radioactive decay

noun Physics.
decay ( def 8 ).

Origin:
1960–65

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World English Dictionary
radioactive decay
 
n
Sometimes shortened to: decay, Also called: disintegration disintegration of a nucleus that occurs spontaneously or as a result of electron capture. One or more different nuclei are formed and usually particles and gamma rays are emitted

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
radioactive decay  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (rā'dē-ō-āk'tĭv)  Pronunciation Key 
The spontaneous transformation of an unstable atomic nucleus into a lighter one, in which radiation is released in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, and other particles. The rate of decay of radioactive substances such as carbon 14 or uranium is measured in terms of their half-life. See also decay, radioisotope.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The point of the experiment is that radioactive decay is a quantum process.
The ash contains minerals such as zircon that can be dated precisely from the
  radioactive decay of some of their components.
The vial will be broken if a certain atom undergoes a radioactive decay.
Ionization is also triggered by ultraviolet light, fires and the radioactive
  decay of certain elements.
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