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How to Graph a Radioactive Decay Simulation

2013-01-24   Views:6

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Radioactivity refers to the process in which an atomic nucleus emits a particle in order to lose energy. There are three types of radioactive decay and these are known as alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The time taken for a decaying atom to fall to

How to Graph a Radioactive Decay Simulation

Radioactivity refers to the process in which an atomic nucleus emits a particle in order to lose energy. There are three types of radioactive decay and these are known as alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The time taken for a decaying atom to fall to one half of its initial amount is known as a half-life, and this is a useful measurement in determining how long a radioactive species is likely to be dangerous. You can simulate radioactive decay with a simple exponential function.

Skill level:Moderate

Things you need

Graph paperCalculator

Instructions

1 Draw a table and label the headings "Time (s)" and "Number atoms." Fill the table in with the radioactivity simulation. You can simulate radioactivity using a simple exponential of the form N(t) = N x Exp (-0.693t/Thalf). Where N is the initial number of radioactive atoms, t is the time, and Thalf is the half-life. Plug in a range of values for t into the equation to get number of radioactive atoms.

2 Draw the axes of the graph. The two axes are lines that run perpendicular to one another and meet at the origin. The horizontal line is known as the X-axis and the vertical line is known as the Y-axis.

3 Label the axes. Label the X-axis "Time (s)" and the Y-axis "Number of atoms".

4 Plot the values from the table onto the graph. Plot the time along the X-axis and the number of atoms on the Y-axis. The finished graph should look like a classical exponential decay where the number of radioactive atoms reduces with time, rapidly at first, and then more slowly.

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