An isotope is a variant form of a chemical element, containing a different number of neutrons in its nucleus. Most elements exist as several isotopes. Many are stable while others are radioactive, and some may only exist fleetingly before decaying into other elements.
In this Very Short Introduction, Rob Ellam explains how isotopes have proved enormously important across all the sciences and in archaeology. Radioactive isotopes may be familiar from their use in nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and in medicine, as well as in carbon dating. They have been central to establishing the age of the Earth and the origins of the solar system. Combining previous and new research, Ellam provides an overview of the nature of stable and radioactive isotopes, and considers their wide range of modern applications.
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Preface: At home with the Beilbys
1: Identical outsides ... different insides
2: Measuring isotopes - radioactivity counters
3: Measuring isotopes - mass spectrometers
4: Isotopic clocks - the persistence of carbon
5: You are what you eat... plus a few per mil
6: Physics heal thyself - isotopes in medicine
7: Reconstructing the past - weathering the future
8: Scratching the surface with cosmogenic isotopes
9: Uranium, thorium, and their daughters
10: Cosmic stopped clocks
Series: Very Short Introductions
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 1st August 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.4 x 11.4
Weight (kg): 0.12