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# 41A: INVERSE SQUARE LAW FOR RADIATION

Aims
(1) Explore the inverse square law with thermal radiation;

Introduction
The inverse square law permeates the natural world, and hence is a central tenet of much of physics. Broadly speaking, if the inverse square law applies to some phenomenon, then the magnitude of the effect decreases as the square of the distance: if you double the distance from the source, the magnitude of the effect drops by a factor of four; if you double the distance again, the overall magnitude drops by a factor of sixteen; etc. The most common examples of the inverse square law are in the fields of gravitation (where the magnitude of the gravitational force between two masses varies as the inverse square of the distance between them) and electrostatics (where the magnitude of the electrostatic force between two charges varies as the square of the distance between them). Here, we are interested in how the intensity of themal radiation varies with distance from the source. It is interesting to note that in this example, a compelling argument “justifying” inverse square behaviour could be derived in terms of how the emitted thermal radiation is distributed over spherical shells of everincreasing radius around the source (each shell having a surface area of 4πr2); an argument which has parallels in the field theories of gravitation and electromagnetism. It is of little wonder that physicists like spheres…!

Procedure
You are provided with a Thermal Radiation Sensor (Pasco model TD-8553), which provides an output in millivolts proportional to the intensity of the detected thermal/infrared radiation; and a Stefan-Boltzmann Lamp (Pasco model RD-8555) as a source of thermal radiation. The Radiation Sensor has a spring-clip shutter, which can be opened and closed by sliding the shutter ring forward or back. During experiments, the shutter should be closed when measurements are not actively being taken. This helps reduce temperature shifts in the Sensor's thermopile reference, which might cause the response to drift. In between measurements, you should also shield the body of the Sensor from the Lamp, so that the temperature of the Sensor itself does not increase significantly. You are provided with a reflectivelycoated insulating foam sheet for this purpose. The Lamp is a high temperature source of thermal radiation, and the Lamp filament provides a good approximation to a point source when viewed "head on". Please note that the voltage into the Lamp has been preset to 10V, and should NOT be increased, as higher voltages may burn out the filament.

WARNING: the Lamp is HOT. Avoid contacting the Lamp with skin, clothes, paper, etc.!!!!

41A–1