I don't understand the concept of elements having half-lives. If an element takes 3 years to lose 50% of its mass, then shouldn't the other 50% be lost after another 3 years? That's what years of algebra has taught me, but no. After another 3 years, only 25% of the mass is gone. Once again, math has screwed me over.

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## Answers (1)

Don't sweat it....I was confused too when I first learned about half-lives.

It's basically you take a half, of a half, of a half, of a half.....and so on.

Let's do an example:

You start with 10 grams of something that has a half-life of 10 minutes....

After 10 minutes goes by.....left with 5 grams.

After the next 10 minutes goes by....left with 2.5 grams.

After the next 10 minutes goes by....left with 1.25 grams.

After the next 10 minutes goes by....left with 0.625 grams.

After the next 10 minutes goes by....left with 0.3125 grams.

And so on....

So you just keep taking halves, and so it never gets to zero! Neat huh?

Hope that helps!

Reference:Chemistry teacher