Radioisotopes used for dating

Lead is a chemical element with symbol Pb (from the Latin plumbum) and atomic number 82.It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials.With its high atomic number, lead is the heaviest element whose natural isotopes are regarded as stable; lead-208 is the heaviest stable nucleus.(This distinction formerly fell to bismuth, with an atomic number of 83, until its only primordial isotope, bismuth-209, was found in 2003 to decay very slowly.) The four stable isotopes of lead could theoretically undergo alpha decay to isotopes of mercury with a release of energy, but this has not been observed for any of them; their predicted half-lives range from 10 times the current age of the universe).Lead has a magic number of protons (82), for which the nuclear shell model accurately predicts an especially stable nucleus.Lead-208 has 126 neutrons, another magic number, which may explain why lead-208 is extraordinarily stable.Lead has the highest atomic number of any stable element and three of its isotopes each conclude a major decay chain of heavier elements.

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These decay chains are called the uranium series, the actinium series, and the thorium series.Its weak metallic character is illustrated by its amphoteric nature; lead and lead oxides react with acids and bases, and it tends to form covalent bonds.Compounds of lead are usually found in the 2 oxidation state rather than the 4 state common with lighter members of the carbon group.Lead is soft and malleable, and has a relatively low melting point.When freshly cut, lead is bluish-white; it tarnishes to a dull gray color when exposed to air.

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