different decay cause by deferent mechanism, we first start on alpha decay.
i assume we know what is alpha decay, which is a process that bring excited nucleus to lower energy state by emitting an alpha particle.
The force govern this process is the strong force, due to the force is so strong, the interaction time is very short, base on the uncertainty principle that large change in energy leads to short time interval. however, the observed alpha decay constant is about 1.3 × 1010 year, which is about the age of our universe. That’s why we still able to find it at the beginning of nuclear physics : discovery of radioactive matter.
The reason for such a long decay time is due to the Coulomb barrier of the nuclear potential. since the proton carry positive charge, thus. it creates a positive potential wall in the nucleus. that potential not only repulse proton from outside but also the proton from inside which try to get out. thus, the inside protons are bounded back and forth inside the nucleus. due to the momentum carried by the protons, it has frequency 6 × 1021 per sec.
Due to the Quantum tunneling effect, the probability of tunneling is 4 × 10-40. which is a very small chance. But , don’t forget there are 6 × 1021 trails per sec. Thus, the chance per sec is 2.4 × 10-18 . and the mean life time is inverse of the probability, thus it is approx 1.3 × 1010 year.