What is it?
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. An uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons , of which 6 are valence electrons. The uranium nucleus binds between 141 and 146 neutrons , establishing six isotopes, the most common of which are U-238 (146 neutrons) and U-235 (143 neutrons). All isotopes are unstable and uranium is weakly radioactive. Uranium has the second highest atomic weight of the naturally occurring elements, lighter only than plutonium -244.Its density is about 70% higher than that of lead , but not as dense as gold or tungsten. It occurs naturally in low concentrations of a few parts per million in soil, rock and water, and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals such as uraninite. In nature , uranium is found as uranium-238 (99.2742%), uranium-235 (0.7204%), and a very small amount of uranium-234 (0.0054%). Uranium decays slowly by emitting an alpha particle. The half-life of uranium-238 is about 4.47 billion years and that of uranium-235 is 704 million years,making them useful in dating the age of the Earth.