A Demonstration of Half-Life

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Updated on Jul 11, 2013


In this experiment you will simulate radioactive decay in order to gain an understanding of the basics of half-life.


  • Cup
  • 200 tiny pieces of cut paper with a different color on each side


  1. Choose the color of one of the sides of the paper to simulate that the paper has “decayed.”
  2. Place the paper in the cup, cover the top with your hand, and shake for 10 seconds.
  3. Pour all the paper out.
  4. Remove the paper that has been “decayed” and place the paper that has not “decayed” back in the cup.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 up to seven more times for a total of eight tosses. If all the paper has all decayed before eight tosses, that is okay.
  6. Use a table to track the number of bits of paper removed per toss.

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