Physics and Chemistry

Chemical Elements

What does half-life mean?

Half-life is the time it takes for the number of radioactive nuclei originally present in a sample to decrease to one-half of their original number. Thus, if a sample has a half-life of one year, its radioactivity will be reduced to half its original amount at the end of a year and to one quarter at the end of two years. The half-life of a particular radionuclide is always the same, independent of temperature, chemical combination, or any other condition. Natural radiation was discovered in 1896 by the French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852–1908). His discovery initiated the science of nuclear physics.


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