PURPOSE: Model a radioactive decay chain.
DESCRIPTION: The large tank at the top represents an almost inexhaustable supply of the original nucleus (Uranium 238) in a radioactive decay chain. Water from that tank drips through a hole in the bottom of the tube into the next cylinder, and so forth, until the end of the decay chain is reached with the lowest container (Lead 206). The diameter of each hole is different, leading to differing half lives, so after the system has operated for a while, different eqiuilibrium concentrations of each of the intermediate nuclei in the radioactive decay chain can be observed (the black lines on the tubes).
REFERENCES: (PIRA 7D10.40) See Demonstration Reference File for information on this apparatus as well as some like it that can be used in a quantitative manner.
EQUIPMENT: Series of water containers as photographed with green water.
SETUP TIME: 5 min.
Go back to Lecture-Demonstration Home Page.