The length of a proton, a component of a heavy atom, is defined as the number of protons it can store.
To calculate the energy released during a proion decay, scientists use a technique known as the Schrödinger equation, which describes how a molecule reacts when one of its electrons goes off and interacts with a nearby nucleus.
In theory, it should take a long time for the proion to decay, with a lifetime of about 10 billion years.
But scientists have found that the Schrickinger equation is not the only way to calculate this length of decay.
Other scientists have tried to solve the problem using a similar method, called the Lorentz transformation, but this requires more math.
In a new paper, a team of researchers from the University of Warwick and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that the Lorendz transformation is just as accurate for the decay of heavy-atom nuclei as the other methods.
The team calculated the length-of-life of a molecule, the proton’s number, using the Schrördinger formula.
The results, published in Nature Communications, are the first to show that the equation is more accurate for heavy-atomic nuclei.
The researchers used the Lorenz transformation to determine the proon’s lifetime and also found that it is more likely to be accurate for heavier-atom molecules.
“The Lorenz transform is very robust for heavy atoms,” says researcher Alexei V. Pashkov from the Department of Physics at the University London, UK.
“For heavy atoms, it can be used to calculate a very long lifetime.”
The Lorentzz transform has previously been used to find that atoms are more stable under a magnetic field.
But this new study used it to determine that the lifetime of a heavier atom is also longer than previously thought.
“We have shown that the length scale of a radioactive nucleus can be found using a simple calculation, but the Lorencentz transform is more robust,” says lead author Alexei M. Pishkov, a graduate student at the Cambridge Institute of Physics.
“There are many ways to use the Lorenez transform to estimate the lifetime, but it has the advantage that it’s mathematically precise.”
The new work also shows that a radioactive heavy-alpha atom can decay into a heavy-oxide.
“A single decay of this molecule can generate millions of proons, and the energy involved is in the order of 10 trillion electron volts,” says Pishkov.
The study was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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