11-28-04, 02:38 PM
Once again I will attempt to dazzle all with my ideas-slash-questions :D
Is there any known way to speed up radioactive decay of a substance? Like, say, plutonium? They already make RTG batteries that run off the heat of nuclear decay of a piece of plutonium, is there any way to speed up its decay so it unleashes its heat quicker? That could make a VERY powerful high-density battery. I realize that if this could be done, it would've been done already, but does anyone know why it can't? Or maybe if it can, why don't we do it? Would it make a massive explosion of some kind? I've just gotta ask these questions, or else I can't sleep...
I am far from an expert in this area. However, I think that the energy you would have to put in would be greater than the energy you got out. But perhaps bombarding it with its resonance frequency, which might make it decay faster, could do it. If anyone knows what the effect of resonating a frequency on something that was already about to decay would have let me know. Would a resonance frequency even have any effect on a lump of plutonium?
11-28-04, 04:23 PM
You're not talking about changing the decay rate, are you? Because they call it a decay constant for a reason.
No amount of "external stimulation" will change the decay rate by more than a tiny amount.
11-28-04, 04:35 PM
I was arguing with a young earth creationist on this very forum early this year, and they threw out that radioactive decay can change rate. And so it can, but a very small amount, as sideshowbob says. It happens in plasma conditions to some radioactive nuclei, apparently being stripped of their electrons alters conditions such that a small, ie 1 or 2 % change is observed. Go google for it.
And theres also someone out there, likely several people, saying that we need to get rid of nuclear waste by making it decay faster, generally by means of transmuting it into something that decays faster, by the application of neutrons etc. But you have to put in more energy than you get out. Needless to say the newspapers didnt point this bit out.
11-28-04, 04:42 PM
It happens in plasma conditions
Not exactly practical for a pocket flashlight, eh? :D
11-29-04, 12:59 PM
No. But it would be fun to see someone try, froma long way away.
What was more entertaining was the person I was arguing with was trying to put it forwards as a means of discrediting radioactive dating, except the hole is that you would seemingly require a large part of the earths crust to be turned to plasma for a while, and back again. Which kind of nullified the argument.