Exponential dsn. please check my work

  • Thread starter Bachelier
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

A piece of rock contains 10^20 atoms of a particular substance. Each atom has an expoentially distributed lifetime with a half-life of one century. How many centurites must pass before

there is about a 50% chance that at least one atom remains. What assumptions are you making?

answer:

so P (at least one survives past t) = P (no one does) = .5

now, I'm making the assumption that Prob of survival is so small and since n is huge, this follows a poisson disn.

thus .5 = P(k=0) = e

then μ = ln 5

now μ = np = 1020* e-ln 2 t. ln 2 is my parameter since half time is 1 century.

thus t = ln(1020/ln 5) * (ln 2)-1 ≈ 65 years
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mathman
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Your time unit is centuries, not years. So your answer (I didn't check arithmetic) is 65 centuries.
 
  • #3
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what about the theory, is it correct?
 
  • #4
mathman
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.5 = P(k=0) = e

then μ = ln 5
Above has error, μ = -ln.5 = ln2

The general idea is correct. You might try a binomial to check. The result should be about the same.
 

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