How radiometric dating works
Usually the 'pieces' are smaller atoms, but often neutrons are also released.
Many fission reactions are initiated by a very heavy atom being hit (or, in chemistry lingo, bombarded) by a neutron.
Try It risk-free What can the sun do that we can't? Are radioactive isotopes helpful in the medical field?
The answers to these questions can be found in this lesson on the applications of nuclear chemistry.
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This 'domino effect' caused by the neutrons is called a chain reaction, and it can be responsible for keeping the reaction going for a long time.
The type of nuclear power that is most common on Earth is nuclear fission.
Nuclear fission occurs when a heavier atom splits into smaller pieces.
Carbon is an essential element for living organisms that are constantly exchanging carbon, most of which is carbon-12.
Some of those carbon atoms, though, are carbon-14 isotopes.