beta decay


: a radioactive nuclear transformation governed by the weak force in which a nucleon (such as a neutron) changes into a nucleon (such as a proton) of the other type with the emission of either an electron and an antineutrino or a positron and a neutrino

Examples of beta decay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In double beta decay, the interaction is doubled: Two neutrons simultaneously decay into two protons. Dolly Setton, Discover Magazine, 30 July 2014 Rarely, a proton in the oil will absorb an electron antineutrino to turn into a neutron while ejecting a positron—sort of the reverse of beta decay. Byadrian Cho,, 11 Jan. 2023 Wu was the first scientist to confirm — and later refine — Enrico Fermi’s theory of radioactive beta decay. Megan Schmidt, Discover Magazine, 8 Mar. 2020 If this is the case, then when double beta decay occurs, two neutrinos would be produced and immediately annihilated, leaving none behind. Joanna Thompson, Scientific American, 1 July 2022 Over multiple experiments, Pauli’s contemporaries had noticed an accounting error when observing beta decay, a process by which certain radioactive atoms break down. Joanna Thompson, Scientific American, 15 June 2022 Fermi’s model of beta decay took a vague suggestion by Wolfgang Pauli and turned it into a rigorous mathematical theory, and his work in statistical physics is critical to modern condensed matter physics. Chad Orzel, Forbes, 25 June 2021 The basic structure of beta decay is a neutron decays into a proton, electron, and neutrino. Don Lincoln, Forbes, 18 May 2021 For instance, to ensure that a neutrino emitted from beta decay would interact in a detector made of, for example, solid lead, the detector would need to be many light years thick. Don Lincoln, Forbes, 18 May 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beta decay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1931, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of beta decay was in 1931

Dictionary Entries Near beta decay

Cite this Entry

“Beta decay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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