I was browsing the book Isotopes: Principles and Applications by Faure and Mensing and I would like to know what is the history of the use of the word daughter for a decay product. It seems to me that the book gives no explanation about the terminology so I think it is a well established convention for a long time.
A quick search gives me this Historical perspective:
A radionuclide generator is a concept defined as an effective radiochemical separation of decaying parent and daughter radionuclides such that the daughter is obtained in a pure radionuclidic and radiochemical form. Radionuclide generators were historically called ‘cows’ since the daughter radioactivity was ‘milked’ (i.e. removed) from its precursor and the parent then generated a fresh supply of the daughter.1
but even if I understand the cow and milk metaphor I do not understand the use of the word daughter, contrasted for example with the word son; moreover, I do not get the asymmetry between daughter, which has a specific gender, and parent, which it seems to me gender neutral.
I know that maybe this question is more suitable for https://english.stackexchange.com/ but I am interested in the context of physics: maybe someone received an explanation about the terminology during a formal nuclear physics university lesson.
In my bookshelf, an Italian author2 uses the word discendente (descendant) that I would consider almost gender neutral; another Italian author3, translating from the English, uses the word figlio (son).
1Radionuclide Generators. In : Handbook of Nuclear Chemistry. Boston, MA : Springer US, 2004. p. 1379–1415. ISBN 978-0-387-30682-7. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-30682-X_32
2Paolo Chiorboli, Fondamenti di Chimica, UTET, Torino, 1975 (II edizione, 1980).
3Cornelis Klein, Anthony R. Philpotts Mineralogia e petrografia Prima edizione italiana condotta sulla seconda edizione inglese A cura di Giorgio Gasparotto, Roberto Braga. Zanichelli, Bologna, 2018.