7D10.50 - Half Life - Dice

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Half Life - Dice
Radioactive Decay, Half-Life
Area of Study:
Modern Physics
Dice with holes, clear box, overhead projector.

Place the clear box on the overhead projector and throw a layer of dice with holes into it.  Take out all the dice that have light shining through them.  Repeat the experiment.  Each time you should be able to remove about 1/3 of the dice.  If you count the total number of dice used, and the dice removed at each interval, you will be able to calculate the half-life.

  • Bill Baird, "Radioactive Decay and Penetration Depth - Why Should There Be an e?", TPT, Vol. 52, #4, Apr. 2014, p. 234.
  • Lynda Klein and David Kagan, "'Radio-Active' Learning: Visual Representation of Radioactive Decay Using Dice", TPT, Vol. 48, #1, Jan. 2010, p. 45.
  • Art Hobson, "Hands-On Simulation", TPT, Vol. 42, #3, Mar. 2004, p. 132.
  • Kenneth E. Jesse, "Computer Simulation of Radioactive Decay", TPT Vol. 41, #9, Dec. 2003, p. 542.
  • Ludwik Kowalski, "Simulating Radioactive Decay with Dice", TPT, Vol. 19, #2, Feb. 1981, p. 113, also A Potpourri of Physics Teaching Ideas - Odds and Ends, p. 321.
  • John L. Roeder, "Throwing Dice in the Classroom II", TPT, Vol. 18, #4, Apr. 1980, p. 302, also A Potpourri of Physics Teaching Ideas - Odds and Ends, p. 324.
  • John L. Roeder, "Throwing Dice in the Classroom", TPT, Vol. 15, #7, Oct. 1977, p. 428, also A Potpourri of Physics Teaching Ideas - Odds and Ends, p. 323.
  • R. Castillo, "An Analog of the Half-Life of a Radioactive Element", TPT, Vol. 6, #9, Dec. 1968, p. 467.
  • Joseph Priest and James Poth, "Demonstrations for Teaching Nuclear Energy", AJP, Vol. 51, #2, Feb. 1983, p. 185.
  • Borislaw Bilash II and David Maiullo, "The Meaning of (Half) Life", A Demo a Day: A Year of Physics Demonstrations, p. 363.

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