Wave Mechanics and Radioactive Disintegration

AFTER the exponential law in radioactive decay had been discovered in 1902, it soon became clear that the time of disintegration of an atom was independent of the previous history of the atom and depended solely on chance. Since a nuclear particle must be held in the nucleus by an attractive field, we must, in order to explain its ejection, arrange for a spontaneous change from an attractive to a repulsive field. It has hitherto been necessary to postulate some special arbitrary ‘instability’ of the nucleus; but in the following note it is pointed out that disintegration is a natural consequence of the laws of quantum mechanics without any special hypothesis.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

GURNEY, R., CONDON, E. Wave Mechanics and Radioactive Disintegration. Nature 122, 439 (1928). https://doi.org/10.1038/122439a0

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.