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3 In this remote laboratory experiment you will investigate exactly how distance is related to the intensity of radiation absorbed and what relationship they have. Changing the distance from the radioactive source Exploring the Intensity of Radiation In this FAR Lab experiment you will monitor and plot the number of counts recorded by a Geiger counter as you increase the distance from the source. In this experiment it doesn t matter what kind of radiation it is. All that matters is how the number of counts changes as you get further away from the detector. We know that radioactive emissions are potentially very harmful to humans. If there is no barrier between us and a radioactive source, how far away do we need to be to be safe? In the middle of the screen there is a diagram showing the radioactive source (Green) and detector (Blue). The detector and source can also be seen in the video feed to the left. Underneath the diagram, there are buttons labelled Smallest Gap, Largest Gap, Increase Gap and Decrease Gap. The buttons help you move the source to 11 different positions ranging from 5 mm to 75 mm from the detector. If you want to move a large distance in a short amount of time, you can type in a number from 0 to 10 in the text box and click the GO! button. Clicking the Increase Gap and Decrease Gap buttons moves the source by a small amount.

5 You might like to try this with people in your class room. Stand next to each other then all start walking in slightly different directions, but all walking in your own straight line. You will notice that you get further from each other as you walk. The separation between two people (or two radiation particles) increases as you move from the place where you started. Increase the distance from the starting point and the separation between particles increases. Now if we think about the Geiger detector which counts the intensity of the radiation, as we get further from the source, the particles get further and further apart. This means less of them enter the detector together. This is why the counts at the detector decrease as it gets further from the source. Each individual particle is just as powerful they don t slow down much at all but less of them enter the detector together. Here are some examples: Figure 5: Here, a nuclear test sends damaging particles in all directions. A single particle will do just as much damage 20 kilometres away as it will 2 kilometres away. But if the target is closer, A LOT more particles will hit it! Figure 6: Below is a picture of water being sprayed from a hand-held pump. Water droplets sprayed from the nozzle come out in many directions. If you are very close to the spray, you get very wet. Further away, you just get a little damp! The inverse-square law If the distance from the source doubles; the separation between particles doubles the number of particles per metre is halved. So the number of particles per square metre is quartered. Figure 7: If the number of particles per metre is halved, the number of particles per square metre is quartered. So the number of particles entering the detector is quartered if the detector is twice as far away! This is what you should have seen in the experiment. What does inverse-square mean a more advanced explanation In the diagram to the left, as the distance from the source increases, the same number of particles (9 count them!) are passing by. But the area covered by the 9 particles is increasing as they spread out, at a rate equal to the distance squared. This means double the distance and you double double = quadruple the area (for example, going from r to 2 r in the picture). So, the number of particles per square metre (which is actually what the detector counts!) is decreasing at a rate equal to the distance squared. This is what inverse-square means.

6 At distance r we have 9 particles spread over 1 square metre; 9 1 = 9 particles per square metre. At distance 2 r we have 9 particles spread out over 4 square metres; 9 4 = 2.25 particles per square metre and at distance 3 r we have 9 particles spread out over 9 square metres; 9 9 = 1 particle per square metre. Figure 8: The inverse-square law. The same number of particles passing through an increasing area means the particles per square metre decreases with distance.

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