Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

α, β, and γ


Nuclear radiation can be broadly classified into three types. These three types are labeled with the first three letters of the Greek alphabet: α (alpha), β (beta) and γ (gamma). Alpha radiation consists of a stream of fast-moving helium nuclei (two protons and two neutrons). As such, an alpha particle is relatively heavy and carries two positive electrical charges. Beta radiation consists of fast-moving electrons or positrons (an antimatter electron).

A beta particle is much lighter than an alpha, and carries one unit of charge. Gamma radiation consists of photons, which are massless and carry no charge. X-rays are also photons, but carry less energy than gammas.


In this experiment, you will

  • Develop a model for the relative absorption of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation by matter.
  • Use a radiation counter to measure the absorption of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation by air, paper, and aluminum.
  • Analyze the count rate data to test for consistency with your model.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Nuclear Radiation with Vernier »

Nuclear Radiation with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1α, β, and γ
2Distance and Radiation
3Lifetime Measurement
4Counting Statistics
5Background Radiation Sources
6Radiation Shielding

Experiment 1 from Nuclear Radiation with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Nuclear Radiation with Vernier</em> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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