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For example, an atom with 8 protons is always oxygen, and an atom with 80 protons is always mercury.

If you change the number of protons, you change the element.

All radioactive materials eventually decay, just not at the same rate.

The extra energy, or radiation, emitted by radioactive elements comes in three different types: alpha, beta, and gamma.

This is because the number of protons and neutrons is in good balance.

The carbon atom with 8 neutrons (you guessed it - carbon-14) is not stable, though.In this lesson you'll learn what radioactive materials are and explore where they come from and how they can be useful to us.Everything on Earth is made of atoms, but you can see that not everything on Earth is the same.When isotopes are unstable, meaning that they have an imbalance of neutrons and protons, they are radioactive.The carbon atom with 6 neutrons, also called carbon-12 since we just add up the number of protons and neutrons to get its name, and the carbon atom with 7 neutrons, also called carbon-13, are both stable.Radiation also comes from other things like rocks and minerals.