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Interval of time required for one-half of the atomic nuclei of a radioactive sample to decay (change spontaneously into other nuclear species by emitting particles and energy), or the time required for the number of disintegrations per second of a radioactive material to decrease by one-half. Half-lives are characteristic properties of the various unstable atomic nuclei and the particular way in which they decay. Alpha decay and beta decay are generally slower processes than gamma decay.
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