07-30-12, 06:44 AM #1
Beta decay and Feral Pigeons
So I got tired of doing my usual stuff like learning animation and killing people online and decided to brush up my chemistry, which I considered the weakest point in my knowledge of science. It refreshed my memory and gave me a nice and clear definition of an element - a substance whose atoms have a specific number of protons. SO any atom with 6 protons is carbon [which is said the other way aroubd normally]. One thing lead to another and I ended up in nuclear physics. While studing radioactive decay of carbon 14, I faced a simple dilemma which has nevertheless eluded me. So then, a C14 atom has 6 protons, 6 electrons and 8 neutrons. For some reason [WHY?] one of those neutrons becomes a proton and an electron. The electron promptly flies away thereby called a beta particle while the proton stays behind and now the atom is nitrogen. But shouldnt it be a N+1 Ion? Afterall, the electron that compensated for the extra proton has flew off as a beta particle. How does the new atom ever become neutral? And why is C13 not radioactive but C14 is? What decides if an isotope is stable or not?
Another interesting observation I made recently concerns urban dwelling feral pigeons. I noticed that the flight distance [how close it will let a stranger get before it flies off] for feeding pigeons to be around 3 feet and non feeding pigeons to be around 10 feet. However albino pigeons have a feeding flight distance of almost 9 feet and a non feeding distane ofclose to 16 feet. While the reason for this is obvious, for the albino losses a primary advantage of being in a flock - the difficulty for a attacker to concentrate on a single individual. However, albinism is a result of simple genetatic mutations which disrupt melanin production. However, the flight distance is determined by behaviourally deterministic genes. How come an albino has both the mutuations together? Or does it it simply learn from experience? Or are those who dont do either eliminated far earlier? So the question here is not why but how do albino feral pigeons have a longer flight distance?
Ps. Sorry for the biology question, but my primary question is the beta decay and I dont find a need to seperate the threads. If the mods disagree, do make them seperate as you wish.
07-30-12, 07:18 AM #2
It becomes neutral almost instantly if it's grounded (touching anything at all). Though you can give a charge to a piece of matter (of any size) if it is radiating beta. Eventually, though, that positive charge becomes so large that the expelled electrons are drawn back to their originating material (which produces secondary radiation- as light- that is not drawn back in, but either emitted or absorbed and re-emitted as heat).
Stability is a more complicated issue, and probably better answered by somebody more experienced.
The Albino mutation also causes poor eyesight- in humans as well- due to lack of melanin in the iris. That should answer your pigeon question.
Hope that helps!
07-30-12, 08:55 AM #3
And why is C13 not radioactive but C14 is? What decides if an isotope is stable or not?
07-30-12, 01:15 PM #4
Visual problems are often associated albinoism, so maybe the pigeon simply can't see that well so it is more nervous than a typical pigeon and so takes off.
07-30-12, 04:12 PM #5
Upon seeing the thread title displayed on the main page I was so ready to come in with "Troll thread closed!" but I'm pleasantly surprised to find such a thread title isn't just insane nonsense.
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