An apparatus to explore randomness
True randomness only occurs in our physical world. It is for example a quality of radioactive decay of certain elements and their isotopes. Scientifically the decay of these materials is described by statistical probabilities and the half-life of the substance. The exact moment an atomic nucleus transforms and emits radiation cannot be calculated so far, solely the probability of transformation per time unit.
The „Random Generator“ creates random numbers via measurement of the atomic decay of a natural, lightly radioactive mineral (Allanite). This apparatus serves as a means to provide naturally occurring randomness to further studies of patterns, movements and sounds.
The intervals between four radioactive decay events are recorded and compared. If the duration between the fourth and third event is greater than the passed time between the second and first event a '1' is recorded otherwise a '0' will be set. Eight of these event pairs are stored as a simple 8 bit number in the range of 0 to 255 for later use.
The above number generation is driven by the radioactive decay of Torbernite, a hydrated copper uranyl phosphate mineral. The very strong radioactivity of this copper uranite helped in generating a large amount of random numbers in a short amount of time for testing before the switch to Allanite was made. In comparison: for every random bit (0 or 1) generated by the Allanite the Torbernite allows for 12 bits to be collected. Tobernite's radioactive decay delivers one number between 0 and 255 approximately every 0.7 seconds. For the same result Allanite must be measured for about 8.4 seconds.