Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Actinium

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Actinium, symbol Ac, radioactive metallic element found in all uranium ores. The atomic number of actinium is 89; the element is in the actinide series of the periodic table.

Actinium was discovered in 1899 by the French chemist AndrĂ© Louis Debierne. The element is found in uranium ores to the extent of 2 parts to every 10 billion parts of uranium. Two naturally occurring isotopes of actinium are known. Actinium-227 is a member of the actinium series, called the actinium decay series, resulting from the radioactive decay of uranium-235 (see Radioactivity). It has a half-life of 21.8 years. The other isotope, actinium-228, is a member of the thorium series resulting from the decay of thorium-232. This isotope, known also as mesothorium-2, has a half-life of 6.13 hours. Isotopes ranging in mass number from 209 to 234 are known. Actinium melts at about 1050° C (about 1922° F), boils at about 3200° C (about 5792° F), and has a specific gravity of about 10.