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Although it’s not possible to predict when an individual atom will decay, we can study many decays to measure the half-life of the element (or the time it takes for half of the atoms to decay away). In addition, if we study the element on timescales much shorter than its half-life, we can study how the frequency of the decaying atoms is distributed. This allows us to understand the risks involved when interacting with radioactive materials by answering questions of how much radiation is emitted in a certain period of time by a particular element. 

This experiment is about gaining a basic understanding of radioactivity. You will learn how to analyse data from random events (and their uncertainties) and gain an understanding of Poisson statistics. You will also see how radioactive sources can be handled safely. 

Current students can find more information [on Learn Ultra]. 

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