beta decay

noun

Definition of 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

One type of radioactivity, called beta decay, releases either a positron and a neutrino or an electron and an antineutrino. Jesse Emspak, Scientific American, "Detection of Ghostly Particles Could Unmask Illicit Nuclear Weapons," 1 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beta decay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of beta decay

1931, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of beta decay was in 1931

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