The mystery behind the most important atom ever is finally solved

We are made out of Carbon, for the most part, Almost everything “living” is made out of carbon, usually radioactive isotopes decay in a couple of minutes, sometimes even faster than that. However, there is one particular isotope in carbon that takes up to 6000 years to decay.

This is the same isotope that scientist use to estimate how old something is using Carbon Dating, and it has revolutionized our archeology in ways never before imaginable. Now the only problem is that up to now we really didn’t understand why it took that long for the Carbon-14 isotope to decay. In a comparison between all the other isotopes, Carbon 14 takes about three billion times longer than other isotopes to decay, that’s a huge difference, and the good thing about Carbon 14, is that it’s so accurate that scientist can estimate the ages of artifacts with an amazing precision.

Pieter Maris and James vary, both researchers from Iowa State University have figured out exactly why carbon-14 takes that long to decay. According to them, it’s all about the “three way interactions between particles within the nucleus” O_o yea it’s that simple! now it all makes sense!

So in layman’s terms, under normal conditions, the normal decay of radioactive isotopes is controlled by the interaction between two particles. However, the structure of carbon-14 means that those two particle interactions constantly turn into a “three particle interaction” and that cancels the “decay” effect.

“The whole story doesn’t come together until you include the three-particle forces. The elusive three-nucleon forces contribute in a major way to this fact of life that carbon-14 lives so long…Everybody now knows about these three-nucleon forces. But what about four-nucleon forces? This does open the door for more study.”

All it took to figure this out was a billion-by-billion matrix… a computer that is able to handle 30 trillion different elements at the same time, and about three months of processing time. And to be honest with you, I still have no idea as to what they are talking about it, all I know is that normal isotopes die because they have Two Particle interactions, and carbon-14 lives for ever because it has 3 particle interaction… and after that… I’m 100% lost. I wonder if this works with humans?

Via: iO9