Skip to Content

The Never-Ending Contamination

Radioactivity and Half-Lives


Author(s)

Lior M. Burko
School of Science and Technology
Georgia Gwinnett College
lburko@ggc.edu

Abstract

This case study discusses a possible national security crisis of a terrorist group stealing radioactive materials in an attempt to build and detonate a dirty bomb over a densely populated metropolitan area. Specifically, this case discusses radioactive decay, which has many applications from carbon-14 dating of ancient manuscripts to dating the age of the solar system to radiation sickness. Radioactive decay can be discussed in a number of courses, in physics, chemistry, earth science, health science courses and others. The case study questions cover a range of applications, and instructors can choose a subset of these questions depending on the main interest of their class.


Objectives

  • Define the concept of half-life.
  • Use radiometric dating, including finding the age of a sample using its half-life, and the current and original‚Ä®amounts of the material.
  • Describe how we determine the age of the Earth, of other solar system objects, and of the solar system itself.
  • Describe the main effects of radiation on living organisms.

Keywords

radioactivity; dirty bomb; radiation sickness; radioactive dating; carbon dating; half-life; radiometric dating;

Topical Areas

N/A

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

N/A, Directed

Language

English

Subject Headings

Physics  |   Environmental Science  |   Chemistry (General)  |   Public Health  |  


Date Posted

8/11/2016

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Comments