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2010 Summer Meeting

2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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Lab Experiments Using Radioisotopes with Wide Range of Half-Lives
  Location: HC 3028
  Date: Wednesday, Aug.3
  Time: 9:10 AM -9:20 AM
  Author: John Tansil
Dept. of Physics, Southeast Missouri State University
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: There are two common techniques for experimentally determining the half-life of a radioisotope. The first method involves measuring activity as a function of time and is limited to isotopes whose half-lives are short compared to time of measurement, yet long enough so that activity is well above background during time of measurement (a few minutes in a typical lab period). The second method is for long-lived isotopes and requires measuring activity and calculating the number of radioactive atoms from the known chemical composition of the sample. We have been using two radioisotopes whose half-lives differ by a factor of E14. The short-lived radioisotope is Barium-177m (T = 2.55 min) and the long-lived radioisotope is naturally occurring Potassium-40 (T = 1.277 E9 yr) which is found in a variety of common potassium compounds. We will discuss specific procedures with these lab experiments and how they fit in the overall nuclear science curriculum.
  Footnotes: None
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