/8 -
3 half-lives have passed.
3 3. Multiply the number of half-lives that have passed by the half-life. Ie. 3 X
200 years.

1 1. The half-life of iodine-131 is 8.1 days. How long will it take for three-fourths of
a sample of iodine-131 to decay?
2

1 2. Radon-222 is a radioactive gas with a half-life of 3.82 days. How long would it
take for fifteen-sixteenths of a sample of radon-222 to decay?
2

1 3. Uranium-238 decays very slowly, with a half-life of 4.47 billion years. What
percentage of a sample of uranium-238 would remain after 13.4 billion years?
1 4. A sample of Strontium-90 is found to have decayed to one-eighth of its original
amount after 87.3 years. What is the half-life of strontium-90?
2
3
1 5. A sample of Francium-212 will decay to one-sixteenth its original amount after
80 minutes. What is the half-life of francium-212?
2

1 6. The ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 is a prehistoric wooden artifact is


measured to be one-eighth of the ratio measured in a fresh sample of wood from
the same region. The half-life of carbon-14 is 5,715 years. Determine its age.
2

1 7. Health officials are concerned about radon levels in homes. The half-life of
radon-222 is 3.82 days. If a sample of gas contains 4.38 micrograms of radon-
222, how much will remain in the sample after 15.2 days?
Answers:

1. B
2. A
3. A
4. B
5. D
6. 1/8
7. 0.2 g
8. 36.4 days
9. 2.865X104 years

1. 16.2 days
2. 15.3 days
3. 29.1 years
4. 20 min
5. 11,150 years
6. 0.274 g