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P. 1
The Radioactive Dating Game

The Radioactive Dating Game

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Published by PBS NewsHour
Mala Radhakrishnan assistant professor at Wellesley College, has recently released a book on poetry chemistry, called "Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances." Her aim is to use poetry, but also easy-to-understand analogies to teach about thermodynamics, kinetics and molecular reactions. This is the text of "The Radioactive Dating Game."

Go here for more poetry and background: http://to.pbs.org/rI4ESp
Mala Radhakrishnan assistant professor at Wellesley College, has recently released a book on poetry chemistry, called "Atomic Romances, Molecular Dances." Her aim is to use poetry, but also easy-to-understand analogies to teach about thermodynamics, kinetics and molecular reactions. This is the text of "The Radioactive Dating Game."

Go here for more poetry and background: http://to.pbs.org/rI4ESp

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Published by: PBS NewsHour on Nov 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/17/2011

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The Radioactive Dating Game
By Mala L. RadhakrishnanI used to sleep
til my electrons would droolAt P-32
element 
-ary school.The things we were taught were just totally boring.A
mole
of us atoms would always be snoring.But one thing I learned there I
ve kept to this day:
Soon, my students, you
ll beta decayTo become more mature and to capture the labelOf 
S-32,
and then you
ll be stable.And when that time comes you
ll want celebration,For you will be ready for graduation.So look around now, and do count every peer.Today there
s a mole, but you
ll soon disappear.
 So I watched as my friends all around me decayed,And I felt left behind, slow and dismayed,Abandoned by those who were thought to be deft.In two weeks there was only
half 
of us left.And meanwhile, I
d hoped to impress my young lassBut was now in the bottom half of the class.I spent every school day conspiring to court herAnd remained, two weeks more, in the leftover quarter.
 
But two weeks more yet, and I still hadn
t parted.Now six weeks had passed since this challenge first started.Oh, what was my problem? I kept losing faith.The fraction of atoms now left was one eighth.Another two weeks and my hope for love waned.One
sixteenth
of a mole of us atoms remained.My lass had now probably found a new mate.By the time I escaped here, it would be too late.So I studied the past eight weeks with great courage,And quickly, a pattern began to emerge.I realized, from evidence existential,That the decay of the class size was
exponential
!See, every time two weeks came and then went,The class size diminished by fifty percent.
Twas one mole times
e
to the minus
kt,
Where
was
ln
2 over 2 weeks, you see.And
was the time, in units of weeks,Since the teacher that lesson one fine day did speak.The equation did serve as a useful toolTo predict, at time
t,
the number in school.But then it all happened
 – 
I had my decay!I was
S-32,
and I liked it that way.Success carried with it the sweetest aroma,My electrons excited as I got my diploma,

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