Isotopes in Society: Xenon

Essay by stasia_teeHigh School, 10th gradeA, March 2006

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An isotope is an atom which is related to an element by the number of protons in the nucleus, and differs by the number of neutrons. Thus, they vary in physical properties, but all have very similar chemical properties, and electronic structure. The relative atomic mass of an element is configured using isotopes. It is the average atomic mass of all the element's isotopes. Therefore, if one isotope among all the others has an atomic mass which is not similar to the other isotopes, it could create a great change in the atomic mass of an element.

Every element which has been founded has various numbers of isotopes, which all differ, and can be used for different purposes. There are approximately 2,800 isotopes which have been discovered, with 300 of those occurring naturally. These isotopes' purposes can range from affecting our society: economically, politically, culturally, environmentally, socially, and ethically.

Xenon is an element with an atomic number of 54, which has 29 isotopes, of which one of them is called Xenon-135.

This is a radioactive artificial isotope, with a half-life of 9.1 hours (33,000 seconds, a half-life is the amount of time it takes half of the nuclei in the isotope to decay). The term "artificial isotope" means that the isotope is man-made, and does not have a natural abundance. By the term "radioactive isotope" it means that the isotope either has to many, or too little neutrons, which creates instability, and it 'spits' out radiation in the form of electro magnetic waves, or particles. Thus, when an isotope is radioactive, and artificial, it means that it is a man-made, unstable variation of an element.

Xenon-135 affects our society minimally in most areas, but importantly in others. For example, the study of this isotope, along with xenon-133, has enabled scientists...