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help with carbon 14

carbon 14 has an atomic number of 6.  when it decays it emits beta particle.  what is the atomic number of a the new nucleus.

a. 6
b. 7
c. 2
d. 10

I think the answer is 7

thanks

Katherine W. | High School & College Science and Math TutorHigh School & College Science and Math T...
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You are correct, the answer is B. 7 ... however let's figure out why this is.

Unstable isotopes such as carbon 14 undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. Depending on the isotope, it will undergo a certain type of decay. Carbon 14 is known to undergo beta radiation and emit what is known as a beta particle. This beta particle is in the form of an electron, written:

0
e
-1

The top number here, 0 is indicative of our mass (an electron has no mass). The bottom number -1 is indicative of our charge (electrons have a negative charge).

14                    0
C -->  ?   +   e
6                     -1

So we need to balance our beta emission equation here. All mass and charges must balance. So we have +6 charge on the left side of the equation. What number must we put in the ? for that to balance on the right? The answer is in fact 7 since we have a -1 in the form of a beta particle. For the mass to balance we must have a 14 there as well.

So which element has a 7 atomic number? The answer is nitrogen. The following equation is balanced:

14      14        0
C -->  N   +   e
6         7       -1

Did you know that this is the chemical process that occurs for scientists to determine how old an organic substance is? This is called carbon dating!