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# Investigating radioactive decay using coins

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

## Challenge 10-Investiaging radioactive decay using coins.

Hypothesis: I believe that it is possible to illustrate radioactive decay by trying to model it using coins. Radioactive decay is a random process and is not affected by external conditions. This means that there is no way of knowing whether or not a nucleus is going to decay within a certain period of time. However, due to the large numbers of atoms involved we can make some accurate predictions. For example, if we start with a given number of atoms then we can expect a certain number to decay in the next minute. If there were more atoms in the sample, we would expect the number decaying to be larger. As a result the rate of decay of a sample is directly proportional to the number of atoms in the sample.

This proportionality means that radioactive decay is an exponential process. As a result, I believe that we can model

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Tables showing the number of parent and daughter coins at each step (Trial 2)

 Time Step Number of Pennies Number of other coins 1 32 0 2 17 15 3 10 22 4 9 23 5 6 26 6 1 31 7 0 32

Tables showing the number of parent and daughter coins at each step (Trial 3)

 Time Step Number of Pennies Number of other coins 1 32 0 2 9 23 3 6 26 4 2 30 5 1 31 6 1 31 7 0 32

Uncertainties haven’t been included in any of the tables due to the fact that there wasn’t anything we were measuring. We are only modeling an experiment here and we through coins. It either flips up or down so there is no uncertainty.

Data processing:

In order to understand the

Conclusion

th try all of them come up as head-side up. That would totally mess all the results and wouldn’t support the theory of radioactivity. Other than that I cannot think of any weaknesses.

Improvements: Thinking of realistic improvement for this modeling exercise isn’t possible because it is a modeling exercise and not an experiment. However, it never hurts to take more trial – perhaps- 10 trials and then taking averages. This would give more accurate results but then again because this experiment relies too much on chance, doing 10 trials might make the results even worse. Another improvement can be is to use much more coins, for example a hundred coins. This gives a greater possibility to monitor radioactive decay.

I am sorry that I couldn’t do all experiments but as you know we- the chemists- also had to do chemistry investigations and therefore we didn’t have enough time to do all the experiments.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Physics section.

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