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The nucleus contains protons and neutrons, positive and neutral particles. The positive protons are trying to repel each other and the neutrons provide a 'buffering' that holds the nucleus together (called binding energy), some theories say this involves the continuous exchange of quarks, that allows the protons to stay close to each other in the nucleus. Larger nuclei have a different problem, the nucleus is large enough that different regions, like the extreme top and the extreme bottom repel and can cause the atom to expel particles. This is radioactive decay. One scientist (George Gamow?) came up with a theory of constantly moving nuclei that, instead of being a static spherical nucleus, would act like a liquid drop that is undulating and the constant movement and change of shape could cause deformation to a point that the repulsion of opposite sides of the nucleus would cause the decay.

Short answer -- all those positive protons in a large nucleus just don't 'like' being that close to each other.

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11y ago
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12y ago

If the outer shell of the nucleus is full of electrons then it is stable. In the first shell you are allowed 2 electrons after that you are allowed 8 electrons. If the out most shell does not have the full amount of electrons in it it is unstable.

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15y ago

An Unstable Isotope is a radioactive isotope. Unstable Isotopes emit radioactivity as they break down overtime.

Stable isotopes remain constant.

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Q: Why are some isotopes stable and others are not stable?
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Some isotypes are more stable than others. Decay occurs because of instability in isotopes, so stable isotopes do not undergo radioactive decay.


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