Radioactivity the Musical

Screenshot from an application which turns radioactive decay into music.

Screenshot from an application which turns radioactive decay into music.

With the exception certain inspired individuals, radioactivity is rarely considered a subject for home experimentation. But my colleague Clare Lee just sent me a delightful link to a Flash application which turns radioactive decay into music. One selects up to 5 radioactive elements and the application turns their decays into music by scaling the energy of the gamma radiation to a musical tone.

Here is the ‘sound of’ Bromine-76 Tin-118 Bismuth-201 and a couple of other elements I forgot to make note of.

Now the music is – to my ears – delightfully non-repetitive, but what I like most about this application is its openness. It shows ALL the radioactive isotopes and immediately makes it clear that there is a world of these isotopes out there. And it shows information that most people won’t look at, but which you can look at if you want to. The application allows people to engage with a complex and frightening topic in an accessible and engaging way.

P.S. The music will drive you nuts after a while – about 10 minutes in my case 🙂

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One Response to “Radioactivity the Musical”

  1. chris Says:

    ..i’m still going strong at half an hour! but that’s with an orchestra of tin, lead and carbon…

    the link has had me download the programme Janis, showing the thin line of stable isotopes in a big space of instability.

    also, a shame terry smith didn’t give your comment [my source for your blog] much time. definitely the swashbuckling element is still at large as regards attitiudes to climate change, if not the debt situation.

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