Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Teaching radioactive decay

In my archaeometry class, I am getting ready to do several lectures on radiocarbon and potassium-argon dating. This applet isn't bad for a starter:
Run it yourself!

But it seems like there ought to be some better animations/simulations/applets out there.

What are your favorite teaching aids for radioactivity?


  1. The last time I taught students about the concept of half-life they actually measured it during the lab session. We had irradiated samples of indium-116, which has a half-life of 54 minutes. The students measured the number of counts on a Geiger counter every minute for 30 minutes, and that was enough to plot, notice the decrease over time, and calculate the approximate half-life. Of course, this is hard when you don't have access to a freshly irradiated short-lived radioisotope.

  2. Maarten Blaauw has some nice animations:

  3. When The popular comment layout is common, so it is easily recognized scanning to post a comment. If the comment section is in a different format, then I am going to spend more time trying to decipher what everything means.

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